Archives for employee disengagement

What Do You Want on Your Tombstone?

Tombstone by Martin Cathrae of Flickr

Tombstone by Martin Cathrae of Flickr

 

You might have heard that the most significant part of the tombstone is not the epitaph, but the dash between your birth date and your death date. What will the dash mean to the people you leave behind? Will you have had the chance to fulfill your highest purpose? Is that even really important?

According to Dr. Abraham Maslow, a purposeful vocation is essential after your most basic happiness needs are met. With nearly 70% of Americans being disengaged in their vocations, the majority of us won’t know higher levels of happiness before we make our exit.

On this Halloween, when the veil between the living and the dead is the thinnest, it might seem preposterous to suggest visiting a graveyard. If you are not that kind of thrill seeker, simply read through this exercise then close your eyes and use your imagination.

Sit in front of a tombstone and imagine that it is yours. Reflect on your life. Consider the legacy you cultivated. Did you bring forth your fulfillment in this lifetime? Did you complete your missions? Did you find your passion and share it with others? For what do you wish you had made more time?

When life gets hard, it especially becomes difficult to be grateful for the little things, like the fact that we woke up this morning and we’re still alive. We have today, but we don’t know if we will have tomorrow. What can you do to make today a meaningful part of your dash? What can you do tomorrow, if you are lucky enough to still be here?

Are the hours you are spending at work bringing you closer to the kind you of happiness that will make you feel proud of the life you led?

If this exercise makes you aware of a gap that needs filling in your purpose, contact us and we can help you accelerate the career discovery process and help you find a purpose-lead vocation that suits your skill set, personality, and desired lifestyle.

 

Don’t wait until December for my book, Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint Your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days.

 

Is a Prevalent Thought Creating an American Epidemic?

The ultimate source of our happiness by BK of Flickr

The ultimate source of our happiness by BK of Flickr

 

In a MindValley podcast Marisa Peer, once touted as Britain’s best therapist, talked about the prevalence of the thought, “I am not enough.” She discussed its limiting impact on people worldwide. Ms. Peer called it the biggest disease affecting humanity and attributed it not just to unhappiness, but illness. The way she presented this recurring, primarily subconscious thought pattern, she made it sound as if it has reached epidemic proportions.

I wonder if there is a correlation between this prevalent paradigm and an epidemic that drives me to reach as many people as possible with solutions for their career. Though it seems like in previous years discontentment has inched down slightly, Gallup polls still maintain that nearly 70% of Americans are disengaged in their job. This disengagement costs US companies $350 billion per year, according to McLean and Company. I have seen some estimates at $550 billion. I do not know which number is right, but both substantiates an epidemic in my mind and begs the questions, “Why?” and “How do we fix it?”

Companies are not acknowledging this problem. Nor are they harnessing what we know about the brain and human performance optimization to hire appropriately and, once hired, help employees achieve utmost performance.

Workers are operating under an outdated paradigm that dictates work is not supposed to be enjoyable; it is merely what must be done.

People are in the wrong jobs; they either they never discovered their calling, were discouraged from pursuing it, or decided it was unobtainable because they are not enough.

If you consider yourself among the 70% of the disengaged, do you recognize that the underlying belief that you are not enough may have played a part? Then according to Ms. Peer, there are nine steps to mastermind your life and reverse the impact that this belief has had.

 

  1. Know you are enough.
  2. Praise yourself.
  3. Remove destructive criticism.
  4. Mindfully command yourself because your brain does exactly what you think.
  5. Be specific about the rewards you want because your brain moves you away from pain and toward pleasure.
  6. Be purposeful with the pictures and words in your head because they determine your thoughts.
  7. Do what you hate to do to get what you want.
  8. Do not take “no” for an answer.
  9. Take action every day.

 

If I had to boil down her advice to one practical step that has proven to be effective with her patients, herself and her daughter, it is to wake up every morning telling yourself that you are enough. Write it down and keep it visible so that you will see it multiple times throughout the day. Then reaffirm that you are enough at night before you go to bed.

 

As for the other possible causes of the disengagement epidemic, I will save them for future posts. In the meantime, I welcome your comments.

Are there other causes that you see that I have not mentioned? What solutions do you propose?

 

Dedicated to my dad because today is his birthday, and I recently learned he loves the Carpenters.
 

5 Common Job Search Myths Debunked

Emma reading the newspaper by Diego Sevilla Ruiz of Flickr

Emma reading the newspaper by Diego Sevilla Ruiz of Flickr

 

Is it really possible to switch industries? Can anyone land at their dream job? As a career coach, I have seen many job seekers limit what is truly possible in their careers simply because they believed common misconceptions. Not only do common misperceptions or myths hold job seekers back, but they can be detrimental in the long run. Think of the prolonged job searches, feeling trapped at a job you are disengaged from, and how your health can suffer because of stress. By uncovering and debunking some of the most common job search myths, your job search can soar to heights you never imagined.

