Archives for career coach

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!

 

Refuse the Box: The Perils of Vanilla Branding

Checked Tick by Oliver Tacke of Flickr

 

Are you dynamic? What does that even mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I beg to differ.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Will Achieving Your 2017 Goals Really Make You Happy?

Void by George Batistatos of Flickr

Have you ever noticed how once you put your attention on something you seem to see it everywhere?

For example, when you decide there is a certain car you want to buy, suddenly it appears all the time.

An odd thing happened this weekend, and I kept noticing a recurring theme in everything I read and everything I watched.

It started as I set a weekend goal to tidy up my house and further my annual goal of clearing out all the clutter in my house. For inspiration I started watching a documentary on Netflix called Minimalism. To get to the point, this documentary was not really about tidying up as much as it was about exploring our attachment drive to acquire stuff. The people interviewed all tend to have a perception based on their own experience that people acquire things to fill a void.

On Sunday morning I watched a Mindvalley video in which Marisa Peer tells the audience that in her experience, which has been working with some of Hollywood’s elite, people seek out fame and fortune because they do not feel like they are enough. They do not feel loved or lovable, and so they seek out love from the public. The video title was “How to Get Absolutely Anything You Want.” I was listening to it as I was coloring in my Mike Dooley Notes from the Universe Coloring Book alongside my daughters. I had to turn the video off, however, as she got into some really sad stories that I did not want my girls to hear. Nevertheless, the theme of filling a void seemed to continue to percolate in my mind.

Even the night before, I saw an older movie on HBO with Angelina Jolie, where she played a reporter driven to land a network job, thwarted by a prediction from a homeless man that she would die. I won’t spoil it for you, but this movie also aligned with the theme of a misguided pursuit of happiness, in which we think one thing is going to make us happy, but the truth is that it is empty. It does not fill our void, and we can either acknowledge that and fill the void with true meaning, or continue to seek out better and better stuff thinking that it will fill the void, but continuing to feel empty.

As I shared last week, I am in the middle of reading Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani. I am right at the part where he talks about how the major shift happened for him and his business grew 400% in eight months. It was after he realized that the goals that he had for his business were not making him happy.

There was even one more thing that I watched and continue to align with this theme. Strange, right?

(Side note: some people ask me how I come up with topics every single week. I have a backlog of ideas, as I see inspiration in so many different places, and you can tell from my weekend activities, that I am constantly seeking out new knowledge and wisdom, and so I tend to find it and feel compelled to pass it on to you. This case was extraordinary, that I could notice a theme so prevalent that I could not ignore it. It was as though I was made to write about it this week, even though I had something else lined up.)

A former client and friend, Jack, started off his year in a pretty epic way. He was one of the first fans to be invited as a fighter on Movie Fights, a show frequented by Kevin Smith (of Mall Rats fame) in which movie geeks engage in passionate debate about various movie topics. Friday’s episode was about the best movie of 2016. I have not seen La La Land yet, and I won’t spoil it for you, but arguments against La La Land in this episode included the superficiality of Hollywood and whether or not we should feel good about the characters, who are trying to decide if they choose love over ambition. (Go, Jack!)

If you are not a career coach like I am, you might not see the connection between this theme and your career. I will tell you now that I have no conclusions to share with you, but I do challenge you to project yourself into the future when you achieve your 2017 goals. Ask yourself, will it be enough? What is enough?

 

Are your 2017 goals designed to fill a void? What would really fill that void?

AND…Will filling that void really make you happy, or can you choose to be happy now? Can you accept that you are enough, you have enough, and you do enough?

How did contemplating these questions make you feel? Did you notice a physical reaction?

What goals can you create, pursue, and achieve that will bring wholeness to your life?

Please, share your thoughts, insights and reactions.

 

Five Major challenges that Face Today’s Job Seeker

Scaling Walls and Overcoming Boundaries by Israel Defense Forces of Flickr

Scaling Walls and Overcoming Boundaries by Israel Defense Forces of Flickr

 

We certainly live in different times than when I first graduated college, and I’ve listened earnestly to generations before me to learn about what managing careers were like for them. They certainly make it sound simpler, but not necessarily more satisfying.

From my perspective, people enjoy a lot more freedom and options in opportunity, but navigating this cultural landscape has proven too challenging for most.

Below are five major challenges that I see continually standing to prevent many professionals from realizing their career potential.

