Archives for habits

The Best Habits To Start Today To Turbo Boost Your Career Growth

When I was teaching business students career management and professional development at Drexel University, a 1-credit course that they were required to pass in order to graduate, there were questions as to the relevance of the class by certain students who had jobs already or planned to start their own businesses. They were not just learning how to land a job, however. The course also taught emotional intelligence, how to brand themselves as professionals, how to collaborate with a multi-generational workforce, and how to make professional development a habit so that they can continue to grow and expand in their career.

I understood that they had heavy workloads; Drexel’s 10-week all-year-round terms were very demanding. Many of them were in co-ops and Division 1 sports. I’m not sure how I would have done with a schedule like that, in spite of the fact that I worked multiple jobs and played rugby during college.

But what they don’t see from their vantage point is how many people enter the workforce, get on the wheel, and go wherever it takes them, and then look up one day wondering how they got there, and wondering if it’s too late to take control, change courses, and wind up somewhere better without sacrificing the quality of life that their current job supports.

There was tremendous value to that course, but the biggest value these students received was the habit of making time for professional development. Even when a company offers professional development, it’s often steered by them, and limited to what that company can offer in terms of growth.

The people in their 30s and 40s who have achieved executive status have gotten there by being thoughtful and intentional about their next steps.

So what are the best habits to accelerate your professional development?

One of my previous coaches, Bill Walsh, advised me to make a list every night of the 10 things that I can do the next morning that would take me the farthest the fastest and to aim to get them done before 10 AM, and then take the rest of the day off if I want, or take meetings the rest of the day. He called it the “10 before 10.” The idea of being done at 10 AM sounded great, and I tried it. I tried getting up at 6 AM every morning. I was not very with it. I didn’t get into a groove until 7. I couldn’t get my list done by 10, because I had to get my kids to preschool from 8:30 to 9:15, and I found I needed a nap by 2. I couldn’t take a nap, because I had my kids home then. I had very little energy to do anything with them.

I tried it for 30 days. It just didn’t work for me. Besides the fact that I am a late night person by nature, being a mom was not compatible with that schedule. I would rather work while the kids are at school.

Other coaches, such as Tim Ferriss and Lisa Nichols have said, “Just focus on 1-3 things.” I believe the distinction is to do 3 strategic things in the midst of all the tactical things you have to do. In a Facebook group I run with Kareen Walsh, we just focus on one big strategic action each week. I call these massive action items. They are sometimes a bit out of your comfort zone, but stand to propel you quickly from where you are to where you want to be.

Personally, I think you have to try different systems out and see what works best, but you also have to give it 30 days – a good 30 days. Whatever new system you try, it will take time to adjust your life with your new rhythm.

Which system you try really depends on your needs and your goals. How fast do you want to grow? In what direction? What are the other demands on your time?

If you’re working full-time and not actively searching for something new, choosing one massive action item to accomplish each week, along with all the supporting things that need to be done, like research, follow-up, and networking, is a good habit to start. You can use Monday to evaluate your goal, prioritize, and get organized. You can use Tuesday to do whatever research is needed, Wednesday to take massive action, Thursday to add value/follow up/send thank yous, and Friday to celebrate. Perhaps your massive action will be setting up a meeting with a different department, writing and submitting an article to an industry publication, or volunteering to speak for a professional organization.

If you are in full-time transition, aim to do the 5 categories of categories outlined above every day: Admin, Research, Massive Action, Network Nurturing and Self Care/Celebration. You could also accomplish 5 administrative tasks Monday, research 5 target companies/employers Tuesday, complete massive action items Wednesday, help 5 people in your network Thursday, and then treat yourself for a week of smart work (notice I didn’t say hard.)

If you’re working full time and actively searching, 3 massive action items to accomplish each week is a good goal, and keep in mind that applying online to a job is not a massive action, and you should not expect a massive response. Massive action is reaching out to a hiring manager directly with a well-crafted, customized, enticing introduction letter, or inspiring someone in your network to be an internal sponsor for an open opportunity. Massive action could be attending a networking event, and preparing by evaluating the attendee or speaker lists and doing some homework so that you know who you will try to speak with and what to say.