 

Myth #1: You do not need a cover letter

Are cover letters a requirement? Many employers require a cover letter, but think of them as the key to getting directly in front of a hiring manager. A cover letter demonstrates an interest in the company, explains your skills, and covers what is not included in your résumé. It is an introduction to a hiring manager that highlights your accomplishments, accompanies your résumé, and it is your chance to make your case for an interview. In fact, a cover letter is read before your résumé and often determines if a hiring manager will take the time to read your résumé. A well-written cover letter is tailored to a specific company, grabs the attention of a hiring manager, and beckons him or her to take immediate action.

 

Myth #2: Changing careers is impossible

Jennifer Ghazzouli was a bench chemist for the Philadelphia Police Department. She wanted more from her job and switched careers. She is now in recruiting and leads global hiring strategy for QVC. Jennifer was approached early in her career about becoming a recruiter and was told by others that recruiting is sales. She initially balked at the idea. However, Jennifer knew that she was not happy as a bench chemist. When she talked to her friends, they shared insights and ultimately the job lead.

Changing careers was one of the top frustrations of the many job seekers we asked. They find it is challenging to enter a new industry without the industry experience the job appears to require. A career change requires more work than changing employers, but it is not an impossible task. Like Jennifer, many of the people who successfully broke into a new industry do so through their network. In fact, I saw this happening as a recruiter. A position that called for a specific industry experience would go to someone who was able to promote transferable skills and experience as value-adds. Branding in these cases was just as responsible as networking. In terms of transitioning, research the new industry by looking at employers, asking questions of those already in the industry, and volunteering. Hard skills can be transferred from one career to another. Additionally, soft skills  also play a huge role in your career. Unlike hard skills, a good grasp of soft skills is required in any industry. Like changing an employer, consider what makes you happy in your career and why you want to transition to a new industry.

 

Myth #3: The job of your dreams is not viable

Jack Morrison of SAP America never doubted his chances of success. Unfortunately, most people somewhere along the way are told and believe that success is not possible for them; that they are not worthy to receive what they really want, and/or that it is better to be accepted, and to not rock the boat. So many people settle for a job that pays the bills. Settling for a job you are not passionate about is a recipe for disengagement. Employee disengagement is an epidemic at 70%, costing US companies $450 billion each year, and costing individuals the chance to thrive, be fulfilled and well-paid. Just like with changing careers, research is king when it comes to landing your dream job. Make a list of companies that fit 80% of your criteria and begin finding and reaching out to contacts within those companies. Brian Quinn dreamed of being a rock star from a very young age and never gave up on his dream career. The path was not easy, but he worked hard to fulfill his calling and found success.

 

Myth #4: Do not leave your job without having another one waiting

It is always better to have a new job waiting before you quit. Having a job makes it easier to negotiate for a higher salary and you avoid unemployment bias. However, you may not always have the luxury of searching for a job while employed. Also, consider your happiness if you are employed at a job you dislike. If the job is stressful enough that you want to leave immediately, take your financial situation into account. If you have savings to get by for a little while, plan your job search out, and even consider the help of a career coach. Evaluate the costs to your life and potentially to your wallet by staying stuck versus the investment you make in being able to take control of your life. Think about being able to land at a company where you can thrive and be paid well. That is what we help job seekers obtain!

 

Myth #5: Employment is a one-way street

The job seekers who feel that they are at an employer’s mercy may be stuck in a cycle of disappointment in their job search. Their confidence is gone and they start to believe something is wrong with them, and they must take whatever they can get. In these instances, it is their tools and tactics that need adjustment, not who they are or what they want. The end result of putting yourself at the mercy of an employer is landing an awful job. It does not have to be this way. Just as an employer is making sure you are a good fit at an interview, you are doing the same. You owe it to yourself and your happiness to accept a job at an employer who will keep you engaged and fulfilled. Ask questions at your interview, discover their mission, and research them beforehand. Additionally, your number one weapon against being at an employer’s mercy is momentum, which we help job seekers generate. Momentum is having several offers in play, while employers bid over you- much like an auction. Instead hoping that you are hired by an employer, the employer hopes that they can persuade you to work for them. That is the power of job momentum!

 

Job seeker misconceptions or myths can prolong a job search and frustrate employees who want to make major career changes. Worse, these mistaken beliefs can cause job seekers to doubt themselves, to give up on their job searches, and to reach a place of disappointment and desperation. Often job search methods and tools are the problem, not the job seeker. By clearing away these misconceptions we hope that job seekers will reject these self-limiting beliefs and realize what is possible in their job search.

What common job search myths would you add to this list?

 

 

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.