Archives for “changing careers”

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!

 

10 Creative Ways to Choose Your Next Employer

Day 291_the Big List by Ana C. on Flickr

Day 291_the Big List by Ana C. on Flickr

 

Alex loves being a Software Engineer, but he has been grumpy about work. The idea of going into work no longer excites him and the passion he once had is nearly gone. Deep inside of himself, Alex knew it was time for a career change. Logically, his current employer looked great on paper: but, he didn’t have a good gut feeling about the job. The work at Alex’s current company wasn’t what he expected based on the interview and he didn’t look well enough into the company before accepting the job. So, he approached his job search from a different angle. Instead of only looking at salary and benefits, Alex wrote down a list of criteria his new employer had to satisfy before he would accept the job. Much of his list focused on the workplace environment, workplace culture, his enthusiasm for the company, and his values. Using the criteria he developed, Alex found an employer that satisfied him. He landed a job with the company and his passion for work was rekindled.

You may be like Alex, dissatisfied with your current employer and ready to make a transition. Or, you may be looking for work, but you don’t want to choose just any employer. Which is wise, even if your are in need of a job, as per our last article. You want an employer that will pay you well, but your job is more than a source of income. You want flexibility, satisfaction, a culture that reflects your personal values, and to be fully engaged on the job. We all intuitively have a list of criteria that we want an employer to fulfill. Sometimes we dismiss our ability to land a job that meets these criteria, but this is seldom based on truth. We use a logical approach when we take a set of facts and form our reasoning based on those facts. An intuitive approach is based on our perception of facts and/or truth and isn’t always based on reasoning. Think your intuition as a split-second “gut feeling”, as opposed to a longer and more reasoned approach with logic. When you don’t use a logical and intuitive approach you wind up in the wrong jobs, which sets us up for failure, ultimately, and wastes your time when you could be fast-tracking your career and income.

When searching for their next job, people often fail to develop a list of criteria. In my article “The Correct Response to a Job Lead” I wrote about how a company needs to meet about 80% of your criteria before you create a connection with them. In that article, I also discussed how to research a company after asking a few practical questions such as company size, location, employee happiness, and how well you could fit a potential position. It is important to develop a criteria list because it will aid you in your development of a target company list.

 

Criteria to consider:

 

  1. Workplace environment:

A workplace environment encompasses everything related to the location of an employer. This includes a geographical location, immediate surroundings (an office park in the suburbs, office building in the city, being near a construction site or surrounded by a small forest), noise levels and even air quality. Would you prefer to work amid the hustle and bustle of a large city, or do you prefer the quieter life in the suburbs? Would a location with very few windows and lots of re-circulated air bother you? Or do you need constant access to fresh air?

 

  1. Management:

Will you like your boss? This is the person you will report to on a daily or weekly basis. If his or her attitude or demeanor is concerning to you, you may eventually clash with their personality. You will have to weigh the benefits of their leadership against their personality. By that, I mean that your potential boss could be difficult to like, but might be an amazing leader. Think of Steve Jobs or Jeff Bozos.

 

  1. Passion and interest:

Will your next job excite you? You may have the skills and qualifications to do a job, but will you feel passionate about your work with a new employer? If you only go through the motions with your job, it won’t be long before dissatisfaction catches up with you. If you don’t care about the work you’re doing it will become evident for everyone to see. Clients, co-workers and subordinates will notice the lack of interest in your work. A job you feel passionate and interested in can challenge you in new ways and provide you with the opportunity to expand your skill set. Will your next employer enable you to be exposed to the areas of interest that you want to further explore? If you find yourself at a job that doesn’t incorporate your abilities, you’ll eventually yearn for a new employer that will put your skills to use.

 

  1. Flexibility:

Will you have the ability to work remotely when needed? Can you take time off when needed? Balance between personal-life and work-life is important. If you have the freedom to create flexible work arrangements, you’ll find yourself less stressed out at home and on the job. Conversely, some people feel that working in a remote and flexible workplace is more challenging and need people there physically to complete the job with a certain quality. If you would be bothered by your co-workers taking advantage of flexible work arrangements, don’t torture yourself by working for a company where these freedoms are extended.

 

5. Job Structure:

How much freedom do you want at work? Are you fearful of micromanagers who are constantly looking over your shoulder? This boils down to what type of worker you are. If you like constant input and feedback, you should consider an employer that works closely with employees. If you prefer to do things on your own terms, you may want a more laid-back management style.

 

6. Public perception of the company:

Will your next employer be a high-profile company? Will you work for a household name, or would you prefer a company very few people know about? If your company is a household name, do they have a positive or negative image? For example, are they a well-loved hardware and software maker? Or are they a notorious monopoly in constant litigation? You may have to ask yourself if the perks and benefits at the company outweigh a negative public perception.

 

7. Force for change:

Will your new employer be a force for good in the world? Do you want your future employer to give back to local communities, donate to charity and place an emphasis on people and profits? And if so, with what non-profit organizations do you align with and that you also want your employer to align?

 

8. Workplace Culture:

A workplace culture is a big factor to take into consideration. A company may have a flexible management style, a causal dress code, and may be geared toward younger workers. Or the workplace could be traditional, with a business professional dress code and workers may be accustomed to greeting each other formally. If you scream for tradition, a culture that embraces a causal style may not be for you. Just as you would consider a company’s culture and if it matches your personal values, a potential employer is just as interested in making sure you’re fit for their culture.

 

9. Values:

Will your job align with your values? Do you care if your employer or your immediate bosses have strong religious beliefs? For example, your employer may insist on adhering to Christian values, especially if they are a smaller company. Does that idea excite or horrify you?  Are you okay with an employer who has different religious beliefs from your own? Or do you prefer an employer not to embrace any religious beliefs? There are also other values to consider, such as political alignment. Many of my clients scratch their heads when I ask them what they believe in, because they wonder why that would be relevant to a job search. However, if you hold your beliefs close to you, and it causes you conflict and stress to be around people who are staunchly opposed to the things you believe strongly, it can impact your quality of work and life. Even if you don’t talk much about these things, if other people do, conflict will be hard to avoid, and while differing views can be a source of growth, it is not always welcomed in the workplace.

 

10. Co-Worker Relationships:

How will you get along with your new co-workers? Unless you’re working remotely, your co-workers are going to be a major influence at your workplace. Will you socialize with them inside and outside of the office? Or do you believe that business and pleasure should not mix? Does your personal life stay at home or do you engage others about life outside of work? You’ll have to consider if your next employer will sponsor activities such as a softball or bowling team and whether you want to attend those events. Would you be comfortable working for a company that believes in team-building retreats and workshops?

 

Tapping into the subconscious to know what’s right for you:

 

Once you have idea of what criteria you want your employer to fulfill, you can use physical and mental exercises to help reflect on your list.