If you’re bootstrapping a business, you’re not quite at a place yet where you can delegate everything; certain things just have to get done and they have to get done by you and your skeleton crew, if you have one. You may need to try the 10 before 10, or 10 before noon if you find early mornings aren’t your best time to make things happen. And then you may not be able to take the rest of the day off, but you will have taken the time to focus on developing your business, not just running your business.

Whichever system you try for 30 days, the point is to start now taking the time to focus on how you want to move forward and make it a habit. I also advise that you rate your momentum regularly so that you can be more aware of when adjustments need to be made.

If the system is working, you will feel that momentum is in your favor by the middle of the 3rd week. You’ll probably rate it a 7 or higher on a 10 scale. That’s when you will be taking more meetings and/or having more interviews. Continue to maintain your habit, regardless of how great the momentum is. You may choose to scale it back so that you can handle the bandwidth, but continue it at some level.

Remember, too, that if you struggle with forming habits, hypnotherapy is a very powerful tool that can shift the habit from a push to a pull, accelerating how fast you can expect to gain the benefits of your new habit. You can schedule a free consultation here.

Also, if you have found yourself finally looking ahead, wondering how you got here and where the best place to go is from here, get Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days.

 

Junkie XL, Elvis Presley – A Little Less Conversation (Elvis vs JXL)

Elvis Presley vs. JLX’s official music video for ‘A Little Less Conversation’. Click to listen to Elvis Presley on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/ElvisSpotify?IQid=ElvisPLLC As featured on Elvis: 30 #1 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 and 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 was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business and recently instructed for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy at Cabrini College, where her students won the national competition and were named America’s Top Young Entrepreneurs.

The Low Down on Willpower: Why It’s Often Not Enough and How to Compensate

BEAT THE DIETER S DILEMMA WHAT TO DO WHEN WILLPOWER FAILS TEXT WORD CLOUD CONCEPT by aihumnoi on Shutterstock

Here’s what we know about it: It’s limited, but with the right motivation and the right conditions, it can be THE thing that helps you create the change you want in your life.

But what if… you didn’t get enough sleep one day? What if something stressful happens in your life? (That’s inevitable.) What if your blood sugar is low one day?

The right conditions for willpower can be very tricky to control all the time.

Gretchen Rubin, aficionado of good habits and author of several great books on forming habits, has pointed out that forming one good habit tends to eventually create a ripple effect of other good habits. One of the reasons is because willpower is like a muscle, and if you exercise it regularly, it gets stronger over time. Another reason is because our brains release dopamine when things feel good. When change feels good, we crave more of it.

However, using willpower can consume so much mental energy that we become less effective at work, in our workouts, or at solving problems. Have you ever noticed when starting a new diet that you feel more exhausted or less competent? As I already stated, you can gradually build up a larger and larger reserve of willpower, but you have to overcome those conditions on a very regular basis.

Another great point by Gretchen Rubin is that forming a new habit is so consuming because you have to constantly consciously make the decision to NOT engage in the bad habit and TO engage in the good habit until the new habit becomes automatic and you no longer have to even think about it.

My biggest frustrations as a coach were when my clients simply would not do what I was advising them to do. In my early years, this took a toll on my relationship with them, as I would grow very frustrated. By digging deep into the everyday individual challenges of engaging in a new activity with integrity from my own perspective and getting some coaching in emotional intelligence, I developed a greater sense of empathy and compassion. As much as my clients appreciated my patience, compassion, and validation of their feelings, it kept them comfortable in their challenges instead of moving them past them.

In my quest to be the most effective force for personal transformation I can be, I was left with a couple of nagging questions:

  • If our conscious efforts can so easily be sabotaged and have such a cost, what can we do to get our subconscious to be on board quicker so that new habits become automatic?
  • If being tough and no-nonsense doesn’t inspire change in my clients, and being too compassionate doesn’t inspire my clients to change, and I know that they want change, what is the right balance to use and the right tools to use that will help them love themselves through the change and create a safe space for them to transform?

As a leader, have you ever asked yourself these questions? The drive of a leader is to oversee the development and transformation of others into leaders. I have to imagine that all leaders have discovered the same strengths and shortcomings of tough love and compassion. Finding the balance takes trial and error and experience. Even with the wisdom of experience, we have to be able to apply that wisdom when conditions, like lack of sleep, low blood sugar, stress, are present.

