Employment Situation

Get in the Game

Baseball by PaulMLocke of Flickr

 

Was it hard to tell this Monday from any other Monday at work?

Can you remember the last time you felt triumphant at work?

Has it been more than three years since your last big professional growth spurt?

Your answers may reveal that you have been coasting. Sometimes we need to coast, like when we are going through big personal challenges. The impacts of these challenges can last a year or two (caring for an ailing elderly relative can take much longer). It can take us out of contention for professional growth and opportunity. There is only so long you can coast before ultimately running out of gas.

It may not be your fault; bad companies and bosses can kill your motivation and inhibit your desire to do more than a job requires.

Regardless, it is against our nature to stay stagnant too long and it can be detrimental to our mental, emotional, and physical health.

Ambition is something that we naturally generate. We can get into situations where we are re-trained to kill our own ambitions, and it can start at a very early age.

Pretty soon we are convincing ourselves that we are fine; the status quo is comfortable; change is unwanted and scary.

My friend since middle school ended a marriage she was unhappy in after she found evidence on Facebook that he was cheating. A couple years later she is very grateful for that evidence, because she may have stayed unhappy even longer without it. She is currently engaged to my brother’s friend, a man I have known since he was a boy. Who I know is making her happy, will make her happy, and will be the loyal and affectionate spouse she wanted her ex to be. She said, “You don’t know how unhappy you were until you are happy.”

I do my monthly Epic Career Tales podcast so that people can be inspired by the level of success and happiness that other people have achieved. I know it is not always good to compare yourself with other people, but if you aren’t getting back from a job what you put into it, then you already know that you’re not as happy as you could be. But how do you know how happy you could be unless you compare yourself to how happy other people are?

A lot of you reading this right now have an automatic thought coming through saying, “Yeah, but those people aren’t me. They are [enter any one of the following: smarter, luckier, more privileged, prettier, wealthier, not as busy, more educated, better connected, etc.]”

If you don’t, that is great for you, because you have few reasons not to take action and become happy.

However, if you recognize that thought, that is also great for you, because recognizing it is the first step in taking its power away.

This post is not meant to put you on a path to extreme change in your life so that you can have happiness. I realize that if you have this thought then you also perceive the effort of becoming happy as potentially futile.

You may want to take action, and I encourage it, but effort is something I want you to save until you have a clear vision of what you being happy in your job could look like.

Tony Robbins has said, “Activity without a high-level of purpose is the drain of your fortune.”

So many of my clients are hesitant to picture what it could look like to be happy because they think that it will lead to greater disappointment.

Tony Robbins has also said that our expectations of what our reality should look like can cause our misery.

I just want to leave you with one distinction that might help clear up what seems to be a contradiction.

Be mindful of how you define happiness. The change you think might be necessary in order to achieve this may not be anything external.

Instead of thinking in terms of what you get when better conditions exist, think about you and your current conditions. Picture yourself in the flow, knowing you are at your utmost best and not needing anyone else to notice or recognize you for it.

This is a baby step to get your head back in the game of your career. For now, do not worry about winning the game, and certainly do not think about the championship – just play.

 

If you can generate a sense of happiness even in unfavorable conditions, you can become unstoppable.

 

Dear Soon-To-Be Graduates: The Last 2 of 7 Things You May Not Want to Know, But Need To

Graduation Day by MD Saad Andalib of Flickr

The big day is arriving soon, dear graduates.  You will be a full-fledged member of the “real world.”

Some of you are ready, while others are scared to death. The difference between the two groups is outlook. The ones who are ready perceive the real world will be able to offer them more than childhood or college life, such as independence and self-reliance.

I considered myself in the other group – the scared group. I perceived that the real world was harsh, and success was not necessarily dependent on my effort and talent, but on my aggressiveness, competitiveness, and self-preservation.

This was so unappealing to me, and I did not feel very powerful or self-reliant. As the youngest child and only girl, I was taught to be afraid of the world, that there are situations and places I should avoid, like the city. At nearly 40-years-old, my father still worries about me going to the city. He thinks I’m naïve. I’m not – I receive alerts of assaults where I go to work in the city every week. I grew in my awareness of a self-limiting belief that was formed by this conditioning and decided it was not truthful. I did not have to let other people take opportunities that the city offered so that I could stay safe in my suburb – which is equally untruthful.