Muscle testing (also known as Applied Kinesiology) is great way to diagnose specific nervous system problem or nutritional deficiencies, and restore energy. Dr. Jeff Echols has a great video that demonstrates how muscle testing is done and its benefits. Some new age career coaches promote muscle testing as a way to help determine if a decision is in alignment with your inner wisdom. This practice can help calm your mind in order to better focus on an important decision. You can use muscle testing to help elicit a true “yes” or “no” answer on whether you should pursue a career opportunity. A sound body helps form a sound mind, and a sound mind helps make important decisions.

Meditation is great way to tap into your subconscious mind, reduce stress and improve concentration. By sitting and concentrating on your breath, you can keep your attention focused. It allows you concentrate on one thing and to block out other distracting thoughts. Once you’re able to sit quietly, focus on your breathing or even chant a mantra (a phrase to help you focus), you can tap into your subconscious mind to reflect on your work-related criteria. It may take some practice but your subconscious mind can help guide you that “yes” or “no” job-related decision.

 

Creating a list of job criteria is one step that far too many job seekers skip. Yes, good pay and benefits are extremely important, but a satisfying career consists of more than pay. Do you love what you do at your job or are you just there to draw a paycheck? Can you imagine waking up each morning and being excited by the work you do? How about the pride that comes with working for an employer who makes a difference in your community? Are you willing to take less pay for a more personally fulfilling job? For example, choosing employment at a non-profit company that directly works with a disadvantaged population, versus employment at a larger for-profit company in the tech sector that may only donate to charity. Your need to make a difference in the lives of others may outweigh superior compensation and benefits. Or you may strive to work at an organization that can provide you with a great salary and the ability to directly help others. We all intuitively know what we want from our lives and how our professional choices will reflect our desires. By developing a list of criteria and tapping in your subconscious, you can choose an employer that will personally satisfy you.

 

If you need or want more help developing a list of criteria, we’re here for you. Our Criteria Identifier and Target Company Evaluator is a tool to help you with your employer research.

 

8 Ways to Put Your Career on Autopilot

No Title by Kevin Hale from Flickr

No Title Given by Kevin Hale from Flickr

“If you build it, they will come.” This iconic line from Field of Dreams is powerful. While this line makes for a fantastic movie plot, building a product (or in our case, a personal brand) isn’t enough to guarantee success. You can build your reputation at work as a great employee, but very few people outside of your company will know about your personal brand and all of the great services you have to offer if you don’t advertise. Let’s look at a scenario that outlines how advertising a personal brand can be immensely helpful.

Dan is a brilliant IT Project Manager. His projects are consistently done on time and within budget. He always kept his team motivated and on task. Dan has a reputation for being a clear, concise and effective leader. He always had a great relationship with his employer, but he knew he’d eventually like to move on to a larger company. He was confident in his abilities and knew he could command a higher salary from a new employer. Dan wanted to look for jobs on his own terms. That meant creating a two-way street where in addition to asking contacts within his network for leads, the leads would also come to him. The IT Project Manager decided to create a campaign to advertise his personal brand to achieve those results.

Dan’s job search took the form of an advertisement campaign, not unlike a political campaign. The level of involvement went beyond completing his LinkedIn profile and staying active on social media. Dan made plans to meet and greet influential people within his industry, attend events, and garner name recognition. A campaign allowed him to market himself to potential employers and raise his industry influence. He was literally “running” for his next job! Dan created a website to serve as a hub for all of his social media accounts and used a landing page to acquire more information from his visitors. He began to blog about the difficult problems he faced and the solutions he had devised. On his social media accounts, he shared the content of other influential leaders within his industry. He bought ads from Google in order to promote himself and his achievements in the search results. He attended industry events, volunteered and offered to help others. Dan’s efforts produced a constant stream of job offers, a big boost in confidence and the ability to control his own professional and economic destiny.

In my scenario, Dan was passionate about controlling and advertising his personal brand. Every small and large company advertises their brand in order to promote their services or products, raise awareness about the benefits of their product, differentiate themselves from the competition, and retain their current customers. The same can apply to anyone who’s serious about putting their career on autopilot. How else will people know you are great? A well-advertised personal brand can generate momentum in your job search, more leads and the satisfaction of being better able to determine your job search outcome.

Here are several tactics you can use to put your career on autopilot:

 

  1. Infographics:

Create an infographic postcard and mail it to hiring managers at companies where you would like to work. We offer our own one-page infographic services that can be fully customized to your style, tastes and personality. Once your infographic is developed we can distribute it digitally via social sites like Pinterest or in print. Our infographic can also serve as a training document to teach your network how to develop great leads for you. You want your infographic to convey the value you would bring to a particular company and why you’re the solution to their problem. An eye-catching graphic as a first impression can capture the attention of a potential employer. Combine your infographic with a customized cover letter and you’ll definitely elicit interest in your résumé. The point isn’t to ask for a job, but to bring awareness to your personal brand. Websites such as Zoominfo and Data.com can be used to find hiring managers within companies. I wrote extensively about using websites to find people in my article, “10 Surprising Websites and 2 Secret Places Where you Can Research Employers.”

 

  1. Build and drive traffic to a personal website:

A personal website can serve as a portal for your online identity. It is a simple and elegant way to invite visitors to learn more about you and to connect with you. Links to social media accounts, blogs and a landing page can be added to your website. You can consider creating a landing page to capture information about your visitors in exchange for something such as a newsletter, small eBook (if you have one), or even access to a webinar.  About.me and Flavors.me are great services that can be that can be set up quickly and easily as a landing page or a small personal website.

Once you have your personal website established, you can use Google Adwords to place an ad. When a potential employer searches for you on Google the first thing he or she will see is your personal ad. Set your website as the URL. The space you’re given for an ad is limited, 70 characters including spaces, so your ad needs to be tight and focused. Phi Rosenberg has an excellent tutorial on how to use Google Adwords in his reCareered article. You can use keywords and search terms to target your audience. Alternatively, you can also use Google Adwords to target a hiring manager at a specific company. If you buy the Adwords for their name, you can craft an ad grabbing their attention and direct them to your website. I wrote about how Alec Brownstein used Google Adwords in just this manner in my article, “5 of the Craziest Ways People Found Jobs”.

 

  1. Join a new social media site and connect with influential people:

You may be intimately familiar with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Expanding your presence online and joining new social media sites is a great way to find and connect to a wider audience of influential people within your industry. If you have a person or potential employer in mind, search for them on a new network to see what you can find out. Here are a few suggestions: Google+, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, Snapchat, Reddit and Plaxo. And for good measure, if you’re not on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, join those services. Once you’re on those services, don’t just follow people in your industry, share their content and create content of your own!