For the answers, I turned to science: neuroscience and psychology. What they have discovered in the past 10 years negates much of what we knew prior and a lot of what I learned in college, but some fundamentals remain. Planting roots for good habits is still very much based on the cognitive learning methods of positive and negative conditioning, but we are finding that negative conditioning has some detrimental side effects that contribute to mental health declines, even though it appears to be more effective in the short-term. This is why positive psychology branched out as a practice in 1998. Public perception of this practice has held it back, as people believe that positive psychology is merely about “thinking positive,” which many struggles to do with much regularity. Much the same way, the media/Hollywood and a few mal-intended practitioners of NLP (like hypnosis, but using regular conversation to induce trance) have given hypnosis a very bad reputation.

Take the highly-nominated Academy Award film Get Out. Ugh. It’s a shame that people will not seek out a solution with such potential to change their lives for the better because they believe this portrayal of hypnosis as some malevolent form of mind control. I have already had people claim that hypnosis is “too invasive.” If you watched this film, I couldn’t blame you for getting that impression, but you must realize that this was a movie created by the imagination of Jordan Peele. You might also get the impression from watching this film that white people are wackos, or that Peel thinks so. You might not know that Peele is half white himself.

The truth is that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis, it’s a way to get you into rapport with your subconscious mind, and if I were to give you suggestion under trance that was out of alignment with your values and morals, you would come out of trance. The other truth is that I am not using hypnosis to impose my will on you. I was trained to make sure that the ecology and well-being of the client come first, and your words are the most effective words I can use, so before a session, I am capturing how you feel, words you use and what you want most for your life post-session.

I had to clear up my kids’ perception of hypnosis, as they have seen cartoons where characters bark like a dog. I did see a hypnosis show in which fellow college classmates did some crazy things, but those were the same people who would be seen doing crazy things without the influence of hypnosis, and perhaps under the influence of something else that would lower inhibitions. I noticed that the hypnotist sent some people back to their seats. These were the people who would not have wanted to do something crazy.

Psychology was my career of choice as a high school Junior. But someone had said to me that people become psychologists because they’re crazy themselves. This turned me off to that career path. I don’t regret my communications concentration – it had a lot of cross-over and I certainly use it heavily as a coach. However, I know enough now to feel certain about the contribution that I can make with hypnosis, and I’m not going to let the perceptions of a practice discourage me from promoting it and using it.

You may decide that it’s still too mysterious, or that you want to build up your own willpower muscle. I believe that it’s an admirable endeavor, especially if you can afford the time it takes to do that.

If, however, you can’t afford to take a lot of time, or the pace at which you need change has to keep up with the pace of business, technology, life, etc. consider hypnosis as a safe, natural alternative to a fallible, limited reserve of willpower.

 

Schedule your individual session here: https://calendly.com/epiccareering

For corporate change initiatives, including leadership transformations, e-mail Karen@epiccareering.com to schedule a consultation.

Ben Harper – The Will to Live

The Will to Live (1997)

5 of 7 Methods of Overcoming Self-Limiting Beliefs for Career Breakthrough, Part 2

Stella 4 by Abir Anwar of Flickr

 

Don’t be too surprised to discover that there have been deep-seated beliefs that have been making decisions for you. This is a blessing and a curse of our brain. The most important thing to realize is if these beliefs are serving our optimal growth or inhibiting it.

I shared 20 limiting beliefs that I discovered about money, wealth, abundance and worthiness. This was critical for me to uncover, because while I had a record year last year and feel I turned a corner in my business that will enable me to bring game-changing solutions into the world, I would have already liked to have these solutions into the hands of the people who need them to move forward in their career. Then they would already be making a bigger, more meaningful difference to the people they lead and the causes they move forward.