There were a number of things I perceived about the real world that limited my early career growth, and one that I did not realize, but got lucky and unlucky in how things worked out.  Here are two things that I want to share with you that might have made a big difference to me, had I known them.

  1. The demands of life will become greater; enjoy yourself, but put in the effort to be a reliable performer.

It is very hard to help you form a realistic expectation of how limited your freedom will be once you settle in to family life, if that is the life you choose. Some may express resentment, in fact, for how free you are. As long as your personal activities do not interfere with your professional obligations, take advantage of this time in your life – travel, socialize, be civically engaged, volunteer, delve into your passions – whatever they are.

Attend conferences and make great new contacts. Maintaining relationships will become more challenging, even if you do not choose a family life, because OTHER people will, and that will limit their availability and freedom to connect. The more you connect and engage with people now, the stronger your bonds will be, and the easier it will be to reconnect with people after some time passes. You may not see some of your best friends more than once a year. This is okay, but do not give up on people because they become busy. In fact, it will take more effort as you age, but it is just as necessary, maybe even more so, to maintain these relationships.

Keep your word – it is your key to long-term success. If you say you are going to do something, deliver. Last week I shared how as you grow older it will seem harder to procure the help of others, because people generally grow more skeptical, if not cynical. However, if you have impressed people as a person of your word, and you come through for people (if they are given proper direction and inspiration), they will be more apt to come through for you, too. Making an extra effort on someone else’s behalf requires time. Many perceive time as a resource they already lack. To make it an effort they are willing to make, you have to be WORTH the effort. Use your youth to establish yourself as a person worthy of the effort of others. Remember to express gratitude to those who invest their time helping you grow and develop. Look for ways to give that value back and pay it forward.

  1. It will become less acceptable for you to not know what you want as years pass.

As you gain professional experience, it is expected that you will discover what you like and do not like in terms of role, culture, boss, structure, and environment. As you gain valuable skills and experience, the investment of hiring you increases, and the stakes for your employer become higher. Retention and engagement determine if a company receives a return on their investment in talent, so they will want to ensure that your intended career path coincide with the current AND future opportunities that they can offer you.

Though it was relatively early in my career when I discovered a field that lit my proverbial fire (coaching), I was also too early to have enough experience to be credible and effective. I had to spend several years learning more about how to make success more likely and failure less likely. Because I knew my ultimate goal and my reasons for staying in recruiting, I was able to ask for greater opportunities to interface with the clients (employers), and ask questions that helped me do my job better, but also learn more about how hiring managers in diverse organizations qualified top contenders and chose which one received the offer.

Then, when I started coaching at age 28, it was challenging to convey that I was senior, mature, experienced, knowledgeable, and credible enough to attract the volume of clients I expected. If I had not been so sure, however, that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, that I had found the career where I could make an optimal contribution, I would have struggled (even more) to survive, and would likely NOT have survived to be celebrating 11 years in business in a couple of weeks.  By the way – I had a coach that helped me maintain my “true north” when challenges threatened to sway me wayward.

I had a nephew that died at 28. I have lost over a dozen classmates. You may feel like you have your whole career to figure out what you want to do, but I urge you to invest time EARLY and OFTEN assessing where you can be the most successful, happy, and effective.

 

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is NOW.  If you are NOT a soon-to-be graduate and you are just now learning these lessons, there is still time to have them make a difference for you.

What lessons would you share with future business rock stars?

 

Dear Soon-To-Be Graduates: 5 of 7 Things You May Not Want to Know, But Need To, Part 2

Respect – Undergrad Graduation by m00by of Flickr

 

It probably sounds a bit condescending, this, “Take it from me; this is how the world works” post. You are probably sick of that, huh?

Well, don’t tune out, because this is just what I wish I knew, and if I had, I might be much further along in my mission, which would actually mean that the fixes to what is broken in careering and hiring would be available and applied already. When I put it that way, can you see the butterfly effect of NOT knowing this?