 

  1. Create a SlideDeck and share it through social media:

SlideDeck is a service that allows you to tell an engaging story that connects with visitors and compels them to take the actions you want. It is a sleek presentation that lets you communicate the value of what you’re selling in an easy and simple manner. Once you’ve set up and customized your SlideDeck, share its content through social media. Start with SlideShare and integrate it into your LinkedIn Profile. Mark Williams has an excellent tutorial. Double check to make sure your network notifications are on so that your connections will know when you share new content.

Now that your SlideDeck has been shared on your profile and your network has been notified, write a status update to ask anyone if they’ve seen it and what they think of it. If your account is linked to Twitter, share there as well. You can also share your presentation through LinkedIn groups. Ask for feedback on the presentation and try to get a discussion going. Sharing with a group gives you the opportunity to create a message, tell people what you’re up to and what you hope to do for your next employer.

After you integrate SlideShare into your social media accounts, you can go beyond just being found by others. You can also search for others on SlideShare, which brings me to the next strategy…

 

  1. Find and follow presenters on SlideShare:

Follow presenters on SlideShare and share their presentations on social media. If they have a profile, find and tag them when you share their presentations. Reach out to three of your favorite presenters. Use more than one method of contact to ensure you actually reach them. Several methods you can use are:

  1. Call on the phone. (This is the best method, but it can be scary for some people.)
  2. Contact them through their social media profile. (LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ are the best ways to make contact.)
  3. E-mail. (If your email doesn’t capture their attention it will be ignored.)

Choose two of these methods and prepare your pitch. Tell your favorite presenters that you saw their presentation on SlideShare and explain three things you liked about it. This will open up a conversation to talk more about the industry. Once you have their ear, tell them you’re looking for an opportunity to do X, in a certain organization and that you value their expertise in the industry. Let the presenter know you’ve shared his or her slides because of the valuable information. Also ask them how you can support their professional ambitions.

 

  1. Find and join a professional organization:

Search LinkedIn and find out to which professional organizations the executives in your target employers belong. Go a step further and find out when their events are happening. Some executives may have their groups publicized while others won’t. You’ll have to dig deeper to find those hidden groups. Try checking their biographies on the company website, check their LinkedIn profile groups section, and search for their information on Zoominfo.com. These areas will help show you online mentions for that person. After you identify an executive and his or her professional organizations, go to the website of that organization and browse the event calendar. Attend the event, join the organization and volunteer. Volunteering brings you to a greater level of visibility, and you may even be thanked publicly for your contributions. People are connected to others and an event at a professional group can lead you to more members, one of whom could possibly be your next employer.

 

  1. Guest post on blogs within your industry:

If you blog frequently about industry topics, you may want to try writing for someone else. Target influential bloggers in your industry, approach them with your ideas and ask them if you can create a guest post for their blogs. Posting on someone else’s blog can further expand your audience. You’ll gain more exposure on a platform that already has an established audience. You can also use this platform to build your credibility as an industry leader. Additionally, you can connect with other influential people and have your content shared with their social media followers. Guest posts are also a good way to help out a fellow blogger. These posts provide the fellow blogger with new content and credibility of their own as a destination where people want to guest post.

 

  1. Create a community or group:

Joining a group is one thing, creating your own group is an entirely different beast. Forming your own community is a major step in establishing yourself as a leader within your industry and to promote your personal brand. You can start a group on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ or even on your personal website. If you go the personal website route, you can use a discussion platform on your blog such as Disqus, or you can go the forum route with a service like phpBB. Pick a particular niche within your industry that you’re passionate about and encourage others to join. You can help encourage and drive conversations, in addition to having a dedicated following for your content. It’s another great way to show potential employers that you have the ability to lead others outside of your workplace. You can take your community-building further by starting a group based on a personal interest. That professional momentum will be a byproduct of the personal connections you make. It has been said many times, in many ways that more deals are made on the golf course than in the boardroom. This is an opportunity to surround yourself with people with whom you already have something in common, and, therefore, a great foundation for building rapport and synergy.

 

If you brand it, you advertise it. Advertising your personal brand allows you to control the narrative of your job search and to put your search on autopilot. Just imagine the places you can go with a well-advertised brand. You’re constantly active in your industry and you’re one of the first solutions that come to mind when people have a problem. Your brand is visible and you’re a well-known leader within your industry. Suddenly, you’re a valuable commodity on the job market and your well-advertised brand has given you a huge competitive edge. When employers need a new position filled, they want to hire you. You’re a hot commodity and, like a popular and beloved product, people can’t get enough of your talent and your leadership. Just think of the opportunities that will be presented to you, and the greater economic stability and freedom that comes with choosing your next employer because of a strong and well-known personal brand.

 

 

The Correct Response to a Job Lead

 

"Using Three Laptops at the Same Time" by Michael Kwan from Flickr

“Using Three Laptops at the Same Time” by Michael Kwan from Flickr

“Your network is your net worth.” This succinct phrase is the title of Porter Gale’s book. Gale, a marketing expert and public speaker, argues in her book that a network of personal and professional relationships is the most important asset in a portfolio. Think about it. Over 80% of jobs are unadvertised and obtained through networking. Your network connections can help you obtain job leads and even land a job. When someone in your network produces a job lead for you, your response matters. How you respond to a job lead can mean the difference between discouraging your lead sources, and successfully capitalizing on a lead. In order to capitalize on a lead, it is important to make a smart inquiry about the quality of the lead. Not every lead is a good match for your qualifications, so it is critical to learn more about the source of the lead and the potential job.

There is an important distinction between a job lead and an introduction offer. If someone in your network offers to introduce you to someone, do not decline the opportunity. There could be synergy between you and the other party, and a conversation might lead to a job opportunity. People are the ultimate connectors. You won’t know if there’s an opportunity until you have a meeting. Graciously accept the introduction offer, attend the meeting and follow up with your source. Feel free to ask your source questions about the party you’re meeting with to attend the meeting fully prepared. An introduction is a direct invitation to establishing a relationship with someone at a potential employer. A job lead is the knowledge of an open position, and when you can establish a relationship with hiring managers you increase your odds of being chosen as the candidate who gets the offer.

Gauge how much the person knows about the source and quality of the information they’ve given you. If it is a job lead, and not an introduction, you’ll have to dig deep and research the lead. Not every job lead is created equally. Your source may or may not be intimately familiar with the lead or the position. He or she may have been approached by a recruiter, declined the offer and decided to forward the position information to you. This doesn’t mean the employer is incompatible with your personal criteria. Your lead source may not have been not been actively looking for a job, or the position may not have fit their personal criteria. Knowing that you’re looking to make a transition, your source decided to be helpful and pass the information on to you.

