Career On-Hold for December? Why?

When I went to the post office this week, I had to firmly grip my steering wheel with both hands as my car wanted to turn down the street to the shopping mall — all by itself! Seriously, I wanted so much to go "play" and leave work behind in the office. But if I did, what would my career coaching clients say when they called for their appointments and I wasn't there? What would my clients think who were expecting their resumes completed, and I hadn't even started writing them? What would my creditors think if I ignored the bills on my desk and just added more? I had obligations to myself and others that I needed to fulfill despite the holiday season with its good cheer and temptations beckoning me.

Traditionally, December is a time when employees party-hearty, slack off some, use up vacation days, and wind down in anticipation of holidays during the month. On the other hand, companies look for ways to meet budgets, trim expenses, and complete their annual planning for the new year. Sometimes layoffs occur before December 31 as cost-saving measures to enhance a company's year-end bottom line – you know that, right?

You may ask, "How does this relate to MY career?" Well, let me tell you — plenty! The economy is coming back. Today the national unemployment rate was announced at 7.7%, the lowest rate in four years. When employers begin hiring in 2013, will you be ready? Or will you be someone who has put your career on hold for December, choosing to play instead of prepare for the hiring rush? Perhaps you are happily employed and have no desire to change career or job right now. If that is your situation, congratulations…you must be working your passion, and I am so thrilled for you.

However, according to several recent reports, 20-50% of all workers are miserable in their current
Definesuccess208gifjobs and want to "bail out"
the first chance they get. If you are ready to jump ship, or if you are currently unemployed, December is the perfect time to update your resume, practice job interviewing skills, work on your career plan, and get ready for January. Don't be left behind when hiring gears up.

Contact Abilities Enhanced for your career change needs. I'm ready to help you!

Wishing you career success in 2013!


Layoff Heading Your Way? 7 Things to Do Now!

We all know that today's workplace is like a ship on a turbulent sea: Ship You never know when you might get thrown overboard – or at least injured. So, be prepared for whatever happens. Take precautions so you won't be caught off guard.

Following are some basic tips to brace yourself for a layoff. Heed them, or ignore them at your peril:

1. Move all of your personal files off of your office computer – get them home! Now! And this includes your resume. Sometimes layoffs happen so quickly that you aren't allowed to take personal possessions with you, let alone remove anything off the work computer.

2. Time to update your resume – don't wait until you're already out of work. Hire a professional resume writer to help as you may not be thinking too clearly right now. You need an objective point of view to dig out your key accomplishments and results. Your resume is your marketing brochure to get to the next job search step – the job interview, your personal sales presentation.

3. Update your LinkedIn profile with current job information, as well as new connections. Connect with current co-workers, vendors, professionals in your field, and anyone you know who could help you build a bridge to your next job. Get involved on LinkedIn to build your find-ability. Join industry-related and general local groups where you will pose questions and respond to others as part of the networking process. (Did you know that LinkedIn is the number one place that recruiters go to source talent?)

4. Tell everyone you know in your personal life that your job is ending. This is nothing to be ashamed of! You need the far reach of all your contacts to help you connect with your next opportunity. I had one career coaching client land his next job by networking with other parents at his son's soccer game. Shame is your enemy – own your situation and share the news.

5. Hire a Career Coach to help you develop your job search strategy. Get one-on-one support from a careers professional focused on your special situation – shift your career into full gear! Otherwise, you may fall victim to circular thinking and remain unemployed much longer. Support is critical to your success. This is not the time to believe you can do this alone – you need help! And that's OK!

6. Use whatever time you have left at work to take advantage of your health insurance benefits: schedule and do annual physicals, dental visits, take care of your vision needs, refill prescriptions, etc. COBRA is expensive. Other health insurance can be cost prohibitive when you have to purchase it yourself. Going without health insurance can be very risky, so you'll have to get some coverage, though it probably won't be the Cadillac version you've had through work.

7. Analyze your budget and determine exactly how much money you need to survive for at least 3 to 6 months, maybe longer. Axe the cable TV, daily lattes, eating out, gifts, manicures, and whatever else you don't need to survive (start washing the car in your driveway!). Learn to cook – it's so much cheaper than eating out, and healthier, too!

I'm sure I've missed other important tasks for layoff preparation. For those of you who've experienced this life-altering event, what should be added to this list? Please share to help those who are next up to walk the plank. Career churn is the new norm. We really need to help each other. Always keep your life jacket nearby!

