How to Answer Catch-22 Job Interview Questions

We've all been there – sitting uncomfortably in a face-to-face job interview struggling to answer a tough question. For example, "describe an area you're trying improve." Or, "tell me about the worst boss you've ever had." Yikes! How do you answer questions like those without incriminating yourself? Job interview 2Maybe it's time to hire a Career Coach to help you win at job interviewing.

Today's job interviews are all about situational and behavioral questions. Let's face it, you wouldn't be in the interview if you hadn't already met the basic qualifications for the job. Now, you're being scrutinized on your personality, teamwork abilities, "fit" for the company and position, and other difficult-to-assess character traits. (Hope you've done your homework on the company!)

The best single thing you can do to prepare for a job interview is to hone your storytelling skills. Let me explain. Employers invest a lot of money into the hiring process. To ensure that hiring you would be a good investment for them, they want to measure your job "stickiness." In other words, will you get along with co-workers and supervisors? Will you follow through with projects from cradle to grave? Will you become an asset to the company (or not)? Will you stay for a good amount of time before leaving them to go elsewhere? These will be the questions in their minds as employers verbally ask you tough questions. Employers need reassurance that they're making a sound financial decision in hiring you. You can help them do that by answering their questions not only with facts (the what), but also with examples (the how).

A common model to follow for your job interview stories is the "CAR" method. Respond to most questions with your answer followed by your words, "Let me tell you about a time when…" Back up your statements with real life stories. First, state the Challenge (or situation) that you faced. Next, discuss the Actions that you took. Finally, list the positive Results (or outcomes) of your actions. Be truthful, but never negative.

Even for those questions that beg for a negative answer, you can turn them around by using the CAR method. Choose examples (stories) that may have started out in negative territory, but end in a positive place. Of course, preparing for an interview in this fashion does take some time. But if do it, you will definitely bypass any possibility of incriminating yourself! This is where your Career Coach becomes an invaluable partner.

A colleague of mine, Randy Block, wrote a good article, "36 Tough Interview Questions," that can help you create your personal stories. Better yet, hire a Career Coach to help you master this process. Get the feedback and support you need as you prepare to get your next job.

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

Don’t Have a Mentor? Why You Need One!

Each of my new career coaching clients is asked a question on the enrollment questionnaire, "Do you have a mentor (or role model)? If so, who?" We all need inspiration to be successful, especially in this crazy work environment. However, most of my new clients don't have a mentor. Do you? Many answer that question by naming a parent, sibling, or friend. That's OK, but did that person really inspire you in your work? That's what a true mentor can do.

If unable to answer the mentor question, I suggest to my career coaching clients that they research biographies and autobiographies of successful people, particularly in their fields. It is possible to glean "mentor-esque" inspiration from reading about accomplished individuals, and applying that inspiration to your own life and career.

One creative, brilliant person that most would happily call a mentor left us this past week. Steve Jobs A lot of glowing information has been written, spoken, and broadcast about Steve Jobs. And all of it is rightfully justified. He was thoughtful enough to produce his biography which is due for release in a few weeks. But even without that, you may learn a lot about him just by researching on the Web. I recommend that college students, as well as all others, spend some time learning about the life and gifts of Steve Jobs. Here is your "mentor" for almost any career.

Perhaps what has impressed me the most is what Jobs said in his commencement address to the Stanford graduating class of 2005. At that time, he knew his life would not be as long as most, so he used his address to inspire young adults to make best use of their own lives. He encouraged them to discover the career that made them happiest as that is the only way to go through life – living your dream. His bottom line was, "Don't settle." These words are simple, yet so powerful! Watch this speech for yourself that is posted by author, Daniel Pink, on his blog.

Don't get to the end of your life, or even retirement, and feel you lacked the will power, direction, or whatever it was to allow yourself to be able to work your passion. Yes, money is important, but most of the time you can find a way to follow your dreams after they filter through a business reality.

Now that we've entered Fall season, it's a time to start making career plans for 2012. What big career dream do you have that has gone by the wayside? Or is it that you just can't come up with any great dream at all? Start with a career coach to discover and clarify, then move forward with a mentor who can give you long-time support as you shift career gears and reclaim your career passion!

Wishing you career success now and in 2012!