If your source forwarded a lead and doesn’t know much about the company, avoid bombarding them with questions about the position. In other words, don’t make them answer the same questions you would ask of someone more familiar with the position. Go directly to the source. If the source leads you to a company website or job board, go to LinkedIn to learn more about the company and to discover if you have any possible inside connections. Next week I will go further into depth about the top ten websites you can use to research your employer.

Before you consider making a connection with someone at the company, thoroughly research the organization. Your research will help you get further in your ability to market yourself and demonstrate your value. The job position could be a perfect match for your qualifications and skills, but the company culture or its location may be a poor fit. Here are few questions to consider:

 

  • Where is the company located? You may or may not be open to the idea of relocating to another town or city.

 

  • What is the size of the company? If you’ve previously worked at a small employer, switching to a large employer could be a major culture shock, and vice versa.
  • What do employees think of their employer? If a good number of employees are miserable at the job, it may be a place you want to stay far away from.
  • Why do think you’ll be a good fit for the position? This question can also generate great content for a cover letter. Take notes as you discover your answers.

 

Look up a company’s profile on LinkedIn to discover answers to your questions.  Job review sites such as Vault and Glassdoor are more ways to obtain insight about a potential employer. Visit Salary.com and PayScale to learn more about an average salary for the open position at your employer. These are good resources for gathering salary range information based on your job title, skills and education level. Once you’ve researched a potential employer it’s time make a decision.

If you find that the company meets about 80% of your criteria, create a connection within the company. Go to LinkedIn to see who you may know. If possible, try to identify the most logical hiring managers. Once you find the hiring managers, send out customized invitations. Avoid sending out boilerplate invitations, and use the information you gathered about the hiring managers to introduce yourself. Before you send out those invitations, make your LinkedIn profile as appealing as possible. I’ve written extensively on the subject.  Avoid using default headlines and make sure your profile is more than just an online résumé. When you send an invitation to hiring managers, the point is not to directly ask for a job, but to be the answer to the open position. Think of it like this, the company needs to fill an open position to solve a problem within the company. You want to be the first solution that comes to mind.

If the position does not meet 80% of your criteria and you were referred, follow through with the interview and be upfront with a hiring manager. Let him or her know that the job opportunity presented after an introduction isn’t a fit for you. This honesty can lead to better opportunities down the road. When that potential employer has an open position that matches your qualifications and needs to be filled, either internally or referred, your name may be on the top of the candidate list. Focus on your preferred contribution and the types of positions that are in alignment with your skills and qualifications.  If the real issue with a job is a lifestyle conflict, let the hiring manager know. Express to them how you appreciate the time and effort they took to consider you for a position, but it isn’t a good fit with your lifestyle. For example, longer hours at a potential job may leave you unable to pick up your children from school or daycare in a timely manner. Or, the commute may be too long.

 

Always follow through with your source. They took the time to send information for a possible lead, thank them, and update them on what happened. They have a vested interest in the outcome and will want to know if it worked out. This is the best way to reinforce with your network that the efforts that they make on your behalf are not in vain. If, however, too many job leads they send seem to be wrong, they will get discouraged. Give them a little guidance, if necessary, but always with sincere gratitude.

Making a smart inquiry about the lead, and being responsive to your source can be the difference between discouraging them from ever sending you a lead again and receiving more job leads. Again, thank them for their time and research the lead. Your research will enable you to decide if pursuing an open position is worth your time. You can also use your research to put yourself ahead of the competition by crafting a customized cover letter. Learn how to use your research to get immediate responses from employers with our cover letter secret sauce. Above all, gratitude and research is the best response to a job lead.

 

Your Attitudes About Work Can Shape the Career Path of Others

child

Photo courtesy of Mississippi State University Libraries on flickr open source.

As a career coach I have met many clients who are unhappy with their career choices. I worked with a gentleman who made a decision to work in business. Business isn’t his passion, but it provided him with stability and good pay. As he got older, he realized he hated his choice. Being a businessman was not something he was passionate about, and it showed. Even so, he believed it was impossible to pursue a career that made him happy and to also earn a decent living wage. It was how his own father lived his life. These were the values he was brought up with and it is ultimately how he ended up working. He internalized these attitudes and they ended up becoming an absolute truth for him. My client wanted his children to live a more fulfilling life, but he was caught between the importance of a pragmatic career choice and one based on personal passion. As a result, he always told his children and younger peers that a stable career was more important than a fulfilling career.

We all know people who made a career decision based on their own generational beliefs that were formed from their life experiences, and the experiences of the generation that preceded them. The majority of us don’t second guess our career decisions, even if we are unsatisfied with them, and it is all too easy to pass our beliefs on to others.

Here’s an example of someone caught between the crossroads of a pragmatic career choice and their dream career:

We all have that friend who moved out to California to become a movie star, right? I do. He was 35 and considered it the last and biggest push he could make so that he’d always know that he gave it his best effort. I’m sure some thought of him as foolish, but I could not have been more proud. It didn’t even matter what the outcome is or will be. As long as he could make a living out there doing any variety of other things, he could continue to audition, build his portfolio and make connections. Until…

He found out that he has a baby girl on the way.  He’s scared. Not only was he never really sure if he ever wanted kids, but he’s still trying to figure out how to take care of himself. His biggest fear, however, is that this is the end of his dreams.

So, he has some big decisions to make in the next year and for the rest of his life. What would your advice to him be?

Chances are good, between us all, that he will get some very conflicting information, and that some advice would be well-intentioned, but potentially unnecessarily detrimental to his future. Furthermore, what he decides to do, and how he feels about it, talks about it, and lives it will make a huge impact on his daughter’s future.

How we advise him isn’t really as much based on what the BEST thing to do would be, but rather what our dominant paradigm is about work. As per my last article, “Are you martyring your dreams?” I wrote about how we shape the next generations’ attitudes about work, mostly unconsciously.

The actions and attitudes of one generation of workers can greatly influence the next generation. Personally, I do not want my children to ever feel limited about their work choices and commitments. My daughters are young, and are forming the next generation of workers. So, what about those of us already in the workforce? Thanks to longer life spans there is an incredible amount of generational diversity in the workplace. Four generations now work together and each of them brings their own attitudes to the job. Each generation also has its own perceptions about the previous and next generations. For example, Millenials are technology savvy, but entitled and lazy. Generation Xers are poor team players. Baby boomers and Traditionalists are slow to adapt and adopt new technologies. These perceptions are largely stereotypes, but each generation does have their own beliefs and values about work that informed and shaped their career decisions.  So, what are the attitudes of these different generations? How do our attitudes shape our own beliefs about work? And how do they shape the future of the workforce as a result?