So, here are two more things that, if I would have known then, I would have been much more prepared and confident to confront the “real world,” instead of wasting time avoiding it. And, yes, there are two more tidbits of advice that I will share next week. (Be sure to read the first part of this series, if you missed it.)

 

  1. At this moment, if you make a humble yet concerted attempt, you will find it easy to get advice, find a mentor, get inside information on the workings of companies that can help you get hired and succeed.

When I was advised that networking was the number one way to get a job, I was very discouraged. I did not come from a well-connected family. I did not perceive my inner circle to be influential, and I also did not feel confident that I was anyone who could make a strong enough impression to impress a stranger. That is what I thought networking was, and it seemed so inauthentic to me – shaking hands, schmoozing, BSing, bragging… I was more content to avoid corporate jobs, politics, and bureaucracy. I thought pursuing a career in radio was a way to do that.

I was NAÏVE.

Here is what I wish I had known – People LOVE helping other people! If I had seen it more as asking for advice and mentorship, I would have found that, whether I asked a stranger or an acquaintance, the percentage of the time I asked for help, I would have received it.

See, I thought most people were getting it all WRONG! I thought they were foolish to play along with this “dog and pony show” (the actual words of one of my former interns) only to get STUCK in corporate servitude for the sake of keeping up with the Joneses. So, I did not bother asking for advice.

I was POMPOUS and STUBBORN.

I just had not known many people who were fulfilled and happy in their corporate jobs, but that did not mean they did not exist. I did not know at the time I would even want that someday, but if I had taken the opportunity to sit down with someone in human resources or recruiting (the corporate kind, not the MLM kind – I did that!) to learn about skills required, the challenges, and the triumphs, it would have altered my past, present, and future.

Though I do feel I am exactly where I am supposed to be and believe that all things happen in their own good time, my curiosity will always lead me to wonder where I would be if…

When you are in college or beginning your career, people see you as very moldable, and will want to help you now more than ever.  As you grow in your career, it’s strange, but not as many people will make the time to help you – some still will, and it is worth asking, but there seems to be a more worthwhile endeavor in helping a young person. Perhaps it seems too hard to change a more experienced person, or perhaps there is an increased perception that you are competition. Either way, obtain as much support and advice as you can right now, and furthermore, FOLLOW UP on that advice. The more you reward people for taking the time by making it pay off, the more people will be willing to help you in the future. Also, pay it forward. In fact, the fastest way to learn is to teach. You do not have to be in a position of power to be in a position to help.

 

  1. No one expects you to know it all, but be prepared to PROVE what you do know.

As I have mentioned before, those that hire a lot tend to be skeptical, if not cynical. If you genuinely do not know an answer, it is best to admit it. There is the famous saying, “fake it till you make it,” and that has paid off for some people, but you should also note that many well-respected leaders do not know the ins and outs of the jobs underneath them, but they know how to hire, trust, nurture and support experts, and can get answers when they are needed. Being resourceful is much more valuable than being all-knowing, and easier to believe, too.

As far as what you do know, that will have to be proven. If you merely state that you have X skill, without a clear demonstration of how you used that skill to add value, you are leaving much to be guessed, and you want them CERTAIN of your skills. So, make sure you explain what you are capable of DOING with that skill to clearly convey your strength.

 

Next week I will share two more wisdom bombs to help graduates accelerate their professional growth. By the time you are 30, the “cool kids” are the ones who are rock stars at their jobs and can afford a great lifestyle.  It is okay to be a late bloomer like I was, but trial and error in your career can have a cost you will NEVER know.

Please share what you want today’s graduates to know.

 

Pay Attention: 7-Day Challenge to Find Out Who is REALLY in Control of Your Career Decisions

Control by Faramarz Hashemi of Flickr

 

The simple answer is that you are in control of your career decisions, but it does not always feel like that.

You may be one of the people who feel stuck where you are, with little time to tend to a job search, and feel like you are victim to someone else’s whims, waiting and hoping to be identified as a good catch. You feel as though you are not in control because other people you do not know on the other side of a computer screen appear to have power over whether you get the call back or make the cut.