 

1. The accelerating evolution of technology

While some fundamentals have never changed, such as treating others with dignity and respect, the tools and technology that help you position yourself as a competitive candidate in today’s talent marketplace continue to evolve. Additionally, the tools and technology that facilitate how work is completed continues to evolve. At what pace this happens can be highly determined by your particular circumstances. Some of my clients from Fortune 1000 companies will tell you that procurement, implementation, and adoption are too slow. The internal due diligence systems that ensure investments are made based on business cases can make it so that by the time technology gets approved and used, a new technology is close behind. Others can tell you that a company’s effort to be using the latest and greatest to gain the optimal competitive edge has gaps. These gaps are between the talent that understands fully how to best utilize the technologies and developing standard operating procedures that let them know for certain new technologies are working in their favor. When you want to consider changing roles, you face the challenge of deciding if you need to acquire new technical skills to be marketable to the most amount of opportunities possible, or if you can find a company that has the perfect blend of technologies that enable you to fit its environment.

How do you possibly manage your career or even develop a plan, without knowing what technologies businesses are going to find critical in the next five years?

Then, when it is your turn to prepare yourself for being in transition, how are you supposed to tell which tools and technologies are going to take you the furthest the fastest in a flooded marketplace of career apps and differing opinions?

 

2. Shape shifting models of progress

We can all look around and notice that there are a lot of broken systems. Hiring, healthcare, and Social Security are chief among these broken systems. Any significant changes intended to improve these systems (or even to replace the systems), stand to cause tremors in the careers of all professionals in those industries. Just imagine if we were to adopt a healthcare system that was more focused on financing preventative care. What if fewer people needed pharmaceuticals? What if it was a significant amount of people? Will there be enough customers to justify the cost of research and development? How will all the professionals in this industry transform themselves to fit the new model? Both presidential candidates have been focused on bringing manufacturing back as a major US industry. Whether they succeed or not, are the professionals who are impacted by the shift overseas going to find relief, or are they going to be impacted by the move to 3D printing?

 

3. Pessimism, cynicism, and self-limiting beliefs

I see this as the most dangerous challenge, simply because so many people have a blind spot to just how pervasive and detrimental these mindsets are once they become firmly embedded. Furthermore, if you don’t have a clue that there is something that can help you, why would you even think to seek it out, and even once you are aware that something can help you, if you are pessimistic (even if you decide to make the investment), your lack of faith will diminish its efficacy. I previously wrote an article about a belief that has been considered an epidemic– The “I am not enough” belief.  The experience generation tends to perceive the younger generation as having a sense of entitlement and even having it too easy- it is the “everyone gets a trophy” generation, where rewards are given instead of earned. How did that even happen?

It happened as a response to parents who had grown up feeling beaten down emotionally or physically, and swearing that their kids would have a better life. It is not as though there are two camps on this topic – there are actually infinite camps on this topic, and they do not necessarily have clearly defined borders. If you look at it from one perspective, you can see value in being able to confront and overcome tough challenges, developing grit and a thick skin, and being able to navigate the real world successfully. On the other hand, if you are groomed to know your worth, feel confident, and sense that things are easy to achieve, you are more likely to be a big dreamer and make big things happen in this world. Most people weave in and out of varying degrees of these two dichotomous worldviews.

Which one is right? I am not here to say and who is not right. I won’t find out if I’m right until my kids are fully grown adults with lives of their own.

I can certainly empathize with the constant challenge of trying to decide in every single circumstance how to help my children find a balance between a real world that is rife with adversity or where success is everyone’s for the taking.

At a minimum, they need to believe that they are good enough, or they will fall short of every single goal they set for themselves.

 

4. Being heard or seen in a world of communication bombardment

There is certainly a lot of noise to compete with if you want to get noticed. Big data has enabled marketing to know more about its customers, their daily activities, and when and how to best capture their attention. The science and art behind this craft is constantly being studied by Epic Careering, and the career services industry is starting to ride the big data wave to learn more about the behavior and preferences of hiring managers and recruiting professionals. That being said, people will continue to have their own opinions, preferences, and worldviews while at the same time their companies will be at varying degrees of hiring effectiveness, with most being at the low-end. Which begs the question, are we just capturing data on what is being done ineffectively? As far as I have seen, none of these new hiring systems and technologies has cracked the code on hiring effectiveness.

From a career management and transitioning standpoint, we do know which activities and behaviors tend to lead to job search success, and a targeted proactive networking-based campaign is statistically more successful than a reactive, internet-based job search.