First, let’s start with some common generational scenarios that lead to personal attitudes about work:

Gertrude was born during the great depression and remembers growing up during difficult times. She learned to save her money, hold on to what possessions she had, and generally respected authority. At work she was extremely loyal to her company, gained a great deal of experience, valued stability, and stayed there for much of her working life, putting in regular 9-5 hours. Her lifelong commitment paid off when she eventually made her way into upper-management. Her managerial style was direct and top-down. She preferred to talk face-to-face with her co-workers and subordinates, and would only settle on a phone call if she absolutely had to. Eventually, she became the CEO of the company and retired after more than 40 years of service. Gertrude’s beliefs and life experiences taught her that she needed to work hard, to be cautious, have lifetime loyalty to her employer, and that seniority is important to career advancement. Work is about picking a career, choosing a company to work for, and staying there until retirement.

Ronald was born at the end of World War II. His generation is one of the largest in American society and thanks to its size greatly influenced the direction of the country. He grew up during a time of prosperity, unbridled optimism and a rapidly changing political and social landscape. Ronald was raised to respect authority figures, but thanks to the changing nature of the country, he did not blindly trust the previous generation. Like his father, he believed the right course of action in a career was to pick a company to work for and to expect to stay there for at least a decade. He worked long hours, was on-call during the weekends, was loyal to his employer, and eventually made his way up the career ladder, thanks to his hard work. He essentially lives to work, believing it to be a priority over his personal life. A 60-hour work week didn’t matter, because he had something to show for it. Unlike his parents, Ronald has no plans to fully retire at 65. Ronald believes work is fundamental to his identity and self-worth. He puts in long hours at the office because it is how work “should” be done, and can’t understand why his younger peers aren’t willing to do the same.

Angela was born during the Regan Administration. Her parents worked hard, but they were eventually divorced. She grew up with everything she needed, but had less than her peers with married parents, whom she felt a great need to impress to be accepted. In short, her life growing up wasn’t easy. Her mother worked seven days a week to make ends meet. One day, the job her mother worked at for well over a decade laid her off, and she watched as her mother was forced to take a lower paying job. When she entered the workforce she was determined not to work as hard as her mother, and she was skeptical about staying with the same employer for life. Angela knew working hard was important, but she refused to “live to work.” She found a job with flexible hours that allowed to her work from home, and she isn’t afraid to change employers in order to seek career advancement. Angela grew up with a cynical attitude toward lifetime employer loyalty. She saw first-hand how easily an organization could layoff a longtime worker to make its bottom line. She placed an equal value on the workplace and her personal life, one was not more important than the other. Angela also values independence in her decision-making at work, and is willing to change employers to suit her needs.

Tobias was born during the end of the George H.W. Bush Administration. For the entirety of his young life, Tobias has been surrounded by technology. He doesn’t remember a time without the internet, barely remembers a time without cell phones, and is more at ease talking to friends on Facebook than face-to-face. He is young, highly educated, ambitious, and extremely confident in his own abilities. His parents worked long hours, but they were constantly there for him. Tobias was used to being praised for everything he did growing up. In his eyes, talent often triumphs hard work. It doesn’t matter how a project gets done, just as long as it is done. Life isn’t about working all the time. Unfortunately, he was dealt a harsh blow thanks to the Great Recession. Good paying jobs that match his skillset aren’t as easy to find. He has a lot of college debt, his standard of living isn’t as high as his parents, and the idea of organizational loyalty for life bores him. In other words, spending one’s life at a company doing rote tasks does not appeal to him. Tobias is optimistic. If he gets tired (or laid off) of one job, he can move on to another. He’s flexible, adaptable, and believes strongly in the personal brand he has built through social media. Despite Tobias confidence, he’s found it isn’t very easy to find a job in a field that uses his degree.

What are the generational differences on work attitudes?

In the scenarios I painted for you, Gertrude is from the Traditional generation, Ronald is a Baby Boomer, Angela is a Generation Xer, and Tobias is part of the Millennials. Each generation’s attitudes toward work are shaped by their life experiences and their differences are vast. In general, the older generations (Traditional and Baby Boomers) place a high value on company loyalty. Decades ago, it was common to expect to work for one employer for all (or much) of your life, and to retire from the same employer. Imagine the huge factories that used to dot the landscape of the Northeast and Upper Midwest. For example, a person could work for and retire from Ford (as an hourly employee or salaried management) and live a reasonably comfortable life. The hours were long, but working hard meant you could easily afford to provide for a family, and own lots of expensive possessions. Even a job in the corporate world (throughout all levels), meant long hours and good pay. It didn’t matter if a person worked up to 80 hours a week and rarely saw his or her family. Hard work and long hours were good for the family and society in the long run. The reward was a comfortable retirement could be that could be earned between the three pillars of pension, social security, and personal savings.

Younger generations of workers (Gen Xers and Millennials) grew up rarely seeing their parents, or seeing the stressful effects of long hours at work. Corporate downsizing, high divorce rates among parents, long periods of time without supervision at home (because of the many hours parents had to work), and the rapid rise of new technology caused this generation to seek a better work/life balance. Generation Xers in particular began to question the “workaholic” culture, and placed a value on flexible hours at work. Spending 10 to 12 hours in the workplace isn’t as appealing, nor is working at one company for the entirety of their lives. For many workers, staying 3 to 5 years at a company is a long term commitment, opposed to parents and grandparents who stayed with companies for 15 to 35 years. They want their identity and lives to be meaningful, and not completely attached to their career. Millennials often see their positions at a single employer as ephemeral, and have no qualms about leaving employers after short periods of time. Technology has always been a way of life and thanks to its immediacy, the generation can be impatient. Younger workers don’t believe in slowly working their way up to powerful positions. They are more apt to bypass the work ladder, and expect to take on higher management positions at younger ages with the help of a mentor.

Our beliefs shape our attitudes

Think about your own beliefs and career decisions. How were they influenced?

As we grow up there are three pivotal junctures in our life that shape who we are. From birth to 7-years-old, we observe our family, internalize their actions, and interpret them to be the correct way to live. For example: “Daddy works 10 hours a day and doesn’t like his job. That must be the way all grownups work.” From age 8 to 13 we begin to look outside of our family for role-models to influence our value decisions. “When I grow up I want to be a famous singer!” From the age of 14 to 20 we are influenced by our peers. We use our peers and society to test out our beliefs, to make decisions, start to finalize what kind of person we’ll be, and what our career will be. “Maybe I’ll be a computer programmer, it seems pays OK, and I don’t hate it.”

These major junctures in our life can even influence us in more subtle ways. We could tell a 4-year-old that life as an adult isn’t about fun, but it has to be spent working all of the time. That would become part of their identity, potentially. Or perhaps the young child would grow up, and revolt against this advice, being influenced in the opposite direction. Either way, we would use that advice to define us, and that’s when our strengths emerge, but it is also when a lot of untruths about ourselves are defined. The “truth” you know isn’t potentially true. We don’t have a looking glass into the future.