Meg

Is Your Career Canvass a Triptych?

During the first weekend in August, I visited Kansas City's Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to see the Impressionist painter Claude Monet's triptych painting, "Water Lilies." Monet While Kansas City has hosted 1/3 of this masterpiece for many years, the other two panels have each resided, respectively, in Cleveland, OH and St. Louis, MO. This was the first time in 30 years that all three panels were brought together for a unified viewing. As a big fan of Monet's work, how moving and exhilarating it was to see this in person! For those who have not seen the Water Lilies painting, I suggest you visit the Nelson's website to get a vague idea of what you're missing: http://bit.ly/i5Br4U.

For me, this was also the first time that I'd encountered the word, triptych. As a resume writer wordsmith, I am always intrigued by any new word. When I researched its definition, I saw how this word could also be applied to the job search process. Let me explain.

Wikopedia defines triptych as the following: "A triptych is a work of art (usually a panel painting) which is divided into three sections, or three carved panels which are hinged together and folded." Each panel can stand alone, but when connected, they will provide a more powerful and enhanced expression.

When you consider a successul job search, it normally consists of three main components: 1) clarifying your job goal, 2) writing your resume, 3) interviewing for the right position. Of course, several other activities figure into the process: seeking job opportunities, networking with key players, completing job applications, researching companies, and more. But at its core, the job search process is incomplete if one of its three main components is missing. And like the triptych, each of these components is a stand-alone on which the other two hinge.

The take away here? The next time you sit in front of an artistic masterpiece contemplating life, listen to your heart as it reflects your thoughts and feelings about everyday life. It's not always about what's in your brain that matters most.

Hugs and wishes for your career success in 2011!

Meg

5 Tips for Fighting Summer Job Search Blues

Phew! Another hot day in Kansas City – when will this heat wave end? It's exhausting, boring, and keeps me from doing the outdoor activities that I enjoy in the summer, like going to Starlight Theatre in the park.Summer fun

Perhaps you're feeling the same way right now about your job search? Depending upon how long you've been looking for that next opportunity, you could be approaching burnout similar to what an employee feels when he's overworked and under-appreciated. But now is not the time to give up! Instead, challenge yourself to stay motivated by using new and different ways to conduct your search. In other words, make it fun!

Here are five tips to help:

1) Got a buddy? Job search can be a lonely, thankless activity. If you can share it with a buddy, you'll find the process less tedious. Schedule a regular weekly time to connect with your friend. Listen and encourage him as he recounts his successes or drags his feet on completing his self-made commitments. You'll find that when he returns this favor for you, you'll perk up and feel renewed in your own commitment. Maybe a few email check-ins between you during the week can further your progress.

2) Got a smartphone? Add your job search activities to your I-phone. Besides accessing your email, you can do your online networking with the device. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook – all have download-able apps for your phone. Now you can join your friends at the beach, go on a hike, or take your kids to the zoo. Stay in touch with the online piece of your job search while not missing out on all the summer fun!

3) Got a clear career goal? After awhile, job goals can get fuzzy. When discouraged, you may begin to doubt your own intentions. Stop it! Just because you're not landing on your feet as quickly as you'd anticipated or planned, it doesn't mean that you were wrong in choosing your original goal. It does take longer these days to get a new job. Circumstances abound as to why. Maybe it's you, but more likely, it's the tough bottom-line mentality that companies adhere to due to the economic climate that we all live in. Do a little soul searching to confirm your reasons for choosing this goal. Chances are you will still come up with the same thing. 

4) Got a job search plan? I know, it doesn't sound too sexy, but it's mandatory for tracking all your job search activities. Be thorough in recording the who, what, when, and where of networking contacts, job interviews and job inquiries. Then you'll be able to know when it's OK to check back with someone without becoming a pest. Maybe this is not as easy to make fun as other ideas, but consider it critical to staying on course with your job search process. Try to turn it into a game.

5) Got a career coach? Besides being a professional cheerleader for you, a coach will gently push you 009 forward to meet your goals in a timely fashion. She serves as your careers resource, your brainstorming partner, your co-designer of job search action steps – always there to support you, give you insight, and help you stay accountable to yourself for doing what you say you want to do. Your career coach works with you to paint a vision of what you can become and accomplish. She will always be on YOUR side, no matter how the world tries to treat you. And, a career coach shares your pain, your tears, and your laughs. She really cares!