However, when you are proactive, you have to gain a depth of understanding of your audience in order to ensure that you capture their attention, that your résumé is read, that it resonates, and that you choose the next company that will offer the best opportunity. A successful strategy will vary from person-to-person, which is why one-on-one career coaching (with Epic Careering) is really the best investment for an optimal and accelerated job search, if you can see it. (The next best thing is to learn how to build your own successful campaign with the Dream Job Breakthrough System.)

 

5. Distraction

It would not be fair to just point out that our target audiences face distraction without admitting how distracted we can easily become. There are day-to-day distractions that are much harder to escape, those things we have to do, such as pay bills, do laundry, mow the lawn, etc. We can certainly fill our day with these activities, but would we be really be accomplishing anything? I can relate to feeling so exhausted just by taking care of these things that I justify downtime, which I can admit is me wasting time with other distractions, like television and social media. Sometimes I even convince myself that this is an important activity for me, because I need to keep up with everything going on in the world. I, by all means, do not suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out), but some legitimately do without realizing that what they are really missing out on are adventures of their own. I know in my case I am prone to more of a curiosity that leads me down a path of unproductive input collecting. I have taught myself how to overcome these challenges by setting a timer, keeping a list of the things I am on social media to accomplish, and designating time after I have crossed off truly important AND strategic tasks to more personal exploration.

What do you notice distracts you from investing time in activities that move you closer to the life you want? What do you tell yourself that justifies engaging in these distractions?

I had a performance evaluation sometime during the planning of my wedding and a concern was that I had been spending too much work time taking care of personal details for my wedding. Of course my inclination was to assume I had been working diligently for an acceptable amount of time while taking a reasonably small amount of time to take care of the things that always need attention when you are planning a wedding. The only way to know for sure was to track my time. I was given a spreadsheet and instructed to track all of my activities for a week. I would have assumed that I was spending maybe three hours a week on personal business, and that it was mostly during my lunch hour. I was surprised to discover that while I was being paid to perform my job, I had actually spent double that on personal business during hours I was supposed to be working. I was very surprised and embarrassed, but I now knew that more self-discipline was necessary and more boundaries had to be enforced with my time.

 

  • We actually have solutions for all five of these major challenges.
  • We can help you master the tools and technology of modern career management and transition.
  • We can help you determine which technical skills you should plan on acquiring to position yourself for the best growth and fulfillment.
  • We can help you reinvent yourself if your industry is facing the potential for disruptive changes.
  • We can help you recognize and overcome models of reality and beliefs that limit your potential and interfere with your ability to achieve your goals.
  • We help you strategize breaking through the chatter to catch your next employer in the flow of their day with a message that creates an urgency to consider your value and hire you.

 

Does one challenge stand out as something you are experiencing? Does it threaten to stand between you and your next great opportunity?

We have a toolkit designed to help you stay focused on the activities and resources that open the most doors to quality opportunities. We can even text you a to-do list every morning so that you never wake up wondering what you have to do to get closer to a great job.

 

Comment with the corresponding number of the challenge that stands out to you as the biggest culprit of job momentum interference.

 

Four Experts Agree: Smart People Engage Coaches

Time is Money

Time is Money

 

If I had a nickel for every time a client told me…

“I would ask them what they think of my new resume, but I don’t want them to think I’m crazy for spending the money to have it professionally written.”

Or

“I don’t know if my spouse is going to go for this. I mean, I need a job, and what I’ve been doing isn’t working, and he/she definitely wants me back to work, but what if we need that money to pay bills if I wind up still looking for a job three months from now.”

Or…

“I would really love to give you a testimonial. You did a fantastic job, but I don’t know if they know I didn’t get here on my own.”

Of course, my clients have every right to keep our relationship confidential, and I completely respect that.

However, in response:

If you haven’t landed or come close to an offer three months after engaging me and you took advantage of everything that I proposed (through a formal proposal process), you get your money back. That is my guarantee.

Also, smart people engage experts, and the experts will tell you that they got where they are because they engaged other experts to help teach them.

Here are four experts who advise that if you want to achieve your goals, don’t spend eight hours doing adequately what an expert can do well in half the time.

 

“The only difference between a rich person and poor person is how they use their time” -Robert Kiyosaki, businessman and author of Rich Dad Poor Dad.

“Today is your day to take total control of your future! Everyone needs a great mentor!” -Bill Walsh, business coach, CEO and founder of Powerteam International.

“Time well spent results in more money to spend, more money to save, and more time to vacation.” – Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker, salesman and author of Better Than Good.