I also shared 3 of 7 methods I have learned from mentors, coaches, and even healers from over the past nine years to overcome limiting beliefs that direct our actions and become habits that run on autopilot unless we interrupt and replace them. We might as well start there:

 

Interrupt, replace, reinforce

Like a couple of the methods I shared last week, Dr. David Bach’s simple yet effective method incorporates the mind-body connection, but starts first with an awareness and manipulation of your physiology, rather than your mindset. His objective is to help us stay in the “zone,” or “flow” of high performance consistently, but it will start very gradually as you practice and become more mindful, building good habits as you go.

As his first volunteer, I was skeptical that I would find it so easy. I came to an event where he was speaking in a state of frustration and disappointment with me. At the time my daughters were three and four, and had tested my patience prior to leaving, making me late, which always makes me frazzled. My patience failed. I absolutely hate leaving my girls on bad terms. I was less interested in how to be a business superstar, and more concerned about being a nurturing, patient mom who did not inadvertently instill limiting beliefs in my daughters (though I feel at some level I am bound to – I already teach many of these methods to them).

He had me come up and reenact what I was like when I was the “ugly” mom, as I called it. There, in front of mostly strangers, I had to reveal how I am that makes me the most ashamed. For the sake of my daughters, and science, I bent over at the waist, pretending my knee and thigh high daughters were standing in front of me. My lips pursed, my eyebrows narrowed toward my nose, my pointer finger shook, and with a raised voice I asked a common question, “How many times do I have to tell you to do XYZ before you actually do it?!” I looked up at the 45-50 or so people there to find that they were looking at me just as my daughters do, a bit frozen and afraid. Face flushed and hoping for some mercy, I was very anxious to put an end to this horrifying display and be told the solution. First, he pointed out my body language, how I was standing, and my closed off, jerky movement. Then he asked everyone to notice my strenuous facial expression and tone of voice.

Then he had me reenact what I’m like when I am in the flow with my daughters. I had to remember a time when I felt like I was “winning” at parenting. Sadly, I realized that these moments were few and far between. I did recall, however, a time in the past week when I figured out how to inspire my girls to cooperate and complete a task joyfully by turning it into a game. I stood up straight, even leaning slightly back, I was talking with a smile, and my eyes, also smiling, were wide with excitement as I explained the rules of the game, as well as the prize, in a higher pitched, but softer voice. Again, he pointed out my body language, facial expression and tone. It was the same posture that I tend to embody when I am speaking, singing, or teaching – tasks that I enjoy and when I feel most in the flow.

For one last demonstration, he asked me to ask the same question of my daughters, with the same tone of voice, but while I was maintaining the body language and facial expression of the second reenactment. It made me giggle. It felt so unnatural. He pointed out that it was impossible to be both at the same time. I have since learned from other teachers that you cannot be in a positive state of mind and at the same time be in a negative state of mind. You can switch back and forth, but this is why when you are scared, if you think of something that makes you happy, the fear disappears, at least temporarily while you hold the happy thought.

So his technique is to notice and manipulate your physicality to mimic the same physicality you embody when you are in the flow, every time you notice you are not in the flow. Just like any new habit, it will take repetition to reinforce, and you may find it harder to practice under times of stress. You may even choose NOT to practice at times. Be forgiving of yourself, as feeling bad about relapses does not at all contribute to improvement in any way, but forgiving yourself (and others) has been scientifically proven to improve your body and mind chemistry.

The point is to gradually increase your awareness and practice until it becomes automatic. New habits will seem impossible at first, as your brain resists change, and there will be a stage where you will question your desire to continue, even as you start to see benefits. If you persist, however, you will eventually reach a stage where it just feels natural, and you no longer have to work to perform your habit. Hal Elrod broke habit forming into three stages – unbearable, uncomfortable, and unstoppable.

If you have anxiety or depression, while this is not a cure by any means, it is an exercise that will help minimize the secondary and tertiary physical repercussions of those conditions.

 

Timeline Therapy

If you identified beliefs, but have struggled to remember the moments and events that generated them, or you remember the moments, but they cause you great grief, trauma, or fear, you will want to find a certified or licensed practitioner of this approach (I am not, yet). There have even been successes using this method to alleviate and eliminate allergies.

Like I shared last week, many human performance optimization professionals insist that you have to confront the source of pain before you can really move forward and create a new future. Timeline therapy is like mental laser surgery where, while in a trance state, you float backward through your timeline to hone in on those moments you may have buried or find hard to confront to reframe the event and create a new belief that services your highest good.