Now, get up off that couch, turn off the television, and find that job search buddy! Get your job search organized with a clear goal, an action plan, and a way to track your progress. Finally, hire a career coach! Make this process easier for YOU so you can become successful and find the next best thing for your career.

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of careers experts who each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Please follow our hash-tag on Twitter – #careercollective – as well as follow each expert's individual tweet on this month's topic of "Mid-Year Job-Search Checkup." You'll be amazed at all the free career advice and knowledge that is available to you from these professionals in the careers field!

4 Summer Strategies to Step Up Your Job Search, @DebraWheatman, #CareerCollective

Putting Your Job Search Up On The Rack For Inspection, @dawnrasmussen, #CareerCollective

Mid-Year Job Search Checkup: Are you wasting your time? @GayleHoward, #CareerCollective

What is your unique value proposition? @keppie_careers, #CareerCollective

It is Time for Your Check-up Ms/Mr Jobseeker, @careersherpa, #CareerCollective

Mid-Year Career Checkup: Are You "On Your Game?" @KatCareerGal, #CareerCollective

How to Perform a Mid-Year Job Search Checkup, @heatherhuhman, #CareerCollective

Reposition your job search for success, @LaurieBerenson, #CareerCollective

Mid-Year Job Search Checkup: What's working and What's not? @erinkennedycprw, #CareerCollective

Mid-Year Job Search Check-Up: Getting Un-Stuck, @JobHuntOrg, #CareerCollective

Mid-Year Check Up: The Full 360, @WalterAkana, #CareerCollective

5 Tips for Fighting Summer Job Search Blues, @KCCareerCoach, #CareerCollective

Are you positive about your job search? @DawnBugni, #CareerCollective

Where Are The Jobs? @MartinBuckland, @EliteResumes, #CareerCollective

Mid-Year Job-Search Checkup: Get Your Juices Flowing, @ValueIntoWords, #CareerCollective

When Was Your Last Career & Job Search Check Up? @expatcoachmegan, #CareerCollective

Is Summer A Job Search Momentum Killer? @TimsStrategy, #CareerCollective

Is It Time for Your Resume Checkup? @barbarasafani, #CareerCollective

“Horrible Bosses” Strikes a Nerve

Have YOU ever had a "horrible boss?"Almost half of all workers have according to a new OfficeTeam survey as pointed out today by Diane Stafford, the Kansas City Star's careers and business columnist, in her article, "Bad Bosses: Nothing to Laugh About." This number makes sense when you look at how many media outletsBad boss  and blogs are publishing "bad boss" articles as the movie, "Horrible Bosses," is released to the general public this week. Besides the Kansas City Star, I've seen commentary on this subject on MSNBC.com, ABC.com, DailyFinance.com, Complex.com (blog), and more.

I can honestly say that I, too, have experience working for a horrible boss – a demanding, demeaning, tyrannical person. But I want to play devil's advocate today. I think it's only fair to walk in a boss's shoes for awhile before casting judgment on so many.

In the present workplace environment influenced by current economic conditions, it takes a lot of skill, poise, and savoir faire to keep a team of disgruntled, tired, and sometimes bored subordinates engaged and productive. Many of these employees are feeling overworked and underpaid before even considering how they feel about their boss. All kinds of surveys have reported that most workers would jump ship if they had a ship to jump to. Furthermore, the boss himself (or herself) may feel the same way about their own jobs, but because they're the boss, they have to follow "mum's the word" on sharing their true feelings.

For example, "bottom line results" is the number one goal in most companies these days. Bosses get leaned on pretty hard by their own bosses – all the way up the line – to squeeze every bit of work out of each person under them. "Do more with less" is the motto of most companies. That kind of pressure can create a lot of stress for a boss. Do you think they enjoy making their people unhappy – really?

Routinely, I have career coaching clients complain to me about their bosses. Some are fearful that they will be terminated based on their boss's behavior toward them. However, most of the time I've seen my clients find some inner peace once they address communication gaps with their bosses. Just yesterday a client confided that she and her boss had a total breakdown in communication over a new, simple procedure involving the use of email to notify outside sources of a situation. An entire procedure had been devised to accommodate this new policy. My client approached the implementation as she always does, using an analytical and logical processing method. On the other hand, her boss's main concern was, "How will this new procedure be regarded by the email recipients?" Bam! Left brain met right brain, a head-on collision. Neither knew how to proceed from their position.