“Effectiveness is doing the things that get you closer to your goals.” -Tim Ferriss entrepreneur, public speaker and author of The 4-Hour Workweek.

 

Time is money, especially when you are in transition. Every week you spend unemployed or without a job is another week spent without optimal income. I know that it is scary to spend money when you do not know how long that money will last. But if the money you spend in transition is not increasing your chances of bringing in income in the future, then once it is spent, it is gone.

I really do not mind at all if a client wants to take all the credit and keeps me a secret. It is ultimately their wise decision to invest in their success and they were smart enough to choose me.

 

The EPIC Way To Celebrate 10 years – Boldly Embarking On A New Adventure

And-for-that-one-moment-Kelliee More

On June 2, 2006, I was called into my boss’ office (I was reporting to two people). I received the news that I was being let go. I had been laid off twice before, and had been fired twice before, but this news was the best news I could have received at the time.

Earlier that year, I had been put on probation and asked to work under a mentor, the late, great Allen Astra, to make sure that I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing. I had not made a placement in two-and-a-half months. This was after being offered the opportunity to work with a coach, the late, great Sheila Kutner, aka, “The Velvet Hammer.”

After two months on probation, I was given the chance to ask the account managers that I was working with to come into the board room with us, along with my mentor, Allen. They let me take the lead and confront them directly. Their general feedback was that I was not doing what I was supposed to be doing to identify and present suitable candidates for their job openings, so I asked them for specific instances where quality candidates were not delivered. When no specific instances could be cited, my bosses then realized that it was a perception problem, not a performance problem, and my reputation was redeemed. I was no longer on probation, and I was to be assigned more viable jobs. However, I still was not feeling great about my job.

I had already realized that recruiting no longer fulfilled me. The seeds planted five years earlier to becoming a career coach before being laid off the first time were growing, pushing through the soil and begging for water, nutrients, and sunshine. Sheila helped me realize that I was the only thing standing in my way. What more did I need to know? Well, how to run a business, for one. She helped me devise a six-month plan that had started January 1st of that year. I joined a professional organization and took courses on career planning and résumé writing by one of the industry’s founders, Jay Block. My target date to quit and start my company was June 1st.

I had only saved up $1500 (this was a few months after Tim and I honeymooned in New Zealand, and the year after we threw a wedding for 250 guests, so there wasn’t much left in our account).  I figured I did not need much overhead if I could land clients right away.

On Friday, May 13th, my 13-month old cat, Lucy, was hit by a car. The impact was to her head and face. We almost lost her on the way to the animal hospital. They gave her a 50/50 chance of surviving, and they thought her jaw was broken. The bills were $1200, but she recovered in two days and on Mother’s Day I was able to take her home. She’s still with us today and I never lamented spending that money.

I delayed my plans until I could save up another $1300, but my plans, I suppose, were not meant to wait.

 

Where-words-fail-music-Hans

On June 2nd, after being told just two months before that I was the right person for the job, though knowing the job was not right for me any longer, I was told that I would have one month’s severance and be eligible for unemployment benefits. They were letting me go, with no specific reasons. It did not matter…this was exactly what I wanted. Without that push out the door, who knows how long I would have stayed just to feel more financially comfortable and stable, only to feel increasingly dissatisfied in my role.

On that same day, I drafted an e-mail to all my friends, family and former colleagues, announcing my new résumé writing company, Charésumé (charisma + résumé, which was rebranded as Epic Careering in 2012) and asking them to visit my website. My website had been lovingly put together by my brother-in-law, a CTO, in exchange for my résumé writing services– my first client.  A company was born, and I was reborn as an entrepreneur.

I am celebrating the 10th anniversary of that fateful day the EPIC way– there has been an idea rolling around in my head since reading “Think and Grow Rich” several years ago, and I will be finally testing this idea out on a much smaller scale.

It is a Career Revival Concert.

re·viv·al  (rĭ-vī′vəl)

n.

1.

  1. The act or an instance of reviving: the revival of a person who fainted.
  2. The condition of being revived.

 

  1. A restoration to use, acceptance, activity, or vigor after a period of obscurity or quiescence: a revival of colonial architecture; a revival of the economy.

 

  1. A new presentation of an old play, movie, opera, ballet, or similar production.

 

4.

  1. A time of reawakened interest in religion.
  2. A meeting or series of meetings for the purpose of reawakening religious faith, often characterized by impassioned preaching and public testimony.

 

  1. Restoration to validity of something lapsed or set aside, such as a legal claim or status.

 

This combines sermon-like job search education with the emulsifying, healing, connecting powers of LIVE music.