Again, you will want to engage a licensed professional, especially if these moments are traumatic. Be under someone’s care. I will just outline some of the steps involved in timeline therapy.

  1. Close your eyes and, with eyes closed, look up slightly (this induces an alpha brain wave state)
  2. Take a deep breath in; without breath, visualize 3 three times; Repeat with 2, then 1
  3. Count down from X to 1 (depending on your experience with meditation)
  4. Without analyzing, imagine you are flying above your timeline and you have located the moment this anomaly was born
  5. Move to the time 15-minutes before it happened
  6. Think of three OTHER possible meanings or causes this event could have
  7. Choose one that serves you best and drop it, as if you are downloading it, into the timeline in place of the event that caused the anomaly
  8. TEST: Does this anomaly still resonate as true?

 

Next week I will share the two final methods of this series, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. In fact, I have a list of 30+ different exercises, some of which are meant to activate the Law of Attraction, though all are intended to help you achieve breakthroughs in your performance and results. I will eventually share them all, and I am currently deciding if I will share these in a second 30-day transformation e-book, if I will include them in a 30-day or 3-month online group course, or if I will hold local live events and focus on one method per event. I may wind up doing a combination. If this interests you, please share which venue you prefer.  Also share if you try any of these methods and your results or lack thereof.

 

The Chicken or Egg Quandary: Happiness or Success?

happy by Gordon of Flickr

Happy! by Gordon of Flickr

 

What comes first? Happiness or success?

I have a client who is unhappy at his job (hence why he engaged me, obviously). He makes great money, when he is performing, but his compensation is highly commission based. When he’s not performing, he’s not making great money.

Due to life changes, he NEEDS to catch up financially and find a new job that pays the same or more to what he was making when he was at the top of his game. He also really wants to make sure that his next step is the RIGHT next step, or he will find himself at square one.

There are also personal priorities in his life that he rated highly, but is willing to delay them for years, if necessary, in order to land and succeed in a new, high-paying job.

In essence, he is delaying happiness for success.

However, what I learned this weekend from a Consciousness Engineering class is that Harvard studies prove that happiness increases success, and not just by a little bit. A quality annual vacation time of 11 days or more away from home leads to GREATER performance.

The main takeaway from this class was that using happiness as a means rather than an end increases productive energy by 31%, sales by 37%, and the likelihood of promotion by 40%.  Additionally, you are more likely to live longer and stave off sickness and disease. You raise your intelligence and improve your memory. Your creativity and problem solving abilities receive a boost. There is also the link between your wellness and performance to consider.

“Great,” you say. “Just get happy, eh?”

I understand. It is not as easy as it sounds, so Shawn Achor shared four practices that, when done daily for a period of 30 to 90 days will improve your happiness and gives you all of the benefits previously mentioned. None of them take longer than two minutes and you can use the strategy of habit pairing. An example would be doing these while you brush your teeth, to increase your likelihood of making them true habits.

Here they are:

  1. At work your first item of the day is to spend two minutes expressing your gratitude in writing to a colleague, boss, or vendor.
  2. Every night think about three new things that you are grateful for and WHY– the WHY is most important.
  3. Think about a single positive experience you had in the past 24 hours and write four bullet points recording the details you remember about it, such as the clothes you were wearing.
  4. Spend ten minutes focusing on your breath moving in and out, or whatever time you can make. Yes, this is meditation. Think you don’t have time? Investing this time has produced 62 more minutes of productivity. So, in essence, it creates more time.

Ironically, I listened to this class while driving down to the shore in an effort to make myself happy after an unusually challenging day with my youngest daughter. It did not work, but the next day we got to bike ride on the boardwalk, play in the ocean, and go on rides before heading back home for her first day of Pre-K. Today, even though I am still exhausted, I feel calmer, happier, and even more patient.

 

Try experimenting with happiness in your life and share with us the results you find.