Communication is the real key to success in the workplace, especially when you sprinkle in some empathy. "If you can't get out (of the company), take a deep breath and examine how you can improve communication lines (with your boss)," is part of my quote in today's Kansas City Star article. Try to imagine yourself in your boss's place – what would you do if you were the boss of you?

Approach your boss with open-ended questions to initiate dialog about your communication gap. Listen – really listen – to what your boss says about how you can improve. Don't defend yourself, but ask for guidance on approaching problems from your boss's point of view. Sure, it may not be as comfortable as your space, but give it a chance. No matter where you work, there will be people who look at things differently from you. Maybe sometimes you can get your way, but not always. Play the empathy card and you'll become amazed at how workplace communication slowly starts to improve.

Wishing your career success in 2011!

Meg 

Broken Eggs, Lost Stapler, and All The Changes!

Despite having changed jobs a few times in my life – even careers, even starting my own business – nothing had prepared me for the overwhelming change of moving and downsizing from my house of 20 years into a small, ranch style home – fewer rooms, only one floor, and very little storage space. My husband and I had agreed, "How hard could this be?" since we were only moving 15 minutes away. Oh, how naive we were!

Moving Instead of hiring a moving van to move all goods, we just hired a local outfit for one trip to transport the largest of furniture – bedroom, living room, dining room – you get the picture. Thank goodness we did that! The rest of our "keeping stuff" we packed and moved ourselves using our van and pickup truck for many, many trips. My husband, no longer a spring chicken, got very little help from me or anyone else in toting, loading and unloading boxes. (Tip: don't ever pack books in a box larger than what will hold 6 reams of copy paper – ouch!)

Besides aching backs, sore feet, cuts and bruises, and complete exhaustion over the period of two weeks, the financial cost was astounding for our "simple, little move." Who'd have thought I'd have to buy a window air conditioning unit for my new tiny office because the air just wouldn't circulate enough? Who'd have thought about all the take-out and order-in meals to pay for since this cook just didn't have it in her to fix dinner every night – let alone be able to find any pans? Who'd have thought the fence at the new house wasn't strong enough to contain our three dogs so we had to invest in new fencing to keep them from wandering off? Who'd have thought that four trips to the dump would cost so much, plus the fuel? And on and on – who would have thought?

Speaking of trips to the dump, I think the most difficult part of this whole move for me was emotional. I've shed many tears over decisions I had to make on what to save, what to pitch, and what to donate. It was very hard saying good-bye to most of my children's old report cards, stuffed animals, school-made projects (I think it was a plaster cast dinosaur made by my youngest in second grade that I put into the pitch pile.) I did create a box of memories for each of my adult sons who right now don't care if these things are saved or not – but maybe when they're my age they will.

The day of the final big move reminds me of a Chevy Chase comedy. First, the tree service we'd hired to remove a dead tree over-hanging the driveway at the new home chose our moving day to take it down – it had rained for three days straight, so they got to us at the first available time for them – bad time for us! They did stop working long enough for the moving van to pull into the driveway and unload. However, I still had to carry boxes, clothes, and more from my car parked on street instead of quick trips from the driveway. That buzz saw noise drove me crazy all day, and we all had to shout at each other for everything we said!

Next, the cable guy came on time to install my office phone line, plus set up our cable TV and Internet service. However, he misunderstood his work order. No second phone line installed for me, just moved my number to the existing phone line already in the house. It took me three phone calls, office visits and 8 days later to get this fiasco resolved. Luckily, we didn't lose the AT&T phone number attached to the wronged line. (And I got a credit on my cable account.)

Despite all of our pitching and donating, everything still doesn't fit into the new house. The attic is bursting at its seams. If the weekend weather ever produces two dry days, we're committed to another garage sale. But, things are getting back to a "new normal." Finally…

So, why am I sharing this personal and challenging experience with you? I came to realize throughout the whole moving process that what I was experiencing was very similar to what many of you have gone through as you've been downsized or laid off from employers after 10-20 years of service. The pain, exhaustion, feeling lost – all are emotions we've shared. Change of any kind is never easy. You can't bounce back in a day or two; it takes time – lots of time – to recover. You will have to overcome your grief, hang on to what is dearest in your personal life, and make a commitment to start anew.