Or, you may not even realize that you are in control, but you are in your own way. You may feel as though there are limits to your success imposed by invisible forces, long-established systems, or other people. Essentially, you stop yourself before you even try. YOU surrender your power, viewing attempts at changing your life as futile. This is harder to recognize, because the thoughts are automatic, based on deep beliefs formed long ago.

Amazingly, not everyone has experienced this. I have interviewed over two dozen people who have achieved EPIC career success for the Epic Career Tales podcast and have found that many of them grew up with few doubts about their success, and a lot of support to follow their dreams. If you are among this crew, it would be challenging to empathize with people who do not just make the changes they need to make in order to achieve happiness, wealth, a better schedule, etc.

This is where I feel most divisions occur. It isn’t easy to walk in someone else’s shoes. It is nearly impossible to say with any degree of accuracy what we would do if we found ourselves mentally bound by our own self-limiting beliefs.

Did you know that if you put chains on an elephant, limiting its mobility, even after the chains are removed that elephant will remain within the limits of the chain anyway? This is proven by circus trainers, who eventually replace metal stakes with wooden pegs. Coincidentally, once the elephant grows big enough and strong enough to rip the tether from the ground, it never even tries, so the metal chains and stakes are overkill.

Last week, LinkedIn founder and CEO Jeff Weiner posted this message, “It’s not so much that people can’t change; they’d prefer not to (change is hard) and we’re rarely in circumstances where it’s truly required.”

It generated quite a bit of quality engagement on the subject of change.

This was my reply:

“The brain actually sabotages most efforts to change, sending our body stress signals to warn of us of ‘danger.’ We have to override it. If you really want to change, create a discipline of recognizing these signals and overriding them. Mel Robbins and John Assaraf are good resources to learn more about the neuroscience around change, and Gretchen Rubin has shared some great insights on habits in Better Than Before.”

If you just said to yourself, “Who’s ‘we?’ Speak for yourself. Change is absolutely required! I need change NOW, thank you very much!”

Then I am giving you an assignment that takes less than five minutes, so that you can test to see why change hasn’t happened yet – is it some awesome force, be it human, systemic, or supernatural, beyond your own power, or is it a belief formed long ago that you have accepted as truth, when it is really a brule (bullshit rule, a la Vishen Lakhiani)?

Your assignment is to take 17 seconds every day for the next week to visualize yourself in the perfect job. I mean PERFECT. DO NOT impose any “reality” on this job. The visualization is just part of the assignment, though. The more critical component of this assignment is to be mindful of your thoughts. Even with just 17 seconds your brain, running on autopilot, will have plenty of time to kick in and start talking to you. Open up a journal and spend two minutes writing down the thoughts you recognized.

Then, spend another two minutes assessing if these thoughts are based on beliefs, and if these beliefs are true. If they are true, then they would essentially have to be true for everyone. If they are not, then they are not true.

These beliefs produce thoughts at every decision point that you may find sabotage you from creating meaningful change in your life, but you take their power away once you recognize them.

A few weeks ago I shared a post, Pro Hacks to Get In Front of Your Future Boss, and made a short list of some of the thoughts that can occur as you have to decide how proactive and assertive you are going to be, which are critical ingredients to landing what you want:

“I don’t want to bother anyone.”

“I don’t have time for that; I need a J-O-B!”

“They’re not going to like me.”

“What if I fail?”

“What if I embarrass myself?”

While you can take their power away by recognizing them, eliminating them is the trickier part. They have been running on automatic for a very long time. Look for an upcoming post on different methods to overriding self-limiting beliefs.

 

In the meantime, please share any revelations resulting from this very short, very do-able assignment.

 

5 Problems with Teaching People How to Fish

Fishing by Christopher Irwin of Flickr

 

As the new administration decides where to make cuts and where to allocate funding, heated debates continue on both sides of the political spectrum. Don’t worry, as usual, this post is not political. (I personally find that many of the issues that need a resolution would be better served if politics were left out of those said issues.) I am much more interested in co-creating meaningful solutions to significant problems than I am finding more ways to separate myself from my fellow citizens.

The intention of this post is to open a discussion on what is a popular approach to alleviating many of society’s woes, teaching people to fish.

I do not mean literally. Though, I know from watching all the shows about Alaska and people living off of the grid that survival literally means catching fish for some. I am talking about proverbial fish, your ability to take care yourself and your family.