 

Biohack Your Job Search: A 2-Week Challenge to Test the Link Between Wellness and Performance

It's Never Too Late to Create Healthy Habits by Army Medicine of Flickr

It’s Never Too Late to Create Healthy Habits by Army Medicine of Flickr

I’m coming clean – I have been a slacker this summer when it comes to my health. After spending a year committed to forming positive habits around fitness and nutrition, I let one setback cascade into another. Now I’m seeing the scale creep up and the smaller clothes that I was so proud to buy and flaunt look worse and worse. I have not been compelled to commit to returning to what I know worked – portion control, discipline in gluten-free dieting, and continually challenging myself physically.

As Gretchen Rubin repeats in Better Than Before, it is easier to start than to restart. She also talks about habit clusters. Good habits seem to come in clusters, so in other words, once you tackle acquiring a healthful habit, you will tend to feel good (an important component to habit formation) and tackle other habits, like getting better organized or flossing and brushing your teeth twice daily. You may even notice, just as a byproduct, that you watch less television or read more. On the other hand, when we break a good habit, other good habits seem to also break. My initiative to get rid of clutter has also slowed down.

Have you observed this in your own life?

If you can say any of the following are true for you, I urge you to make a commitment to developing one new good habit.

  • Getting out of bed is hard (I recommend The Miracle Morning)
  • Procrastination keeps you from doing what you know you can do to change your circumstances
  • Energy dips prevent you from completing what you set out to do on a daily basis
  • You do not want to go out and do as much, because you do not feel good about yourself
  • A lack of focus prevents you from being fully present and contributing at your highest level
  • There is a sense of chaos that makes you feel scattered and unproductive

Since the 1980s when Deepak Chopra started to raise awareness and/or eyebrows about the connection between mind and body (and vice versa), a paradigm shift in how the brain has been studied and how we can apply it to better our lives started. Much like technology, the pace of discovery has only continued to accelerate. You may be up late watching PBS one night to find a slew of doctors such as Daniel Amen promoting systems, products, and programs that help you use nutrition and supplements to heal dis-ease, curtail aging, and improve mental clarity and focus.

That sounds great, right? But…

Is being able to remember where I put my keys really (realistically) worth making a 3-4 figure investment?

When I read Gretchen’s book, she, a self-proclaimed habit enthusiast, said something that made me very intrigued about willpower. Many of us see willpower as the key to forming good habits, but what Gretchen purported was that the key to forming good habits is actually to do as much as possible to eliminate the need for willpower, because willpower will inevitably fail you.

I consider myself to be someone with a good amount of willpower when I commit. However, I am a questioner and I need to understand the logic and science behind how something works before I can completely buy in.

Rubin discussed how some people need to form good habits over time, but sometimes it is like a lightening strike. She shared how reading a science-based book on how carbs impact the body influenced her to instantly drop carbs from her diet. (She also admits she is not what you would consider to be a “foodie” and has an unadventurous palate to start.) I had the same experience in 2005 when I read The South Beach Diet and lost 25 pounds the year of my wedding, and when I read JJ Virgin’s The Virgin Diet and lost 30 pounds in 2012. This was also how I finally discovered that the culprit of my inflammation and IBSD was gluten, and that I was also sensitive to soy and dairy. As relieved as I was after years of visits to specialists who could not give me answers to the causes and just prescribed medications for the symptoms to finally know why I felt bad so often, sustaining a gluten-free and dairy/soy reduced diet is extremely challenging and does not feel practical. Still, I know it works.

Friday, in an effort to catalyze my desire to commit to a new program (what I have found to be successful for me in the past), I listened to a podcast interview with Mark Hyman, author of The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet, and Vishen Lakhiani, founder of MindValley, a global personal development publisher.  Dr. Hyman promotes healthy fat as a way to eliminate cravings and therefore, reduce how much you have to rely on your will power to live a healthy lifestyle.  Dave Asprey, founder of Bulletproof Coffee, certainly promotes this as they key to how he turned his health around at 300 lbs and upgraded his life. (As well as his coffee, obviously.)

Here is what I know from experience and from countless testimonials from my clients:

Performing at your highest level in your job search is constantly interrupted by self-limiting beliefs, confidence-breaking rejections, dread and depression.