I've questioned the decision to make this move, but factors out of our control figured into it – specifically, needing to care for an elderly parent. Like you, I miss my old life, but I know I can adjust and make this change work for me as I begin living in a different place. Looking forward, instead of backward, is half the battle to accepting any change. Can you start to do that? I have faith that for those of us who approach life with a smile will attract to us whatever will enrich our lives.

Oh, I almost forgot – I only broke two eggs in the move,Broken eggs  I found my stapler when I unpacked my last office box, and most of my business books are now squeezed onto a few shelves in my new office. (Anyone want a "Dummies" book on Microsoft Office 2003?) Still missing are my 2011 bank statements, my favorite pj's, and a framed picture that had hung in my old living room. I do believe, though, that these things will also appear sooner or later – even if I have to climb the ladder into the attic (ugh!) and search for them myself! Are you ready to climb your ladder to get your life and career back together again?

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Top 3 + 1 Tips for Making a Successful Career Change

Have you heard? Career change is in vogue. Employment surveys range from 60-80% on how many employees are ready to jump ship and find a better job and/or career. Are you one of them? If so, then it's time to get into action!

As we creep out of this pesky economic recession, many workers are exhausted from overwork and overwhelm. For them, any job or career change is appealing just to get away from demanding managers who are focused with blinders on improving the company bottom line and not so focused on retaining their employees. Before you leave, though, it's important to plot your exit strategy. Make sure you are moving toward the right thing, and not just away from the wrong thing.

Here are some career coaching questions to help you get going in the right direction: A03

1) Values: Take the time to do a thorough self-evaluation. What's most important to you? Are you someone who likes public recognition? Or do you prefer a private pat on the back when you perform above expectations?

2) Work Environment: Know your best fit. Do you prefer a large, medium or small employer? Are you more productive on a team or do you prefer to work alone? What are your expectations regarding flex time, telecommunting, and other working arrangements?

3) Positive Feeling: Sometimes you just have to listen to your gut. Where will you feel most appreciated? Where will you derive the highest work satisfaction? Where will you feel you are making your best contribution?

By now you've probably noticed that I haven't mentioned one word about skills or experience. Why is that? When it comes to career change, skills and experience actually are the last things to consider. I know many people who are really good at what they do but truly hate their jobs. Instead, figure out where what you do best marries with what you most like to do.

Let me boil this down into simple terms:

4) Career change is more about who you are than what you do. Really! As soon you discover your life's purpose – you know, whatever makes you feel good about being alive – then how you express that in your work will easily follow. The whole discovery process can take a little bit of time, but it's very much worth the effort. Isn't it time to get off the gremlin's treadmill and figure it out once and for all?

Limited thinking can tie your hands and make you believe that there is no good solution for career change. Don't assume that! It's just your gremlin restricting your creative thinking and holding you back. Hire a career coach to challenge that belief so you can find your real truth of who you are as a happy, enthusiastic worker.

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Career-Collective-original-small SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of careers experts who each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Please follow our hash-tag on Twitter – #careercollective - as well as follow each expert's individual tweet on this month's topic of "Best Advice for Career Changers." You'll be amazed at all the free career advice and knowledge that is available to you from these professionals in the careers field!

Are You Ready for a Career Change? @Debra Wheatman

Changing Careers? Ask yourself these questions. @erinkennedycprw

Changing Careers: Not for the Fainthearted, @GayleHoward

Career Change Isn't An Exact Science, @careersherpa

The 10-Step Plan to Career Change, @KatCareerGal

When it’s Time to Recycle Your Career, @WalterAkana

Best Career Change Advice: Target & Plan, @JobHuntOrg

How social media can help you change careers, @keppie_careers

Expat Careers: You Are Not Your Job Title, @expatcoachmegan

Changing The Direction Of Your Career, @EliteResumes @MartinBuckland

Career Changer: Can You Quell Bottom-line Ache? @ValueIntoWords

Top 3 + 1 Tips for Making a Successful Career Change, @KCCareerCoach

Changing Careers: Look Before You Leap, @barbarasafani

10 Commandments for Career Changers, @LaurieBerenson

Is Career Change for You?, @workwithillness

#Jobseekers: Networking 101 for Introverts

Last week one of my executive career coaching clients asked for tips on how to do in-person networking with new contacts. As an introvert, he feels hesitant just going up to someone and initiating a conversation. Since he is Networking working on improving his relationship-building skills, an upcoming conference offers an opportunity he can't afford to ignore.