Going back to our formed beliefs and attitudes, how would you advise someone else in terms of their own future career decisions? Would you tell them that a pragmatic career decision is more important than a passion-driven choice? Let’s return to the example of our father-to-be.

As a member of the older generation, would you tell him that work isn’t supposed to be fun, and is only a means to secure a stable financial future? In other words, should he give up on being an actor and pursue a more stable career because he now has a child to consider? Or as a member of a younger generation, would you tell him not to settle for short-term work beneath his abilities, even if it meant a financially difficult life? I.e., don’t take any job if it’s not related to acting, because of your pride. These are the generational truths we believe in, and that we unconsciously believe should define us and others. Perhaps our beliefs about work and the future workforce need to be brought to the surface and reexamined.

The future will not be like the past. We can predict certain things about the future, but we don’t know what the future will bring. It is possible in the future that 85% of the jobs that graduates will be going for in 15 years from now don’t exist right now. Paul T. Corrigan has stated in his article “Preparing students for what we can’t prepare them for,” that the top ten in-demand jobs in 2010, didn’t exist in 2004. So how do you advise people in their career? How can you tell someone now that their best chance at a job is to settle for possible decisions determined by beliefs, rather than facts? An administrative assistant may be a decent career now, but it may not exist in the future, or may only pay a fraction of what it once did. There’s little authority in guiding people towards a “viable” career path. I’ve found the happiest and most productive people are those with a career driven by their passions. That is the most viable career path.

There was something that my older supervisor told me when I still worked as a recruiter: “Refute your biases.” And while she was mostly taking about refuting biases about people, I think it’s applicable to our attitudes on work. The whole reason I wanted write this is because all too frequently I see people making important career decisions on arbitrary feelings, untruths and things that aren’t real. Think about how different our attitudes would be if we made career decisions based on facts and passion, instead of ingrained beliefs.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Teach Your Children

1970

Are you martyring your dreams?

Photo courtesy of Rowanhill--"Spring Path".

Photo courtesy of Rowanhill–“Spring Path”.

“I never want to work for a mean boss, like you, mom,” a client’s daughter said.  Following the conversation with her daughter, she asked me how I ended up in career coaching. I told her that I identified with her daughter because my own parents’ careers and their attitudes about work disenchanted me in my childhood and adolescence. I did not want to be held down and under-appreciated by management, but I also did not want to be management, who I thought was some evil, power-hungry scrooge. This made it really tough to envision a future where I could be fulfilled, paid well, and happy.

I later realized that there were, in fact, some people who followed a career path that they loved and got paid well. But there were far too few. Wondering why, I sought to understand how the happy, successful people got where they were. Why did it seem so easy for some people? One major factor stuck out to me. The people who pursued professional happiness did so because they believed that it was possible for them. What a concept.

I’ve been a professional career coach for eight years now. I have helped my clients confront belief systems that hold them back. I have had many clients who were taught that work cannot be fun and pay the bills. I’ve even had bosses who believed that pursuing a profession based on passion is “idealistic,” or in other words, unrealistic. I see parents all the time explain to their children that they had to give up their dream so that they could provide for their families.

[Click to tweet: Are you martyring your dreams? http://ctt.ec/FTcS4]

Now that I have kids of my own, I’m very careful to consider what I teach them about work, income, and choosing a vocation. I don’t want my kids to feel like they are a reason that I had to sacrifice my dreams and spend my time working. I want them to feel exhilarated about the possibilities and potential for the future using their God given talents. I want them to feel like they can have it all – everything that is important to them can be possible. I don’t want anyone to ever try to convince them otherwise. I want them to know that mommy wants to do some really important things to help other people.  And I want them to be inspired and feel a part of that.

In addition, I want other moms to know that their choices and commitments do not have to limit them. I mean, we all have limits to our time, but more than ever before in the history of the world, there are tremendous solutions available to get more done with less time.

A 2015 career manifesto for you and me: 

I will remain open to what is possible, even if I’m not sure it is. I will make decisions based on what I want most, not based on fear or skepticism. Instead of saying why me, I will say why not me? I will operate as though the world supports me and wants me to be successful, and I will look for evidence of this everywhere.

Imagine – The Beatles – John Lennon

Imagine de John Lennon. The Beatles. Imagine there´s no heaven, it´s easy if you try….

Become an Effective Job Hunter: Work Smarter, Not Harder!

Photo courtesy of kate hiscock (http://bit.ly/1BiDvrt). Job search

Photo courtesy of kate hiscock (http://bit.ly/1BiDvrt).
Job search

Keyword searching for job opportunities is an important part of your job search that should not be overlooked. Looking for the next employment opportunity can be a time consuming task. However, you should only spend 10% of your time searching for work on a job board using keywords for the position you’re interested in. Naturally, the next question to ask is: what are you doing with the other 90% of your time? Evaluate the time you spend job hunting. Are you spending too much precious time on job boards? Or are you blindly sending your résumé to everyone who’s hiring out there in the hopes of getting an interview? A smart allocation of the remaining 90% of your job search time can help you land your next job.

Nurture Your Networks

Human connections are one of the most important tools in your job search arsenal. Think about it. If no one knows you’re looking for a job, then they can’t help you. Don’t hesitate to ask your family, friends, alumni, and your professional connections about job leads. If you’re unsure about how to go about nurturing you network, try watching my vlog, “How Does Your Garden, uh, Network Grow?” Your personal and professional networks may have insight to possible job openings before the positions are advertised. Gathering leads from family and friends isn’t always easy. In another one of my vlogs, “Get Interviews in Your Network, ” I walk you through how to get powerful introductions that lead to interviews to jobs no else knows about. Target (but don’t harass), employees and hiring managers at the companies you would like to work for. A cup of coffee and a personal touch can go a long way in your job search. StarTribune writer Kevin Donlin has excellent advice in his article, “How to target hiring managers and crack the job market.”

Work LinkedIn for all it’s worth

LinkedIn is an essential job search tool. It can take professional networking to the next level. You can make yourself an appealing job candidate by using the right keywords in your LinkedIn profile. I wrote about the importance of changing your default headline, and the importance of differentiating your profile from your résumé. Another critical aspect of LinkedIn is building connections. Don’t think of connections in the same way you would think of friends on Facebook. Building connections within your industry is important when looking for job opportunities. You’ll need more than 200 connections from people you know well in to get your search rolling. Additionally, you can research companies through their LinkedIn pages in order to receive job postings and company news. You’ll also want to join and contribute to groups within your industry that align with your skills and job objectives. This is a big part of effectively leveraging the community on LinkedIn. Remember earlier when I mentioned connecting with alumni? LinkedIn makes it easy to connect with school and corporate alumni, and it is an opportunity you shouldn’t pass up. A few minutes a day using LinkedIn to the fullest can take your job search to new heights.