Music-can-change-the-Bono

 

On June 2nd, I would like to invite you to celebrate 10 years of Epic Careering with me. I’ll be doing a very short version of the Career Revival Concert – three songs with three mini-lessons, at open mic night at The Whitpain Tavern around 8:30ish.

I hope you can join me and bear witness to what could be the birth of a new way of helping job seekers, and offer valuable feedback that will help me make the CRC the most effective edutainment job seeker event possible.

Thank you for being a supporter to Epic Careering reaching this momentous milestone. Thank you to the hundreds of clients who have entrusted me to help you reach the next level in your career. Thank you to the family and friends who have cheered me on, cared for my children, and referred your loved ones.

 

Adventures ahead, ALWAYS.

 

Stop Suffering in Silence…NOW!

From BrainyQuote

From BrainyQuote

I don’t know if I like April anymore. At all. Two years ago after the passing of my nephew on his 28th birthday, I urged you to take immediate action to make yourself happier and more fulfilled in the 40 hours you spend at work.

This week a 22-year-old and a 41-year-old were buried on the same day. While their short lives were celebrated, and we all are grateful for every second we were able to spend with them, we feel robbed. We have been robbed of future encounters, future moments, and future embraces. They have been robbed of all future possibilities. Everything we wanted for their future can no longer happen.

The day after these two young souls were buried, I learned that a friend has been suffering silently in a successful job. She is paid very well and her family depends on this income to maintain the standard of living that is important to them. Their kids are in one of the best school districts. She has been promoted. However, she is not inspired by her company’s mission, and because of her hours and commute, she has handed many of her “mommy” duties to her husband, for which she suffers much guilt. (I can, and most likely will, write a blog about the archaic corporate and societal expectations that are unfortunately alive and well and causing undue pressure for professional moms.)

She did not tell anyone how long she has been unhappy, and how much impact it was having on other areas of her life. She was embarrassed and bewildered by the fact that she did not have it all together. The discussion with her doctor to go on anti-anxiety and depression medication was surreal.

It felt silly to complain. She lives in a nice house in a great neighborhood. Her kids are actively involved in sports. She makes great money and she has a job for which many people vie. She thinks about how many people are not as fortunate as her, and then feels additional guilt for being unhappy.

She had been taking action to change her circumstances. She was applying to jobs and interviewing. It was time-consuming and heartbreaking. She would become excited about an opportunity only to learn that she was not offered the job. With little precious time to spend with her kids, she resigned herself to being stuck and unhappy.

Until yesterday…I hope.

In a 20-minute conversation with myself and another friend, we helped her create a new, inspiring vision for her future. At first she said she was not really sure what she even wanted to do. It turns out there is a mission for which she has a lot of passion. You see, she has learned quite a bit about how to brand yourself, to obtain buy-in, and to do more in less time as a woman in a male-dominated corporate world. Although her confidence is more than a bit shaky from the self-inflicted mental torture she has been enduring in silence, she knows that she can teach what she has learned, and it will make a huge difference for women striving to be seen, heard, noticed and rewarded equally. With her background, her chances of being successful in this new endeavor, whatever it happens to look like and whenever it happens to come to fruition, are very high.

She not only has created a vision that will pull her out of bed, but she has also created a new heart-centered possibility for her career. That vision will not only make her fulfilled in her work, but will also enable her to be the mom and wife that she wants to be. I am so excited for her and yet I’m still saddened by how long she had been suffering without my knowledge. I wish we had this conversation months ago, if not years ago.

If you see yourself in this story, please, please, please… ask me for help. This is why God put me on this earth (besides to have my beautiful children). It is why I sacrificed a handsome potential six-figure salary as a recruiter. It is why I don’t mind taking (some) time away from being a mommy to do career coaching and learning how to do it better.  It is my passion and my gift.

Tomorrow doesn’t come for everyone. Live while you are alive. Change isn’t just possible; it is highly probable when you have me as your partner.

 

I expect to hear from you: Karen@epiccareering.com

 

Your Heroic Job Search

Simply-become-who-you-are

David is a programmer at a small company. One day he received a promotion to management. He used to love programming, but lately it feels like everything is going wrong at work. He’s learning a tremendous amount about the business side and loves to interface with the C-level: but, at the end of the day he is exhausted from all of the people-problems he has to deal with on the job. Drama between co-workers, scheduling issues when people call out sick, confronting his staff about missed deadlines, and their failure to meet performance expectations are just a few of the issues he has to resolve.