I really do not want to discuss whether people need government handouts, whether they abuse them, and who loses when that happens.  Let’s just focus on the real challenges and viable solutions to helping people become self-reliant and empowered in their own survival, and then we can eventually move on to happiness.

Someone in my Facebook community was pleading with people to stop complaining about this healthcare issue, and to just go get a better job that pays better benefits.

Raise your hand if you think this is so easy. (I imagine many, if not most, hands raised.)

Raise your hand if you happen to love your work, feel you have found your calling, and can now not imagine doing anything else. (I imagine very few hands are raised, but those that are belong to people who would be doing a disservice to the world to get a new job simply because it has better benefits.)

 

So, that’s challenge #1 with teaching people to fish: The fish are small

Some people have careers that just are not associated with great benefits and high paychecks, like social service and teaching.  These people know how to fish in that they have jobs, their jobs are necessary, and for the most part they work hard in spite of not being paid as well as other equally valuable professions.

 

Possible self-managed solution: Supplemental income, aka the “side hustle” 

Yes, this would require people to invest time outside of their already full-time jobs.  This means potentially they would have to take time away from their families. If these income-producing activities, however, were related to interests, hobbies, or causes that were already important to them, carving out time would feel less like a sacrifice and more like an investment. Then it is really just a matter of making sure that these activities actually produce income, which usually means finding the right teacher and/or system.

Some, but not all of these activities may require an upfront investment.  Examples include home-based administrative services, real estate investing (bird-dogging and wholesaling require no up front money, and where I live there is an organization that has monthly meetings where you can get educated and find a mentor for FREE!), fitness coach, selling crafts, beauty products, clothes, hand bags, wine, and most anything else you can imagine.

I have walked this walk, and can tell you that while many of these opportunities preach being able to make a good amount in a little bit of time, it takes a significant investment of time to get your systems up and running, and investing money in tools or training can accelerate the income production lifecycle, but it is not necessary.

 

Challenge #2: No proximity to water (jobs)

With the evolution from an industrial age to an information age, some professions will die, and if the hubs of those professions do not move into the new age swiftly enough, large employers fail to create new jobs for people dependent on those jobs.

 

Possible self-managed solution: Online training and remote work

In many counties in many states there are programs that will fully or partially cover training for people who qualify. Qualifying usually just means that you have a basic level of intelligence and aptitude to learn the new skills and that you are willing to fill out paper work, attend meetings, and find or pick the appropriate institution.

What if the government cuts these programs? We are lucky enough to live in the age of crowdfunding. I have walked this walk, too. I raised $5K to build a prototype for a job search mobile game. 25 people in my inner circle and 51 complete strangers helped me fund this project. It took a concerted effort, but I was truly humbled and very pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of support.

As long as there is a need for that skill, be it a trade or a professional skill, then the challenge that potentially remains is the next one.

 

Challenge #3: Inefficient tools or inability to understand how to make or use tools

There is a reason I’ve been business for over ten years, and for that same reason my mentors have been doing this twice as long. Not everyone is an effective writer, and even if you are an effective writer, when the subject matter is yourself, it is very challenging to understand how you could make yourself look good to the people who you feel have your fate in their hands.  Furthermore, résumés have a lot of rules and are meant to be very concise. Writing using short business speak is a whole different skill set compared to writing long form for comprehension. What separates the best résumé writers in the world from the rest is the ability to concisely, clearly, and powerfully convey what makes a person unique – the softer qualities, but in hard business terms.

 

Possible self-managed solution: Self-teaching

Assuming you do not have the resources to invest in engaging a professional like myself who can create master-crafted tools for you, which will run you up to four figures if you include a LinkedIn profile, there are plenty of resources out there that will teach you how to craft your own branded content. We have the best: http://epiccareering.com/diy-content-builder/

There are plenty of FREE guides, as well, but I can only stand behind my own. Yes, YouTube is a great free DIY resource, just be wary of the advice you take. You can trust our channel, which has had over 45,000 views and is chock full of free trainings on cover letters, networking, résumés, and more. We also have some great motivational playlists.