Our sister company, JoMo Rising launched a program last week called Accelerfate. The program can provide you daily job search to-dos. The program is full right now, but you go to the website and sign up if you want to be part of the next enrollment.

Work your personal brand

LinkedIn is a great way to build your personal brand, but you’ll want to cover all of your bases. If you use other social networking services such as Facebook or Twitter, make sure to take advantage of them. Carefully craft your online presence in a way that will capture the attention of employers. If you’re an IT professional write about your industry as often as possible. Stay on top of the latest industry news, and follow those within your profession. You can also put a personal and professional spin on the news from others in your industry for your followers. You never know if a post, or tweet for a job will go out. At the very least, a professionally cultivated social media presence help you standout from other job candidates who use these platforms in a more personal manner.

You can also take it a step further when it comes to your personal branding. If you have a blog, make sure to write about your profession. You’ll be able to brand yourself as an industry leader and a go-to person while you grow your audience. In short, you’ll be able to take an active role in your industry, instead of being a passive employee. Illustrate how you solve problems, and how you’re a valuable asset to your company. If you have amusing stories, heartwarming stories, or even stories that are inspiring, make to share them with your audience. Story-telling is the pillar of marketing these days.

A good story helps your audience relate to you and keeps them coming back to you. It can be difficult to come up with stories on the fly. I’ve found it easier to remember stories by keeping a digital library. Record the stories that you remember or are inspired by on your phone. It will be a huge benefit when you need to recall them for future content and conversations. A good rule of thumb is, if it’s worth remembering, it’s worth recording.

Having an active online presence is a great way to set you apart from the competition, and can be a highly productive way to spend some of your job search time. If a potential employer does Google you, they’ll see a motivated and fully engaged professional. Versus someone else who may have simply set a few social media accounts and lets them go dormant.

[Click to tweet this article: http://ctt.ec/D6u9o]

Research the company you want to work for

I mentioned targeting a hiring manager as one part of your job search. You can take that strategy a step further by researching an entire company. Look up the companies you’re interested in on Google, and check out their LinkedIn pages. Learn everything you can about them and imagine how you’d fit into their company. In my article “You Can’t Afford Not to Investigate Your Next Employer!” I discuss ways to thoroughly research an employer. Try digging deep and pitching yourself to an employer with an extremely personalized cover letter. Remember, you want all of the fruits of your research to show up within your letter. In my vlog, “Our Cover Letter Secret Sauce” I discuss how to write a customized cover letter. Even if the company isn’t hiring at the moment, they may consider you in the future.

Hire a professional to polish your résumé

If you’re having a trouble with your résumé, you may want to consider hiring a CPRW, or a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, like me. A professionally written résumé that specifically targets an employer can go a long way in standing out from the crowd. All of the advice I’ve listed in this article is crucial, but having a great résumé is an importance center-piece to productive job search.

Keyword searching on job boards should comprise a small fraction of your job search time. An effective job search strategy will make use of personal and professional networking, social media, and personal branding. A large portion of job boards are inundated with job seekers. In order to stand out from the crowd you have to be willing to work smarter. Just imagine the quality of leads you’ll generate by asking your networks about open positions, or using the vast resources available to you on LinkedIn. Also imagine how much further you’ll go by targeting the company you want to work for, and pitching them a personalized cover letter. Not only will branching out in your job search methods produce better results, but you won’t be at the mercy of a hiring manager who is overwhelmed with the same applications, and résumés coming from job boards.

It’s been a hard days night – The Beatles

Lyrics: A Hard Day’s Night Lyrics Artist(Band):The Beatles Review The Song (23) Print the Lyrics Send “A Hard Day’s Night” Ringtones to Cell It’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log But

3 Steps To Ensure Your Next Position Is Better Than Your Last One

 

Petrified by Brett Jordan

Petrified by Brett Jordan

 

 

Everyone seems to be running away from something rather than toward something. For example, many clients do not come to me or approach me until they see that they are running out of money, and so they decide to run away from a lack of money. Or others still find themselves in employment situations that are undesirable, and so they come to me wanting escape from their current situation. Yes, I do this.

I do help people relieve financial distress by helping them gain employment that brings in an income that enables them to afford their lifestyles, or better lifestyles. Yes, I also help professionals improve their career trajectory and help them find jobs that fulfill them and pay them what they’re worth.

However, most of them have not yet decided what they are running toward.

 

 

Where do people usually turn to see what opportunities are out there for them? Job boards. Here’s the flaw in that: job boards are not job prophecies. You will not be able to determine your career destiny by scouring job boards. This is what will happen: you will find many, many jobs with a few words that excite you, and you will use those few words as a reason to spend your time evaluating that opportunity and filling out an online application. You will cross your fingers, consider your effort done, and hope and pray that somebody will respond and invite you for interview.

 

Let me ask you, does doing this motivate you to get up every day and repeat the process? Do you really feel any closer to a better employment situation? Are you getting any results from this process? Even if this process does produce interviews, do you really feel like they are the right jobs?

 

It is spectacular to know that what you have currently is not what you want. However, if you are really going to ensure that your situation improves, you have to define what that improvement looks like. And, actually, the more full detail you give to that picture of improvement, the closer you will get to it.

Here are three exercises, consider them career development homework, that will propel you in a favorable direction once you decide that you want your professional future to be better than your past or present.

 

  1. Develop your criteria

Create a table, either in word or an Excel, with four columns at the top and numbers on the left (Excel has these already.) In the first column (A) put all the things that you disliked about your most recent position and any other positions in the past. In the second column (B) type the opposite of that. In the third column make a list of things that you heard other people complain about their jobs that you would not want to experience for yourself. In the fourth column include things that you’ve heard other people enjoy about their job that you have not yet experienced. Use all of the columns to develop questions that you can ask your network and your interviewees (once you land them) to find out if a company is a worthwhile target. In a new spreadsheet, combine columns B and D into one complete list that you will call your criteria. Sort them into order of importance, and make the “make or break” criteria distinct by using colors or bolding. Now, for each company you identify, either through job boards, recruiters, business journals, news articles, leads from your network, etc., add a column and cross reference what you find out about them, through any of the same sources listed above, with your criteria list. Use a simple system, like “X” for any criteria a company doesn’t match and an “O” for each one it does. If the Xs start to add up to more than 20% of the criteria, move on. If not, keep digging and make sure that your network inquiries include requests for introductions with value statements on what you can offer them. (E-mail info@epiccareering.com if you would like to see a sample.)