I welcome your comments and contributions.

Wishing you career success in 2011!


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!


#Jobseekers: Want to Maximize Your Salary Offer?

It’s a proven fact: To return to work following a layoff, you may have to accept a lower salary than the one you enjoyed in your previous position. However, you may be able to boost your financial point of entry with a few well thought-out strategies:

>>> Take some time to consider any salary offer. Ask for at least 24 to 48 hours. Silence is golden — or it can become so when you let it “hang” there awhile following an initial offer. Don’t rush to fill the quiet void.

>>> Weigh any offer against the company’s expectations of you in the position rather than your personal needs. The company has put itself on the line with its offer. Rest assured they have a cap, but you may have some wiggle room based upon how much value the company perceives you can bring them and what problems of theirs you can help solve.

>>> Prior to any job interview, compare salaries for similar positions. Websites such as offer tools for research. Knowing your own worth, and why a company would want to hire you, gives you bargaining power. A salary offer itself is testament to the fact that the company perceives your value.

>>> Write a “counter-offer” letter thanking the company for its offer, recap why they say they want you, and enthusiastically proclaim your desire to join their team provided they reconsider the amount of their offer. Base your counter-offer on the research you have done regarding salaries in this field. Accept the risk involved with this approach and be prepared to walk away if it doesn’t work. 

>>> Know when it’s no longer in your best interest to keep negotiating and then move on to the next opportunity. Usually, if the situation doesn’t feel quite right, it isn’t. You won't be happy working wherever you feel you are the proverbial square peg in a round hole — if you feel you were taken advantage of.

Above all else, celebrate your accomplishment that you got an offer! Although our economy is beginning its recovery, securing employment is still a challenge to many. No matter the size of the salary offer, by receiving one you have received a vote of confidence that an employer values what YOU have to offer.

In Support of #Jobseekers Getting Hired (Rant)

One of the biggest ironies of this crazy recession is the unfair Human Resource practice of credit checking new hires. Following layoff, there comes a time when unemployment benefits run out and all savings are gone, and life as you know it changes in ways you never could have predicted.

Can you imagine surviving months – or years – without cash reserves and having to feed your family using credit cards? Eventually, falling behind on your monthly payments so your credit score drops? And then, not able to make your house payment, you become a victim of foreclosure, so your credit score takes a bigger nosedive? And now comes a default on your student loan… (unless you can get a deferment).

Even if you're working part time at a fast food restaurant or convenience store, there's no way you can pay all your bills. There's no way you can support a family. And then, you finally get a job interview scheduled despite all the odds, and OMG, you get a job offer!!! But wait, the offer is rescinded because of your credit score. Give me a break!

This is uncalled for. A person's character these days can't be measured by their credit history. Too much of life has interfered to make credit scores valid anymore. While government tries to enact job bills, what about just banning automatic credit checks of new hires instead? I wonder how much this could help to reverse the unemployment situation. Could this stem the tide of the long term unemployed?

Maybe career coaches and counselors and career management professionals could band together to put pressure on hiring authorities to become more pragmatic in their new hire practices. Or maybe it's time to write our senators and representatives, or send them signed petitions – anything to call attention to this crazy practice that defeats the purpose of getting people back to work.

Thank you for listening to my rant. I'd love to hear your comments.

Wishing you career success in 2010,



If you have a grudge against your former employer, you’re just being human. Of course, you want to blame someone for being laid off – it wasn’t your fault, right? Maybe – maybe not.

While you may not be fully responsible for your job loss, you may own a piece of it. If so, it’s important to accept whatever you could have done differently and change your behavior before you move on to your next position. What part of your layoff could you possibly own? Most layoffs are decided after management rate employees for certain factors: productivity, interpersonal relations with boss and co-workers, job knowledge and skills, job apathy vs. creativity – and a few other things probably beyond your control. Any of these resonate with you?

Whenever a person does the same job for a few years, it’s easy to start approaching it in a routine way. Apathy can replace creativity and productivity can suffer. The boss who hired you may leave and his replacement is someone whom you find difficult to get along with. If you don’t keep training and learning, your job can outgrow you – not something you want to happen, but what have you done to prevent it?

Before you launch your next job search, do an honest self-assessment. Choose which behavior(s) you want to change – and then do it! If you don’t change now, you will probably repeat your negative ways and possibly set yourself up to be laid off again. Yes, I said laid off again – if you blatantly mess up, you could even be fired instead.