 

Challenge #4: Knowing locations, times of day, the right bait, which fish are edible, how to clean, cook, store, etc.

Having effective tools like branded résumés and LinkedIn profiles are great, if they are seen, but the statistics are against being able to be found, seen and considered when you apply for jobs online. That leaves a big “what then?” question. Then, once you are being considered by a company, you have to know how to keep yourself at the front of a pack you cannot even see to secure an offer, and then negotiate an offer that works with your lifestyle so that you can actually sustain your life.

 

Possible self-managed solution: The Dream Job Breakthrough System

You can actually get the DIY tools above PLUS training in the activities that get the best results, forming good habits around those activities, interviewing to get the offer, and negotiating the optimal offer as a partner to your employer, PLUS many other bonuses by investing just $151 more. If that is still outside of your means, our previous posts below do not give you all of our tricks and tips, but they should give you some really great techniques to get your JoMo (Job Momentum) kickstarted. Feel free to explore the 140+ LinkedIn posts and blog posts available on a wide range of subjects.

Plans A Through D for Getting Noticed by Employers

Pro Hacks to Get In Front of Your Future Boss

2 Common Networking Mistakes and a Formula to Train Your Network to Be a Job Lead Generation Army

 

Challenge #5: They’ve been taught it’s too hard and they are no good at it

We have written many blog posts about how fundamental beliefs can go completely unnoticed as they make decisions for us that limit our future. I agree with Marisa Peer’s assertion that the major reason and cause of suffering worldwide is actually the easy to form, hard to break (without hypnosis) belief that you are not enough. Additionally, our meaning-making brains translate criticism very harshly. We can absolutely be our own worst enemy.

If you cannot relate, then it would be hard for you to understand how the effort to change can seem futile, as though destiny shunned you and you are bound to fail, not matter what, so why try. You are lucky that you do not have to contend with such self-deprecating thoughts.

Positive thinking has failed many people who have tried. That is because the thoughts are just a symptom of a belief system that can be reversed, but not without tricks and a regimen.

I continue to unravel a lifetime of self-limiting beliefs, so that I can allow myself to accept a better position in life. It has taken many teachers, tools, and tricks. It has meant constantly, as in several times daily, checking in on my mindfulness state, interrupting bad patterns and replacing them with better ones.

I have invested tens of thousands of dollars, and I will continue to make this investment until I stop breathing. I love learning new hacks for success and wholeness, and I love teaching them to you. I find this world fascinating, and my coaching effectiveness has evolved exponentially because of what I have discovered. However, I had to understand the science behind it before I could find a credible means of change, and that took significant time and research.

 

Possible self-managed solution: Daily personal development/self-help

Some people have claimed that hypnosis was a cure-all for them, but that does cost money, and what if it doesn’t work for you?

At least once a day, feed yourself awareness of your greater potential. First, read The Miracle Morning, as it will help you understand the benefits and overcome some of the challenges of making self-care a priority every day. I can also point you to Mel Robbins, who easily explains some of the neuroscience behind why we stop ourselves from creating meaningful change. Ultimately, your goal is to form a fundamental belief that you CAN fish. In fact, you can be a master fisherman or woman!  In my house, there is no can’t; only I don’t know how yet.

 

Most of these solutions require a person to make an additional investment of time/money. The reality is for some that there is no additional time and there is no additional money. For some, it is just really challenging to shift priorities and they do not see the way out yet, but I have had clients working 80+ hours with kids at home who some weeks did not have ANY extra to give. They were educated, smart, and being taking for granted and underpaid for their work. For this, I wish there were an organization that could put a company on a public probation of sorts. If the government was to interfere by imposing sanctions on executive pay, I wish there were a way to raise awareness without repercussions for workers and then a way to apply social pressure to change the systems and policies that allow talented, hard-working people to be psychologically abused and trapped.

I am very interested in hearing your challenges and solutions. Please share them with us.

 

Pro Hacks to Get In Front of Your Future Boss

arsp-064 by Anthony Ryan of Flickr

 

Last week I laid out plans A through D for getting noticed by your future employer, but one of those plans deserves its own post, as it requires some ingenuity, investigative skills, and GUTS.

Did that just discourage you?  We will talk in the coming weeks about what caused that and how it can sabotage your success beyond your job search.