This affects his usually-pleasant disposition and he becomes a grumpy person at work and home. David is now irritable and impatient with his family. His relationships with his wife and kids suffer. His son’s teacher now recommends that David and his family see a therapist weekly. His problems begin to extend beyond work and his immediate family. Even though David knows that he only has so much time with his ailing parents, he resents how they depend on him. He has no energy to take care of his health, and now his doctor wants him to start taking cholesterol and blood pressure medication. David also didn’t take care of his car. He forgot to get it serviced and inspected, so he was pulled over and fined for driving with expired inspection stickers, and the mechanic identified major engine problems due to his failure to get regular oil changes.

As David’s expenses grow, he has to cancel plans for vacations, which further disappoints his family. He starts to feel like there is no reprieve from his life. David is getting a month older with every day that passes in his life. He feels hopeless. Nothing is going the way he wants. It is as if he’s walking toward the abyss and nothing can correct his course. He knows he has to do more to save his health and to reignite the passion in his career. The desire to search for a new job, and to leave the stresses of his current job behind are calling to him. David has to answer the call.

David wants new adventures and excitement in his life. He wants to feel as if his work matters, instead of feeling like a cog in a giant machine. Each night after work, he applies for new jobs on various job boards and on company websites. Most of the time, he submits his résumé and never hears back from potential employers. Other times, David’s interviews are torturous, as he tries to explain why he would be a good manager. He then tries to go back to programming, but receives even fewer responses, and is told he is over-qualified, and addressing his failure to be an effective manager continues to make him feel inadequate and embarrassed. He knows he’s not making a great impression with employers.

A year passed and David is still miserable at his job as a manager, unable to find anything new. He needs change NOW. David asks a few of his friends for advice and one of them suggests reassessing his job search. The manager knows he wants more from his job search. He doesn’t want to waste any more time and energy at his unfulfilling job. He begins the reassessment by attempting to identify his strengths, assess his skills, and tries to assume a new professional identity while carving out his own personal niche in the job market. David has a difficult time trying to achieve the vision he set forward. He reaches out to a career coach who can help him relay those findings into a vision of his new professional identity.

With the advice of a career coach, he is able to learn how to apply his strengths as a business analyst, has a new résumé written, and even learns how to connect with others in his desired industry. The career coach helps him develop a three-month plan to close the skills gap he needs to be considered a Business Analyst, and helps him enroll in online courses that he can take while he searches and works full-time. David learns how to demonstrate his value and passion to others. He also revamps his LinkedIn profile, and it is rewritten to promote the transferrable skills and innate talents he has been using all along. He is able to show how he will apply his skills in a new way, in a new role. The the results are almost immediate. Within three months of hiring a career coach, David receives job offers from multiple companies and discovers his negotiating power. David lands a job as a Business Analyst at a company he loves, while earning a higher salary than he did at his previous job as a manager.

David’s journey from a job he hated to a job he loved is not unlike the journey of a hero– a term used in fiction-writing. The call to adventure is often ignored or refused by the hero in his or her journey. The refusal might be because of a sense of fear, insecurity, or obligation. Refusing the call means feeling stuck in a place of hopelessness and being a victim to circumstances. Joseph Campbell, an American writer, helped summarize the concept of the Hero’s Journey in his 1949 book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. In his concept of the hero’s journey, the hero’s tale only takes a turn for the positive when he answers the call of adventure:

“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder. Fabulous forces are encountered and a decisive victory is won. The hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

 

Think of it this way: the decision to search for a new job, whether you’re unemployed or seeking a better job, is a journey. In your job search, YOU are the hero: but thankfully, you are also the AUTHOR of your own epic journey. Like the hero in many stories, your journey never really goes anywhere until you heed a higher calling. In the case of a job seeker, this would be the call to leave the job you’re dissatisfied with, or avoiding taking just any job if you’re unemployed. Heeding the call means you’ll be victorious in your journey. But many of us (at first) choose to ignore the call. What does this look like? More importantly, how can we get our heroic journey started?

 

The Journey and ignoring the call:

If you’re failing to find purpose in your job and your job-search journey is stalled, these are symptoms of a much greater problem– you are out of sync and out of alignment with your purpose and passion. Living against this grain causes splinters and calluses, much like how you can go into numbness and resignation. Until you surrender to the calling, EVERYTHING goes wrong.