So, while I cannot speak from experience about the 10-Day Detox Diet, nor Bulletproof Coffee, I am publicly stating my own intention to reverse my backslide. Also, I am challenging you, especially if you answered yes to any of the questions above, to take on a new healthful habit. Be it getting and staying tidy, waking up earlier and in a more positive, productive mindframe, meditating, taking your vitamins every day, exercising, or eliminating or adding things to your diet.

 

I predict that the sense of accomplishment and endorphins you create as a result of this newly acquired habit will cascade into not just a higher level of performance, but greater results and good fortune in your job search and in your life. If I’m wrong, tell me so by commenting, and if I’m right, share your experience and results to inspire others to upgrade their job search results, and therefore their career status and income.

 

Catch Your Next Job with the Right Tools

Photo courtesy of Casey Bisson of flickr creative commons. http://bit.ly/fishjob Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Photo courtesy of Casey Bisson of flickr creative commons. http://bit.ly/fishjob Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Trout season is approaching in Pennsylvania! Would you try to catch those fish by throwing stones at them? Throwing stones could possibly work, but using a fishing rod is a much better idea. We’ve all heard the saying: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Learning how to fish is great, but you’ll still need the right pole. A rod used for fishing in a serene lake is very different from a rod used to fish in a choppy river. You also can’t ignore the importance of a good lure, bait and a hook. Not being able to catch fish means starvation, especially if you’re dependent on that catch for your meal. At the very least, you’ve wasted your time and energy with efforts that don’t pay off for the day. How many days can you do this before you give up? Likewise, when it comes to job opportunity, skills are crucial, but you still need the right set of tools and a good location to reel in an employer. Like a fish, a good employer can provide substance in the form of financial security, a sense of purpose, and putting your passions to use.

Find a place to start by creating a plan:

If you were going fishing, you wouldn’t start by running to the closest creek and casting your line. First you would decide on what type of fish you’d like to catch. Then you would research an ideal fishing location, and ask a few fishermen to tell you about it. Next, you would get your gear in order and you would be certain to make sure you have the right pole for the situation. You can think about job hunting in the same way. You locate your ideal employers, research the company, work your networks, manage your brand, revise your résumé and review it.

In my article, “Become an Effective Job Hunter: Work Smarter, Not Harder!”, I wrote that you can see tremendous results in fewer hours than you think, if you put your time into the right resources. A lot of job seekers may be tempted to apply online through job boards and internet searches, because they think they’ll be missing out on opportunities AND because it’s a habit. Or they perhaps they work during the day and feel that the job boards are the only resource they can turn to after work hours. However, the percentage of people hired via internet searching is shockingly low. Less than 10% of people are hired by employers through this method. In fact, only 5% of your time should be spent looking for work on job boards, after you’ve set up your agents and have validated suitable results. Choose two days per week to check your agent results and add those companies to your target company list, research them, network and market yourself appropriately. Relying solely on job boards is like going to the ocean to catch fish. The fish are plentiful and so is the competition. The chances of getting the fish you actually want are slim. This concept can be summed up succinctly by Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, “The fishing is best where the fewest go.”

Picking your employer and role:

Do you want to work for a large employer, or a small company? There are positives and negatives associated with employer size. A smaller company will most likely have you wearing multiple hats. In other words, all of your skills will be put to use. If you’re the type of person who likes doing multiple jobs that take advantage of your dynamic skill set, a small company could be a great fit. If you prefer to do a specific job, and you don’t mind being slotted into one position, a larger company may be a better fit. It really depends on your needs, and your ability to identify those needs. These are typical characteristics of jobs at smaller and larger companies, but there are also exceptions. Your target list goal, if your criteria defy those typical characteristics, would be to identify those exceptions and research, network and market to them appropriately.

Once you have a company size in mind, and a possible employer, it is time to research that company. Job review sites like Vault or Glassdoor are great places to get a feel for employers, including salary rates. There may be companies worth flocking to. Other companies may raise too many red flags, or may not be a good cultural fit. I wrote extensively about this process in my article, “You Can’t Afford Not to Investigate Your Next Employer!” In addition to salary and healthcare benefits, vacation time can be considered as part of your compensation package. At this stage you’re still at the pre-qualification level, not unsimilar to when an employer determines if you meet the minimal qualifications for a job. At this point, you’d really want to do as thorough a job searching them as they would do to qualify you. There are some great research tips within the Daily Job Search Tips on the Accelerfate Facebook page.