Back to Plan C – Find out what other media, social media, professional events, or social events enable you to capture an executive’s attention where few others will be vying for it.

Some executives are inaccessible. Can you presume that they are “ivory tower” types, making decisions from far above the front lines, making you schedule an appointment through their assistant, deeming the lower rungs of the career ladder less important and influential to success? Not really, and they probably are completely unaware that they give off that vibe. I have had to point out to many of my clients through the years just how unapproachable they have made themselves by failing to give themselves a presence.

Their top real reasons?

They are just too busy tending to the people and business that make their success possible. They sometimes even don’t have time to hire the talent that they desperately need!

OR…

They have valid reasons to be concerned about privacy.  They have had access to highly privileged and sought after information. They worked in industries targeted by zealots who bordered on dangerous. Some also worked in highly regulated industries that had not yet discovered how to navigate marketing while staying in compliance.

I have helped my clients overcome these challenges while remaining sensitive to them. But for the executives who remain “invisible,” but who still need YOUR value on their team to support organizational success, how do you make sure you become visible to them?

Have you tried googling their name in quotes? This sounds so common sense in today’s world where our first instinct to find any answer appears to be Google (or YouTube). However, I have been recruiting and finding people on the internet since 2000, and it may not be common sense to everyone.

  • Perhaps if it is a common name, google it with a location or company name.
  • Select the images menu of Google search. Sometimes, your future boss is tagged in photos at events by other people.
  • Check the executive’s LinkedIn Groups and recent activity, if any.
  • Check the company’s press releases (perhaps through your local business journal).
  • Facebook search their name in quotes. Even if they do not have a Facebook profile, you may find them mentioned as part of someone’s post.
  • Join a Meetup related to their industry in their vicinity and see if they are members, then also see what other Meetups they are in.

What clues are you looking for?

  • Places they go.
  • Organizations that they belong to.
  • Events that they attend.
  • Hobbies and interests that they spend time on.
  • Who they hang out with.
  • Causes that are important to them.
  • Other social media that they might use more often, such as Twitter, Instagram or even SnapChat– seriously! You would be surprised!
  • How they view a significant industry problem, company initiative, even their preferences on finding TALENT, aka YOU!

WHY?

This can help you determine:

  • The best way to approach them.
  • Whether to be casual or formal.
  • A place that they might go where you will not have any gatekeepers (except your fear, but we will cover that in a future post).
  • What to talk about when you have a chance to approach them that would be of interest or importance to them.
  • People you may not have known you mutually know because someone wasn’t actively using their LinkedIn account.
  • Maybe you might find that there is a path of even less resistance building rapport with their parent, spouse, child, or assistant.

Does this sound “stalkerish?” Is it Overkill?

That is most likely your fear talking. This is where the GUTS come in.

You may not be driven to try this if you are generating a lot of interest in your top companies by tapping the shoulders of the people you know in order to make powerful introductions that get you interviews. That is Plan A, remember.

However, before you go spend the same amount of time filling out a frustrating online application with redundant or irrelevant questions only to drop into an abyss of résumés that will never even get seen, let alone get a response, muster up some guts to try this experiment with two of your TOP target companies.

If you find yourself unwilling, scared, or thinking any of the following:

“I don’t want to bother anyone.”

“I don’t have time for that; I need a J-O-B!”

“They’re not going to like me.”

“What if I fail?”

“What if I embarrass myself?”

Then we have a post coming up that you need to read, because no matter what you do, you will STOP yourself from getting what you want every time if you do not address the REAL cause.

 

Do you have a story where you boldness was rewarded? Please share the results of your experiments!

 

The Secret to Influencing Corporate Change Revealed

Foxx Discusses Local Economic Issues with NC Business by Virginia Foxx

 

Many of my clients over the past ten years have either developed thought leaders for their organization, leveraged thought leaders, or have been thought leaders themselves.

It seems like common sense that if change in an organization is going to be adopted, it needs to happen from the top down, but my clients have been able to manage upward. Executive leaders have to be able to recognize a problem and the pain that it’s causing to have any desire for change.