If you’re dissatisfied with your job and you feel your life has a lack of passion, it’s not too late to start on a new journey. Bill Walsh, America’s Small Business Coach, said it best: “If your why is strong enough, the how will come.” Consider your own “why.” That is, what are the things that give you passion, drive and purpose in both your professional and personal life? Why have you chosen your particular career? Did you do it just to draw a paycheck? Or do you want to help others succeed: give back to your community: and enjoy your life to the fullest? Your “why” is something only you can answer. I created my own “why” video as one of my first assignments from Bill’s Rainmaker Summit.

Landing a job that helps fuel passion and purpose is a critical part of the hero’s journey. Remember, ignoring the call-to-adventure means being stuck in a place of stagnation and unhappiness.

 

Heeding the call:

At this point, you may feel like our hero who is on the cusp of embarking on the adventure. Right now, you may feel stuck, but you’ve found your reason for wanting to achieve greatness. Perhaps you were meant to read this very post, at this very time. It may be your time to STOP and listen to the call-to-adventure, start your hero’s journey, and accept the call to adventure. Don’t navigate it alone. Every hero has allies he or she can depend on. Those allies may be family, friends, alumni, co-workers and even acquaintances.  They are your network and they are willing to aid you in your journey.

There’s also the option to seek out professional help, if you feel your network can only take your journey so far. A career coach can help you discover the direction you need to take in your journey. Our own book, “Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint Your Purpose and Passion in 30 days” is a journal guide that can help you discover your passion. Whether the future is completely open or you know you need to make some major shifts, but keep a few things in place, our services will help you formulate a clearer vision of your future, so that you can build a strong foundation for a brand and campaign that manifest your ideal future.  We also recommend Derek Rydall’s programs to help you see what is in you already and to help bring it OUT, so that you can become who you are.  We suggest starting with Rydall’s “Best Year of Your Life Podcast” and then considering his Emergineering Program.

 

Decide that NOW is the time to answer the call-to-adventure. This will mean no longer being stuck in a mediocre job, and having the to power to change a career path. Discover what your “why” looks like and how it can help guide your job-search journey. As I said earlier, it could be finding a job you’re passionate about, finding your own financial freedom, earning a better salary, or even helping others in your community.

In your hero’s journey, once you find your “why” you can draw your sword and attack your job search with a renewed sense of purpose. No more job boards. No more torturous interviews. You’re going to be intentional about your future. You may decide that you want to enlist the help of a mentor, a career coach, or you may read about ways to discover and apply proactive methods to your job search. Creating a plan, choosing and targeting employers, networking, building your personal brand, hiring a résumé writer, and crafting a new cover letter are just a few of the many proactive methods you can use in your job search. Remember “why” you want to change your current circumstances and the “how” will come.

Epic adventures ahead!

 

Having Trouble Promoting Yourself? Try an Alter-Ego to Land a Job

Photo courtesy of Gwenael Piaser from flickr open source (NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic: http://bit.ly/1AQcsqF).

Photo courtesy of Gwenael Piaser from flickr open source (NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic: http://bit.ly/1AQcsqF).

Chuck Lorre is a television producer who struck gold as the writer and creator of Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. Despite his overwhelming career success, the 62-year-old producer suffers from “imposter syndrome,” a psychological phenomenon where people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. In a 2012 interview on NPR’s Morning Edition, Lorre admitted when he writes a script that “stinks” he feels like a fraud, and needs to go and hide. The phenomenon is prevalent among high achievers. Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg even discusses the problem with Oprah.

If we turn the imposter syndrome around for the purpose of job seeking, we have the idea of building up confidence. It is a way to mentally push past the hesitancy of many job seekers to fully promote themselves during the job search. When it comes to searching for a job, many candidates don’t promote themselves nearly enough. Many people balk at the idea self-promotion, and it is easier to talk about the value someone else brings to a future employer than it is to talk about oneself.

As a career coach, I see the connection between people who fail to portray their value as an employee and their lack of career advancements. I also saw as a recruiter that the job didn’t always go the highest qualified candidate. It went to the candidate who was able to build rapport and promote their value. These candidates often negotiated a salary higher than what we were told was “possible.” The prevalent tendency of job seekers is to shy away from self-promotion. It becomes much more difficult to advance your career, or make a job transition if recruiters don’t know about your skills or how you could bring value to their company. Learning to promote yourself means that employers will know the potential value you bring to their organization. Self-promoters understand being able to communicate their abilities, skills, and value as a worker are essential to taking their career to the next level. If you are feeling uncomfortable with the idea of self-promotion, perhaps just consider it a change in your promotional tactics. The trick: create an alter-ego that is your agent and will promote your value.