When it comes to that grudge you hold against your past employer for laying you off, is your desire for revenge really valid? And even if you still feel it is, you need give it up and stop living in the past. Put all your energy into fine-tuning and improving your work attitude and skills so you are more than ready when opportunity puts itself in your way. The past doesn’t matter anymore. Focus on the present with an eye to the future to move forward self-confidently with a positive attitude.


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NOTE: Job Action Day was initiated by Quintessential Careers. Look for other career-related blogs that display the above logo. Hope you enjoy my contribution.

Wonder where your MOJO went?

It seems like every day I pick up my phone to hear a job seeker cry, “Help! I feel so lost. The layoff crushed my self-esteem and I can’t find the energy to start looking for a new job. What can I do?” My first response is “Breathe!” Then, “Please tell me your story.”

Usually the layoff was not your fault. However, knowing that fact may not provide comfort if your identity is tied up in your career. Please try to remember that the layoff wasn’t personal – chances are you were doing a good job. The company just needed to cut back. To conduct an empowered job search, begin by accumulating baby-step wins to enhance your self-esteem. Don’t try to recover your “mojo” in one giant leap.

With unemployment hovering around 10%, we tend to forget that 90% of the country is still employed. Furthermore, the “10%” includes all occupations in all industries. Experienced workers with college degrees enjoy a lower unemployment rate. Many of us are looking at the glass as 10% empty instead of 90-95% full!

Panic and self-doubt can dominate a job search when fed by the media. So tune out and turn off the news! Beware of all the advice you get from well-meaning friends and family. Don’t let yourself be influenced by matters beyond your control. Yes, I said, “control.” There are still ways to control your job search and career.

Begin by taking inventory of your skills, talents, knowledge, interests, experience – and toss in a healthy dose of values, those things that are must-haves in your life. Do online and off line research to find the fields that ARE hiring. Determine how your “best stuff” can be a match for open job opportunities. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Actually, it’s a lot of work – which is why you need to make looking for a job a full time job in itself. Scheduling job search tasks in a daily planner can help you stay on track – make appointments with yourself and keep them.

Surprisingly, the most difficult task is the research. (You thought I was going to say networking, didn’t you? Gotcha!) Research is where many job seekers get stuck. They try to stay with what they are familiar with instead of branching out. For example, if you’ve been part of the corporate scene all of your life, have you even considered exploring federal government work? Take a spin around and see if anything there catches your eye. At last glance, this site had over 32,000 government jobs posted on it. Don’t let the government application process discourage you. It’s somewhat different from the process you’re familiar with, but it is doable.

As part of your research, try to find someone to talk to who is actually doing (or has done) what interests you. It helps to get the scoop first hand. LinkedIn, where you should already have a robust profile, is a good place to make these connections. (Did you know that this web site is where recruiters go first when looking for candidates?) LinkedIn is also best web site for online networking. (Yes, networking IS a critical part of the job search success equation.)

Finding “anything, just anything” isn’t the best solution to getting reemployed. While you may need to take on a temporary position for a little while, hold out for the permanent job that will challenge your mind and feed your soul. Yes, it’s a jungle out there, but it’s still possible to land on your feet when you trust your instincts and know you deserve the best.

Now, go get your MOJO back!

SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of career experts who will each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. And follow our hashtag #careercollective on Twitter:

Debra Wheatman: Plan B from outer space; or what do you have in case your first plan doesn't work out

Heather Mundell: Green Jobs – What They Are and How to Find Them

Erin Kennedy: Cutting Edge Job Search Blueprint

Gayle Howard: The Enlightened Jobseeker

Grace Kutney, Securing Your Career While Navigating the Winds of Change

Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa Why Our Job Search Advice is the Same but Different

Heather R. Huhman: Take Action: 10 Steps for Landing an Entry-Level Job

Laurie Berenson: Making lemonade out of lemons: Turn unemployment into entrepreneurship

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter: You Can Thrive In, Not Just Survive, an Economic Slogging

Rosalind Joffe: Preparedness: It's Not Just for Boyscouts

Rosa E. Vargas: Are You Evolving Into The In-Demand Professional of Tomorrow?

Dawn Bugni: Your network IS your net worth

Miriam Salpeter: Optimize your job hunt for today's economy

Barbara Safani: Where the Jobs Are: 2009 and Beyond

GL Hoffman: The Life of An Entrepreneur: Is It for You?

Katharine Hansen: Job Action Day 09: His Resume Savvy Helped New Career Rise from Layoff Ashes