Work your networks:

Networking is the number one tool in your job seeking endeavors. The word of mouth has serious power; according to a 2012 ABC report, 80% of job seekers land their position through networking. It is similar to the way a fishing buddy can help steer you to the right fishing spot. Start with your professional connections, friends, family and even alumni for job leads. Reaching out to employees and hiring managers at companies you’d like to work for could result in a job. It is through these professional and personal networks that possible job openings can be discovered. When companies have exhausted their internal candidates, they will often rely on referrals from employees and job seekers they’ve met at informational meetings. In short, networking is the lifeblood of a job seeker. Many people don’t think that they have a network. Other people assume that their network doesn’t know anyone. There are also people who’ve tapped their network, but got few to no results. Without connections, finding a job becomes significantly more difficult. I discuss how to tap into these networks in my vlogs, “How Does Your Garden, uh, Network Grow?” and “Get Interviews in Your Network.”

Your personal brand:

Networking is an outlet for your personal brand, and your brand messaging should be consistent with networking as with your content. A well-crafted online presence can be thought of as a lure for job recruiters. For working professionals, LinkedIn is absolutely the best place to be. Over 97% of recruiters looked for talent on LinkedIn in 2012. It also serves as a great tool to engage with recruiters, and further research an employer. You can receive job postings along with company news through the service. The postings are a great way to become aware of opportunities and to find out who you know that could recommend you for the job. If you haven’t updated your LinkedIn profile recently, make sure you’re not using a default headline and that your profile doesn’t mirror your résumé. Make connections to your corporate and school alumni, if you haven’t already. You can also take your experience on LinkedIn to the next level by joining groups within your industry.

Facebook and Twitter are other platforms for your personal brand. You can cultivate your presence on these networks in order to capture the attention of employers. These are great tools for sounding off about your industry, keeping abreast of news, posting news, and following influential people within your industry. Professional blogs are also a great way to demonstrate your knowledge about your industry. Workers with a passion for their field, and those who take the initiative shine brilliantly, and stand out from the competition. Again, if your personal brand can be likened to a fishing lure for employers, bold and bright lures tend to capture attention. It’s like being the most attractive, juicy bait for your ideal catch.

Hook employers with your résumé and cover letter:

A fishing pole, lures, and other types of bait aren’t very useful without a good hook. No one wants to work hard with networking and personal branding, only to let the job get away. A well-polished résumé and cover letter can get an employer to bite. A personalized cover letter is the result of your research on a company. It stands out and makes it impossible for a hiring manager to ignore, even if the company isn’t hiring at the moment. A generic cover letter makes it much easier for a recruiter to ignore and weed out potential candidates. My vlog, “Our Cover Letter Secret Sauce” discusses how to write a customized letter. A well-tuned, well-customized letter can garner same-day responses from top executives at highly attractive employers. After all, taking the time to write a great cover letter shows an employer how passionate you are about the position, and how you could bring that same passion to the workplace.

A résumé is the deciding factor in getting that all important interview and most hiring managers only spend a few minutes looking at them. Taking the time to invest in a professionally written résumé can help you stand out from other job seekers. You are competing with hundreds of other potential candidates for the same position, and hiring managers are inundated with résumés and cover letters on a daily basis. The key is not just having a powerful, branded résumé, but getting it in front of decision makers.

You have your job skills, and you’re very good at your job. Think of landing a position at a new employer, like catching a great fish. Locating a spot where few reels are cast by others, wrestling with the fish, the excitement of pulling it into your boat and ultimately tasting the success of your hard work is a thrilling reward. Not only are you great at sustaining yourself with the job hunt, you can easily do it again the next time you’re ready to move on. New employment opportunities can bring greater financial gain, and renewed passion in your professional life, especially if you feel stagnant at your current employer. To get to the next level of your professional life, you’ll have to reel in a great employer, and you’ll need a good set of tools and the right techniques to stand out from the crowd. These techniques consist of brand management, going to where the recruiters are, and reaching out to hiring managers to ensure that they see your cover letter and résumé.

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