Consider this 2014 report on NPR: Emily Amanatullah, an assistant professor at the University of Texas, realized negotiation tactics were a difficult subject for women to master. She ran an experiment where she had both men and women negotiate starting salaries for themselves and on behalf of someone else. The results were telling. The women who negotiated salaries for themselves asked for an average of $7000 less than the men. However, the women often negotiated for better starting salaries if they did so on behalf of a friend. Creating an alter-ego to self-promote during a career transition could go a long way toward getting that advancement. If it is easier to advocate for a friend, then why not become that friend?

An alter-ego, or second self has been used by figures throughout history. Many people have used alter-egos to keep their true identities secret, or to compartmentalize difficult opinions or actions. One of the most famous alter-egos of today is Stephen Colbert. In the satirical The Colbert Report, he is an outspoken rightwing pundit. The real Stephen Colbert is very private, claims to be less political and his true personality isn’t very well known. For our purposes an alter-ego would be an idealized version of yourself who constantly promotes your skills and value during the job seeking process.

Self-Promotion Matters:

In my article, “Why some people never get ahead” I wrote about why the lack of self-promotion can cause people to stagnate in their careers. If you’re uncomfortable with letting others know about your tremendous value as an employee, your professional network won’t take notice. The way you portray yourself to your networks can inspire people to make introductions that may lead to enticing job offers. For employers, you could be the solution to their problems. If you’re not out there promoting yourself, not only do you miss an opportunity to advance, but the employer misses an opportunity to secure great talent.

Avoid the mindset that simply keeping your head down and working hard will bring you the advancements you seek. Michael Cruse’s article “The importance of self-promotion in your career,” points out that employees seeking a promotion must act on their own behalf. It is rare that someone in a position to promote you will act as a personal champion for you, especially if they don’t know you’re seeking a promotion. Millionaire author T. Harv Eker writes about the people who believe talent alone is enough to bring them success in his book, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind. Here is a very poignant excerpt: “You’re probably familiar with the saying ‘Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.’ Well, that’s only true if you add five words: ‘if they know about it.’” Sheryl Sandberg has stated in her book, Lean In, that an internal sponsor is critical to success. It is great to have someone willing to vouch for you, but you also have to be your own sponsor.

In short, self-promotion is the life blood of career advancement.

Creating a self-promoting alter-ego:

How do you create an alter-ego that is your agent? Imagine that it’s not you you’re promoting, but the solution that you provide, on behalf of someone else. That “someone else” could be your child, spouse, other family member, or a friend. Think of your best qualities, skills and talents as theirs, and formulate a plan to promote them. For example, if you’re a project manager, imagine talking up those achievements to get your friend promoted. If the idea of being a family member or friend is too abstract, try simple role-playing. Create an idealized version of yourself, freed from the shackles of your own limitations. You want to come as close to perfection as possible, and you are brimming with endless possibilities. Nothing is beyond your reach. You want everyone to know great this person is, and how they are the solution to employer’s problem. Even the greatest performers have created alter-egos for themselves!

When it comes to the job transition you first have to become your own best advocate. Sometimes it is necessary to create an alter-ego in order to promote yourself. Friends, family and professionals in your network may recommend you, but those introductions will only go so far. And while they love you and want what’s best for you, they won’t even know what to say about you to help you in an optimal way until you can articulate even to them what value you present to your future employer. No one can demonstrate your value to employers, except for you. Self-promotion is the key to moving forward in your career and your finances. Imagine the ultimate version of YOU. The rock star you. The version of you interviewed by Katie Couric. The version of you who travels to exotic places and can make heads turn at a gala. You ARE the center of attention and everyone wants you as the solution to their problems.

Get into the groove of your alter-ego:

Here’s an exercise for you after you’ve created an alter-ego. Create a list of five people who fascinate you and embody the qualities that you most admire. Now, share some of the characteristics of your alter-ego. Does your alter-ego have high energy? Could he or she get a crowd to clap along with you? Is your alter-ego the cool and mysterious type? And most importantly, how do you get into your alter-ego state before show time?

Ziggy Stardust | David Bowie

Song: Ziggy Stardust / David Bowie Footage taken from BBC 4’s documentary, The Story of Ziggy Stardust

Break Out of Your Comfort Zone and Accelerate Your Job Transition

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

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

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

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

Level 1:

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

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

Level 2:

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

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

Level 3:

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

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

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

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

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

Foo Fighters – Big Me

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