Here's what my career coaching client said:

"How can I get more comfortable and effective in general networking situations? When I am in a setting where my position/authority/role is clearly defined, I am much more comfortable approaching people and engaging in conversation; for example, if I am giving a presentation, then interacting about that material is very easy and comfortable. Or, if at a conference with table seating, I can be comfortable conversing with the people on either side because that is a clear expectation.  

Where I am less comfortable is: 1) walking into a general cocktail party or reception where no one knows me or why I am there, and initiating a conversation with anyone. I know this is partly a self-confidence issue as I tend to be thinking, 'why would anyone want to talk with me?' 2) also, engaging directly with people I admire from afar is difficult; I can be totally fascinated listening to a presenter from the audience, but incredibly uncomfortable approaching that individual to have a one-on-one. Part of this is my learning style – I learn by listening intently and then absorbing internally what I have heard – but I have to be able to approach and make contact with key people."

For an executive to admit this is quite a feat. I give him kudos for stepping up and confronting his fear. Perhaps you can relate to his situation? One way to help conquer this fear of networking is to seek out career coaching.

I offered my client the following quick tips:

1) When entering a room, most people are hesitant to jump right in and start meeting people. As an introvert, I suggest you look for one person standing alone and walk up to him first. (Chances are he is also feeling intimidated by the experience.) Introduce yourself and then ask questions that you can feed on in order to ask more questions, adjusting as you go for contributions that you can make about yourself. Usually, an individual will ask questions in return.

2) When it’s time to sit down, look for a different individual who may be alone and sit by her. Then strike up a conversation again with questions. As more people join the table, they will want to get involved in the conversation, too. It’s important that you connect with as many people as possible.

3) Don’t freely pass out your business card if not asked for it, but ask for another’s IF you really feel you’d like to stay in touch. Sometimes at the table, everyone will pass around business cards so all get each other’s. That’s OK.

4) Know your agenda in your mind before you enter a room for networking. Know what you want to take away from this experience. That will help you feel focused and organized.

There are entire books written about networking. One of my favorite books is Make Your Contacts Count by Anne Baber and Lynn Waymon. These authors offer a site with lots of good networking information.

For introverts to become successful at networking, it's important to practice, practice, practice! Eventually, you will become more at ease with this activity. And don't forget, whenever you meet someone with whom you want to develop a relationship, make sure you email him/her within 24 hours to schedule a follow-up meeting for coffee or lunch. Don't wait for someone else to call you – take the lead and help this relationship grow!

What do you think? How do you initiate conversation in a networking situation? I'd love to hear from you - please leave a comment below.

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Importance of Loving Your Job: Diverse Opinions

How important is it to love your job? Only 29% of Americans do, according to a recent global survey.

I know I love mine as a career coach, and find it sad that more people don't feel the same about their jobs. LoveJob Going to work with anticipation of achievement and self-satisfaction puts a smile on my face. I get enthused about what the day may bring my way as I help my career coaching clients reach their goals. I believe I'm truly working from my life's purpose with my career being a vehicle for me to express who I truly am.

My curiosity was piqued by this global survey. So much so, I posted a question about it on LinkedIn to get others' perspectives. What was surprising were the differing view points that showed up, some truly stopping me in my tracks. My assumption has always been that everyone dreams of loving their jobs – but do they? Does this matter to workers?

Apparently, not loving your job raises a lot of issues:

1) Would people change jobs or careers if given the opportunity? Do we really have choices?

One LinkedIn respondent answered, "We all get to choose, Meg." But do we – really? While I think there are all kinds of choices – do I want to major in Chemistry or Computer Programming – we impose restrictions on ourselves influenced by external factors. How about job opportunities after graduation – what will the job market need? Can I predict several years ahead to make sure I choose the "right" (a relative term) college major? And don't forget, most of us will change careers and jobs several times throughout our lives.