 

  1. Create a reverse career roadmap.

Assuming all things are possible, how would you ultimately like to end your career? Every answer is okay. Don’t limit yourself, but don’t assume that you have to yearn for the highest possible position either. Use your imagination. If you do tend to eliminate possibilities, carefully evaluate if your reasons are actually valid or if they are manifestations of a self-limiting untruth, an assumption, or misinformation. A really easy way to tell if that is the case is to ask, “Has anyone else ever achieved this?” If the answer is yes, you have proof that it is possible, but even if you don’t know of anybody else who has achieved it, I will quote something I say to my daughters daily – “There is no can’t; only I don’t know how yet.”

Asking questions of your network is a lot easier than asking favors of your network. People love to help and offer their expertise. The caveat: if people tell you something is impossible, thank them and ignore them. They may or may not have their own illusions of reality. Stay focused on the how, not the if.

 

  1. Create a reverse financial roadmap.

Unless you are a financial advisor, I suggest you work with a financial advisor to get this quest completed. As a “rule,” you should increase your salary by 10% every year. Follow this link and use the calculator 2/3 down the page on the right to determine how much you should be making right now based on this rule. Project then, how much you should be making at the age you hope to retire. A financial advisor can help you understand how much you should have saved in order to have money left at the end of your life rather than life left at the end of your money. There should be two numbers – the least amount that you should have saved to cover expenses based on anticipated costs of living, and the ideal number that you should have saved to be able to really enjoy a high quality of life. Obviously, you have to be at least at the bottom of that range, but you should shoot for the top of that range. Furthermore, a financial advisor will help you determine if, based on the rule that you should be increasing your salary by 10% every year, if you can achieve that range or not. If not, some catch-up is required. Based on a Rutgers study on American workers, only 18% feel that they are well-paid. If what you’re making now is nowhere near what that formula says you should be currently making, we may be able to help you reroute and get back on track. We have helped many clients increase their salary by 25 to 100%! Contact us for a free session.

 

Desperately running away from a bad situation often leads to poor decisions, as we have shared before. If you’re in a bad situation, or simply situation that isn’t what you think is best for you, there is no time like the present to make changes, but they should be strategic changes. Considering the amount of emotion around career decisions, it can be a huge challenge to be objective enough to be effectively strategic. Don’t be too proud to reach out for help. Your logic and past experience should tell you that a partner, or even a team, will get more accomplished than an individual. You make the decisions, you are in control, and you don’t have to do it alone.

Here’s Your Sign – It’s Time For Change

Directions by Russ Allison Loar of Flickr

Directions by Russ Allison Loar of Flickr

I pursued the employment industry because I enjoyed matching people with opportunities and creating a win- win-win for the company, the candidate, and my firm. I moved into working one-on-one with job seekers because I gained invaluable knowledge that I knew many people needed to help them succeed; I wanted them to succeed. Being a great judge of character is a necessity to being a great recruiter. While I feel that I do have that talent, it was clear to me after several months that I would rather help these people than determine that they are not good enough to present to our clients. I stuck with it for several years, however. No regrets – the years that followed provided me with even more experience and knowledge. There did come a time when I had to recognize that it was time to move on.

In late 2005 after I was married, it seemed as though everything that I read or watched or overheard was intentional because most of it led me to the same conclusion: I needed to create something of my own to share this information and provide services for jobseekers in this area that no one else offered. From every different direction I was paying attention to inspirations, call them omens, that seemed to confirm that change was necessary. I even had a fortune cookie tell me that a change in vocation was coming. The help and encouragement of a career coach (Sheila Kutner) pushed me to bring my vision and mission to fruition.

When I was a recruiter, it was frustrating to know that people who needed a job were standing in their own way by failing to understand how to market and sell themselves, how to be fair to themselves and the employer in negotiations, and how to do the right thing for everyone involved. As a career coach, I use my experience and expertise to motivate and teach people to target the right job and effectively market themselves for it so that they accelerate toward it.  Still, I can only help the people who first recognize that changing their mindset and/or their activity is necessary to change their results. Many people insist on standing in their own way of happiness by not recognizing that a change is necessary, and worse yet, recognizing that a change is necessary and not empowering themselves to make that change happen.

I do understand, to a point, the psychology behind not changing. It is difficult and scary. What if the forces that be decide that you are not good enough? What if there really isn’t anything better out there? What if what you want isn’t attainable? I have seen my loved ones emotionally and mentally beaten down by work environments in which hostility between colleagues is tolerated while appreciation and recognition are scarce. The longer that they stayed there, the more it was reinforced that they were a disposable commodity. It was as though they should feel fortunate to be employed. It hurt to watch people that I know are unique, important, and deserving of so much more made to feel small and insignificant. They became resigned. Once I was recruiting it hurt more because I knew what they needed to be happy and believed it was so attainable. Regardless, it still had to be their decision, their resolve, and their commitment that made it happen. These days it is even harder to convince people that they A) do not have to settle for a consolation job just because they need a job and B) they can actually prolong their search (and misery) by pursuing something for which they have little passion.

Here are a few questions and answers that may indicate if it is your time to recognize the signs.

1. Are you regularly grumpy on Sunday evenings and every morning but Friday?

If you answered yes, this indicates that you have anxiety about going to work. Everyone gets grumpy sometimes. Even people that love what they do will have times when they wish they were somewhere else. Timing and frequency are the factors that have the most weight in determining the cause of the grumpiness.

2. While you are at work, are you spending more time finding personal business to tend to rather than critical deliverables that your boss is expecting?

While most people will admit that they tend to procrastinate from time to time, your job depends on your abilities to deliver. When you prioritize unimportant personal business ahead of what you need to do for you boss, that communicates that you only care enough to keep face, if you even care enough to do that. Your boss could very well be the problem and you may not be able to keep your position in that company and change your boss. You can certainly change something and you might as well.

3. When you come home from your workday, do you head straight for the television, your bed, or a drink?

We all are expected to output more these days. It can be exhausting. This is why it is even more critical to do work for which you have passion. It will be energizing more than it will be draining and it will allow you to come home and tend to personal matters and relationships rather than spending hours decompressing and zoning out until you can sleep, wake up, and do it all over again.

4. Do you encourage your closest friends and family to NOT use your company’s product or service?

If this is the case, it has to be a definite sign that you are not contributing your days and hard work to a company that is going to survive! Find a product or service that means something to you and then find a position within that company that allows you to use your talents and abilities to further their progress while you further your career.

5. Are you just brimming with ideas that no one at your company seems to hear, let alone implement?

Companies sometimes do not utilize the talent that they have to the fullest. This seems like such a waste of great energy and money! That goes for you, too, if you are staying there allowing all of these brainchildren to wither and die!

You know we are here for you if you agree that it is high time that you found a job that lets you UNVEIL YOUR BRILLIANCE! www.charesume.com