When you cannot bring the executive leader to the problem, like in Undercover Boss, sometimes you have to bring the problem to the executive leader, but how you do you do that? Through storytelling. Who does it? A person with influence.

I’m referring to authentic influence. I’m not talking about leaders who are talking heads and attempt to assert their influence using authoritarianism. People with authentic influence, who I refer to as influence leaders, earn trust and loyalty by listening first and foremost. This is also referred to as caring.

At first you may think that they are inaccessible because they seem like Mr. or Mrs. Important, but they genuinely want to be of service. They also want to invest their time improving situations that impact the most people or cause the most pain, so if you want them to give you their ear, be a curator and deliverer of people’s pain stories.

It does not always work. Unfortunately, sometimes executive leadership is more influenced by ego. That is usually how these thought leaders, and the developers of thought leaders found their way to me. They were usually hired because there was an intention and planned initiative for change, but they found interference coming from the top and felt stifled. They are driven by their desire to realize change and they lose their motivation quickly if unnecessary obstacles are created at the top. An influence leader can only inspire change if they are inspired.

In order to retain these valuable people for your organization, executive leaders have to be open and receptive, and to be willing to stand up for change and go to bat for their people.

Otherwise, I will help them find and be found by organizations with leaders who will stand up for change, and that organization will benefit from their influence.

 

Whether you are the thought leader, you develop thought leaders, or you leverage the thought leaders, you are an influence leader. Only work for an organization that demonstrates its willingness to be influenced. If that does not apply to where you are at, let’s have a consultation. It is highly important to me that you, who have such potential to make things better for others, are in a position that enables you to embrace and use your power. That is the influence that I am driven to have.

 

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!

 

Look at a Person’s Light, Not their Lampshade

From Quotefancy.com

 

I read this quote from Gerald G. Jampolsky and immediately had to add it to my library of inspiration. I was pondering it for so long.

The most obvious reason that it appealed to me is because of my own company’s motto, “Unveil Your Brilliance.”

This might sound too crazy to be true, but in the ten plus years that I have been providing services to job seekers, I have found each and every one of my clients to be brilliant.

Another quote you may recognize—“Seek and ye shall find.”

Had I discovered and uncovered their brilliance because it was my mission to find and articulate that brilliance? Or have all of the people who have chosen to engage me as their partner in transition been brilliant for doing so?

Then I start to think about the implications of this concept of identifying the brilliance, the light, and everyone in the hiring process.

As a recruiter, I had been a member of a population of justifiably skeptical, if not cynical, people who had been deceived and whose faith in people had been broken time and time again. When people are your product, then you can expect the unexpected, no matter how well you qualify and vet people. There will always be those few people who are either good at fooling themselves, are good at fooling you into thinking that they are confident, conscientious, and competent when they really are not.

I did not like myself as a cynical person. I much prefer to be the person that not only identifies what makes someone uniquely valuable, but also the person to remind others what makes them uniquely valuable. Furthermore, I help them articulate their value powerfully to the world so that they can claim a career and life that makes them proud.

So is it possible to be on the hiring side, mitigating risk for your company and its employees while still being able to appreciate the goodness and value in everyone?

Of course, being turned down by a company does not have to be a diminishment or failure to recognize someone’s unique value. After all, not every company can possibly present each person with their best opportunity to shine brightly.

One of my favorite children’s books is called The Crown on Your Head by Nancy Tillman. It sends the message that you were born special and with an invisible crown. The book beautifully teaches the reader, the child, to appreciate their own crown. It also teaches that everyone else also has a crown.

“No one’s is brighter and no one’s is duller; it’s only a crown of a different color.”

I talked to so many very talented job seekers whose main pain and frustration is the fact that they are certain that they will be tremendously valuable to a company and they get either no response, or they are rejected. As a result, they do not feel as though their individual potential was adequately recognized and acknowledged.

 

On the hiring side, I see great room for improvement on how interviewers go about seeing candidates as each having something uniquely valuable to offer, while still effectively identifying the crown color match that will best enable the individual and the company to shine.

On the job seeker’s side, I wish everyone could have the benefit of working with a personal branding professional like me. Someone who will remove the lampshade so that your color and light will be noticed and appreciated by the company that needs your talent.