The middle-aged careerist faces a different challenge. Following a layoff, what does she do if her career choice no longer exists – that is, the job has completely gone away? Survival has to figure into any career change she makes as she undoubtedly has bills to pay, maybe children to support. Can she really afford to invest the time and money into re-training so she may enter a new field at the low end of the pay scale?

2) Are people afraid to pursue other work due to this uncertain economy?

LinkedIn answer: "Wherever people are in life, they tend to lose their dreams and settle for what they have. Over a period of time, they get bored with or dislike their J. O. B.; however and particularly in these days of economic crisis, most people are reluctant to make changes because they, at least, have a job."

It's sad when we let fear dominate our choices. Fear is a negative motivator, though very real. What if you could hang on to your job while still exploring more suitable career options? Could you lose the fear and choose to embrace hope instead? Time can become a nuisance in the career change process, but you can still choose your priorities. Don't become stuck win your assumptions – discover what's best for you!

3) Is any job better than no job?

LinkdedIn answer: "I find it baffling that only 29% of Americans love their jobs in this economic downturn. Every individual that is currently employed should love their job. We all need to count our blessings."

Burnout from overwork and underpay can negatively impact gratitude. Don't believe everything you hear, especially in the media – there are still good jobs out there needing to be filled. Finding the right fit has always been a lengthy process of analysis, exploration, and application. Today it just takes a little longer.

4) Should people rethink their view of work – perhaps it's just a way to earn money, not a way of life?

LinkedIn answer: "Most people don't manage their careers, set goal(s), or take preemptive career change action. As a result, they end up feeling 'stuck' and settling for less than they are capable of achieving."

Does that sound like you? We can all become guilty of surrendering our personal power to our employers. Remember, you are CEO of Me, Inc. – manage your career as if it's your own business. Never become complacent or take your job for granted. As soon as you do, your choices will become fewer.

What's your opinion about why so few people love their jobs?

There are still four days left to respond to my LinkedIn question, or please leave your comments below. This is a topic that affects all of us. Speak your mind! I want to hear from you.

Wishing your career success in 2011!

Meg

How Blizzards, Dogs and Job Search Relate

Cal_and_Zeva My dogs are a lot of fun to watch on the ice and in the deep snow.

After the Kansas City blizzard last week, we had to "throw" them out the back door to get them to do their "business." Brrr! The icy cold wind hit them in the face, so unfamiliar to their senses.

The first time out, my 20-pound Zeva proceeded with her normal drill, wrapping up with the ritual of pawing the ground and then scooting her bottom. Yeow! She jumped up quickly and turned around to see what was that ice-cold thing she'd scooted on – certainly not dirt and leaves! The surprised look on her face was priceless.

Zeva's 17-pound brother, with the stand-up comedic ears, entertained us with his own show acting like a newborn calf trying to get up and walk for the first time. No matter what he did, Cal couldn't find his three-legged footing on the ice covered patio. His legs splayed in all directions! I could see his brain whirring – this whole thing was a lot more work than it was worth! But he persevered until he was successful, choosing to improvise and squat like his sister. I don't think dogs know how to give up.

As a job seeker, do you ever feel like my dogs – blindsided from the back and/or shaky on your feet? If you do have these feelings, do you forge ahead anyway – or do you give up? These feelings are all quite normal, as far as anything in a job search can be labeled normal. As much as you try to prepare for this new and uncertain landscape, you will get surprised many times along the way. Some experiences will teach you lessons that will help you to not repeat mistakes, while others will make you feel as if you have absolutely no control – and you don't!

For instance, job interviews are great training sites. With each interview, you'll gain more skills with the process. This is one example where practice does make perfect – or at least a lot better. Never say no to a job interview! In fact, going to an interview about which you are lukewarm will let you "practice" with little investment on the line.

But after the interview, you have no control over when the employer will make the hiring decision. That is so frustrating! Just hang in there and keep moving toward the next interview. Never quit the job search until you have accepted a real offer.

One more thing – if you're happily employed, don't be like my dogs and become so comfortable in your surroundings that you don't see the tumultuous blizzard right in front of you! Things do change. That's what this world is all about.

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg