Career Coaching: Go from Painful Job to Joyous Career

Today many people find themselves working harder and longer with less personal satisfaction and little or no recognition for their Achieve work life balance with career coachingcontributions. How did we get to this place? If work is a ‘necessary evil,’ does it have to be emotionally painful? Does it have to be so totally life consuming that we lose our souls, the very essence of who we really are? One such lost soul contacted me for career coaching.

Karen was caught in a trap of working 60-70 hours per week and had been stuck in this rut for months. She was a technical writer employed by a large corporation, a corporation undergoing restructuring that involved downsizing and elimination of thousands of jobs. Karen didn’t want to lose her job, too. With a journalism degree, she had built her 20-year career in business communications. She had been happy for most of those years, but now it was different. Work was dominating her life. She was always tired and seldom had time for her husband who worried about her, missed her companionship, and pleaded with her to quit the insanity of giving her life away to her company. When Karen contacted me, she wasn’t clear about whether she wanted to ‘fix’ her current employment situation or find a new career path. What she did know, though, was that she couldn’t continue in her current state of being.

Karen came to our first career coaching session a bit unsure of what to expect and what would be expected from her. As I do with all my clients, we spent our initial time together in conversation getting to know each other better. We were laying the foundation for our career coaching relationship, a relationship that had to be based on trust and open communication in order to best benefit Karen.

Karen stated that her immediate goal was to understand herself better in order to help her determine how she could cut back on all those long hours she worked. She agreed to do introspective work on clarifying her values, defining her motivators for working, and assessing her complete repertoire of skills. With this kind of focused observation she could start to figure out how to change her life into one filled with career satisfaction – one offering a healthy balance between enjoyable work and her personal life.

“I believe this introspection was one of the key factors that helped me realize aspects about myself that I hadn’t thought about in many years, and certainly hadn’t thought about in relation to my work,” said Karen. “I also learned which communication style was most comfortable for me and the key role it plays in my career success.”

“Meg and I met for 45-minute phone sessions once a week for about three months. She was always there when I called. Her focus was completely on our conversation during every single meeting and she was able to hear clearly what I had to say. Meg listened and I talked and she asked all the right questions. It was astounding how quickly we became acquainted and how thoroughly she understood my situation in such a short time. She was always there for me and that was a great comfort,” said Karen.

Karen was very willing to do fieldwork between our career coaching sessions knowing that with ongoing concentration she could more quickly achieve her goals. Once she understood her values and how they didn’t align with her current company’s culture, she then defined her motivators and decided she was no longer driven to continue the extended work hours. Finally, she was ready to inventory her skills to see which ones she might be under-utilizing. This is when the ‘dream job’ exercise entered the scene and Karen got really stuck.

Career Coaching moves you forward!“Meg asked me to complete the assignment of creating my personal dream job – anything I wanted to do. The assignment required details about my daily schedule for one week including with whom I ate lunch, what meetings I attended, what awards I won – every detail. I just couldn’t do it! There was no part of any job I could think of that I wanted to pursue, so I decided to write a weekly schedule around all the things I wanted to do outside of work. That consisted of my exercise classes, yoga, walking, and writing. I was actually very discouraged at this point. I just couldn’t think of any job I wanted to do,” lamented Karen.

Karen came to our next career coaching session a bit dejected and frustrated with what she felt was her failure to complete the fieldwork. As we started to discuss her ‘dream job,’ I asked Karen key questions to help her look at her feelings and jump-start her creativity about what an ideal job would be like for her. I stated that I noticed a pattern in her written assignment and asked her what she saw.

“I don’t see anything,” Karen cried. “I couldn’t write about any job I’d like to do so I wrote about the fun things I like to do.” I asked Karen to look closer at what she wrote. What was she not seeing? All of a sudden I sensed the light bulb go on, all the way through the phone line. “I could be a personal trainer!” screamed Karen. “But that would be fun. You mean I could do the things I love and get paid for it?”

What a novel thought! “I had so equated pain with work that it was truly hard to accept the idea at first. I can still remember the ‘aha’ moment and how excited I was,” said Karen since then. Being the career coach, I asked her to test her idea by processing it through the business reality filter. Would it meet her income requirements? Would it satisfy her career goals? How could she make her dream job real?

“I did fieldwork that confirmed that being a personal trainer was a viable option for me,” said Karen. “Not only could I help people with their fitness goals, but I could also utilize my writing talents by writing fitness articles for magazines and assist health clubs with their newsletters. I couldn’t be happier, but this was really ‘out of the box’ for someone who had worked in Corporate America for 20 years. I had no official experience, only the years I’d devoted to physical exercising on my own. Meg helped me work through my initial doubts that something so wonderful could really be a profession that I could successfully pursue.”

Karen and I completed our career coaching about a year ago. Since then she has accepted a severance package from her employer as her department finally got caught in the layoff frenzy. “I felt so guilty about being happy while all my co-workers were hurting and not knowing what to do about getting new jobs. I had already begun my Personal Trainer studies,” said Karen. “My severance package was a bonus as I’d already decided to give notice soon and start working toward my new career.”

A few months ago Karen contacted me to celebrate passing her certification test. She is now a Personal Trainer happily employed in a fitness center. Only a few years just shy of 50, she doesn’t fit the profile of the typical beginner in her field. However, Karen sees her age as an asset in working with her preferred clientele – women over 50 who are trying to get into physical shape. She loves her work and advises everyone to find a way to work their passion as she has done.

“Life is too short to waste it in a job that causes stress and frustration. I now have time for my husband and we enjoy traveling on the weekends instead of going into the office to catch up on last week’s workload. Furthermore, I come home happy during the week with a sense of inner peace in my heart,” says Karen.

“My career coaching experience was nothing short of life changing. I never expected this kind of result. My career coach guided me to my new career path with kindness and thoughtfulness. Meg heard things that I never knew I said, and she would repeat them for me. This allowed me to find my way to this new career on very solid ground. I knew the minute I discovered Personal Training it was really the place for me. I truly don’t believe I could have ever found this place for myself without career coaching,” says Karen with a smile.

No more a lost soul, Karen has found the secret to a fulfilling career. As an Executive Career Coach, so have I.

Wishing you career success in 2018!

Meg

Are You Ready to End the Pain?

career change
End the pain with career change. Get a career coach to help you!

Do you go to work with dread? Can you identify that feeling in the pit of your stomach? Chances are you wish you could be anywhere than at this job. If so, do not stay with the pain just because it’s familiar. Instead, gravitate toward a career change.

While change can be scary, it can also be fun to discover new and fresh things about you and your interests. Recall that sense of adventure you had as a child? Every day brought new and interesting things at that age. It is now time to take a look back at that child. Recapture that sense of awe when you saw a baby deer for the first time or a fly stuck on your lollipop. Apply that awe to each step of our career change process. Celebrate the small achievements along the way to reaching your goal of career satisfaction.

Many people feel that they just want a new job, any job, that will take them away from where they are. Please, don’t run away from something – run toward something better. Running away only invites new problems and disappointments. You don’t want to get stuck in another bad job again, do you? Attract positive, not negative, energy into your life. Get clear on who you are and exactly what you want to make you happy in all facets of your life! You can become who you want to be!

Wishing you career success in 2018!

Meg

What a Career Coach Can Do For You

perfectjob_12Coaching is a cutting edge method for professional self-improvement. For years, athletes have had coaches, actors have had coaches, singers have had coaches…and you, too, can have a coach, a trained career professional to support your career development. With a career coach, you can discover what it would take to work in your career of choice, advance in your current position, or manage your career in the best way.

Coaching is all about facilitating change and transformation. In today’s workplace, change is the norm, as well as the challenge we must conquer to be successful. A career coach will help you determine what it would take to make change your ally. Coaching is a process driven by you. You decide whether you want to be challenged and held accountable by your coach, or gently nudged and asked curious questions. You decide what it would take to create your action plan and then follow it. Successful coaching depends upon your commitment to the process. As in any activity, you will have to do the work; your coach can only light the path to help you find your way.

Coaching is a skill, a craft, an art…a way of life. The best coaches don’t turn it on and off. They live coaching in all aspects of their lives. More than something one does, a coach is one who is. It may sound a bit corny, but I believe coaching creates a third space where coach and coachee can learn, trust and grow in the truth of now and the hope of the future. Real-life goals get accomplished, if that is what you want to do.

What would it take for you to experience the joy of coaching? What would it take for you to hire a career coach and reap the rewards from having someone there just for you…to cheer you on to career success? No more need to dump your stuff on your partner or spouse. Your coach will take on that burden for you.

Most coaching is done by phone. You call the coach at a regularly scheduled time, usually weekly. Fieldwork assignments between sessions are usually offered by your coach to enhance your learning. Sounds simple? No, not really. It takes a lot of work – but you can do it!

Are you ready to take the plunge? Are you ready to try coaching to boost your career success? Then first find a career coach that is a good fit for you. Check out credentials, experience and recommendations of at least three coaches before choosing one. Three seems to be the magic number – if you interview too many coaches, it will become difficult to keep them all straight. While coach evaluation is important, don’t get hung up on finding the perfect coach. There is no such individual. Learn to trust your gut or intuition a bit. All in all, most coaches are sincere, so the “fit” is probably the most important criteria for you. If a coach is experienced, they will also be looking for the right “fit” with a coachee. Who do you feel is the best fit for you? Whom can you trust?

Finally, remember the old saying, “No pain, no gain.” The coaching journey can become tedious as well as uplifting. It can become painful as well as rewarding. Whatever you do, stick with it! Discuss any doubts you have with your coach. Change won’t happen unless you really want it and do everything you can to make it happen. Just do it! You’ll be so glad you did.

Wishing you career success in 2018!

Meg

Social Media Bytes

social mediaFinally, I’ve done it. What, you say? I joined Facebook. Yes, I know, I am the last of the dinosaurs to do it. My resistance to this social media program has been worn down. Frankly, I find Facebook a bit intimidating. So many rules and privacy concerns: whom should I invite to connect with me and what groups should I join? Should I use the program for personal, professional or both readerships? Maybe I should have separate accounts for each? (I think I’ll just use it for personal for now, so don’t feel hurt if I don’t know you and ignore your request to connect with me on this platform.)

I also find Facebook fun. Friends from long ago are popping up in my feed – high school and college classmates I thought I’d never “see” again. My interest groups are sharing important tips on RVing. I am discovering recipes I just have to try. And the jokes – who can not appreciate a good laugh? I have been using other social media programs for quite awhile – LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest – but not Facebook. What was I afraid of?

Well, I have identified my huge concern. We all have heard the warnings about sharing too much on Facebook. This is particularly true when what you share can impact your professional life. Do you really want a Human Resources worker to see that joke about midgets that you posted? Or do you want your boss to see that swear word you used, even if you substituted an asterisk for one or two of the letters? I even saw a survey the other day asking readers to vote yea or nay about too much political correctness in the world – c’mon, really? (My eighth grade teacher had a saying I have chosen to live by, “Your freedom ends where my nose begins.” In other words, exercise respect.) My point of privilege here: maybe we are just sharing too much that we used to save for phone chats with our closest confidants. Is there a good reason to share absolutely everything with the world on social media, especially Facebook? Doesn’t anyone keep a journal or diary anymore?

My biggest put-offs, though, are all the rants and sharing of politics in the news. We live in politically-charged turbulent times. Most of us have very strong beliefs about what is happening in and to our country. Your right is my wrong, and vice versa. While most of us can’t really change anything or do anything but vote in the next election, we want our voices heard – even at the expense of alienating co-workers, bosses, professional colleagues, relatives, and personal friends – and social media is the route many are taking. Is it worth creating a flash-in-the-pan presence on Facebook if you hurt or disgust someone important in your life? What happened to mutual respect? Even when you believe you safeguarded your posts from prying job-related eyes, are you sure they still can’t be found?

OK, I know I can drop connections from my feed that post things offensive to me. But I don’t want to lose contact with people I have just found. And if I stay on Facebook, will I have any connections left if I drop those expounding strong political beliefs? It is my dilemma. It has been eye-opening to learn about the politics of my friends and colleagues. I even have to admit that I’ve had to pull back my finger sometimes to keep from “liking” a post aligned with my own political beliefs. So far, I’ve remained neutral and just shared family and friend photos, recipes, non-offensive jokes, RV tips, and the like. Will I stay on Facebook? Time will tell. After all, it still is a lot of fun!

Wishing you career success in 2018!

Meg

 

 

 

New Year, New Start – New Career?

career rebootIt has been awhile since I wrote a blog post. Life and career can get in the way, can’t they? Perhaps you have let your life coast, too. And maybe your career? The new year offers a fresh start for all of us. Time to review, refresh and reboot. That’s what I’m doing by offering my new website, one that can be read on your phone as well as any other device that is connected to the Internet. I have also been reading a lot to learn what’s new in career strategy and social media. (Did you know that social media offers many avenues to enhance a job search and improve your career success? LinkedIn offers ways to network online.) Lifelong learning is how anyone stays current in their career.

So what are your goals for 2018? Get a better job? Return to school to finally work on that degree? Maybe you are burned out and feel it’s time to choose something entirely new. Or are you ready for your second act, perhaps a part time gig that will take you into retirement? Whatever it is, don’t procrastinate. Take charge, take action. Contact a coach for assistance. Enhance your self-confidence and you will feel better about yourself. A career coach can help you with that. For years, I’ve lived by the motto, “Believe in yourself and everything is possible.” I know, I am a walking example of what can happen when you do.

Wishing you career success in 2018!

Meg

Good Questions Enhance Communication – How?

What good questions do you ask? Questions can be powerful, especially open-ended questions starting with what or how and sometimes a non-intimidating why. Coupled with focused listening, you have here the tools for mastering the art of communication.

Let's establish that in most situations questions will produce better responses than commands. Try this with your teenager and you may be surprised. "What time will you be home?" will usually get better results than, "Remember, your curfew is 11 p.m." If your child tries to test you with a reply of time beyond his/her curfew, then you can always step in with the reminder. Just give him/her the opportunity to communicate with you.

In the workplace, how many times have you asked your boss questions that could be answered with yes or no? Did you get a helpful reply, or one needing more discussion? Perhaps you would have received more complete information if you'd asked what or how? Take a moment and ponder this point. How can you reword a question to start with what or how?

In a job interview, which questions produce better responses from you – those beginning with what, how, and why, or those easily answered with yes or no? Do you feel like you're leaving the response incomplete unless you add additional information? Notice how more comprehensive your response becomes when you're asked a what, how, or why question. Which kind makes you more memorable to the interviewer?

There is an art to asking good questions. One tip is to put yourself in the responder's shoes. How will they feel after answering your question? Hopefully, they'll feel comfortable and willing to continue communicating with you.

The next time you want information from someone, ask the what or how question with respect for the responder in mind. Give it a try! Be mindful of your results and fine tune your future questions. For more information on this topic, check out, "The Art of Asking Questions," on the HBR Blog Network.

Wishing you career success in 2013!

Meg

She Asked Good Questions

What will be your legacy? Will it be attached to your career? Or will you have one?

Journalism lost one of its pioneers for women this past weekend, Helen Thomas, 92. She joined the White House Press Corps in the Kennedy administration and retired in 2010. She was the first female reporter to cover the President. Always with a lot of spunk and persistence, she prodded presidents to get responses to her questions. One time she had President Kennedy talking in circles – he didn't know how to wrap up his answer. With grace, she rose and said, "Thank you, Mr. President." With obvious relief, he replied, "Thank YOU, Helen," and quickly exited the stage.

Just before Helen's retirement, Ann Curry of NBC News, interviewed her about her long career with the White House Press Corps. One of Ann's pointed questions was, "Helen, what do you want to be remembered for?" Helen quickly replied, "She asked good questions."

Many people wander through life with no thought to what the world will be like once they're gone. Others spend time trying to make the world a better place than when they entered it. Which type of person are you? Your legacy doesn't have to be grandiose or larger than life. It can be as simple as dedication to recycling or planting a tree in a park. Those with larger ambitions may run for office to improve their city, or join nonprofit boards or foundations to help improve others' lives.

Some peopled just want to give their children a better life than what they had. They work all the time to build savings and acquire "things" to leave their kids. Others focus on enriching their children's lives with beauty, fine arts, and appreciation for all around them. Whether you teach by example, experience, or with textbooks, kids will get their values from you. Your values will become your legacy to your children.

Maybe now's the time to give some thought to your legacy. You still have time to build one. In the future, someone will stop at your gravesite or flip through a photo album or see a plaque with your name on it and remember you – what do you want them to say about your life? As for me, being a career coach, I'd love to have people remember me by saying, "She asked good questions."

Wishing you career success in 2013!

Meg

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.
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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!

Meg

At This Time of Year We Give Thanks

(From the archives, November 2004) 

At this time of year, we think about the meaning of Thanksgiving and what we are thankful for. Not a simple task, for those anticipating pink slips before the end of the year. Not a simple task, for
Thanksgiving those enduring long-term unemployment. Not a simple task, for those wondering where they will find the money to buy holiday presents for their loved ones. Not a simple task for those in decision-making roles who have to choose which employees to keep, which employees to let go, and in which direction to lead their companies as they struggle to move forward into 2005 (and now 2013 – what's changed in 8 years?).

Yes, there are signs that our economy is improving, depending upon where you live and work in the U.S. Somehow most of us are going to make it, even if we have to work temporary positions for awhile, even if we have to purchase our own health insurance, even if we have to make our presents this year instead of buying them.

This week (in 2004) I received an email from an American client who has put his coaching program on hold while he works for a U.S. contractor in Baghdad, Iraq. He recently completed an assignment there working for the U.S. Department of Defense and decided to return to continue honoring his calling. Let me share with you some of his thoughts at this time of year:

"It is fall in Baghdad though it doesn't feel like it since the trees don't display the season's colors that we have in the Midwest. But the leaves are falling. The other day I watched a Marine (who was standing sentry) push leaves with his boots creating a nice little pile. I bet he was thinking of home.

"We had a very sad incident occur a few days ago. Three of the guards that protect our building were kidnapped and executed. They were young and all married with children. The 'powers that be' continue to keep us safe (in the building). We have many guards around the building, as well as inside. We are constantly under tight security.

"I forgot how exhausting this place is. Twelve hours of work is enough to wear a person out. And when the day's work is done, it is impossible to relax and get a good night's sleep when you jump at every sound. So, I am looking forward to my first R&R back home with my family – only 31 more days.

"This week I finished a counter-terrorism course and next I will be learning field first aid. I am planning to add the counter-terrorism course to my resume. All this is so different than the work in the states. The experience (here) just continues to grow."

Compared to many living in other places around the world, most of us in the United States have a lot to be grateful for at this time of year. By digging deep and acknowledging our joys, our loves, our strengths, our abundance – we will trigger our hopes, our passion, our self-confidence, and our convictions to inspire us to successfully make the career changes that bring us closer to living the complete lives we want. Are you ready to honor your calling? To follow your dream? It's up to you to make it happen. It's time to figure it out – now – at this time of year.

*** A Thanksgiving 2012 note: Don't forget to pay tribute to our military, many on active duty who can't be with their families this year. We owe them so much! And also give thanks for, and to, our veterans who have defended our country, often leaving permanent wounds that will affect them for the rest of their lives. We owe our own lives to them all.

Wishing you career success in 2013!

Meg

Job Interviewing: Positive Spin or Just Plain Lies?

After a very long Presidential campaign, it's fair to say that we're all tired of political ads, debates, lawn signs, and "news" programs focused on the election and candidates. More than anything, I'm tired of all the different versions of the "truth" cast about by those fighting to win. How could any of us discern the "real" truth amidst all the contentious babble? I know I struggled, but I did vote.

"Why You Need to Run Your Job Search Like a Presidential Campaign,"  an article published by by Andrea Murad at FOXBusiness on Election Day (November 06, 2012), got me thinking about how the campaign was more than just a job search – it was a very long job interview. Have you ever had those job interviews that go on for weeks where you have maybe six or more interviews with individuals, committees, and then individuals again? At the end of the ordeal, do you even still want the job?

After so many job interviews for the same position, you may begin to wonder if you told each interviewer

Perfectjob_12 the same version of why you wanted to leave your current employer – why you wanted this particular job – why you were more qualified than your competition. Or do you begin to reflect on what you said at different times and hope you didn't contradict yourself? Everyone wants to create the best possible impression when interviewing for a job. But there is a fine line between positive spin and just plain lying.

When asked why you're leaving your current employer, it's fair to say that you want a job or career change where you can build on new skills you've developed. What you don't want to say is that your current boss holds you back and refuses to give you new responsibilities, although you've acquired new skills. Never blame your boss for anything, even if true in your own mind! It's not a lie to omit this information from your reason for leaving. In other words, give your reason a positive spin focused on you, not a negative one that shows your stressed relationship with your boss.

So what is classified as a job interview lie? If you claim to have graduated from college when you've completed 120 credit hours, but not actually graduated, that IS a lie. Just as political candidates are fact-checked for their claims, you will also be. College graduation is easy to check, so don't put yourself in that position. Instead, in a job interview, explain why your combined college courses and life/work experience exceed the qualification of college graduation. Sometimes that will work!

Another easy-to-check fact regards your references. Accept that your references WILL be checked, so don't ever lie about knowing someone you don't. Furthermore, ask your references permission to list them and send them a copy of your resume so that they can feel more at ease with your potential employers when discussing why they support you.

Job interviewing is an art based on facts. If called for an interview, go – even if you have mixed feelings about the job. Yes, you need lots of practice, but more than that, how can you really know anything about a job until you've spoken with a hiring authority at that company? You may surpise youself and get an offer when you don't feel the stress of dearly wanting this particular job!

Wishing you career success in 2013!

Meg

Networking for Life – Do You Do It?

Today Joan called me in a panic. The job she's been happy in for the past two years is coming to an end due to company restructuring. I had coached Joan for several months to help her land this position after she'd been laid off the last time. She worked so hard to get it, and now she's going to have to hit the pavement again. It's so unfair! What makes the situation particularly painful is that Joan did not maintain her network of contacts once she accepted her current position. She thinks she knows where some of these people are, but will have to do some legwork to reestablish all her connections. This process will slow down her job search considerably.

With the average stay on a job now less than three years, it is critical to build and nurture a strong
Networkingprofessional network for the life of your career.
Stay in touch with people through occasional emails, greeting cards, and phone calls. Go out to lunch once in awhile. Don't end up like Joan – out of work one more time and having to start from scratch to rebuild your network. You are the only one responsible for your job security; you cannot afford to stop networking just because you get a new job. Jobs are transitory and will not last forever. Focus on the relationships you build to bridge you from one job to the next.

We're heading into the holiday season where more opportunities for networking present themselves. Please take advantage of these. Don't just party – build personal relationships! Even if you're not in the market to change jobs, broaden your knowledge base about what career opportunities exist. You never know when you'll need a little help from your friends.

Wishing you career success in 2013!

Meg

Ready to Change Jobs? Follow 6 Top Tips for a Smooth Transition

The buzz among hard workers today is that they're exhausted and ready to make a career change in 2013. Are you one of them? Here are a few tips to help you move forward:

1. Know what you want in a new job.
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Make sure you’re moving toward a better job and not just running away from one you don’t like. What are your values and how do they align with a new company’s culture? What will make this new job better than the old one? (Money is not the most important reason to change jobs.) A coach can help you work through the confusion.

2. Create a professional resume.

Your resume acts as your introduction to a company. It makes your first impression for you. Find books with resume samples to guide you or hire a professional resume writer who is trained, experienced and certified in this field. Make sure your resume reflects your work achievements. Don’t forget to send cover letters and interview thank you letters to show that you understand business etiquette.

3. Evaluate your network of contacts.

The job search process is a lot like dating – prospects usually don’t come knocking on your door! You have to get out and meet people. More people get new jobs through networking that any other activity – up to 80% according to several surveys. Look at the business relationships you already have and what you do to cultivate them. What professional, civic, and social groups do you belong to? Where do the people hang out that can introduce you to the right job opportunities?

4. Prepare for intervieiws with storytelling techniques.

Most hiring authorities use “behavioral or situational” interviewing methods. Write down examples from your work experience of specific challenges or situations, the actions you took to resolve those challenges, and the positive results or outcomes of your actions. Be ready to discuss these in any interview to demonstrate the value you have to offer an employer.

5. Test for business reality before saying “yes.”

Know the salary, benefits, overtime expectations, relocation/travel requirements – you don’t want any surprises after you start a new job. Some executives negotiate exit agreements before signing acceptance letters – kind of like pre-nuptial agreements!

6. Revisit old opportunities.

If the job you really want doesn’t choose you, check in with the employer 6-8 weeks later to see how the new hire is working out. Sometimes – not always – you can head off your competition and get a foot in the door before a second job vacancy notice is issued.

Wishing you career success in 2013!

Meg

Your Career: Have You Reached Its Final Frontier?

Astronaut Neil Armstrong died last week. He will always be remembered as the first man to walk on the moon, saying as he did it for all posterity, "One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind." I vividly
Moon landing recall that day in July 1969, as do most of the Boomer generation. We were glued in awe to our TVs, some of us still watching black and white sets. What a day! If a man could walk on the moon, then anything was possible! The event filled me with hope and anticipation as I looked forward to my first year in college and the launch of my career. As most high school graduates then, and even many today, I had no inkling that my first career wouldn't be my only career. It's taken years for me to comprehend that career paths are meant to change.

Interestingly, career change correlates to space exploration. Like for those involved with many of NASA's projects, we have to patiently persevere and let the change process evolve, accepting things that can make us say in doubt, "Yeah, but…" If we try to rush it, chances are we'll fall into a career by default instead of by choice. Many names of NASA's space vehicles iterate major steps of career change, the most current being Curiosity.

Curiosity

Forty years after the first moon landing, NASA continues space exploration – this time with a robot on Mars. Launched in November 2011, the Mars Rover, "Curiosity," landed perfectly on the "red planet" on August 5, 2012. Just imagine it, over eight months to travel from Earth to Mars. Once again, I was awestruck at the grandeur of this event that led me to reminisce about the moon landing.

In changing careers, eight months isn't an outlandish time. Some career changers can accomplish the process in as little as three months, while for others, it might take up to a year. Influencing the time factor are one's commitment to the process and the actual hours available to invest. Most of my career change clients reach their goals in three to four months with my career coaching assistance, motivating and cheering them along.

Exploration

The first U.S. satellite, "Explorer 1," launched in 1958 in response to the Soviet Union's Sputnik. Look how far the U.S. went in space exploration in the eleven years before man's walk on the moon!

In career change, curiosity leads to exploration of options and possibilities. Questions get asked and with the right focus, answers are found. Once you see a few career possibilities, it's time to explore their viability for you. At this stage, the career change process involves a lot of research, talking to people who actually work in jobs that you are considering for yourself. Consider the information you receive; what matches your life's purpose and your core values?

Discovery

In the 1990s, NASA's space shuttle, "Discovery," busily carried communication satellites to various space destinations to facilitate man's deeper exploration of the space frontier. This exploration led to many discoveries that contributed to more than the just the satisfaction of man's curiosity. Scientific discoveries built on each other, paving the path for greater things to come.

As you choose a new career following your research and testing, I hope you accept that this career may not be your last. Most people will change careers several times in their life. Instead of looking at it as your final career, do the mapping to build on this career so it can lead you to even bigger and better career opportunities.

Summary

Just as the NASA space program has endured major budget cuts and accepted private industry into the realm of space exploration, periodic layoffs will occur in the workforce and careers will continue to evolve or become extinct. (Does anybody remember a keypunch operator?) One thing is true about change of all kinds – it happens – change is a constant of life. When you are able to embrace change and rebound from it in your career, you will be better prepared for whatever the future may hold for you. Parts of the career change process you can direct, but there is plenty beyond your control.

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

Busting Free from the Control of Email

Remember the 1980s movie, "Ghostbusters?" The plot involves a trio of ghost exterminators who try to save New York from supernatural doom when a river of slime grows unchecked under the city, threatening to obliterate humanity.

After 13 years of working in my virtual career coaching business, I admit that I've been "slimed" by the over abundance of emails – email drives my business and I am tired of it! Email notice

When I boot up my computer in the morning, the first thing I do is check my email. I get invigorated from the thrill of never knowing what awaits me. It might be a potential client's inquiry, it might be a sign-up for my newsletter, or it might even be a new client contract! More likely, though, hiding behind cloaked headers are unwanted solicitations for anything from male sexual enhancement drugs to how to get my Santa letters addressed from the North Pole.

After reviewing 50 or more email headers in my inbox, deleting what I perceive as junk mail, saving my subscription newsletters for future reading, handling requests for information about my career services, and responding to clients who have emailed me overnight, whew! – I feel like I've worked a full day and it’s only 8 AM!

At this point, I’d probably be OK having invested only an hour or so into my email management. However, I stay connected to my email inbox throughout the day. Whenever I receive a new email, I am alerted through my email software program. With my business being Internet-based, I assume clients and prospects expect instant gratification when they contact me; therefore, I want to comply. I guess you could say I consider replying to email with a sense of urgency as one way I provide high-quality customer service.

The constant interruption of email alerts distracts my focus. I'm pulled away from whatever I'm doing to read the latest greeting. It’s difficult to create new client materials, prepare for my speaking engagements, write articles like this one, and more. My only saving grace is that I don’t handle emails while coaching my clients. I’ve been caught off guard on occasion, though, trying to multi-task by reading email when participating in a teleclass. I just can't seem to master the art of reading, listening and responding – all at the same time! (Why do I get a picture here of the three monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil?)

Outside the office, my obsession with email continues. I’ve set up my email to route to my cell phone; I can easily access it from my laptop computer via my wireless Internet connection as I watch TV with husband in the evening; I never travel out of town without my laptop for fear I will miss some critical email message. On more than one occasion, my husband has claimed that I am married more to my email than to him! Oh, my!

Now that I've bared my soul, can you help me figure out what to do to control this email monster? Perhaps you have experienced similar feelings about email driving your own work day? What are the challenges you face? What have you done to remedy the situation? Please, tell me your secrets and tips! I need help!

I’d love to hear from you. Then, I will write a follow-up column offering solutions to this dilemma that I’m sure impacts many of us. When you write, please let me know if I may use your name when I quote you in my article. You may contact me at meg@abilitiesenhanced.com.

I did find a good article on email overload, "10 Tips To Take Control Of Your Inbox" – published in the Business Insider. I'll see if any of those tips can help.

Working in a one-person office presents me enough challenges without having "email slime" trying to Ghosts_DSC2516take over. Let's all become "ghost-busters" and discover better methods for handling our email monsters so we can refocus on what's most important while we work. I'm ready to take back my life!

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

Career Coaching: The Core of All Career Services

As the phone rings, I set my timer for the career coaching session that is about to begin. Sally is always on time for her weekly career coaching calls, and I tell her how much I appreciate her promptness. Once we exchange pleasantries, I ask her what issue she wishes to focus on today. Although I had offered her fieldwork to complete after last week’s session, I ask her what issue is most important – perhaps the fieldwork will have to wait, as the client always drives the career coaching agenda and I let her do that.

Phone coachingSally decides to discuss the fieldwork, an exercise on clarifying her work values and determining how they align with her company’s culture. It so happens that Sally is unhappy at her current company, or maybe it’s just her current position, or her boss. She’s not sure, and that’s why she has hired me. She needs a sounding board, a personal career trainer who will ask her the tough questions to help her figure it all out and determine which career changes she needs to make. She needs a career coach!

When Sally first contacted me she thought she just needed a new resume as she felt her only option was to enter a job search. Upon initial discussion with her, I quickly learned that she couldn’t define her job target, wasn’t sure of her skills, and was overall very confused. I explained the career coaching process and how it could help her resolve her dilemma. She was intrigued and relieved at the same time, eager to start a career coaching program.

What attracts clients to coaching? Other than the fact that studies have proved that it works, coaching offers clients the opportunities to be accepted and self-centered in a safe environment. They come to coaching full of desire for self-discovery, ready to do whatever it takes to define their goals, create an action plan and achieve their best results.

How does coaching work? As a trained career coach, I ask a lot of questions; I call it using a “pragmatic inquiry approach.” I practice active listening to hear not only what is said, but also what isn’t; to hear the nuances caused by voice inflections, pauses, and silences. I tell stories with metaphors to stimulate “aha” moments. I provide feedback; I tell my executive clients that I do “in your face” coaching and they ask, “How soon may I start?” They are not accustomed to having someone be totally straight with them and appreciate the fact that I will always tell them the truth.

Although some coaches still meet their clients face-to-face, like most coaches around the world, I prefer coaching by phone. Whenever I coach a client, we enter into a safe “third space” where all activity is client-centered and confidential. By conducting coaching sessions over the phone, potential distractions can be eliminated (for the client and myself), so I can focus my entire attention on the client.

Sometimes I am contacted by coaching prospects who express doubt that coaching by phone works more effectively than in person. Whenever this happens, I offer a complimentary coaching consultation so that the skeptical individual may experience phone coaching first hand. Usually, the outcome is positive and a doubting client has been converted. However, if the outcome is not positive, I am quick to refer the person to a career coach who does coaching in person. (A comprehensive referral network is just one of the benefits of membership in professional coaching organizations.)

Between coaching sessions, I encourage clients to exchange unlimited emails with me to address challenges and concerns, or celebrate successes. Some coaches will conduct coaching sessions by instant messaging with any of their clients. Another coaching method made available by technology!

Regardless of the method used, the profession of career coaching is growing rapidly. It is the leading Definesuccess208gifvirtual method for providing career management and career transition services to global clients. In our world that has transitioned from an industrial to a knowledge economy, career coaching is more than just a trend. It is here to stay, not as an add-on to other career services, but the foundation from which other career services sprout. Just like my client who thought her only need was a resume, most coaching clients don’t initially realize the power of what coaching can do for them until they experience it first hand. Then, watch out! They take off like a shot and nothing can hold them back.

As for Sally, she has decided to leave her project management position and begin a new career as a personal trainer. How did she make this decision? She has always been passionate about Yoga and exercising. Once she realized that it was “OK” to have a “fun” career, she raced to research what requirements she would have to meet to get certified. She is now enrolled in a special class and studying in preparation to take her test. Her attitude has shifted from one of over-responsibility in a job she detests, to one of joy and enthused anticipation for a new career just over the horizon.

This original article was previously published a few years ago. After review, I realized it is still very applicable for today's career changers.

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

Need a New Career – Why Can’t I Just Figure It Out?

Such a frustrating feeling to get stuck on the career change treadmill, the one where you know you're not happy with work, but go in unending circles every time you try to come up with new ideas. Sound familiar? It's OK to admit it – many people are doing the same these days. They want to find something new and different, where the work hours may be fewer and the job satisfaction is greater.

As a Career Coach, I get lots of calls from individuals wanting my help to "just figure it all out." Some Turnlifearound_19 have tried assessments, research, and long hours of conversations with friends – all without results. They call me as a last resort thinking that maybe they'll have to invest in some professional assistance. There's no shame in that. It took me three years and two job moves to make a career transition from my 12-year career in college financial aid administration to working in the careers field. If I'd known about career coaches then, I wouldn't have spent three years spinning my wheels. You shouldn't either.

Do you "avoid any strategy that is not logical and almost certain of desired outcome?" (From the program quiz, "Now What? 90 Days to a New Life Direction." Take the free quiz to see where you fit.) If you do, this is your biggest mistake. The first step to changing careers is to play in your right brain for awhile; that's where the creativity will get sparked. You must give yourself permission to take a time-out from logic. Breathe, relax, and let your mind wander. Get involved in a fun activity where you surrender all thought of your career. You'll be surprised that after a day or so, new ideas will rush into your brain. But stop! It's not yet time to act on anything. New ideas need to percolate. Just let them exist for awhile as you go about your current job.

When ready to explore your ideas, do just that – explore. Research possibilities and talk to people who actually work in these jobs. Cast a wide net while keeping all the "yeah, buts" at bay. Now is not the time to let logic restrict you! There will come the time when any final career idea you choose must be filtered through business reality – but not yet! Restrictions at this time will only drag down your creative juices. Sometimes the "right" career idea comes from a sprout of the original idea, so just go with the flow for awhile. Don't rush the process!

There's a lot of information on the Internet and in publications on how to change careers, most stemming from logical processes – assessments, research, reading, etc. While this may work for some, I know my career coaching clients are forever grateful after experiencing the three-month, innovative, right brain approach.

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

Boost Your Job Search Effectiveness

Has a state of exhaustion overcome your good intentions to stay focused on a job search? Many job seekers have been unemployed for months, if not years. Many are burned out, burned up and just plain tired. If that fits you, now is the time to re-examine your job search strategy and kick it up a few notches! Imagine a tired long-distance runner nearing the finish line. What does he do? Fall out of the race or dig deeper for the extra spurt of energy needed to cross that finish line?

Let's look at some ways to enhance a job search that will help speed up your reemployment.

Boost Your Activity

How do you track your job search activities? Do you have a system in place to keep your contacts organized so you can methodically follow up on a regular basis? Do you set goals and reward yourself when you meet them? Organization is the only way to stay on top of all the activity surrounding a professional job search. Utilizing technology can save time and the support of a Career Coach can keep you on track.Perfectjob_12

Challenge yourself to increase the weekly contacts you make. If you currently reach out to three per day, raise it to ten. For anyone with sales experience, this tactic should be familiar. You up your chances for success by increasing your calls – it’s a numbers game. Track your average rate of return…you will need to collect your "no's" to get a "yes," but it only takes one "yes" to get a job!

Boost Your Visibility

Now is not the time to stay home. When you are unemployed, looking for a job becomes your full time job. How many people do you meet in a week? If it's fewer than 20, then you are probably contributing to your state of unemployment. Most people (some career experts say as high as 85%) are getting their jobs today through networking – the kind of face-to-face interaction that involves building personal, ongoing relationships. Sure, money is tight, but try to consider the cost of breakfast and luncheon meetings as an investment in your career. Don’t forget the networking you can do on-line, such as through LinkedIn. It is mandatory that every professional has a LinkedIn profile – you must boost your findability on the Internet.

Of course, when you meet and greet people you’ll have to pull yourself out of that "black hole" into which you may have fallen. Put a smile on your face, even if you don't feel it in your heart. Get to know others by asking questions to find out what you can do for them and their job searches. When you leave meetings, you will feel reconnected with humanity. You will be remembered for what you have to offer which will result in others wanting to return the favor. Watch how many job leads begin to come your way! You are probably only 3-4 degrees removed from someone who has the authority to hire you, and you don’t even know it!

Boost Your Creativity

When small business owners launch their enterprises, they are advised to publish articles and deliver presentations to increase public awareness of their new ventures. And it works! So, what would happen if you did the same? Try writing and speaking about your expertise to attract interest in your personal brand. It would be interesting to see how many responses you receive due to this new found notoriety, and how many of these might turn into bona fide employment offers.

How do you reach your target markets through publishing and presenting? Do your research to discover what potential employers are reading, then write and submit articles relevant to their interests and your expertise. Printed periodicals and on-line publications can both work to your advantage. Use the same approach in scheduling presentations. Where does your target market go to learn more about your expertise? (Hmm, are we back to networking?) Contact event organizers to offer your speaking skills. Most professional groups welcome presenters who don’t charge fees.

Boost Your Knowledge

Visibility and creativity will work to your advantage as long as you stay current in your field. As learning is a lifelong process, take advantage of your unemployed status to attend seminars and workshops that keep your skills fresh and up-to-date. (You may even be able to do this on-line, but don’t miss out on more in-person networking.) This rings particularly true for anyone in the information technology field. However, people in most industries would agree that change is occurring at warp speed…don't get left behind! While you continue your learning, remember to read business journals, nonfiction bestsellers, and current events periodicals.

What business trends do you spot? How can you position yourself as a change agent? Companies seek drivers of innovation to impact their bottom lines. Does your resume portray your successes in such a way that hiring authorities can easily see the value you offer them as they try to not only cope, but thrive, in an ever-changing marketplace? Ask a Career Coach or professional resume writer to critique your resume to ensure all your bases are covered.

Boost Your Chances to Succeed

With most things in life, history repeats itself and change challenges the best of us. The status of work in the 21st century is changing as this article is being written. It will continue to evolve as more baby boomers retire and are replaced by their children and grandchildren. For those currently out of work, today's angst will eventually fade into the past as new positions are obtained and careers move forward. What role do you want to play in your overall career satisfaction? Do you want to take charge of your own destiny or surrender your control?

You don't have to do it all alone. "At a time when companies are downsizing and out-placing…at a time whenOver50 boomers are facing 50, coaches are easing traumatic transitions." This quote is from "Career Coaches Offer Help in the Game of Life," Long Beach Press-Telegram, July 9, 1996. Let's see…that was almost sixteen years ago. Now boomers are facing 60 or already there! Isn't it about time to hire a Career Coach to help you map out the rest of your career? Career Coaches can help you with job searches as well as help you with career reinventions.

Job search exhaustion is real. It affects your attitude and your motivation to stay engaged. Get a handle on it now to find that next job. Better yet, take the time to reinvent yourself for a better career for the 21st century.

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

(Updated from April 2, 2009 post)

How a Resume Writer Writes the Best Resumes

So you think it costs too much to hire a professional resume writer? After all, why should you pay a few hundred dollars for a quick typing job that you could do you yourself, right? If this is your belief, then I beg to differResume3a with you. Let me show you why.

Anyone who has written his or her own resume will tell you that the process takes hours to produce a document that will get you a job interview.No, it is NOT a typing job – that's the easiest part. Preceding the typing is the assembly of your employment, education, and other resume data; organizing it; selecting impactful action words and phrases to articulate it; choosing which accomplishments merit bulleted statements; designing the format and style (oh, you're just going to use a Word template? Hmm..); rewriting it to fit into two or three pages (depending on certain factors); and so much more.

I'm sure you've heard that tons of people are searching for jobs these days. Without attention to the necessary details, your resume won't pass the 10-second glance the time a recruiter or HR person takes to look at your resume to see if it deserves further scrutiny. What does your resume say – and how is it said – to draw in the reader? Will your resume get picked to go to the second round? Mind you, we're not talking about job interview here, only resume screening.

Here's how a professional resume writer approaches the resume writing process after you hire him/her:

1) Gathering the resume data

Whether the resume writer provides you a questionnaire to complete, interviews you verbally, or does a combination of both, the goal is to extract so much information about your career and education that there is much more data than could possibly be included in a resume. What's the purpose? A resume writer needs to know your job target and the supporting background you have to document it. A resume writer uses an objective eye to tie your experience to your niche goal and needs a deep pool of facts from which to choose to make this happen.

2) Choosing the appropriate style and format

Your resume must make you stand out from the crowd if you have any hope of getting it read. In years past, colored stationery helped do this. In our electronic age of today, format and style must be appropriate for your target, experience level, and field. I can hear people asking, "What role do format and style play when pasting a resume into an on-line application box?" Yes, you lose your formatting (which makes conversion to simple text mandatory), but style also means how your resume writing flows. You won't lose your format and style when applying with a resume attached to an email. And don't forget that a professionally formatted and styled resume (printed on watermarked stationery) will earn you bonus points when you take it to an in-person job interview.

3) Creating the resume from scratch

With a desktop full of resume questionnaire, potential job postings (where scannable keywords are found), dictionary and thesaurus, a professional resume writer starts crafting your document with a blank computer screen. Wait a minute – is that acronym supposed to be capitalized? God bless Google and Wikipedia! Recording job titles and dates, colleges and degrees, professional affiliations and community activities – all are done before any actual technical writing begins. After studying employment history, next comes the crafting of content using vivid action words that create winning perceptions in a reader's mind. Responsibilities go into a brief paragraph under a job title, while quantifiable accomplishments and results stand out as bulleted statements underneath.

4) Proofread, rewrite, and repeat process

Tweaking is a professional resume writer's passion for perfection. Yes, every resume must be perfect – there's never a valid excuse for not being so. And don't put all your faith into spell-check. (There's a big difference between "Public Administrator" and "Pubic Administrator" – but spell-check can't think for you.) Usually, 24 hours away from a project brings a fresh approach to wording, spacing, and correct grammar. As a rule, no resume leaves a writer's desktop until it is perfect in every way. However, professional resume writers want their work to reflect your personality, so draft reviews and more rewriting are common before any resume writing project is closed.

So, there you have it – this is why professional resume writers earn the "big bucks!" Just kidding – if you break down all that a writer does for one project, you'll find many man- (or woman-) hours involved. No, resume writing is not just a typing exercise, but so much more. When you partner with a professional resume writer, you really do get a resume that will get you job interviews! Still not convinced? Then go to the library and pick up one or two of these Ten Top Resume Writing Books. Take a big bag to carry them home – most of these tomes are packed with details and sit on my book shelf as reference books. Hey, you may even find my resume samples as contributions in some of them.

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

New Grads: How to Do a Smart Job Search

An Open Letter to My Stepdaughter

Dear Kate,

You've worked hard the past four years. A lot has changed – around you, for you, and most of all, YOU! Now you're facing one of the biggest changes of your life – landing your first job in your new career. While theCollege student economy has been brutal as you studied and played during your college years, signs are pointing toward an improvement for new graduates. But don't let this influence your need for a smart, focused job search! You still have stiff competition.

Now that we've created your career marketing materials, what are you going to do with them? It would be so easy to sit in front of your computer just scanning job boards, copying and pasting your resume into on-line boxes, or attaching it to emails and sending it to HR professionals. However, a smart job search is doing so much more! You don't want to get lost amid the crowds of recent grads applying in your field. That can easily happen if all you do is use the job boards to seek out job leads.

Instead, build your career network. Who do you know who can put you in touch with someone who can introduce you to a contact wanting to hire a new grad in your field? You see, networking is not easy. In fact, remember your most difficult college course – calculus? The energy and effort you mustered to pass that course you now need again to build your job search network.

You've already made a good start by creating your LinkedIn profile. But LinkedIn isn't a "Field of Dreams;" you must "work" it or "lose" it. Connect to professional groups in your career field, as well as professional local groups that hold "meet-ups." Then spend at least an hour per day answering and asking questions in those groups to put a spotlight on your expertise and how you build relationships.

Let everyone in your life you know what kind of job you're seeking. Job leads come from the least expected sources. Stay social, on-line and in person.

When preparing for job interviews, role play tough interview questions with a friend. Watch your face in a mirror as you speak your answers out loud. What will an interviewer see? Anything you need to correct in your mannerisms? We discussed how to dress, but just remember to dress for the job. A watch and small earring studs are OK, but no other jewelry. Light make-up and lip gloss are OK, but no heavy eyeliner. Thank goodness you have no tattoos to hide!

Since you enjoy using MS Excel, create your job search tracking record with that program. Perfectjob_12You'll want to track job leads, what you do with them, when you need to follow-up, and then repeat this for job interviews. If you submit a resume, it IS all right to call the employer in a couple weeks if you don't hear back right away. During a job search, you must be proactive and keep moving forward! Don't let rejections get you down. A job search is a numbers game of averages – the more "no's" you get, the closer you'll be to your "yes!"

As you work through the job search process, know that I'm hear for you. Email or call with your questions, and I'll guide you down the right path. While you will have to maintain your self-motivation, I won't be shy in giving you a push when you need it.

Most of all, know that you are unique. You have a great education and preparation for the job you want. You deserve it. Go get it! I am confident you will be successful!

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

Three Good Questions to Ask at a Job Interview

As a job candidate, you probably prepare for answering tough job interview questions. However, do you also prepare for what you ask the job interviewer? Your questions can be just as much of a "fit" indicator to potential employers as your answers are to their questions. Job interview 3

Never ask the interviewer anything about their company that you could have learned through research, e.g., the company's website, LinkedIn, your library's resources, etc. Companies want to feel special – that you have taken the time to determine if you are pursuing their opening because your interest is piqued based on your research, or if you're just desperate for a job. Do your due diligence!

Here are three good questions to ask:

1) Why is this position open? (Is it a new one, or did someone leave? Why did they leave? Is there an internal candidate?)

This question tells the company that you're serious about wanting this position. It also tells them that you are trying to assess your fit for the position, which you are. It's important for you to know who the ideal candidate is for this job, based on who's held the job before. If it's a new position, then you may have some input into how the job is defined, if you're hired. If there's an internal candidate, then that raises many more questions in your mind, e.g.,  will the internal person have an edge among the competition? (Not good news for you.)  

2) What is the most important (or biggest) problem you have that you want someone in this position to tackle?

This question tells the company that you're already processing how you may contribute value to them. This is good! The answer you get can help you evaluate whether or not you're up to the task, whether or not you want to do the job, and whether or not you still have an interest in pursuing this position. Do you feel challenged by the problem or overwhelmed at the idea of being responsible for solving it? Be honest with yourself. Don't set up yourself to fail.

3)  How will my performance be evaluated in this position? By whom?

This question tells the company that you are thinking about how you'll be doing your new job, another sign that you are interested in the position. It also tells them that you are ambitious and not just a time-clock puncher. Your answer will help you better understand the reporting structure of this company. It also helps sheds light on how your job tasks should be prioritized.

A good, solid job interview is a give-and-take. If you ever leave an interview relieved because you didn't have to talk much, know that this was NOT a good interview. You will NOT get this job. Interviews are rarely about you, only what you can do to meet an employer's needs, solve his problems, and contribute high value to this company. You are on stage at a job interview – perform well!

For more information on this topic, check out Amy Levin-Epstein's CBS Money Watch column, "6 great questions to ask on a job interview," featuring my contributions. "Asking for a job? Ask good questions" by Diane Stafford of The Kansas City Star lists some other good questions to ask an interviewer.

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

A Few LinkedIn Pointers for a Job Search

Do you have your professional LinkedIn profile posted? Even if you're not in an active job search, you still need a LinkedIn1787141145781871883 profile. Some people feel that all social media is an invasion of privacy. However, a LinkedIn presence has become a requisite career cornerstone. You may update your LinkedIn profile anytime you wish – and should. But there is so much more than your profile available to you through LinkedIn to increase your "findability" on the Internet.

Recruiters use LinkedIn as their Number One way to source job candidates for their client companies. Their preference is to find "passive" candidates; i.e., candidates not in an active job search, but interested in the "right" opportunities should they present themselves. Even if you are very happy with your current position, in this ever-churning economy, it is a good idea to have career options. You never know when your company may be sold or file for bankruptcy. You don't want to go down with a sinking ship! Your LinkedIn profile is a type of career insurance. With it, you'll always be "findable" on the Internet for hiring authorities seeking to fill new positions. (Did you realize that having no presence on the web is just as bad as a negative presence?)

Treat LinkedIn as your friend. Use it to build business relationships. Invite people to connect with you if you share a common career bond. Using the Groups feature helps you showcase your career expertise, as well as make new contacts. The Groups tab is found in the LinkedIn top menu line. Answer Group questions, and also ask your own. Besides joining and participating in Groups related to your career field, join a few local LinkedIn Groups where you may meet people face-to-face, even if they are not in your field. You never know who knows someone who knows someone. By the way, you'll find that many groups are open – meaning you don't have to be approved to join. Others are only available to you upon approval of your request to join. There is value for you in both types of Groups.

As a Kansas City Career Coach, I recommend the following LinkedIn Groups for relationship-building online and in person in the Greater Kansas City Area. Contact me if you know of others:

* Kansas City Live Networking
* Linked to KC
* Kansas City Networking Society

If you want to relocate to another part of the country, look for online LinkedIn Groups to join in that area. You may get job recommendations from Group members to pave the path to your new job before you physically relocate. When you make LinkedIn a part of your everyday social networking, you'll be surprised at the rewards you reap.

I would love to hear your comments on how you have used LinkedIn for your career. Please leave your comments below. For more great information, check out Inc. magazine's, "6 Steps to a More Marketable LinkedIn Profile." Another great resource is the book, I'm On LinkedIn, Now What?, by Jason Alba. This book can be found at Amazon.com.

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

Abilities Enhanced Acquires KansasCityCareerServices

In January, Abilities Enhanced acquired the career coaching business, Kansas City Career Services. This purchase will help our company enhance our presence in the Kansas City area with its own website and new connections. It is with great enthusiasm that I announce this addition to our professional career coaching and resume writing services.

One new feature for Kansas City-based Career Chaos readers is a local blog that will feature Kansas City area job leads furnished by local HR professionals, recruiters and other reputable sources. At Abilities Enhanced, we want to help everyone who yearns for a job. This is our way of promoting employment for all!

In the days ahead you may see messages and activities that will work to link Kansas City Career Services to its parent, Abilities Enhanced. After all, we work in a global space where even Kansas City employees are affected by workplace practices throughout the nation and the world.

I look forwarded to communicating more personally with Kansas City careerists who seek that special place made just for them in the "right" workplace.

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

Find Career Solutions By Taking Time to Process!

About six weeks ago, one of my career coaching clients took the leap of faith to work with me for three months. Treadmill3Ben (not his real name) had been feeling like a hamster on a treadmill as his head spun in circles trying to figure out what he wanted from a career, or even a job. All he really knew was that what he was doing now was eating him alive. A man of many talents, he couldn't decide what he wanted to do, where he wanted to do it, and how to become successful in his quest. He'd been spinning out of control for months.

Like so many floundering career change wannabees, Ben wrestled with mixed messages all around him. He gave me permission to share his struggle with you in the hope that others could more quickly overcome their own career barriers and make a satisfying career change. One exercise we did was to assess Ben's negative beliefs that have held him back. We all harbor assumptions based on personal past experience or external messages. Here is one of Ben's beliefs and how he processed through it:

Message: My background and experience aren't good enough to find the work I desire.

Source: Hiring managers pile on rejection letters following my job interviews that reinforce that I'm not good enough, that I lack something.

Assumption: I lack the right skills, or I'm not presenting them well enough.

Analysis: I know this is true because I haven't been able to find a job I enjoy. Also, I see the struggles of so many people trying to find work. And the media keeps saying that the economy and the job market are tough.

The Shift of Ben's Belief:

Is it productive to believe this? No, since this limits what I can do going forward.

What is more productive to believe? While my inability to find work may be blamed on the economy and glut of unemployed talent, it could be the result of my needing to learn new job search skills.

What is probable? That my beliefs are a combination of my unrealistic conclusions and the economy in general.

What is possible? I need to find ways to promote myself better, either through a better resume, networking, more nuanced job interview responses/techniques – or all of the above.

What models show me this is possible? I've seen other job seekers succeed at finding employment. Their preparation and dedication paid off.

What action can I take? Remind myself that I am not alone. Every time I receive a rejection letter, I know there are hundreds also receiving similar letters. Understand that the job search search process is a numbers game – I first have to collect my "no's" to get my one yes! And, I have to turn off the television and talk radio; instead, put myself only into positive learning environments.

Wow! And this was just one message! Ben had more to work through, but this one shows you how it is possible to create your own beliefs and not become a passive receptacle for the messages and pontificating around you. Don't get sucked into the prevailing head winds. Stand up and face your beliefs. You decide what you want to believe. The easy way out will not move you down the road to successful career transition. Quit blaming others and start seeking honest answers from within you. Take the necessary time to process. (Not widely known fact: for college graduates with experience, the unemployment rate is only 4.4% – so forget that 8.9%.)

What happened to Ben? Here are some sound clips from his email to me just this week:

"Meg – I think I may have had some sort of epiphany!"
"I started thinking about all of the big ideas from our previous coaching session…"
"The above will sound rambling and disjointed but this idea of [blank] is sticking for some reason."
"I also started thinking about potential applications."
"Anyway, I've been thinking about it a lot. We can discuss this more in depth during our next career coaching session. Just thought I would share." 

I just smiled. I so love it when my career coaching clients discover their "it." A05That's what makes my own career one I truly enjoy.

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

A Career Lesson for 2012: Learn From Others’ Mistakes

Reading the article, "Six Tips from Your Future Self," started me thinking about the career lessons I've learned over the years. As a career coach, I now understand how experience is a teacher, but may also be a curse. Sometimes we become so rooted in our ways based on past experience that we fear taking the risk to go after something better or something more. Questions arise such as: What if I fail? What if I lose? What if I don't like "it" after I achieve it?

Let me share some of my personal career lessons so you may by-pass anything similar for your own career: Oops

Pain is too comfortable. It took me several years to learn this lesson. While one may hate their job, it is familiar, and therefore, offers comfort. Such a convoluted feeling! After falling into my first career (a career by default, not choice), I spent over five years trying to figure out how to get out of it. How I wish I'd had access to a career coach back then! The solution to my pain? Change jobs, but stay in the same field. I thought it was the employer I hated, but it was really the work I that I did. My first job in this career lasted nine years. Then I changed jobs twice inside of three years trying to find job satisfaction. Needless to say, this approach didn't work at all. With serious introspection and reflection, I finally began to plot my next move to go where I wanted to be, a process that took a couple of steps before I landed a solid job in my chosen career field.

Beware of blurting out what's on your mind. Oh, the innocence of youth! Yes, I learned to contribute ideas and such in teamwork situations, but inside the context of helping the project or mission succeed – never trashing the idea behind it. Unless you're the CEO, your vision for the company is just your opinion. If you're smart, you will be on the same page as your manager. If you operate from your own agenda instead of your company's, you will quickly get labeled a troublemaker and end up on the short list when it comes time for layoffs.

Respect for your boss is expected; he/she doesn't have to earn it. I'll never forget the day when I told the company president not to call me a girl. A "mature" 25-year-old, I was hung up on the stereotype between men and girls. I wanted to be treated as a woman, not a girl. The president hadn't said anything resembling gender harassment, but stupid me still had to point out that when he called the administrative pool "girls" he was being demeaning. Surprisingly, I held onto my job after that. I even got promoted. I realize now what a good leader he really was.

"Friends" at work are different from friends outside of work. No matter how close you feel to someone you work with, you can never completely trust them when it comes to your career. Maybe that's a bit cynical, but wherever competition is involved, I've learned that each person looks out for Number One first. I guess the true scoop here is that those with whom you work are never your family. The workplace is for improving your company's bottom line, not for building a safe haven for you. And what about dating someone with whom you work? Do so at your own peril!

Your career needs a plan to follow, similar to a business plan. Without a plan, you'll continue to leap at whatever presents itself as new and shiny – not necessarily smart and wholesome. Not too many people know which career position they want three years from now. But imagine if you did! Now you could be developing the necessary skills for that move; acquiring the knowledge you need to succeed in that role; networking with the right people to help you make a smooth transition.

I look back on my career and see it as choppy, at best. I know that making a move for money was not always the best strategy. While I learned a lot about life and work over the years, the only career move I truly made as a planned choice was the one to start my own business. It took me six months of research to confirm that my goal was achievable and good for me. Thirteen years later, I know it was the right move, too. Can you say the same about your current position?

If you're in your '20s, heed what I say here as you begin to design your career. If you're in your '30s or '40s, it's still not too late to shift career course. If you're in your '50s or '60s, you can still find that right career for you – many of us will be working into our '70s, or longer.

Wishing you career success in 2012! Happy New Year!

Meg

Top Five Ways to Enjoy a Giftless Christmas

Wondering where to find your Christmas cheer this year? For those on a fixed income, or no income at all, this season can be difficult, to say the least. Too many in our country are still unemployed, though there are a  few signs of that changing in 2012. With no office party or gifts under a tree, it's easy to slip into a Grinch-like mood. But you don't have to! There are many ways to give of yourself instead of store-bought presents. Find a couple of ideas that fit you and go through the holidays with a smile on your face!Xmas.gifts It is important to give to feel good about yourself.

Spread Christmas cheer by:

1) Volunteering to serve holiday dinner at a homeless shelter. Converse with someone who is also facing hard times. You may even see that you have much to be happy about.

2) Creating your own gifts for loved ones and friends. Home-baked goodies are a treat that adults and kids alike will appreciate. What else could you make?

3) Giving handmade gift certificates for services you can perform. Lawn care, babysitting, car washing – what else can you do?

4) Hosting a potluck party for family and friends. Ask everyone to bring a dish to share. Spend the evening singing carols, playing board games, or watching vintage Christmas movies.

5) Inviting friends to drop off their kids for an old fashioned tree trimming party while the adults dash out for their last-minute shopping. Provide popcorn and cranberries to string into ropes and supervise cookie decorating.

I'm sure I've left out some good ideas – what are they? Please leave your comments below to help everyone have a Merry Christmas!

Wishing you career success in 2021!

Meg

Your Career: What Do You REALLY Want?

"I hate my job." How many times have you said this? Do you know why? Like many, you may have a career by default instead of by choice. You know what I mean – a career you fell into right out of college, a career that you've grown by expanding your skills without passion. Or maybe it's a "job du jour," one that you're doing this year, didn't do in 2010, and hopefully, won't have to do in 2012.

I know, the economy is tough right now; new jobs aren't easy to get. But guess what – if you love what you do (and are good at it), you'll move from one company to another with ease as your personality shines through during your job interview. Attitude does matter, and is quickly discerned by hiring authorities. If you are looking for just a job, any job, interviewers will see right through you and choose a little less qualified candidate who shows enthusiasm and energy! No kidding – best skilled doesn't always win.

The big question isn't how do you get a job. No, the big question is this: What do you REALLY want? Most people find it much easier to say what they hate than what they like – does that ring true for you? The only way to get closer to naming what you want is to eliminate all the "hates" off of the table. Make a list and then throw it out the door, burn it, or whatever you need to do to get it out of your way so you can once and for all name "IT," own "IT," and get "IT!"

WHAT YOU HATE is addressed during the first week of the career coaching program, "Now What? 90 Days to a A03New Life Direction." As an Authorized Facilitator for this program created by Laura Berman Fortgang, MCC, I can tell you that it works! If you'd like to learn more about it, visit my Now What? web page. Be sure to download and take the quick quiz to determine your eligibility for this program - how many of items did you check off?

Make 2012 the year you decide to take a risk and go for a career change. When you follow the right process, you'll surprise yourself at what you discover about your career must-haves for your career satisfaction.

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

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

Take a Chance: Let Your “Snowflake” Shine

"Know Thyself." William Shakespeare

As the first chilly day of fall arrives, my thoughts wander ahead to the snow to come – not too far into the future, I fear. Have you ever seen a magnified snowflake? Or compared two magnified snowflakes next to each other? While appearing the same to the human eye, when examined under a microscope, each Snowflakesnowflake is very different from the other. Look closely at the design and makeup of each – can you see the unique pieces?

Like snowflakes, each of us is unique, though similar, to all others. It is our uniqueness that we celebrate while honoring all people's similarities and diversity. There's so much discussion these days about "fitting in" and "being part of a team." Yes, we operate in many societies – family, workplace, associations, clubs, churches, and more. Being able to blend smoothly is a big part of success inside these groups. But don't forget that there are still some things that we have to do alone, things that require us to call upon our uniqueness. While birth and death first come to mind as totally alone activities, another that requires our unique abilities is changing careers or finding a new job.

I think that's why job seekers find job search such a challenge. Job search is a lonely activity. It requires self-motivation, perseverance, and commitment with little reward from anyone but yourself. YOU have to research companies; YOU have to choose the companies for resume submission; YOU have to prepare for job interviews and then go to them alone!

Just for fun, try doing a mind map of your personal "snowflake." Start with listing your values – those things that must be honored at work for you to be happy with your job. Then, list your motivators – what makes you want to get up and go to work in the first place? Finally, what are your deal-breakers – those things that are non-negotiable at work (e.g., overtime hours, benefits, paid holidays, minimum salary, travel, etc.)? Now, what does your snowflake (mind map) look like?

NOTE: Be careful when listing your deal-breakers. Make sure they are really non-negotiable. Sometimes we have a tendency to feel we can't live without something, when in reality, that's just a preference, not a deal-breaker.

If you discover that your current career or job does not match your snowflake profile, zero in on those things that need to change in order for you to have a complete fit. If you can make those changes by yourself in your current role, fine. If not, it's time to start your discovery process to find your ideal career or job. For most of us, we are our worst enemy when it comes to change. It's easier to blame outside conditions rather than accept the responsibility to proactively change. Even if we hurt, that feeling is familiar, so therefore, comfortable. Change is risky – not at all comfortable – but very doable.

A career coach is your ideal partner when it comes to career reinvention. And Fall is the best time of the year to invest in the career change process. Get your career in gear for the new year! When 2012 arrives, you'll be glad you took this time.

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

Five Key Resume Writing Fallacies Revealed

OK, let's face this issue head on – professional resumes written by trained, credentialed, professional resume writers do NOT cost $50. Overwhelm There, I've said it – not so hard to do. If you want a well-crafted, marketing tool to help you get a job interview, you'll need to invest time, energy AND dollars into the professional resume writing process. That's the only way to develop the most important document you need to have to conduct a successful job search.

1. Resumes should only cost around $50 – NOT. (See above.) Get over the resume sticker shock. If you get a good job, what percentage of your first year's income would be your investment? One percent or less? Now, isn't it worth it to invest that much in a professional resume? Added bonus: wouldn't it be a relief to not have to stress out over drafting your resume all by yourself?

2. Resume writing is just a typing exercise – NOT. C'mon, do you really want to use a template you found on a computer to create the most important document used in your job search? To compete as part of today's saturated candidate pool, you must stand out! Your resume has to make your case for you, or you'll never get a job interview.

3. Resumes are easy to create for yourself – NOT. Even a resume writer struggles to create one for himself/herself. It's much too difficult to be objective about your own career experience and accomplishments. You need an unbiased eye to dig out what's most important to include in your resume based upon your current target market. Remember, the best resume is the one that's most narrowly niched. Employers never want to hunt for the reason why you submitted your resume to them. Actually, they WON'T do that – they'll throw away any resume that's too general and you'll never find out why.

4. Resume writing is just recording your work history – NOT. Resume writing is a form of technical writing – not reporting, essay, or poetry. It is a skill, craft, talent that is finely honed with frequent practice – after the "rules" are learned. Your "story" must be told in reverse chronological order, painting the picture of how you want to be perceived today in the world of work. It must include examples, accomplishments, and results that demonstrate your value, your problem-solving ability, and why you should be hired above anyone else. Your resume represents your career brand.

5. Resumes should be written by the job candidates themselves – NOT. This is a fallacy perpetuated by human resources. (Please – no fair throwing darts at me for this remark, HR, but your comments are welcome below.) Usually, how successful is a defendant who doesn't hire an attorney but represents himself/herself in court? Do you try to extract your own tooth to save money by not going to the dentist? How about diagnosing your own illness by researching on the internet instead of going to the doctor – how does that work for you? You are probably very good at what you do for a living and have a lot experience with talent to back up your actions. So, if you aren't good at writing your own resume – what's the big deal? Hire the best professional resume writer to partner with you on the project and I know you'll be happy with the resulting product.

I'm fully aware that my opinions expressed in this post may ruffle some feathers. However, based on 12 years of owning my boutique career services firm, I know this information to be true. Most of my clients are walking testimonials to the credibility of my remarks here. If you don't hire a professional resume writer to craft your career marketing materials, I wish you all the best and hope you prove me wrong. Tell me about your success (or not) in the comments section below. I want to hear it all!

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

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!

Meg

Pet Peeves of a Ranting Career Coach (Me!)

As a Career Coach, every once in a while I just have to blow off steam. It seems that I've reached that place today. Don't get me wrong – I love my clients – I love my work – I love working my passion. BUT, sometimes frustrations find their way into my career of helping others master their careers. Usually, it's the obvious to me, but not to my clients, that gives me the most reason to pause. I realize that I have lived my career for so many years, while my clients aren't as focused on the minutia as I. However, other career pros, such as hiring managers, recruiters, and HR professionals, also seem to spot these tiny things, and they have the power to pitch your resume or reject you after your job interview. Or worse, if you're working, fire you. So, let's just get it right! As always, I welcome your comments below.

1. If 5 years ago you "led" a project, you don't say you "lead" it. Huh? The present tense of the verb "to lead" is "lead," the past tense is "led." When you use "lead" in the past tense, I'm looking for my pencil to red line your resume error. Get it? There is NEVER a valid excuse for an imperfect resume. It can get tossed out of competition for - wait for it – incorrect minutia!

2. If you are going to give your best effort to finding a new position, how difficult is it to create a professional email address? I've seen everything from bubblegumbaby @yahoo.com to footballfetish @hotmail.com – and a lot of others in between. Ideally, you want an email address that includes your name with as few other characters as possible. Even my husband, who is a self-employed carpenter, is changing his email address from scoot### @emailaddress.com to something more professionally appropriate. The days of cutesy email addresses are gone – time to get with the program!

3. Do you want a potential employer who calls you to schedule an interview to have to listen to your 4-year old kid's 3-minute answering machine greeting on your home phone? Or cell phone? Hmm, how much do you really want a new job?

4. So you don't want to add your photo to your LinkedIn profile (assuming you even have a LinkedIn profile) because you're afraid of discrimination or privacy issues. Gosh, haven't you heard? Privacy is passe – it doesn't exist anymore, thanks to the Internet. If you have ever given a recorded speech, shared a pic with friends on Facebook, volunteered or participated at a media-covered charity event, or had a friend send you your photo in a text message – your picture is already out there! Cover your professional bases with a professional photo on LinkedIn. You'll be glad you did. And you will boost you chances for being targeted for good job opportunities.

5. Speaking of the Internet, what do you think your boss will say when he or she reads your hastily typed comments about him or her on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, email, or any other online program? Please, remember that anything you type becomes a permanent record. People have been fired for saying work-related things they they had thought they were sharing privately with co-workers and friends. Again, let me repeat, "There is no privacy anymore!"

BONUS: Please tell me you already know that you are being researched online by Traffic lightprospective employers and current employers alike.  Just as that red light camera snaps your picture to send you a traffic ticket when you don't stop in time at an intersection, your work activities are being constantly monitored. Quit using work email as a personal email! Stop using the company's computer for non-company activities (shop from home!). In these trying times when jobs are really hard to come by, protect yours by following smart online practices. Find a job by exhibiting the highest ethical and moral standards. Whether we like it or not, the age of Big Brother has arrived – and we're all caught up in it.

OK, this coffee pot has finished brewing. All the steam in gone, for now, except for one last spout-off: Respect is the first expectation any potential employer will have of a candidate, and the ongoing expectation any current employer will have of you. Prove you are reliable and can be trusted by the way you conduct yourself with your professional best practices, and that includes the Internet. 

Wishing you career success in 2011!

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

Movies Teach Career Lessons

This past week I posted on how communication gaps lead to misunderstandings with bosses. I got my inspiration from the newly released movie, "Horrible Bosses" – "Horrible Bosses Strikes a Nerve."

Today I'd like to shine the spotlight on one of my posts from 2009, "Julie and Julia": A Script for Career Transition." This movie depicts the story of how a modern-day character starts a blog about her experience as she cooks her way through Julia Child's cookbook over the course of one year.

My fleeting thought is that movies can teach career lessons by imitating life. Now, I'm on the search for more movies to review from the perspective of a careerist!

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

“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

Sink or Swim in Social Media

>>Social media is instrumental in changing lives around the world. Country revolutions have been organized using Twitter, birthday parties are overrun with guests who see an invitation someone forgot to make private on Facebook, and yes, even jobs are being landed through LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. While Gen X and Gen Y (and even younger) persons have smartphones attached to their bodies like a new appendage, Baby Boomers and others are asking, "What's all the hoopla about?"

>>We've entered a new age: no longer the age of Aquarius, now the age of "being found." In other words, in order to connect with anyone for almost any purpose, you need to have an online or Internet presence. This is particularly true for job seekers who just want a new job. When a recruiter or hiring authority has a job to fill, they first go to the Internet to look for viable candidates. Recruiters notoriously go to LinkedIn, human resource personnel will do a Google search, even Craig's list is being used as a candidate source.

>>What's interesting is how Twitter has taken off as a place to find candidates. My belief is that hiring authorities, in all their wisdom, want to get to know the "real" person before scheduling a job interview. So, they read a candidate's tweets which often reveal personal information that cannot be asked in a formal job interview. Scary, huh? (If you don't know what digital dirt is, Google the term and learn how to clean up yours if you are in a job search.)
>>Twitter encourages you to join special groups for online chats, find new people to follow with your interests, create lists of these people organized by categories for easy access to their tweets, share digital photos of whomever or whatever you wish, and much more.
>>LinkedIn and Twitter are my social media tools of choice when it comes to job search. LinkedIn is a very professional program where you post your profile including employment history. This service may be utilized for no cost. To "get found" there by hiring authorities, you'll want to join a few relevant discussion groups where you ask and answer questions related to your field of work – spotlight your expertise. Also, take advantage of the "answers" feature which everyone can see, not just your official connections. Books have been written about using LinkedIn. One of my favorites is: I'm on LinkedIn – Now What? by Jason Alba.
>>Twitter is more informal than LinkedIn. You set up your account with a brief public profile, and now you're ready to share all kinds of information with anyone who will follow you. If you want to use Twitter while in a job search, be sure your tweets are on the professional side, not too opinionated, and never, ever full of inappropriate language or photos (just ask Rep. Weiner about that!). Make sure you choose a branded approach to your tweets to enhance your reputation. Look for people to follow that will help you with their careerist expertise, company connections, and job search leads. Make sharing your goal – not always asking for help. Social media is somewhat of a passive activity, so remember that what goes around, will come around back to you. One of my favorite books on using Twitter is the Twitter Job Search Guide, by Susan Britton Whitcomb, et al.
>>So what's holding you back from getting on the social media bandwagon? Don't be afraid to jump on – you really need to get involved to enhance your job search activities. And don't forget to download your social media programs to your smartphone where you may access them at any time. Happy tweeting, and all that other stuff!

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 "Social media – how to use it in a job search, how to get started, do's and don'ts." You'll be amazed at all the free career advice and knowledge that is available to you from these professionals in the careers field.

Make Your Career More Social: Show Up and Engage, @WalterAkana

You 2.0: The Brave New World of Social Media and Online Job Searches, @dawnrasmussen

How to Get a New Job Using Social Media, @DebraWheatman

Social Media: Choosing, Using, and Confusing, @ErinKennedyCPRW

How to Use Social Media in Your Job Search, @heatherhuhman

Updating: A Social Media Strategy For Job Search, @TimsStrategy

Your Career Needs Social Media – Get Started, @EliteResumes @MartinBuckland

We Get By With a Little Recs from Our Friends, @chandlee

Expat Careers & Social Media: Social Media is Potentially 6 Times more Influential than a CV or Resume, @expatcoachmegan

Social-Media Tools and Resources to Maximize Your Personalized Job Search, @KatCareerGal

Job Search and Social Media: A Collective Approach, @careersherpa

How Having Your Own Website Helps You, @keppie_careers

Social Media: So what's the point?, @DawnBugni

Tools that change your world, @WorkWithIllnes

HOW TO: Meet People IRL via LinkedIn, @AvidCareerist

Effective Web 2.0 Job Search: Top 5 Secrets, @resumeservice

Jumping Into the Social Media Sea @ValueIntoWords

Sink or Swim in Social Media, @KCCareerCoach

Social Media Primer for Job Seekers, @LaurieBerenson

How to Handle Five Common #Career Skeletons

We all have them – situations, that if openly discussed, may have a negative impact on our lives and/or careers.

Several years ago I was surprised by one myself. WillardjohnMy aunt had been tracing the family tree on my mother's side when she came across information about a distant relative who had been hanged over three centuries ago after being convicted of murder. Wow! Although this unearthed family factoid (we believe it was a truth, but not quite sure) did not directly affect my life, it made me stop in my tracks and ponder the question: what else did I not know about my family?

When it comes to a job search, it's more likely that a personal situation a lot closer to home will present a potential roadblock to getting your next job. Following is a list of five possible barriers that may pop up for job seekers, barriers requiring your tact and skill to address in a job interview – if you want a job offer. One recommendation is to hire a professional career coach to help you present yourself in the best manner possible. Please share your comments below, especially if you've experienced these or any other job-busting situations.

Common Career Skeletons

1. Bad Credit Report: It's a sad fact, but today's employers routinely ask your permission to pull your credit report before offering you a job. For anyone who was laid off several months ago, chances are your credit report has taken a few hits. Since you will usually be interviewed before your credit report is pulled, the best action to take is to bring up this problem in the interview. Don't be ashamed – you've been trying to survive! Just offer at the end of the interview a very brief synopsis of the truth of why your report has been dinged. Many employers will be understanding about this.

2. Termination from Previous Job: If this termination was from your last job, you will need to address it more purposefully than if it was from a job way back in your work history. Try to keep from mentioning the situation until you are interviewed as you can soften the situation better in a face-to-face encounter. Briefly sum up what happened, assume the blame yourself (don't blame your old boss), and be ready to discuss what you've learned that will keep this from ever happening again. Once more, don't blame your past employer!

3. Conflict with Previous Boss: If you and your last boss just didn't get along, be ready to weave a story about that relationship into your interview conversation. Address the problem, what actions you took to resolve it, and whatever positive results came from those actions. Don't leave the story hanging in the air – be sure to offer the resolution. Even if the question doesn't arise, it's better to gently discuss it as there's a good chance your old boss will be contacted for a "reference" whether you name him/her or not on your reference list.

4. Criminal Record: Now this is a serious situation, not insurmountable, but very challenging. The whole truth, and nothing but the truth, is your only option here. As with most barriers to employment, put the emphasis on what you've learned through this experience and how it will positively shape your behavior going forward into the future. There are career coaches who specialize in working with people facing this roadblock. It's probably a good idea to seek professional career advice to maximize your chances for getting a job.

5. Non-visible Disability: It's easy for an employer to see if you're blind, deaf, or in a wheelchair. Many employers consider these "low-risk" disabilities when it comes to hiring. They feel they can make the necessary accommodations to support persons with these disabilities in a competitive work environment. However, if you have an emotional or mental illness, beginning stages of Parkinson's disease, or have been recently diagnosed with cancer, no one may know about it but you. You always have the choice of whether or not to disclose your disability and you can weigh the advantages vs. disadvantages to you in doing so. But if you have, say, ADHD and need any employer accommodations to perform the essential functions of your position, it's best to disclose your disability before accepting a job offer – probably in the second interview. Disability disclosure is a hugely personal thing. I suggest working with a career coach who specializes in the area of disabilities, such as Rosalind Joffe of Working with Chronic Illness, to get the support you need to get the job of your choice.

Perfectjob_12 Landing a job is a huge job in itself in today's economy, even for those with no career skeletons. When you have special barriers, it can become a more daunting task. Just stay focused on your goal, adapt your job strategy to meet any special situations, and get help from a professional career coach. Employers hire self-confident candidates who can solve problems. Know your value and your strengths, and become an expert at demonstrating both. The rest will follow.

 

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

Remembering Mom’s Green Mashed Potatoes

When I was a child, I always anticipated St. Patrick's Day with the wonder of what my Irish mother would do this year to help us celebrate. Sitting down to a hearty farm breakfast, I'd begin my day listening to the Irish folk songs she had playing on the radio. Of course, she sent us all to school wearing something green with a shamrock pinned to each of our collars.

The most fun of the day was at dinner when she'd serve green mashed potatoes. Just a drop of green food coloring made the dish festive. Of course, Dad, a third generation farmer of Dutch descent, would shake his head and ask, "Where's the meat?" Usually the serious parent, his sense of humor often lacked the spontaneity of Mom's, although he did surprise us on occasion.

Mom made each holiday special and memorable. Most were celebrated in traditional ways: Easter baskets fullMargery-1945   of eggs and candy, Santa Claus and the Christmas tree with lots of presents, and Independence Day with flags and stories about her WWII service in the U.S. Navy. One April Fool's Day she sewed the tableware to the tablecloth. I won't even repeat what Dad said about that!

So, you say, what do my mother's holiday celebrations have to do with careers or job search?

More than these happy childhood memories, these fun times will always remain precious as I recall what Mom did with her life for us and my father, the husband she dearly loved. Marrying at 28, she gave up her teaching career to become a farm housewife, making a commitment to a new way of life. Yes, she chose this new life, but it's important to acknowledge the many changes she had to make – from baking bread to tending chickens to growing fresh vegetables in a big garden.

I see her holiday celebrations as one of her ways of maintaining her personal identity and not letting herself become lost in this different culture. When Dad was struck down at the age of 51 with a series of strokes and heart attacks that caused permanent disability, Mom returned to her teaching career to keep the family going. Always adapting and changing, she taught me the importance of being flexible in my life and my work. She also taught me that a woman CAN do it all: have a career AND have a family.

Lessons are here for all job seekers and careerists:

  • Don't fear the unknown.
  • Keep your eyes open for opportunities that can enrich your life and give it meaning.
  • There is no good reason to stay year after year in a job you hate – get proactive!
  • Find that career that lets you work from your life's purpose.

Thanks, Mom, for the life and career lessons you taught me!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Meg 

How to Revitalize a Stale Job Search

Whether you've been in a job search for a week, a month, or a year, you probably feel like it's been forever. ForOverwhelm most, job searches are no fun – they are hard work! But more than the work, it's the overwhelm due to isolation coupled with periodic rejection that compels many job seekers to lose self-motivation to persevere. So, what  can you do to refocus and re-tool your job search? What can rekindle your energy to keep you moving forward to attain success?

The biggest energy boost of all comes from human contact, especially if it is coupled with acknowledgment, recognition, and support. This is why so many job clubs have been launched since the recession began with all its layoffs. Most job clubs cost you nothing to attend. Many are held in church basements or activity rooms and are led by caring community members who volunteer their time. Depending on a job club's purpose, you may get peer reviews of your resume, discussion with peers and local guest experts on how to hone your job interviewing skills, perhaps even a presentation on improving your social networking skills, and more. All of this career advice is great and you would be wise to pay attention. Of course, you will need to get it all organized, scheduled, and incorporated into your job search plan. (You do have a job search plan, don't you?) When you Google 'job club' you will get a large number of sites to explore.

If there's no job club close to you, then look for another person who also is in job search mode to become your buddy. Take on the role of each other's booster. Talk daily – or at least weekly – to share your goals, successes, and rejections. Learn from each other about what works and what doesn't. However, if you begin to notice your conversations turning into "pity parties," STOP – take the time to correct the situation or replace your "buddy."

While having a spouse or partner to share everything with may seem ideal, it really isn't. Of course, your significant other will want to know and help you the best they can, but remember, they have a vested interest in the outcome of everything you do in your job search. What will work better for you is a more impartial individual who will put your needs first. Many relationships can't survive the stress caused by a layoff. Please reserve your relationship time for sharing your "normal" life activities with your loved one.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the best option for getting the job search support you need – hiring your own career coach. As a trained and credentialed professional, this individual can help you keep your job search on track, will listen without judgment to everything you say, offer sound advice, and challenge you to stay focused on doing the job search activities critical for success – in other words, getting the right job offer! Sure, you will need to invest in this service, but you wouldn't go to court without a good attorney or build a swimming pool in your backyard without a reputable contractor – or would you? Career coaching services are an investment in your future. An experienced career coach can help you reduce your job search time. After all, what percentage of your first year's salary would some career coaching actually be?

So, here are some options for getting your job search rekindled. Do you have other ideas? I'd love to hear them in your comments – please share!

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 "How to Re-tool or Refocus Your Job Search." You'll be amazed at all the free career advice and knowledge that is available to you from these professionals in the careers field!

Personal Branding to Fire Up Your Job Search, @DebraWheatman

Succeeding in a “Final Jeopardy!” World, @WalterAkana

5 Steps to Retool & Jumpstart Your Job Search, @erinkennedycprw

Your Job Search: Let's Just Start Again Shall We? @GayleHoward

Checklist for Spring Cleaning Your Job Search, @careersherpa

5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Job Search, @heatherhuhman

Ten Surefire Ways to Organize Your Job Search, @KatCareerGal

Put Spring Into Your Job Search, @EliteResumes @MartinBuckland

Toes in the Water, @ValueIntoWords

How to Revitalize a Stale Job Search, @KCCareerCoach

How to re-think your job search, @Keppie_Careers

Wake Up and Smell the Flowers: Spring Cleaning Your Resume, @barbarasafani

Spring Cleaning and Your Personal Brand, @resumeservice

Spring clean your mind clutter first, @DawnBugni

Managing Your Career 2.0: On Giving Something Up To Get It Right, @Chandlee

Clean up, Chin, up, Shape up, @LaurieBerenson

Employer Curiosity vs. Personal Privacy – Who Wins?

OK, folks, it's time for me to rant again. Sometimes a bubble rises to the top and just has to burst! I'd love your comments on this topic that I'm raising today.

In order to get a job, should you have to surrender your personal privacy? Where is the line drawn between what a potential employer wants to know and what you, the candidate, must tell them?

Certain rights are protected (supposedly) under current equal employment laws – such as those related to race, sex, marital status, and disability. However, we all know of the exceptions when those "rights" weren't respected. For example, the young woman wearing a wedding ring being drawn into a conversation about childcare. Or the man with a limp asked to explain the reasons why he left his last employer so long ago – due to a workman's compensation injury.

Most recently, unemployment status and personal credit checks have been exposed as common barriers to new employment. Help wanted postings have been seen blatantly stating, "Unemployed need not apply," while candidates lucky enough to get job offers must agree to credit checks before starting work. Of course, credit problems due to no job/no money situations have had adverse effects on credit reports that can lower the axe on job offers.

An article I read today ("Officer forced to reveal Facebook page") really takes the cake! As part of the jobFacebook_favicon_large_2_bigger application process, an individual was asked to provide his Facebook page along with login and password! Are you kidding me? Why not ask for all his emails, text messages, and birthday cards from grandma? What this tells me is that employers who do this are unwilling to assume any risk in hiring employees. They want ironclad guarantees that they have control over the actions of those who work for them. If this doesn't tell workers that there is no loyalty left from employers, I don't know what will. (In the interest of full disclosure, this employer did back down on its request.)

Sure, not all employers have gone this far, but actions like these fuel the feelings of workers who are ready to jump ship as soon as the economy shapes up. But why wait? If you are a skilled and talented worker with a solid career history, there are employers who want you now. I urge you to take charge of your own career and not wait on the economy; and especially, don't wait for any employer to make your decision for you.

Wishing you career success in 2011! (And continue your vigilance over digital dirt!)

Meg

Career Strategy for Grads: What’s Your Plan B?

For many people, careers by default have guided their lives. What's this? "Having no plan or road map for what you want to do in your life." This process gets kick-started in college when you feel pressured into choosing your major. The pressure may come from parents, peers, or the college counselor – even from inside you. No matter where it comes from, you find yourself facing a decision that you may not be ready to make. So what do you do? You choose anything – just anything – so that you may finish your coursework and get on with your life. Sound familiar?

After graduation, more decisions need to be made. What kind of job can you get with your degree? OMG! The jobs in your field have gone away while you were studying. Now what? Either you move back home with your parents, or you bunk with friends also doing a job search while you all work in fast food restaurants, retail sales, or if you're lucky, entry level office jobs. What happened? Why isn't your life turning into the great experience you were promised in your teens? (Another option is to return to school – but do you really want more debt?)

"If only" becomes your cry – if only I'd given my career choice more thought; if only I'd researched career options before choosing my major; if only I'd paid more attention to what I really enjoy doing – who knows? I may not have even gone to college at all, but studied while working in some kind trade instead.

I remember in high school when my mother (a former high school teacher) advised me to take a semester of typing even though I planned on getting a bachelor's degree. Honestly, typing really didn't appeal to me, but like a good first child, I listened and followed her advice. Today I look back and realize how important that one semester of typing has been to my entire career. In my first full time job I used typing and have relied on my keyboard skills ever since to manage whatever tasks that my jobs dictated. For me, typing was my Plan B. Today it is my tool for facilitating all my other skills and talents.Plan B

What is your Plan B?

If your career isn't quite working out right now, do you have a backup plan to go to? Even it's just a part time job, it's important to have something to supplement your living expenses while you continue to pursue your dreams. Sometimes a Plan B is your current position while you work on defining and exploring a career change. After all, you have to eat, right? If you're not working at all, what can be your Plan B? Perhaps something as simple as selling your services for cleaning houses, walking dogs, building websites, or even acting as a companion for an elderly neighbor.

The ideal Plan B job will be a temporary, short lived thing. It needs to help you survive while you make the transition into your chosen career, a career where you achieve your goals and meet your working wants. And a Plan B doesn't have to be job itself, it can be a skill you utilize while holding down a job.

What's most important here is that you do have options. What do you choose for your first – or next – career? What kind of Plan B can you come up with to give you the time to get what you really want?

Wishing you 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

Your Photo on LinkedIn – Breaking a Cardinal Job Search Rule?

Do you have a LinkedIn profile? I certainly hope so since this is the first place recruiters go to find their ideal candidates. SilhouetteDo you have your photo on that LinkedIn profile? Again, I hope so – as today it is expected that you should. If you don't, get a professional pic up there now! What you don't have on LinkedIn says more about you than what you include.

But did you know that only three-plus years ago a big debate broke out over whether or not it was appropriate for LinkedIn to let its users have a photo anywhere close to their career qualifications?

Today most professional resumes still don't include photos, exceptions being professional bios in the entertainment and public speaking fields, maybe a high-level executive resume. This job search "rule" is due to the Human Resources concern over liability regarding interviewing a candidate based on appearance, race or age.

(Maybe it's time to change this rule, too? Please share your comments below.)

In doing research for this post, I found an interesting article, "A Photo Is Worth a Thousand Words" by Adam Nash on the LinkedIn blog. In this article the following announcement was made: "We’re excited to announce that starting tomorrow LinkedIn members will have a new option available: the ability to add a professional photo to their profile." (9/27/2007)

Business publications raced to cover this revolutionary change in how HR and recruiters might be swayed on whom they would choose to interview. In fact, Bloomberg BusinessWeek printed the following: "As recently as an August interview, LinkedIn's co-founder and president, Reid Hoffman, said 'photos and business don't go together,' partly because images could unduly influence recruiters. To lessen that threat, LinkedIn is letting HR reps turn off the feature so they can screen candidates without regard to age, race, and appearance."  (9/27/2007)  — Turn it off? Hmmm…. Does that ever happen?

ZNet conducted an informal survey asking the public if adding a photo was a good or bad idea. Results: 70% said it was good, 30% said bad.

The Wall Street Journal published an article about recruiters using social networking sites (e.g., LinkedIn and Facebook) to check job references on candidates before getting their permission, before even referring them to an interview with an employer. (I believe this topic warrants another post.) They went on to say, "LinkedIn, which already has a similar recommendation feature, plans to announce today that it will allow users to add photos to their profiles – a feature that could help make job seekers more recognizable to industry recruiters who may know them." (9/27/2007)

What a lot of hoopla! What do you think – can having your photo on LinkedIn enhance your chance for illegal discrimination? There was concern about this in 2007 – has that concern faded away in 2011? Or maybe everyone has just come to terms with the fact that there is no privacy anywhere since the Internet has become everyday SOP – notably where job search is concerned.

I would particularly like to hear from HR professionals and recruiters on this topic: How do LinkedIn photos on candidates' profiles affect your decision to conduct interviews? Pros and cons, please!

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 "Job Hunting Rules to Break." You'll be amazed at all the free career advice and knowledge that is available to you from these professionals in the careers field!

Juice Up Your Job Search, @debrawheatman

It's not your age, it's old thinking, @GayleHoward

Want a Job? Ignore these outdated job search beliefs, @erinkennedycprw

Job Search Then and Now, @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes

Break the Rules or Change the Game?, @WalterAkana

The New: From The Employer's-Eye View, @ResumeService

Job Search: Breakable Rules and Outdated Beliefs, @KatCareerGal

Job Hunting Rules to Break (Or Why and How to Crowd Your Shadow), @chandlee @StartWire,

Shades of Gray, @DawnBugni

3 Rules That Are Worth Your Push-Back, @WorkWithIllness

Your Photo on LinkedIn – Breaking a Cardinal Job Search Rule?, @KCCareerCoach

How to find a job: stop competing and start excelling, @Keppie_Careers

Be You-Nique: Resume Writing Rules to Break, @ValueIntoWords

Modernizing Your Job Search, @LaurieBerenson

Don't Get Caught With an Old School Resume, @barbarasafani

How Breaking the Rules Will Help You in Your Job Search, @expatcoachmegan

Beat the Job-Search-Is-a-Numbers-Game Myth, @JobHuntOrg

25 Habits to Break if You Want a Job, @CareerSherpa

What’s Wrong with the Spouses of #Jobseekers? (My Saturday Rant)

Several unemployed individuals have recently reached out to me seeking information on my services. For various reasons, they wish to discover what kind of career would really make their lives richer. They need assistance to make a transition back to the workplace. Theirs is a real cry for help! But their spouses just aren't listening. Maybe it's time for couples to go back in time to what they signed on for when they got married.Marriage

One has chosen to stay at home with a disabled child for the past three years while his wife earned a paycheck in a field she enjoys – making enough money to let the family survive, but not thrive. She now wants her partner to get a job – no matter how menial – to help out with expenses, but she does not support his investing in professional career-related services, such as a career coach, to help him return to the job market in a professional fashion. (The family has finally qualified for the assistance of an aide for the disabled son so the man is able work outside the home between 9 AM and 3 PM.) He misses his profession and would like to find a way to get back into it.

Another caller is facing an "empty nest" as her youngest goes off to college. She would love to get back into the field she enjoyed before choosing so many years ago to stay home to raise her family. However, the world of work has changed so much that her self-esteem is weak and she is afraid that her skills are stale. She really needs a career coach to help her evaluate career options and get her "mojo" back. However, her husband sees no need for this. He's happy with his career, so her needs don't appear all that important. After all, he has the financial bases covered and doesn't see a real reason for her to go back to work.

There are more stories from those wanting career coaching, but unable to afford it unless their working spouses loosen the family purse strings. What's up with these spouses? Do they feel threatened by loss of control of the family money if their partners go back to careers they enjoy? Are they acting selfishly in not approving the expenditure of career coaching? Or is it a real financial barrier if their partners to seek professional help?

And then there's the laid off professional who chose to start his own business instead of returning to Corporate America. He was the major wage earner in the family with his wife working part time dabbling in a "fun" career. Since he controlled the money, he was able to hire me as his career coach to help him. But, by the time he found me, he defined his career need as how to "get back into the rat race." His partner had declared that she'd had enough of his business failures and she wanted him to get a real job, just any #$%& job, so the family could maintain the lifestyle they were accustomed to. Needless to say, this career coaching client's heart wasn't truly into the job search process. But he declared that keeping the family peace was most important to him.

I wish all couples would revisit their marriage vows when faced with career and job challenges presented by their partners. "For better or worse" is a phrase that appears to be forgotten. Everyone needs to find a way to work together for the benefit of both partners, but more importantly, for the benefit of the family. Career change isn't easy, but even more challengin when a spouse or partner protests the other's need for help.

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Career Digital Continues to Grow

In December, I blogged about the launch of Career Digital and my participation in this career blogging site. A couple of months later, this site continues to grow. Check it out for the latest blogs from your favorite careers experts!

I am so proud to be an affiliate of Career Digital, a new online site featuring "Career Insights and Advice," a comprehensive compilation of blog posts by today's careers experts. Offering all of the important categories for CareerDigitallogo job seekers and careerists, this site will help you conduct your job search and manage your career. 

With navigation ease, you may search by pertinent topic and get linked to careers experts blogs. Headlines clue you in to the information each blog post presents. No need to look further – now you may find answers to all you career questions in one place.

Career Digital launches today! Do yourself a favor and check it out!

You may even search the site from this blog! Just scroll down a bit.

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

How Far Would You Go to Be Happy at Work?

"If You Could Find Job Security in Today's Tough Work Environment, Even Change Your Career to Do Something You'd Really Enjoy — How Far Would You Go to Make It Happen?" This was the title of a newsletter article I wrote two years ago. In reading it again, I feel the content is more relevant than ever for the careerist. As always, your comments on this post are greatly appreciated!

Too many people today are working from a place of fear instead of fun – from a place of panic instead of peace. If this sounds like you, please know that you're not alone. But also know that you CAN do something about it.

Fear is a powerful emotion. It triggers the "fight" or "flight" natural reflex in each of us. What's difficult is Fear when fear gets attached to our jobs. How do you "fight" to keep your job when it falls into jeopardy? How do you "flee" when you can't tolerate a job or job situation any longer – but still need the income to support family and self?

Physical reactions set in when we feel powerless to control job changes. Weak knees, twitching eyes, sweaty palms, stuttering – all are visible signs that you are overly stressed and have lost control of the situation.
 
Temporary relief may come with the drive home from work knowing you have 10-12 hours before having to face it all again. Better yet, Friday evening can allow complete mind block for 48 hours – but on Sunday evening it all starts up for a new week. Anticipating the dreaded job situation can often be worse than the situation itself.
 
The only way to break free from this cycle of fear is to know what your real career options are. This process starts with an evaluation of your career situation. Determine how close the layoff ax is to you. Assess what skills and abilities you have that are in demand in the current work world. Know what values you must have met so you can align with a company's culture. Figure out what makes you go to work with a smile on your face instead of a knot in your stomach.
 
When you have all of your answers, you will be on track toward your next career move. It may mean changing jobs, employers, industries, or even geographic locations. But whatever you decide, you'll know it is YOUR decision – even if it is just choosing to stay where you are.
 
While this is a process that you can do by yourself, you will find clarity quicker and easier when you workLittlehelp with a Career Coach. When processing alone, circular thinking can block answers. To borrow a phrase from an AT&T commercial, maybe it's time to "rethink possible" with a little help from your coach.

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Over 50 and Intimidated By a Job Search?

Finding a job over 50 is an "individual" process, not a group one. If you are a job-seeking boomer, quit paying attention to all the surveys and statistics! Instead, focus on your attitude, put a smile on your face, and build those critical business relationships. Sure, polishing your appearance can help with your face-to-face encounters, e.g., a professional hair style, fashionable clothes, weight loss, etc. And projecting your self-confidence with technology is important. But otherwise, it's still about the unique value you have in order to solve a potential employer's problems – what employers seek from every job candidate regardless of age.

After reading "4 Ways to Stay Employed After Age 50" (US News & World Report, 1-13-11), I once again felt annoyed by all the statistics. When job seekers' lives are boiled down into numbers, hope drains from the collective psyche of boomer readers everywhere. I see here another reason to turn off the tube and dial back the volume of media. Statistics are only numbers – numbers that include EVERYONE in a certain class, not reflective of individuals.

Each person is unique in who they are and what they offer to a potential employer. Become an expert at selling your potential as well as your experience. Research business trends and get comfortable discussing them in terms of your career target. Know that we exist in a rapidly changing world and embrace that fact! The over 50 job seekers who refuse to change, insisting that their way is always the right way, will NOT get where they want to go. They will be labeled as dinosaurs as they live up to their stereotype.

Age advantage book A great resource to help you, the boomer job seeker, is a book by Jean Erickson Walker, The Age Advantage: Making the Most of Your Mid-life Career Transition. Buy it or get it from your library. This is a must-read to help you clearly see all your options for finding a job, the right job for you.

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

A New Job Thanks to the Elephant

When I interviewed for a business developer position in the early 1990s, I answered one question that I credit with getting me the job. At the time, I thought it was an odd question, but I answered it instinctively – and it was the response the interviewer was seeking.

What was the question? "If an elephant showed up in your front yard, what would you do with it?" My immediate Elephantresponse was that I would sell it to a zoo. I discovered later after I was employed in this organization that other candidates had responded with "donate it to a zoo" or "find a home for it where loving people would care for it." These responses were more philanthropic oriented than what the interviewer wanted to hear.

My instincts had guided me correctly – this organization was looking for someone who knew how to promote and sell, even though they were a nonprofit. Once on the job, I bought a small ceramic elephant that I sat on my desk. The interviewer, Ron, and I would chuckle whenever he dropped my office to visit, referring to the question he had asked me about what to do with a surprise elephant.

Even in the 1990s, behavioral/situational interview questions – like the one I answered – were popping up in job interviews. Today, it's all about behavioral and situational interviewing. Furthermore, storytelling is now woven into the process. For example, instead of just explaining how I'd sell the elephant to a zoo, today I'd go further and say, "In fact, let me tell you about a time when something similar to this really happened." Interviewing is all about positioning yourself, about selling yourself, about proving your uniqueness.

Storytelling creates pictures in the minds of interviewers that help them remember you and your brand. Storytelling helps you create bridges from what you did that provided value for former employers to how these experiences can help a potential employer solve their problem(s). Storytelling also offers you a way to demonstrate what you've learned from possible negative situations about which hiring authorities will inquire.

Marketing Master, Patsi Krakoff, discusses the art of storytelling on her blog. Her post has many elements in it that can be applied to job interviewing. I love her quote, "Stories impose meaning on chaos and organize and give context to our sensory experiences." My advice to you is to remember that job interviewing is your opportunity to sell yourself, so most of what works in sales and marketing can be applied to your promotion of YOU in your job search.

Anyone in a job search today needs to be prepared for typical behavioral and situational interview questions. However, no way do you want to memorize responses. In a job interview, you must appear conversational and have knowledge of your topic, never spouting off rehearsed responses. The key to job interview success is mastering the storytelling process. Train your memory to bring the right responses forward based on keywords you have embedded in your answers. Although not a quick skill to master, storytelling in job interviews does produce positive results and worth all your effort to learn.

One of my career coaching programs with the biggest demand is Job Interview Preparation. A two-session program, it all takes place by phone and customized to a job candidate's needs. Homework is offered to help you develop your own storytelling skills. You may learn more by visiting my website

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

2011 Employment Trends Supercharged with Twitter

One thing I always advise my career coaching clients:

"Don't assume a hiring authority will understand your company-speak. Use generic words to spell out your skills and experience. On your resume and in your job interview, demonstrate your job hisory with terms that are easily translated into how you can meet an employer's needs."

Even though I espouse "don't assume" in my professional career coaching advice, I sometimes catch myself doing just what I advise against. Let me explain.

Active on Twitter for two years, I tend to assume everyone else knows all about Twitter and its far-reaching capabilities. Wrong! Some career coaching clients have never heard of it, and many don't see its value in helping them with their careers. Last year "The Twitter Job Search Guide" by Susan Britton Whitcomb et al was published. It offers to help you "find a job and advance your career in just 15 minutes a day." If you don't have this book, get it! You won't be sorry! (A few of my tweets even made it into the final draft!)

My 2011 career coaching prediction:

***Twitter will become one of 2011's most-used job search tools – online or off.***

Not only can you find tweets that offer a wide-range of information on job search strategies from careersTwitter1gif  experts, it has many users who post quality job openings in a wide range of fields. Recruiters tweet, as do career coaches and consultants, job board owners, and job seekers themselves. The key to Twitter success for a career changer or job seeker entering this new online world is to quickly determine the best "experts" to follow. Then, create specialized lists for each group of experts that you can easily track. And when you start to post your own tweets (which I know you will want to do – it's contagious!), make sure you act as a true professional to keep all that digital dirt at bay.

I spent this morning reviewing my December 2010 tweets with the intention of sharing some predicted 2011 trends with you. But I've come to the conclusion that the real story here isn't the list of employment trends below, but the online technology that enables me to quickly produce this list! (Follow me on Twitter @KCCareerCoach.)

Here are 15+ of my tweeted career-related trends moving into 2011:Happy.new.year

1) 84% of working individuals plan to find a new job in 2011. http://bit.ly/gjKo8l
1a) Almost half of British workers are fed up in their jobs. http://bit.ly/ejIgwa

2) Companies may lose top talent as economy recovers. http://bit.ly/gMVsNi

3) 86% of Recruiters Use Social Media. http://bit.ly/9l2BhC

4) One third of U.S. workforce now composed of non-traditional contract workers. http://bit.ly/eMomtr

5) Baby boomers drive change to career services. http://bit.ly/h60bGf

6) Why U.S. companies are reluctant to start hiring. http://bit.ly/dXycOs

7) Survey results: Of workers laid off earlier in 2010 & found new jobs, 61% took pay cuts. http://bit.ly/e06Opt

8) Prediction & hot IT jobs: "In 2011 expect (digital resumes) to become standard for hiring short or long-term employees" http://bit.ly/hnxAB9

9) Companies hire detectives to check out employees playing "hooky." http://yhoo.it/gaSiPz

10) Digital Dirt continues to strike! "Happy about getting laid off? Don't tell Facebook" http://on.msnbc.com/f3X9lx

11) 72% Americans expect to work through retirement, 39% because they have to & 33% because they want to. http://bit.ly/ictjAS

12) Detailed 2011 professional trends report: "Robert Half Professional Employment Report" http://bit.ly/ff2PFh

13) Rising unemployment among less-educated U.S. men part of longer-term trend. http://bit.ly/fmBLW3

14) Fewer people insured by employers. http://on.today.com/dFoHFI

15) Employers Won't Hire The Jobless Because Of The "Desperate Vibe." http://huff.to/e7Fl8t

What you do with this employment and career information is up to you. Please just keep in mind that it is all based on generalities. You are a very unique individual. As such, you have the power to defy all odds when you work from a carefully constructed career plan. Just take the first step and make that plan!

Wishing you ultimate 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 "Things job seekers should keep an eye on in 2011 (trends/tools/hiring practices). You'll be amazed at all the free career advice and knowledge that is available to you from these professionals in the careers field!

Social Media Recruiting to Grow Further in 2011, @debrawheatman

Another Year, Another Job Search Begins, @GayleHoward

In 2011, Increase Your Prospects With Better Differentiation, @WalterAkana

4 Lessons Learned From Job Search in 2010, @Careersherpa

Your Career Action Plan for the New Year, @KatCareerGal

Trends Job Seekers Should Look For in 2011, @erinkennedycprw

Things Every Job Seeker Should be Thinking About in 2011, @expatcoachmegan

Let your presence be known or send out a red flag, @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes

How to find a job in 2011: Pay attention to emotional intelligence, @Keppie_Careers

2011 Employment Trends Supercharged with Twitter, @KCCareerCoach

3 Traits for Facing Weather, Employment and Chronic Illness, @WorkWithIllness

Everything old is new again @DawnBugni

Career Trend 2011: Accountability + Possibility = Sustainability, @ValueIntoWords

Career Tools to Check Out in 2011, @barbarasafani

What Was in 2010, What To Expect in 2011, @chandlee

The Future of Job Search: 3 Predictions and 2 Wishes, @JobHuntOrg

Career Success CAN Be Yours in 2011!

As we leave 2010 and enter 2011, take some time to choose what you want for your career next year. When you have a plan, you're more likely to get what you want.

"Fortune favors the bold." This quote from Virgil, a wise man of long, long ago, was never more true than it is today in our workplace. "The great thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving." Was Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., referring to the way we manage our careers? "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." Will Rogers sums it up: we have to take action to make it happen!

Are you getting the picture? Take charge of your own career success! Remember the bestselling book of a few Who.moved.cheese years ago, "Who Moved My Cheese?"  Its author, Spencer Johnson, M.D., uses a short and simple parable to prove how we need to embrace change as a way of life to succeed in today's workplace. He develops the plights of four characters, two mice and two "little people," as they seek crucial nourishment by wandering through a maze, forced to deal with unexpected change along the way. Taking less than a hour to read, this amusing story could impact your life forever and help you process the idea of "change."

Continue to explore your career options, even after you achieve your "dream" job. Don't get stuck in a career rut. Your job security must come from within YOU. Research your career interests. Talk to people in different fields. Develop your networks and get involved. Keep looking for ways to improve your skills and increase your knowledge. Gather your data, make some decisions, then begin plotting your course to a new career success.

Hire a career coach to help you focus on your goals and create an action plan to attain them. When you partner Perfectjob_12 with a professional coach, you have someone who will support you in your goals and keep you motivated to achieve them.

Never, ever, ignore the proverbial handwriting on the employer's wall. Always be ready for the next change, whether you want it or not. You can make it happen! You can make it the best thing that ever happened to you!

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Your Building Blocks for Career Self-Management

Many people are experiencing fallout from the global economic crisis that continues to sweep across the world like an out-of-control wildfire. As you know, layoffs have hit so many so hard. But what may not be commonly known is that strategic and proactive management of your career is still possible by adopting a new mentality of career resilience that empowers you to control your own career destiny. Building blocks

Today, self-reliance is the name of the career game. Following are five building blocks for achieving it: Self-Assessment, Self- Branding, Self-Training, Self-Talk, and Self-Action.

Building Block 1: Self-Assessment

"To thy own self, be true." This phrase may sound familiar, but how many of us follow this advice? Do you know what it would take to "work your passion?" If not, find out! Formal assessments can be easily accessed, and career coaching can help you to use their results wisely. Clarify your values, define your interests and test your assumptions that whatever the assessments indicate is true for you. Once you know what really motivates your enthusiasm to work, develop an action plan to achieve your goals and continue to use career coaching to help you reach them.

If you already experience career satisfaction, you are lucky and ahead of the game. However, if your ideal career is crumbling around you – perhaps due to the ever-evolving workplace – then a change is probably in order. Take some time to explore career alternatives that will filter more easily through your business reality. Again, using your career coach will help ensure your success by testing these options before launching your plan to attain desired changes.

 Building Block 2: Self-Branding

Just as smart companies create brand awareness for their products, each worker must develop his/her own brand for his/her career. What makes you unique in comparison to others doing the same job in your field? How do you promote yourself to position your talents and skills?

Much goes into personal branding: the network you create and cultivate is perhaps the most important. Don't think for a moment that networking is something you do only while searching for a job. Networking is a lifelong, ongoing process with success measured by the key relationships that you build. Through networking you take your career self-management to the highest level.

Building Block 3: Self-Training

Another lifelong process is learning. So, you thought you were finished when you got that MBA? Wrong! However, not all learning is achieved through formal education. Company sponsored seminars and adult education courses contribute to your professional growth and development. We are working in the "Knowledge Economy" where change occurs at warp speed and the only way to stay current is to take responsibility for our own training.

Books and periodicals are published (or self- published) every day of the week. Deciding what is important to read, and what is not, is a challenge in itself. Learn to skim the important material and pass up the rest. Accept that reading is one of the most relevant activities you will do to develop career resiliency. Staying up-to-date on current events, knowing the latest trends in your industry and keeping your skills sharp will all contribute to the overall value of your personal brand and ensure that you stay ahead of the learning curve.

Building Block 4: Self-Talk

Communication drives business. Wow! How powerful is that statement? Think about it. Every day we communicate with our colleagues, employees, team members, customers, vendors, families, friends, and more. How we communicate can impact what we do and what others do, too. Communication styles vary from person to person. Do you know your own style? Once you understand it you can learn how to adapt it to the styles of others.

It makes sense to speak French in France or Spanish in Spain, so doesn't it also make sense to speak in other people's styles when we want them to understand us best? There is a simple assessment that can tell you what your dominant style is and how to flex it to the styles of others. Ask your career coach to help you determine which assessment is best for you. Then use its results!

Building Block 5: Self-Action

Active participation on teams, committees, group projects, focus groups, networking events, and more, puts the spotlight on your contributions. What you contribute speaks to your worth in the work world. Most people will remember what you give more than what you take. When you make it "all about them," you leave a positive impression that enhances your brand and fosters career self- management.

How NOT to Knock Down All Those Blocks

Well, there you have it, except for this nugget: Career resiliency only works when you create your personal definition of life / work balance and then commit to living it.

And remember – your job security comes from within you!

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

(Corrected) Job Seekers and “Digital Dirt”: 3 Steps to Keeping Your Professional Online Reputation Clean

CORRECTION: I am pleased to welcome Mallory Pickard as our December guest blogger. She addresses a critical topic for all job seekers: how  to manage your online reputation and control your digital dirt. Her bio follows her post.  

In today’s culture of increasingly digital existence, everyone from college admissions officials to Fortune 500 hiring managers have established methods of researching their prospects’ online identity. Googling someone is quickly becoming the norm for most employers rather than an additional recruiting step. In a 2009 CareerBuilder.com survey, 43% of employers reported they had discovered content on social networking sites that caused them not to hire the candidate — a percentage that doubled from 2008 and continues to rise. (see footnote)

In short, no one can really escape the fact that you are what you tweet (and blog, bookmark, and share), but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Think about it: Now more than ever, recent college grads and job seekers exist on an equal playing field where everyone has the opportunity to expose their skills, strengths, and personality regardless of location, demographics, or personal connections. Employers turn to social networking sites to bring faces to the thousands of resumes at their fingertips, and with a few easy steps, you can make your social media footprint work in your favor. Smiling computer

Here are three “digital dirt” preventive steps to live by:

1. Recognize the inevitable overlap between your personal and professional life online. Keep in mind that everything from a politically polarized blog rant to a tagged photo of you taking in a wild party can end up full screen on a recruiters’ desktop. 72% of the social networking content that led recruiters to rule out candidates in 2009 had to do with inappropriate or offensive comments and posts related to drugs and alcohol (see footnote).

2. Embrace those privacy settings. You are in control of who sees that Halloween Facebook album, your wall, your tweets, and virtually everything you share online. Reserving potentially reputation-damaging content for yourself and trusted friends is always the best course of action. Tact. It’s what’s for dinner.

3. Google yourself regularly. Search your first and last name in quotations marks for exact matches (ex: “Jack Bauer”). Additionally, search for your name plus your school, recent places of employment, and any personal areas of expertise for the most thorough results. There’s not much you can do in so far as getting rid of any damaging results returned in a search, but you can equip yourself with a mature explanation if a potential employer brings any such content into question. Be forthright with your conviction about what you learned from the situation, but steer clear of going into further detail or apologizing excessively.

Finally, keep in mind that completely muting your opinions and interaction online will only make you seem like an anti-social robot. Don’t be afraid to put your voice out there, but keep public content in good taste. Use that realm to let your natural strengths and personality shine whether it be on social networking sites, comment boards, or blogs, and you will easily keep your hands clean of the dreaded “digital dirt”.

(Footnote:  Rosemary Haefner, “More Employers Screening Candidates Via Social Networking Sites”, Careerbuilder.com, June 10, 2009 (http://www.careerbuilder.com/Article/CB-1337-Getting-Hired-More-Employers-Screening-Candidates-via-Social-Networking-Sites/)

Bio: Mallory Pickard is a freelance writer and social media strategist currently based in Raleigh, NC. She is passionate about digital communities, new  music, running, and Duke basketball. You may follow  her on Twitter, http://twitter.com/missmallibu.

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Career Digital Launches Huge Career Site

I am so proud to be an affiliate of Career Digital, a new online site featuring "Career Insights and Advice," a comprehensive compilation of blog posts by today's careers experts. Offering all of the important categories for CareerDigitallogo job seekers and careerists, this site will help you conduct your job search and manage your career. 

With navigation ease, you may search by pertinent topic and get linked to careers experts blogs. Headlines clue you in to the information each blog post presents. No need to look further – now you may find answers to all you career questions in one place.

Career Digital launches today! Do yourself a favor and check it out!

You may even search the site from this blog! Just scroll down a bit.

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Who Cares About What You Want in a Job? Only YOU!

OK, folks, let's get real about job search – seriously!

I appreciate that you've put many stressful hours into resume preparation. That's not an easy project to complete. Hopefully, you hired a professional resume writer to ensure that your resume is letter perfect. When it comes to your resume, there is absolutely no room for error.

BUT, no matter how much work and money you put into your resume, keep in mind that it will probably be glanced at by a Recruiter or HR professional for maybe 10-15 seconds on its first pass when you submit it for Suit and resume any job opening. Ouch! That may make you stop suddenly in your tracks – but don't let it. Most recruiters and HR personnel receive many, many resumes for each job opening they post. There's just not enough time in a day to study each document carefully. So how does your resume become the one considered for final review? And an interview for you?

Keywords! Most resumes are stored in electronic databases where they rest until pulled up for review on the basis of keyword search. Your resume writer knows how to embed the right keywords into your resume to enhance its chances for final review. If you're working on your resume yourself, take a look at relevant postings on job boards. That's where you may get some hot keywords to use in your resume.

The other critical factor is having a crisp, clear target that is expressed through the experience and skills listed on your resume. No employer has time to figure out what you're looking for. Make it easy on them – leave nothing to chance! So, guess what, this means tailoring your resume for each job opening you apply for. Yes, a lot work, but well worth it. There's no such thing as a general or "I'm open" resume – be specific if you want the employer's attention.

Now, let's assume your resume makes it to the final cut and you become one of 10 or fewer people called in to interview for the position. How do you prepare for this opportunity? It's a given that you NEED the job, but, again, who cares? Only YOU! Your task when you get to the interview is to demonstrate your highest value to solve this employer's problems. In other words, focus only on what you can do in this position to contribute to this company. Remember, what YOU need doesn't matter – only what the employer needs is important, especially in your first interview.

So, how do you prepare? Start by thoroughly researching this company. Learn as much as you can from your Internet detective work about this company's products and/or services. Read this company's press releases. Check out this company's website, plus go to LinkedIn.com for information about this company and its employees. Know anyone who works there? Reach out to them professionally to see if you can get some inside scoop. It helps if you can learn why this job is open – is it a new position, a replacement, or was someone let go?

Once you have insight into why this job is open, take stock of your experience and skills to figure out what you have to contribute that can be of benefit to this compnay. Think in terms of what challenges you've faced, what actions you've taken, and what results you've attained. This critical information will help you "tell stories" in your interview to demonstrate your "best stuff." Storytelling is important as it will leave pictures in the minds of your interviewers to make you memorable and a stand-out among your competition.

During the interview, think in terms of sell, sell, sell! Your interview is your opportunity to sell your Suit and smile qualifications to the employer (or its representative). Just like your resume is your marketing brochure, your interview is your sales presentation. Try to de-personalize yourself a bit from the process. Think in terms of selling "Brand Me, Inc.," to the employer. You are your own product!

Don't worry. There will come the time when your needs will be considered, usually when a job offer is made. Until then, only be concerned with how you can help a prospective employer want you and only YOU! Always put the employer first!

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. Follow our hash-tag on Twitter – #careercollective  as well as follow everyone's individual tweets on this month's topic of common misconceptions many have about the hiring process. You'll be amazed at all the free career advice and knowledge that is available to you from these experts in the careers field!

 

5 Misconceptions Entry-Level Job Seekers Make, @heatherhuhman

How "Interview Savvy" Are You?, @careersherpa

Employers Don't "Care", @ValueIntoWords

Misconceptions about Using Recruiters, @DebraWheatman

15 Myths and Misconceptions about Job-Hunting, @KatCareerGal

Are You Boring HR? @resumeservice

Job Search Misconceptions Put Right, @GayleHoward

Who Cares About What You Want in a Job? Only YOU!, @KCCareerCoach

How to get your resume read (sort of), @barbarasafani

The 4 secrets to an effective recruiter relationship, @LaurieBerenson

Job Interviews, Chronic Illness and 3 Big Ideas, @WorkWithIllness

The secret to effective job search, @Keppie_Careers

Superstars Need Not Apply, @WalterAkana

The Jobs Under the Mistletoe, @chandlee

8 Common Sense Interview Tips @erinkennedycprw

Still no job interview? @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes

Misconceptions about the Hiring Process: Your Online Identity is a Critical Part of Getting Hired, @expatcoachmegan

Cyber Monday Promo: Give a Special Gift to a Loved One

Where has 2010 gone?

While signs exist that the recession is over, many unemployed workers are still struggling. Those who are working also struggle, though their challenges are different: extra long work days, no pay raises or promotions, stressful work environments, political posturing with peers and bosses. Some surveys point out that over 50% of all workers yearn for the opportunity to move to a different job or employer, and plan to jump at the first chance they get!

Hope for a dream career has been replaced with a longing to just work in a happy environment. Next year things could change. In fact, I believe 2011 will become the Year of the Worker. However, for the worker, career change won't come easily. It definitely won't come without planning and preparation. If you are someone wanting to change jobs or employers, do you know what it takes to be successful? Do you know a friend or family member stuck in the same spot who needs help with creating a career plan?

One service that we offer at Abilities Enhanced is the Career Power Hour. If you have a single career issue toForus  resolve fast, during this 60-minute highly intensive hour I will do laser career coaching to get you to the heart of the matter and help you move forward quickly. (Not for the timid or very talkative or anyone with complex career challenges.) Some have used this service for choosing between two job offers (nice problem to have, huh?). Others use it to get clues on what means the most to them in a job and how they should begin their job search.

Sixty minutes go fast, but it's amazing how much can be accomplished in this time frame. Don't you owe it to yourself to be ready when the right career opportunity pops up?

Normally $200US, I'm participating in Cyber Monday by discounting this service 25% – yes, only $150.00 until Tuesday, November 30! This is a Cyber Monday deal you may use for yourself or give to a friend or family member as the service may be scheduled until January 31, 2011. (However, this "deal" must be claimed by December 31, 2010.)

Click here to purchase the Career Power Hour

After you purchase, you will receive a follow-up email, "AE Career Power Hour – What to Do Next."  Follow the instructions carefully. If you purchase this service for another person, then forward the follow-up email to them with instructions to claim their "deal" by December 31.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at mailto:meg@abilitiesenhanced.com.

Turnlifearound_19 Get the help you need to make 2011 your best career year yet!

Click here to purchase the Career Power Hour

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Make New Technology Work for You

Just a quick note and tip today:

A prospective client called me Friday interested in career services. SmartphoneWhen I asked how she had found my business, she said, "On my phone – actually on the web while using my phone." There it is! I knew that sooner or later that making my career coaching business blog compatible with mobile apps would result in good things!

Obselet laptopWith foresight a few months ago, I used a special program to ensure my blog could be found using a .mobi URL. Every time I post to my blog, it is automatically updated for cell phones. And now I'm beginning to see the results! This goes to prove what I've been hearing: more and more people are using their cell phones as a one-size-fits-all Internet device. Employment openings are beginning to appear on cell phones, as are networking groups and all kinds of search capabilities. I wonder, is the laptop becoming obsolete?

 

Wishing you career success,

Meg

 

Four Ways to Make Sure Your Education Gives You A Good ROI

Teenagers are faced with making huge decisions including - how much loan debt do I want to incur as I go off to college? My guest blogger for this month tackles this problem in her post below. Hope it resonates. Meg

For graduating high school students, college offers a myriad of opportunities. In college, students can earn a degree that will ideally prepare them for a lucrative career. They can take classes that appeal to their specific tastes and interests. College studentThey can join and develop a powerful social network that will both bring them great friendships and provide them with professional contacts.

Unfortunately, with a college education also comes a higher cost. Tuition is rising and the interest rates on educational loans are higher. Nowadays, college graduates need to evaluate these costs and make sure they can get a good return on their investment. Many are, in fact, doing so, as recent studies show that less college seniors major in the humanities because these degrees offer them a lower earning potential in their career.

So, in this new and costly educational environment, what sort of advice can we offer to incoming college freshmen?

Research, Research, Research

College students should research their career options as early as possible in order to figure out what careers might offer them a better income. By figuring this out, they can plan a college path that gets them a degree that qualifies them for that career field. They have, of course, many resources available to them, the career services office being the most obvious.

Another great resource is the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which gathers career data on income and job opportunities into a handbook online. Students can browse the careers or search for one to see what kind of options these careers may give them and what kinds of degrees and qualifications they’ll need to have in order to get the best job they can get. Such research could further help them decide if they need to pursue a graduate degree or not.

Select the Right Major

Once students have done their research, they need to weigh their career goals with their own desires to pursue what interests them the most. If they can find a major that prepares them for the right career while also allowing them to study what interests them, then that’s perfect. Most likely, however, they’ll need to make a decision. Do they major in a field that could get them a great job? Or do they major in a field that is really interesting to them, but might not be the best option for their career? I don’t know what others think, but my advice is that graduates should strive to prepare for a strong career. Doing so will allow them to earn an income that would allow them to pursue their interests on the side.

Enjoy Electives

If college students follow my advice, they should still be able to take classes that seem interesting to them. Many colleges require students to earn elective course credits. This will give students an opportunity to take classes in subject areas unrelated to their major, but still on a topic that really interests them. It’s a way to get that emotional and intellectual return on their investment, so to speak, while still giving them a good financial future.

Be Careful With Debt

Finally, college students should be careful with the kinds of debt they go into. Although this point deserves its own post, I can offer a little basic advice. At some point, college students will have to consider whether or not they should take on some debt in order to fund their education. If they have picked a major that promises them a good earning potential, then debt may be a possibility and worth the risk. However, if the major doesn’t necessarily offer the financial return, then debt will surely add to the stress.

The important thing to do as a college student about to go into debt is to manage that risk.

This guest post is contributed by Kate Willson, who writes on the topics of top online colleges.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: katewillson2@gmail.com.

Creative vs. Traditional Job Search: Got What It Takes?

Should you employ creative job search strategies, or do they  just fall flat and make you look like a fool?

That depends. In a recent careers column by Eve Tahmincioglu at MSNBC.com, the author quoted a workplace consultant who said in regard to the practice of informational interviewing that employers don't like a "bait and switch" or, in other words, you need to be up front with your intention and purpose when sitting face-to-face with a hiring authority. If what you really want is a job interview, then getting your foot in the door based on your request for an informational interview is being insincere.

I don't completely agree with this opinion. While I don't advocate being anything less than authentic, you can choose when to exercise full disclosure. In fact, my personal work history includes a time when I landed a new and better full time position, all because I took a risk using my creativity.

Here's what happened:

I was working as a Job Developer for a non-profit organization that strove to get laid off workers reemployed. My role was to set up meetings with potential hiring authorities where I introduced our non-profit program and how it worked. I then tried to solicit job openings for which our job loss clients could apply. Building rapport was key to the success of my efforts. A reason I was offered this job was my background in recruiting and staffing.

One day a faxed job opening hit my desk. It was for a position with another non-profit organization requiring very similar skills as the job I was currently doing – but offering $5000 more per year to start! As a single parent of two sons, I instantly knew that I had to get that job – but what was my best strategy? The job posting asked for one area of experience that I didn't have – working with a specific client population type. Would that become a deal buster? Hmm, only one way to find out.

I picked up the phone and scheduled an meeting with the organization's director on the pretext that I wanted to learn more about their position for my laid off clients. No problem – an appointment was immediately set for later in the week.

The day of the meeting I dressed in my best suit as if I were going to a job interview. I made sure I knew the location (actually, another benefit if I could only get the job was that the site was located five minutes from my home!). I arrived five minutes early with my questions in hand. I planned to conduct myself as if I were being true to my stated purpose – learn more about the position for my clients.Interview

The moment I met the director I was completely at ease. She was very personable and easy to converse with. We meandered off topic a bit and got to know each other as real people – definitely building rapport. Of course, I got answers to all my questions, and the meeting went beyond the allotted 30 minutes to over 45 minutes.

When it was time for me to leave, I looked the director straight in the eye and said, "I've really enjoyed our talk. Your position sounds very challenging and rewarding. I have no doubt I'd be a perfect candidate for you. You will have my resume in the morning." She replied, "I certainly hope so. I look forward to seeing it."

Wow! I was halfway there! That evening I updated my resume and delivered it, as promised, on my way to work the next morning. I was called for an official interview within the week. So, I got a new suit and went to the interview prepared to ace it.

Yes, I was hired. During the seven years that I worked for her, the director commented periodically that she never would have considered me for the position based on my resume alone as I lacked that specific client population experience. She had liked my assertiveness in setting up that first meeting. She also realized that I could learn about her client population from her, but my recruiting and job development skills were priceless and she couldn't pass up the opportunity to hire someone who really knew how to do the leg work.

Will this strategy work every time? Of course not. But I do encourage you to be professionally creative as you conduct your job search. Be true to yourself and others while keeping an open mind to trying out-of-the-box possibilities. Make your networking work for you, build your rapport, and take a few chances.

Wishing you career success as 2011 races toward us!

Meg

Your Career Brand: A Scary Trick or an Appealing Treat?

Ghosts and goblins and witches – oh, my! Have you gotten into the spirit of Halloween? Ghosts_DSC2516 We at Career Collective have, but, of course, we see this "trick or treat" time through the lens of career management and job search. What fun metaphors this holiday provides us! 

Does your career "costume" attract your target audience? I'm not talking about the clothes you're wearing, but the career brand you project by the way you talk, the professional groups with which you associate, and the kind of work behavior you exhibit on the job. While you have to be true to your authentic self, there is never a right time at work to be totally informal. Opinions of others of you do matter, so keep your politics to yourself, don't bash your boss or co-workers, and NEVER go into work with a hangover. Crying on the job is usually inappropriate, no matter how difficult it may be to hold back the tears. Habitually long lunch hours and other mismanagement of your time indicate a careless attitude toward your job responsibilities. And whatever you do, remember that your work computer belongs to your employer – don't use it for personal shopping, surfing porn sites, or goofing off because you're bored with your job. (Do I even have to mention why you don't use it for job search? Duh!)

Finger OK, I hear you – you're not currently looking for a job, so why must you project any career brand at all? NEWSFLASH: No matter how secure you believe your job to be, you are always "on stage" auditioning for your next career role. Do I really have to re-hash the "no job is permanent" speech as we continue to crawl out of a crippling recession? Every worker wants security and stability, but these elusive conditions no longer exist, if they ever did. You must take charge of your career, making decisions and choices while still employed as you now is when you have emotional wherewithall to exercise sound judgment.

So, going back to your career brand, take a look at how you can build and weave yourDigital_spider_cobweb_2010  career plan for the life of your career, not just for filling the space between your jobs. At work, everything you do and everyone you meet become part of your career plan in some way. Be strategic – decide how you can integrate both into your next career move. Guess what – this means you need to discover what your next career move should be. Or do you want another career by default instead of by choice? (Note: A Career Coach can help.)

Cultivate your database of contacts. When you collect business cards, note on the back of them a connective word to trigger your mind to remember the individual. And then reach out to them later. A quick email, coffee break, or a lunch can start to build the rapport you need. Recently, I had a client who faced very little challenge in getting a new job when she was unexpectedly laid off. She went to her database and contacted everyone she knew. Voila! She was back at work – in her chosen field – in 30 days. Her lifelong, on-the-job networking paid off big time.

Constantly working on your career brand can become tiring. You will have to consider it your second job, deserving of your time, attention and hard work. I suggest keeping a tracking file – on your HOME computer – of what you do, when you do it, and with whom you connect. Keep it simple, but well-organized. Stay connected to the world outside your workplace by reading about current events, white papers from your field, and global business news (as well as local). We are entering the annual holiday season when you can make networking more frequent – take advantage of this time!

Bottom line: Discover your own way to set your career brand on fire. Jack_DSC2886cut%20copyWhen you light it up, others will notice. Carve out your goals, then go after them by staying involved and engaged so your next job search is an easy one.

Wishing you career success in 2010!

And a safe Happy Halloween!

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. Follow our hash-tag on Twitter - #careercollective  as well as follow everyone's individual tweets on this month's topic of Halloween. You'll be surprised at all the free career advice and knowledge that is availabe to you!

 

Where Are the Wild Things, Anyway?, @WorkWithIllness

Is Your Job Search Making You Feel Like a Smashed Pumpkin?, @DebraWheatman

Hiding in Plain Sight, @WalterAkana,

Don't make these frightful resume mistakes, @LaurieBerenson

How Not to Be a Spooky Job Seeker, @heathermundell

A Tombstone Resume:Eulogizing Your Experience, @GayleHoward

The Top Ten Scary Things Job Seekers Do, @barbarasafani

Oh, Job Search Isn't Like Trick or Treating?, @careersherpa

A Most Unfortunate Resume Mistake No One Will Tell You, @chandlee

Oh no. Not the phone!, @DawnBugni

Halloween Caution: Job Seeker Horror, @resumeservice

Boo! Are you scaring away opportunities or the competition? @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes

Your Career Brand: A Scary Trick or an Appealing Treat?, @KCCareerCoach

How to avoid mistakes on your resume, @Keppie_Careers

Sc-sc-scary Resume Mistakes, @erinkennedycprw

A Flawed Resume is a Scary Prospect, @KatCareerGal

Job Search Angst: Like Clouds Mounting Before a Storm, @ValueIntoWords

Does Your Career Costume Fit You?, @expatcoachmegan

Flipping the Job Interview

I can't believe that I've been blogging for five years!  As I took some time to read some of my past posts, I came across the one below from 2006 that still rings true today.

Hope you enjoy this gem from the Career Chaos archives:

Cracking Your Next Company's Culture is a must read for anyone embarking on a job search. Instead of spending all your prep time rehearsing your answers to tough interview  questions, read this article and note what you need to do to ask the right questions.

One strategy that grabbed my attention is to ask the interviewer to give an example of how  the company "lives and breathes its value statements." Of course, you have to know  what the company value statements are, so your research here is highly critical.

Tired of all those behavioral and situational interview  questions? Turn the tables by asking the interviewer to "walk you through a recent initiative." Wow! This is great stuff!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

How to “Stage” A Successful Job Search

While I was channel-surfing recently, I discovered HGTV, a cable TV station that offers programming on topics related to buying, selling, and renting homes. Not having sold a house lately, I am learning a lot about working with today's real estate market.

Mathouse3274 One topic I find particularly fascinating is the concept of "staging" rooms to sell a house. The way I understand it, staging refers to updating a house's rooms to make them attractive and appealing to prospective buyers who want to be able to walk into a house and immediately "see" themselves in the space. This updating could be as simple as painting the interior walls with a neutral color that blends with the furnishings. It could mean replacing a kitchen's appliances, counter top, or even knocking down walls to enlarge the space.

One might ask, "What's the point to investing money into a house that you're trying to sell? Won't that just decrease the profit you make on the sale of the house?" Yes, it will, but keep in mind that today's home buyer's market requires sellers to work harder to make the sale happen.

Staging is a technique that job seekers can utilize to make themselves appear more employment-ready to prospective employers. I see it applying to your resume, job interview preparation, and attitude adjustment.

When it comes to your resume, think, what does a potential employer want to see? What will make you stand out among all competition? Niche your resume as tightly as you can in order to brand yourself as a unique expert in your field. A resume shouldn't be designed to appeal to the world, but rather to a narrow slice of the employment market.

Job interview preparation should help you learn how to answer interview questions to demonstrate that your past experience and accomplishments can be translated to solve the problems of a potential employer – remember, it's always about the employer, not you. Before your interview, research the employer so you are able to prepare. You need background information to help you discover the employer's needs, and then, frame your work stories accordingly.

Your attitude adjustment may be the most challenging aspect to engage into staging your job search. I would never ask you to surrender you authenticity, but rather, boost your opinion of yourself and the job search process. Each job interview offers you a new chance to show how you are the perfect pick for the job. Make the best of this opportunity by leaving your grudges, prejudices, job seeker weariness, and overall disappointment behind you. Stage your attitude with enthusiasm, hope, self-confidence, and faith in the job search process.

Employers want to meet upbeat candidates – so become one!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Job References: A Few Tips to Help Them Help You

OK, I know you know that a job seeker needs to provide references to a prospective employer. But do you know all the fine points for ensuring that a reference really helps you get the job?

Here are a few tips:

  1. Professional references rank as more important to an employer than personal references.
  2. Select your references as soon as you know your job target. Choose wisely – make sure they will speak well of you and your work. A personal phone call from you is required with your request for them to serve in this role.
  3. Your references need to be prepared to speak to your prospective employers about your work history, skill set, qualifications – all in relation to the job for which you are applying.
  4. Ask several professionals to be references for you. Then you won't have to use them all every time you interview for a job. You don't want to become a pest.
  5. Never offer references to a prospective employer until after you interview – unless specifically requested before your interview. Again, you don't want to ask for help from references until absolutely necessary.
  6. Send your resume to each of your references. This will make their job easier when speaking with your potential employer.
  7. Create a professional reference list to leave with prospective employers following your interview. Do this by making a letterhead template using your resume as a model and typing your reference list beneath your letterhead after deleting the resume content. Include all means of contact for each reference along with their job title and how you know them.
  8. Most references will let you know when/if they are contacted on your behalf. Be sure to send them a thank you note.
  9. Stay in touch with your references, particularly if your job search is taking longer than you had originally expected. You don't want your references to become stale – keep them fresh!
  10. When you do land your new job, contact every reference individually by phone to thank them again for their help. A small professional gift, such as a business card holder, is also a nice touch.

Treat your references with your best customer service manners. They are like gold and can make or break your chances for getting the job!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

The Five Oldest Careers that Have Survived to Today

With a constantly evolving workplace, new careers are constantly being created. In other instances, professions that may have once been a mainstay of civilization, such as being a blacksmith, have fallen by the wayside. Still, there are many different careers that have stood the test of time and are still extremely relevant to modern life. Here are five of the oldest careers that are still around today.

The Musician

One of everyone’s favorite activities is enjoying music. What you may not know is that being a musician is one of the oldest professions on Earth. In fact, archaeologists have found ancient animal bones that were chiseled with holes so they could be used as flutes. These instruments were created over two million years ago at the onset of human civilization and technology. Music has gone on to survive biblical times and the middle ages to flourish during the Renaissance. Today, being in a band or a symphony orchestra seems like common place. However, many may not know that music has been with human beings for nearly as long as they have walked the planet. Music certainly isn't going to disappear anytime soon, and with new business opportunities and new ways to build a fan following online, it's still a profitable career for many talented people.

The Artist

Another career that is almost as old as the human race is being an artist. As most of us know, the first paintings appeared on cave dwellings. These paintings were created more than 32,000 years ago. Since that time, creating art has evolved into a profession in nearly every civilization. This included the ancient Egyptians, the Mayans, the Romans, and the ancient Chinese. Art was further refined due to the work of famous Renaissance painters like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo that was paid for by royalty, the church, and noblemen. Being an artist, however, isn't as profitable as it has been in the past. Many artists can still find very decent pay in the fields of advertising and art design, and with new graphics programs, there are ample opportunities to create sellable works of art.

The Accountant

One of the most popular professions sought by college students is that of the accountant. Accountants are also indispensible to all decent sized businesses and nearly everyone around tax time. This career field is certainly here to stay. What you may not know is that the profession of accounting has been around for thousands of years. The earliest records of accounting in fact were discovered in places like Babylon and Syria and date back seven thousand years. Accounting even predates money, and was originally used to keep track of a person’s possessions including crops and animals.

The Architect

Designing buildings is another career that has lasted through much of human history. Since the first time that human beings came up with the idea of creating their own living quarters, architecture needed to be designed. This craft evolved through history from the work of the ancient Egyptians, who built the gigantic engineering marvels of the pyramids, to the thousands of architects employed in every country in the world. This is one career field certain to never vanish.

The Tailor

Lastly, another career that has stood the test of time is that of the tailor. The need for covering oneself emerged as soon as human beings confronted cold weather. However, the career became a mainstay of civilized life sometime during the Renaissance when creating garments developed into a refined profession. The traditional career field has unfortunately declined in recent history due to the development of large clothing stores, but with the rise of haute couture fashion and crafting sites like Etsy.com, it's certainly possible to make a good living.

About our Guest Blogger:

Louise Baker is a freelance writer and blogger who usually does car insurance comparisons over at CarinsuranceComparison.Org. She recently wrote about finding cheap car insurance quotes.

A Self-Empowering Job Search Resource

When job seekers think of resources to help them find a job, they usually focus on external options, such as job boards, LinkedIn, Twitter, career coaches, resume writers, and more. However, after trying and not winning the game of finding a job after an endless length of time, despair and discouragement can set in. Maybe now is the time to look at resources to assist your internal process.

Journaling is such a resource. When frustration and defeat dominate your thoughts, they can overflow into your actions causing inactivity – the biggest enemy of your finding a job. If you want to work on your inner thoughts and feelings, start keeping a journal. Writing about what's going on with you – inside and out – can help you manage it all so much better. Journaling is an easy-to-use self-empowerment tool – give it a try!

Here's a quote from Steve Pavlina's blog, "Personal Development for Smart People," that summarizes quite well how journaling helps:

"While your brain is technically capable of processing a great deal of input simultaneously, your conscious thoughts play out in a certain sequence. One thought triggers the next, which triggers the next, and so on. Sometimes these sequences have a few branches, but they’re still subject to linear time, and at any given moment, you’re following one of those branches. These thought sequences have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and it’s nearly impossible to see the big picture overhead view of a sequence while you’re stuck in playback mode.

This is where journaling can provide huge advantages. Journaling allows you to break free of sequential thinking and examine your thoughts from a bird’s-eye view. When you record your sequential thoughts in a tangible medium, you can then go back and review those thoughts from a third-person perspective. While you’re recording the thoughts, you’re in first-person mode. But when you’re reading them, you can remain dissociated instead of associated. This dissociative view, when combined with what you’ve already learned from the associative view, will bring you much closer to seeing the truth of your situation."

Until recently, there were only a couple of ways to journal – write by hand in a notebook or type a Word document and save it on your computer. Now there is a third option: participate in an online community where journal topics are even provided for you to help sort out your thoughts.

Last week Abilities Enhanced launched a free Career Community where after you join you will receive a free 52-week journal. A public forum and Abilities Enhanced newsletter are also included in the program. Of course, Career Coach comments from me are part of your membership. You may choose the level of privacy you wish to maintain and how much you want to interact with your peers.

As our career community grows, I will be adding paid options to enhance your experience. But for now, there's a lot to do that doesn't cost a dime – perfect for the unemployed job seeker. However, journaling is really for everyone involved in career management.

To join, click on the link below that will take you to a shopping cart where the purchase price is $0. Following a couple of thank you's, you'll receive a "Next steps" email from me with a link that takes you to the actual AE Career Community site where you'll need to set up your profile to become a member. This is a critical step – you have to set up your profile before the career community will let you participate.

(Note: if you are a career coach and want to join, please do! The free option is open to all.)

Here is the link to get you started:

http://tinyurl.com/29osgno

Happy journaling – hope to see you in the AE Career Community soon! And, please, let me know if you have any questions.

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of careers experts who will 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. Follow our hash-tag on Twitter - #careercollective  as well as follow everyone's individual tweets on this month's topic: "Favorite Resources for Job Seekers."

 Career Collective Posts for September 2010:

Career-Collective-original-small If your industry does not participate online, you can lead the way, @Keppie_Careers 

6 Ideas to Put In Your Toolbox, @WorkWithIllness,

Your Best Job Search Resource? You!, @WalterAkana

In a Job Search, Knowledge is Power, @barbarasafani

Jump Start Your Job Search Now!, @resumeservice

Favourite Resources for Jobseekers, @GayleHoward

The Best Job Search Tool Ever, @careersherpa

Find What You Do Best, Know Your Stuff, and Connect, @chandlee

27 Recommended Blogs for Entry-Level Job Seekers, @heatherhuhman

Invaluable Resources for Job Search Success, @heathermundell

Favorite Social-Media Resources for Job-seekers, @KatCareerGal

Canadian Resources for Job Seekers, @EliteResumes @MartinBuckland

A Self-Empowering Job Search Resource, @KCCareerCoach

Covering your bases: 5 ultra-useful online career resources, @LaurieBerenson

Favorite resources for Job seekers, @DawnBugni

Top 3 Resources for Job Seekers to Position Themselves as Experts and Increase their Visibility, @expatcoachmegan

Time as a Career Resource: How "Not" to Squander It, @ValueIntoWords

Favorite Internet Resources for Jobseekers, @ErinKennedyCPRW

The Facts Behind Why LinkUp Is the Most Revolutionary Job Search Engine Available to Job Seekers, @GLHoffman

Career Check-in on Your 2010 New Year’s Resolutions

Have you forgotten your 2010 Career New Year's Resolutions? Not much sense in doing anything about them now. WRONG! It's never too late.1972280  

Here's the list of seven that I posted December 30, 2009. Take a look and see which ones you've mastered this year. Pick at least one that you can work on today! Refresh your job search; pick up your pace on career retooling toward your career change. And pat yourself on the back if you've mastered at least two of these!

2010 Career Resolutions

** I will make it easy for recruiters to find me. Recruiters work for their client companies – not you – and few appreciate your seeking them. However, when they need qualified candidates, they want them NOW. So, facilitate their need by maintaining high visibility on the Internet. Many recruiters claim that LinkedIn is the first place they look – how findable are you there? Yes, your resume needs to be posted, but do you also participate in discussion groups related to your field?

** I will spend no more than two hours per day in front of my computer. Get out of the house! Undoubtedly, you've heard that the majority of new jobs are gotten through networking. But beyond that, you must keep your social skills fresh while building and maintaining professional relationships. It's amazing how one's perspective can improve just by interacting with fellow human beings.

** I will give before taking. While networking, offer your help to fellow job seekers. Volunteer at food pantries or church. Just the act of giving will make you feel valued again. This will enhance your self-confidence and get you going again in the job market.

** I will devote at least one hour per day to self-care. Keep your mind smart and your body toned with exercise. Reward yourself for any job search success, no matter how small, by reading a chapter in that novel you're enjoying or watching a TV program that lets you briefly escape. Better yet, read your kids a story or have a late candlelight dinner at home with your partner (after the kids are in bed).

** I will invest time (and money) into perfecting my resume. Your resume must be PERFECT to stand out above your competition. Does yours do that? Does your resume brand you according the position you seek? A professionally written resume can get your foot in the door. Can't afford it? Just look at what percentage of your first year's income it will be to hire a professional resume writer. How can you NOT afford it?

** I will get support to stay motivated in my job search. You need a job search partner with no vested009 interest in the outcome of your job search. Yes, a Career Coach can help, not only with keeping you motivated, but also providing job search resources, tips, and strategies. Slash your job search time when you invest in a Career Coach.

** I will get over my Internet phobias. Hard to believe that in the 21st century there are still job seekers with no home email accounts, let alone LinkedIn, Twitter, or blogging savvy. But there are! If employed, PLEASE don't use your work email for job search purposes. This is so wrong on so many levels. Get up to speed on critical Internet applications (job search and others) – employers will assess your value to them accordingly. 

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

CEO Pay: Out of Control?

From the 2006 Career Chaos archives comes this post on CEO pay. Hmm, as much as we all talk about "change," I can't help but wonder how much this issue has changed in the past four years.

Coaching executives on managing their careers, I hear from those who pledge their lives to their companies, working long hours for barely a six-figure income. I ask them, "Is it worth it?" And they reply," What else can I do?"

I couldn't believe my eyes when I recently read an article in Business 2.0, "Ending CEO Pay Envy."I had no idea that CEOs in the U.S. earn "more than 170 times the average worker's pay."In Great Britain, the article continued, "that multiplier is just 22." So what's up with that? (BTW, CEOs earned only 40 times more in the 1970s – only…)

More stats from the article:

  • The median salary for CEOs of the 100 largest U.S. companies hit $17.9 million in 2005 – a 25% jump over 2004
  • U.S. workers got a 3% raise in 2005

What's the author's solution to the problem? He advocates that everyone stops writing about it as it just fuels the fires. If not discussed, the CEO pay pendulum will stop swinging and move back to its balanced state. Really? No, seriously, really?

So, think about this picture as you fire up your laptop at your son's next Little League game. Do you think you can become one of the CEOs in the out-of-this-world income levels? How many times have you won the lottery lately?

Who would like to comment on what the CEO pay rate is today in 2010 compared to the average worker's?

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Are College Grads Prepared for Careers, Jobs, or Even Life?

My stepdaughter, like most college seniors, is looking forward to graduation as she starts the new school year. With the employment of recent college graduates at an all time low, many are choosing to stay in school and get their master degrees. But are these young 20-somethings selecting their master programs wisely? I'm the first in line promoting finding a career that lets you work your passion, BUT, employability and earning potential must be figured into the choice.

In my stepdaughter's situation, I almost bounced off the wall when she announced that she wanted to pursue a master in student activities. WHAT can you do with that? was my initial verbal reaction that I wish now I could retrieve and re-word. The most enjoyable part of her undergrad experience has been serving on the student activities board every year, so the choice seems logical to her. However, my concern is two-fold: First, will she be able to find a job in that field? AND Second, will that job pay enough so that she'll be able to pay off her student loans sometime before she retires?

I can't help but wonder if other parents are going through similar conversations with their college-age sons and daughters. In a previous life, I worked 12 years in student "activities" in post-secondary educational institutions – and I eventually got my bachelor degree in sociology. Are colleges and universities really looking for a master in student activities before hiring a student housing dean? Sorry, I'm still in a flabbergasted state over this. Like most parents (and stepparents) I want what's best for my girl – I really want her to be happy, healthy and self-sufficient. Not too sure a master degree in student activities will be what she needs to make this all happen.

From the blog, CollegeAftermath.com, comes the advice, "Whatever situation you find yourself in, the important thing is to be willing and able to step back and take a good look at the big picture." This advice is sound. Nothing is ever permanent, a concept 50-somethings have learned the hard way but that the younger generation has not truly experienced. But one thing is for sure – it's always nice to minimize financial loss whenever possible.

My advice to college students is to not assume that their bachelor degree is worthless so they feel forced into pursuing a master's program as the only solution. But if a master degree is what they really want, I plead with them to choose wisely. Do research to make sure this path will help you along your career journey. Make sure this degree will contribute to your life's purpose – oh, you don't know what that is? Find out before enrolling in any more courses!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Unemployment: An Emotional Roller Coaster

Fear and despair – doom and gloom. Yes, it's a depressing work world right now. If you have a job, you cling to it for dear life and do everything your employer asks no matter how much mandatory overtime or how many extra responsibilities assigned. If you don't have a job, you frantically search job boards, blast out resumes, and squeeze every penny until it shrieks.

For those in a job search, there are good days and bad, highs and lows. Besides working through the stages of grief over your job loss, you probably face overwhelming feelings of isolation. Gone are the co-workers you bantered with during the day and relaxed with after work. In their place, is a computer screen that you keep asking, "Where are the jobs?" And it doesn't talk back.

Everyone advises you to network, network, network to find your next job. And you ask, "Where?" If like most, you didn't cultivate a robust network of contacts while you were working – who has time for all that? And now you wish you had. Oh, please, just tell me where to begin…

Family and friends try to be understanding. They offer support, but you worry they're becoming impatient with your continual lamenting, "I can't find any job leads." They send leads for dog walker and lawn maintenance your way, all in the spirit of trying to help. Some friends get bored with your situation, and move on to others who still know how to laugh and have fun. Immediate family members begin to wonder how their lives are going to be affected – can I keep playing soccer? Can I keep getting my nails done every week? Can we keep HBO and cable TV? What about our vacation?

Then, when you get a real job interview, your hopes skyrocket. You tell yourself not to have high expectations in case you don't get the job offer, but you just can't help yourself. Will this be the one?!

So what can you do to manage your emotional roller coaster? Building00001p_small

First: Turn off the television. Don't let yourself buy into the media madness. Sure, the unemployment rate is high, but over 90% of the country is still employed. In fact, if you have a four-year degree, only 4.7% of your peers are unemployed.

Second: Find a job search buddy to share your job search process. This will assuage your isolation as well as provide you the moral support of someone who's going through the same challenges as you. Job clubs (usually free) have popped up across the country to offer support plus job search tips – find one and join!

Third: Invest in a Career Coach.If you want to speed up your reemployment, this is your best bet. I know money is tight, but if you get sick, you go to a doctor, right? When you hire a career coach, you get the best career advice, resources, and support at your finger tips. Your Career Coach becomes your partner as you navigate through the murky waters of the job search process. Instead of taking months, you may take only weeks to achieve your goal. Don't short change your career by trying to do the hard work all alone.

Whatever you do to manage your emotional roller coaster, it's important that you do it now, before despair takes over your life. The longer you wait to face your unemployment fears, the deeper you'll fall into the black hole. You owe it to your family and yourself to take charge of your situation – get this mess figured out – NOW!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Ace the Job Interview with “Why?” – Not “How?”

Interoggatory_questionmark_preview While catching up my on reading this past weekend, I found a good article in the June issue of Inc. magazine, Never Read Another Resume. Written from the hiring authority's perspective, the author (Jason Fried, a small business co-owner) offered some sage advice that job seekers need to heed. What really caught my eye dealt with job interview questions, specifically those from the candidate.

Mr. Fried said that "red flags" go up when candidates ask "how" questions, such as, "How do I do that?" or "How can I find out this or that?" He said, "A 'how' asker is not used to figuring things out for himself/herself. 'How' is a sign that this person is going to be a drain on others. Avoid (hiring) 'hows.'" Wow! What honesty!

Instead, Mr. Fried wants to hear "why" questions. "'Why' is good – it's a sign of deep interest in a subject. It signals a healthy dose of curiosity." As a career coach, I might add that "why" also shows that a candidate is thinking in terms of problem solving, an ability every company is looking for in their hiring mix these days.

Actually, all this makes a lot sense. If a candidate does due diligence in his/her pre-interview research, there shouldn't be too many "how" questions left unanswered by the time of the interview. On the other hand, by assembling a list of "why" questions the candidate can demonstrate that he/she is already thinking like a team member before he shows up for the interview.

So, as a job seeker, your challenge becomes: do you want to appear to be on the "outside" (a "how" asker) or already in the "inside" (a "why" asker) of the company where you next interview? The choice is yours – prepare wisely for your next job interview.

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

#Career Coach Musings on Office Politics

Office politics, that hated beast, is a dynamic that most people in the workplace can't avoid. Wherever people gather – office, church, even a camping club – relationships are formed and power struggles ensue. Everyone brings his or her personal agenda to a team or a group, an agenda filled with personal expectations that is rarely openly shared with all. These hidden agendas cause surprise and dismay to other group members who unintentionally step on toes or take an independent path.

Communication, or lack of it, determines who rises to the top of any group. Words with their shades of meaning get interpreted various ways depending upon one's perspective or hidden agenda filter. Words can be used intentionally to drive a personal agenda, forcing issues to the forefront or making others feel slammed. Body language is also a strong communicator indicating desired inclusion or exclusion of another's words, actions or presence. Lack of any communication leaves group members to their own imaginations to fill the void that can drive wedges between others in the group.

So, what does a person do? How do you fit or blend into a group? How to do find your place where others will respect and accept you? How do you keep office politics from hurting your career – or can the politics even help it?

Unfortunately, there's no magic wand you can wave to make everyone play nice. People are wired in so many different ways that there's no one recipe that will work for all. Over the years I have learned from work and other situations that authenticity is still the best policy. Speak up – be yourself. You'll feel better if you are first true to you instead of trying to play other people's games. That doesn't mean that you'll always "win" or be included in a group. There may even be times that you end of getting fired or have to walk away from a group. But in the long run, you will be the one who's taken the high road. After all, you have to live with you for the rest of your life.

I would love to hear how you manage group dynamics. Please leave your comments below.

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Summertime – and the Job Search Ain’t Easy

Even during "normal times" summer job searches can bump into barriers from company vacation schedules and slower hiring processes. However, our economy is not in a "normal" time these days. This is all the more reason to "turn up the heat" in your job search.

How can you add sizzle to your job search? Take advantage of the warm season to ramp up your networking efforts at all outdoor social events. (I worked with one coaching client who got a job lead from another soccer mom at their kids' game.) Make sure everyone you know has been informed of your job search. Being out of work is not a shameful matter anymore. Ask for help and ask for introductions. Statistics have proved over and over again that more jobs are gotten through networking than by using the Internet job boards.

That being said, revisit old job postings and your old applications. Was a job filled more than six months ago? Then now is the best time to reconnect to inquire as to how the new hire is working out. You might get lucky and catch a company needing to re-post a position but hasn't yet done so. Push gently for another interview and be ready to plead your case for why you're still the best candidate.

Silly as this may sound – I shouldn't even have to say it – don't put your job search on hold until September. Some job seekers do and later regret it. Jobs ARE being filled now. You just have to find them. Redouble your efforts and use all available avenues. Get creative in your outreach. Leave no possibility untapped.

A03 And most importantly, you don't have to do your job search alone. Get help from a professional career coach and you'll see that your job search is doable and your goals are attainable!

My sister, who'd been laid off since March 2009, defied the odds and  accepted a perfect job offer to start June 21. She had applied for a position posted on a major job board, went through three interviews, and proved herself to be the ideal candidate in her field. She got her asking salary (she was reasonable in her request) plus a great benefits package and the promise of a very good job with a stable, growing company.

My son, who'd been furloughed from his conductor position with a railroad in January 2009, was called back to work full time a month ago. He even got based in his preferred location – here! No more moving, at least for now.

If you're in job search mode, it may appear that there's "nothing out there." But there are definite signs that the economy is recovering. Companies are beginning to hire in many fields. Persevere and stay motivated – your next job is just around the corner!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of careers experts who will 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. Follow our hash-tag on Twitter - #careercollective  as well as follow everyone's individual tweets on this month's topic: "Heating Up Your Job Search."

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Turn Off The Computer, Tune Into What’s Happening, & Heat Up the Job Search, @chandlee

Heating up the Job Search-How to Stay Motivated During the Summer, @erinkennedycprw

Light the Fire Under Your Feet, @careersherpa

Cool Job Seekers Heat Up Their Search in the Summer, @barbarasafani

Some assembly required, @DawnBugni

Summertime, Sluggish Economy Provide Strong Motivation for an Updated Resume, @KatCareerGal

9 Ways to Heat Up Your Job Search This Summer, @heatherhuhman

Getting Out From Under Chronic, @WorkWithIllness

Upping Your Job Search Flame; Be 'Needed, Not Needy,' @ValueIntoWords

Is Your Career Trapped in the Matrix? @WalterAkana

Put some sizzle in your job hunt – how to find a job now, @keppie_careers

Summertime – and the Job Search Ain't Easy, @KCCareerCoach

Heating up your job search. 5 ways to dismiss those winter blues, @GayleHoward

Hot Tips for a Summer Job Search, @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes

Heat Up Your Job Search: Avoid Job Boards, @JobHuntOrg

Heating Up Your Job Searching Skills: Networking 101 and 102, @GLHoffman

Treasure Hunt—Yo-ho-ho! Heat Up Your Job Search, @resumeservic

#Jobsearch Tips from Curious Places

Does art does imitate life? Perhaps. Entertainment venues can imitate life, too. A year ago I compared the movie, "Julie and Julia," to contemporary job search. If you haven't read that blog post, I suggest you do so to grab some tips on putting blogging into your job search mix.

A colleague of mine, Robyn Greenspan of ExecuNet, recently wrote a column comparing the "Lost" TVLogo_Web08 series finale to a job interview. With her permission, I'm reprinting her article here. I hope it gets your mind thinking as it adds a little humor to your Friday.

So, in the end, "LOST" turned out to be a helluva long job interview. For those who didn't spend the last six years alternately fascinated and frustrated by the series, I'll translate it into corporate language:

Like many good leaders, Jacob, knowing his tenure was coming to a close, had a succession plan. Well in advance of retirement, he started filling his talent pipeline and selected his top potential replacements. Due to the "unavailability" of some of his recruits at the last stages of the interview, very few candidates made it to the final slate.

The position came with tremendous responsibility and Jacob elected the candidates undergo an arduous series of situational interviews to assess their skills and qualifications. Plane crashes, death, destruction, explosions, polar bears, time travel, electromagnetism, good Locke/bad Locke, and a smoke monster — all to determine who was most qualified for the role of island caretaker.

An interview is an opportunity for candidates to evaluate if the role is a good fit for them too, and of those remaining — Jack, Hurley and Sawyer — two seem less certain they want the position. So Jack selects himself as Jacob's replacement, and when he inquires about the length of his employment contract, Jacob tells Jack he must do the job as long as he can.

Instead of a handshake, Jack drinks from Jacob's cup, and immediately begins onboarding into his new role by accompanying the evil John Locke on a business trip into a cave. But Jack is among the 12 percent that ExecuNet-surveyed recruiters report don't complete their first year in a new job and during a hostile takeover, he learns this role was only for a turnaround specialist on an interim assignment.

Before his exit interview, Jack expediently manages the institutional knowledge transfer to Hurley, who, with his servant leadership qualities, turns out is better suited for the longer term role.

The end.

Robyn Greenspan

Robyn Greenspan
Editor-in-Chief
ExecuNet
Robyn.Greenspan@execunet.com
twitter.com/RobynGreenspan
295 Westport Avenue
Norwalk, CT 06851
800.637.3126

Thanks, Robyn, for sharing your wit and wisdom.

Wishing you all career success in 2010!

Meg

#Jobseekers: A Job Search Tip

You've had your resume professionally written. You've posted it on job boards and sent it to target companies. And now the phone is ringing! You schedule an interview. You prepare for the interview, including polishing your shoes and role-playing tough job interview questions. The big day is tomorrow and you are ready!

Wait a minute – haven't you forgotten something?

Hopefully, you have contacted several people who will act as professional references for you. But did you send them your resume? Yes, resume. Even if you worked side-by-side with your references and they have first hand knowledge of your work performance, it's critical that you send them all your resume. Why?

When potential employers contact your references, they will have your resume in front of them. Don't your references deserve the same? Believe me, it will be much easier for your references to sing your praises if they have had the opportunity to brief themselves on what you've shared with hiring authorities.

And one more thing, please let your references know when you've interviewed and given their contact information to a potential employer. A prepared reference will act so much better on your behalf than a reference who receives a surprise phone call.

Now go get that job offer!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Phone Coaching: Getting Best Results for Clients


"Where is your office located?"
is a question I am sometimes asked when a local person calls me aboutA05 career coaching services. Although I've been in business 11 years and seldom ever meet a client in person, and my website clearly states that all client meetings are by phone with email support, people may still assume that career coaching is a face-to-face process with me. Most people are satisfied when I explain that I work with clients worldwide according to my phone-and-email business model. Some are a bit dubious, while others move on to find a coach who doesn't work by phone.

Having been trained by two distinct coaching schools in the delivery of telephone coaching, and having helped hundreds of clients achieve results this way, I strongly believe that I show up as the best career coach possible when I work by phone. Of course, since I support the coaching tenet that coaching is "all about the client" and not about the coach, I fully understand when a person chooses not to hire me. However, I do appreciate the callers who let me explain how coaching by phone can produce outstanding results for them. Most end up liking the idea of doing this challenging work from the comfort of their home or place of their choosing.

Tree01829_small While intently listening to and conversing with my clients, I get lost visually in this big, beautiful maple tree outside my office window. Whether green in the summer, golden in the fall, or leafless in the winter, this tree stands proud and tall. It represents to me the constant of evolving but ongoing life as its leaves change colors and grow anew each year. Like this tree, each client that I help has a history with a need at different times in their lives for change – change I that can help them achieve if related to their career.

As I listen to my clients, I hear not only what they say, but also what they don't say – voice inflections, pregnant pauses, nervous laughter – all contributing to a client's current state of being. If I were to be facing this person, added to the moment could be my distractions coming from what my client looked like, their hand motions, their wandering eyes. These and room distractions would take me off track from hearing – really hearing – what my client was saying.

Since I honor my clients as individuals and truly want to build the best possible rapport with them, I always ask every new client to take a quick assessment to determine their learning style. Consequently, I am able to communicate with them using their preferred "words" to facilitate their highest level of understanding. This exercise is usually enlightening for both the client and me. And it helps to grow trust between us.

Not all learning happens during coaching calls. In between calls, I encourage my clients to spend quiet time reflecting on discoveries and contemplating new ideas. Usually, they eagerly accept homework that I offer or they suggest their own. I want my clients to feel connected to me, their coach, throughout our entire program. So, I encourage them to email me as often as they wish and I promise a prompt response.

Yes, coaching – career or any other type – is a process. It can't be turned on and off. It happens over time through various methods. Telephone and email let me deliver coaching frequently and wholly, without waiting for a client's next visit to occur. No starting and stopping, but a flow of ongoing communication with my client's needs first and foremost.

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

“Tell Me About Yourself” (Oh, Yikes!)

Has the "tell me about yourself" question ever been tossed your way in a job interview? What did you do with it – ramble, freeze, or answer it smoothly?

What usually happens in a job interview situation is you shake hands with the interviewer, take your seat, and then, boom – that dreaded "tell me about yourself" question hits you right out of the chute. Those who've never faced that question will likely take a deep breath and then start sharing their life story from birth to most recent job. The interviewer's eyes will glaze over as he sneaks a peek at his watch. He tries to focus on your words because, after all, you may something that he isn't able to legally ask you about. You, on the other hand, are getting lost in your own words and wondering why this interviewer is even interested in the story of your life.

Or perhaps you are the candidate who freezes when asked to "tell me about yourself." Thoughts of "what is this guy looking for" race through your mind as you search for something – just anything – to say. Should I mention why I left my last job? Should I talk about my college years and how I got that "D" in chemistry because the professor didn't like me? Should I explain how I got my first job because my dad knew the boss? Whatever I say, I need to say it now – I'm running out of time! That interviewer looks impatient. Gosh, I sure hope this interview gets easier!

Hopefully, you'll be the candidate who has prepared for the job interview – the one who knows that the "tell me about yourself" question is the first opportunity to "sell" yourself to this company. You will know that an interview is more about the value you can offer the company than what you need to get from the company. You will take this question and only briefly touch on your career (after all, the interviewer has your resume already, right?) and then bring to the forefront a story or two that demonstrates how you've solved a problem for a past employer that could benefit this potential employer, and how you'd like to contribute your unique skills or talent to better this company.

Now, you have the interviewer's full attention. He's beginning to think he has a credible candidate to assess. And you have already scored points in this job interview.

Bottom line: Don't think this job interview is about you – even if you are asked questions about you. It's about the employer – always. You wouldn't be interviewing if weren't qualified for the job, per your resume. The job interview is a process to screen out qualified candidates. The only way to "win" at the interviewing game is to prepare before you go. Know your career history backward and forward. Know what results you've created for your past employers. And above all else, be able to tell stories that demonstrate your value and problem solving abilities.

Now, go get that job!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

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. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Follow our hashtag, #careercollective, on Twitter, as well as follow everyone's individual tweets on this month's topic: What should job seekers do now to prepare for interviews?

Career-Collective-original-small

Sit Down and Panic. The Interview is Yours @GayleHoward

How to Stand Out in a Job Interview @heathermundell

Avoid These Reference Mistakes @DawnBugni

Unspoken Secrets of Job Interviewing Prep: How Your Nonverbal Presentation and Behaviors Impact the Impression You Make @KatCareerGal

Prep for Interviews Now: Snuff out the Elephant in the Room Later! @chandlee

What Should Job Seekers Do Now to Prepare for an Interview @erinkennedycprw

Take a Ride in the Elevator Before You Interview @barbarasafani

Are You Ready for the Elephant in the Room? @WorkWithIllness

"Tell Me About Yourself" (Oh, Yikes!), @KCCareerCoach

The job interview as a shared narrative @WalterAkana

Prepare your references for job search success @Keppie_Careers

No Pain No Gain In Job Search and Interview Prep @ValueIntoWords

Job searching? Take a cue from the Boy Scouts @LaurieBerenson

Preparing for Career Success Starts with Interviewing the Employers @JobHuntOrg

The Interview: A Well Rehearsed Performance or Hacked Improv? @careersherpa

Some Basic Job Search Tips for You

Here are a few tips to help you during your job search:

Numbers Game

Throughout your job search ponder this – You must collect your share of “No’s” before you get your “Yes”. And it only takes one “Yes” to get a job!

Mind Your Manners

Your mother was right. Please and thank you do count. It’s amazing what a well-timed thank you card or letter to a potential employer can do for your job search. It may not guarantee a job, but it will bring your resume and application to the top of the stack! As one employer said, “I may not hire the person with the thank you card, but I will definitely keep his resume for future reference. I will also keep him in mind if I hear of any opportunities with other companies.” (Note: Sometimes an e-mailed thank you is appropriate – know your potential employer to know if this is the case.)

Read My Lips

Interviewing for a job is not just a question and answer session with a potential employer. Body language plays an important a role in the job interview process, too. Shake hands with the interviewer, sit up straight, look the interviewer in the eye and SMILE! Smiling relaxes your muscles to make you appear at ease and receptive to what the interviewer is saying. Remember to dress the part. Experts say that an interviewer makes up his mind about you within 15 seconds after you enter the room. That’s before you’ve said a word! Make your job search preparation count by developing your style and poise.

Tell Me About Yourself

The dreaded interview question! What do you say? Keep in mind the purpose of this question. Usually, it is asked after you sit down facing the interviewer. You may see it as an “ice breaker,” but beware. The employer is looking for a couple of things. First, does your answer show how you qualify for the position? Second, how comfortable are you in thinking “on your feet?” Stay away from the long-winded history of your life. Stick to the facts of your job performance and accomplishments. Use this question to sell yourself! (Note: Watch for my next post which will cover this question in depth.)

Prepare for your job interview and you will get closer to getting the job!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

How to Make a #Career Change Doable for You

Ready for a career change, but not sure just what?

A first step is to get back in touch with what goes on in the world beyond your current workspace. Start by reading recent business magazines such as Forbes or Fortune and BusinesswWeek. Include the Wall Street Journal AND the New York Times. Discover the current trends in your industry, in your field, in the world. Reflect on how these trends will affect your current career, and on how the skills you already have can impact these trends. When contemplating a career change, think about what your choice will look like 5-10 years from now. It's important to select a career you can grow into and thrive in.

Next, after looking forward, take a peek back at your early life. What dreams did you have as a child that you tossed out along the way? Music, art, school newspaper, team sports, "playing school" with your siblings – all offer clues to what your true passion may be. For example, if you liked to play on the soccer team instead of painting landscapes, you may now prefer working on group projects instead of being a freelance web designer.

Finally, after coming up with a few career change possibilities, talk to some people who actually work in those careers. Find out what they like and dislike about their work. And ask them whether they chose their careers, or fell into them as careers by default. Imagine yourself working in these careers through their stories.

Cheetah_Running_on_a_Treadmill_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_081030-111673-554009As you can see, changing careers is not a simple process. It may take weeks, even months, to realize results that can shape your decision. But if you have defined steps and a career action plan, you will be able to get off that treadmill in your head and actually see some progress. It's never too late to start the career change process. It's your choice as to when you are ready to begin. Working with a professional Career Coach can make it easier.

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Is Your #Career in Recovery or Retreat? (All Joking Aside)

Don't be fooled by the sense of false security implied with being employed. This state of being can change in a flash – poof! Suddenly your job can be gone. You, and only you, are in control of your job security. Quit hunkering down under your desk and get proactive! Take charge of your career; begin enjoying your work life again.

The economy has started its recovery – why haven't you? Are you still fooling yourself by hanging onto your job for dear life? According to a recent CNN article, "Take This Job and Tolerate It," the frequency rate of people leaving jobs by choice is close to the lowest point since 2000. American workers are choosing to let fear drive their careers instead of passion. Sounds like the April Fool's joke may be on them this year – and maybe you, too?

Overwhelm from being over-worked and under-paid is not a work life you want to maintain. Instead, start today to find the career where you can be happy and feel appreciated again. Find the career where your values are honored in the workplace, where your mind is stimulated, and your skills are utilized. Find the career where you know in your heart this is where you want to be. Don't be fooled by continuing to believe that your employer will take care of you – that old joke has worn itself out long ago.

Utopia? Not really. It IS possible to attain career and job satisfaction. But this ideal career must first be defined, molded and purposefully pursued. Here a few tips to jump-start your career change process:

  • Make two lists: one is what you do well and the other is what you like to do. Where do these lists intersect? Chances are the clues to your ideal career appear in this intersection.
  • Need more training to qualify for your ideal career? Go get it! No one is ever too old to learn new things. Careers are rapidly changing (I still remember keypunch operators, now long gone from the career landscape). Learn about employment trends so you can see what careers will still be viable 5-10 years from now.
  • Write your resume to attract the ideal employer for your ideal career. Better yet, hire a professional resume writer to craft this resume for you with your input. You need objectivity to determine what's most important to include in this door-opening document. Your own bias can cloud your opinion on relevancy of information.

Still feel stuck in the process? Hire a career coach to be your partner for your career change. Some things are just done faster and better when done with a careers expert who can challenge you, brainstorm with you, offer you resources, and celebrate your successes with you.

On this April Fool's day, what will be your choice? Continue to keep doing nothing (which you know is getting you nowhere) or step onto the playing field by becoming proactive in your career? Stop being fooled by employers' empty promises and uncertain futures – your career belongs to you. Make it what you want it to be!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

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. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Follow our hashtag, #careercollective, on Twitter, as well as follow everyone's individual tweets that are based this month on an April Fool's Day theme.

Career-Collective-original-small 10 Ways to Tell if Your Job Search is a Joke, @careerealism

April Fool’s Day – Who’s Fooling Who? @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes

If It’s Not You and It’s Not True, You’re Fooling Yourself, @GayleHoward

Don’t Kid Yourself! (The Person You See in the Mirror is a Good Hire),
@chandlee

Avoiding Most Common Blunders, @jobhuntorg

 
 
 
 
 
 

Stop Fooling Yourself about your Job Hunt: Things you may be doing to sabotage yourself, @erinkennedycprw

Same as it ever was, @walterakana

Don’t be fooled. Avoid these, @kat_hansen

Job Seekers: You Are Fooling Yourself If... @barbarasafani

It's not all about you, @DawnBugni

#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 Salary.com 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.

Career Change Requires Losing the Fear

Career change isn't easy.

  • First, you must want it very much.
  • Second, you must make it your top priority.
  • Third, you must be willing to take a risk or two to make it happen.

The perception today is that workers have "dramatically lowered their career and retirement aspirations." (Workers Perceive Little Opportunity, Wall Street Journal, 3/16/2010)

Whoa – not so fast! As a career coach, I encounter people every day who want to change careers, hope to change careers, and actually do change careers. But there are some who let fear paralyze them from actually changing careers. People haven't "given up looking for higher pay or better positions" (despite what a recent Towers Waters HR survey claims per WSJ), but they are acting cautiously and discreetly – the same as employed workers have always behaved.

"Employees are overwhelmed and under appreciated" is my quote in today's WSJ article. And, yes, I do believe workers are tolerating "more work discomfort." But why is that? Is it in "gratitude for even having a job" or is it perhaps because they're afraid of being terminated if their true feelings were to be exposed?

I would be out of business if people weren't exploring career changes, as would other career coaches who specialize in helping people find new career paths. Instead, just this year I have helped a financial expert discover his passion for counseling college students, a field sales professional choose his retirement career in lawn and garden retail, and many more. These individuals didn't let recession fears, workplace fears, or even identity fears stop them from discovering how to work their passion. They chose hope over fear. They chose self-reliance.

While fear can become crippling, hope is more powerful. As long as people have hope, they will be able to overcome whatever obstacles are thrown into their career paths.

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Why #Jobseekers MUST Manage Their Online Reputation

Job seekers: how well do you manage your online reputation? Can you be found on the Internet? Do you have any digital dirt? Do you know what happens when you don't manage your online reputation? 

"What," you say, "is that all about?"

A few weeks ago I blogged about managing your online reputation. Reading today's issue of the "Executive Insider" published by ExecuNet, I knew I had to share its editor's related opening remarks with you.

Robyn Greenspan, ExecuNet's Editor-in-Chief, kindly granted permission for me to reprint her comments that discuss how critical your positive reputation is on the Internet. For anyone who doesn't know, ExecuNet is THE place for top executives to do networking with each other and top recruiters on the Web.

Here's what Robyn says about managing your "digital dirt" – a phrase she coined that is now widely used by many:

When ExecuNet began researching in 2005 how publicly available online information influenced executive hiring, three-quarters of the search firm recruiter respondents revealed they were already Googling candidates to find information beyond the résumé. As a result, more than one-quarter of recruiters had eliminated a candidate because of what they found online.

We've (ExecuNet) continued to monitor this trend, developing a series of reports on Digital Dirt that raised awareness of online reputation management, and our 2010 data casts no doubt that recruiters have fully adopted Googling as a best practice with 90% regularly conducting this activity. Forty-six percent uncovered digital deal-breakers, such as ethics violations, falsified employment history and felony convictions, which lead to eliminating candidates from consideration.

The younger generations — digital natives — who largely live online have to make efforts to separate themselves from their less-professional identities when they enter the workforce, but for successfully established executives, they'll have to work to become visible and distinguish themselves. In our most recent research, 80% of executive recruiters said a candidate's job prospects improve when positive information is found online.

With this research in mind, take some time to:

  • Find what's online about you.
  • Work to correct/eradicate anything that doesn't reflect your name well.
  • Develop a plan to establish visibility, both on the Internet at-large and niche communities where your peers dwell.

Robyn Greenspan
twitter.com/RobynGreenspan

Thanks, Robyn, for shedding a spotlight on this most important topic for all job seekers.

Bottom line: the Internet is operating in full force, whether you want to participate or not. It's up to each and every individual to take as much care with managing their online reputation as with managing their credit history and personal identity. By adopting a strong defense you can improve your game offense to enhance your opportunity to get that job your deserve!

Wishng you career success in 2010!

Meg

You Can Beat the Job Search Blues: 5 + 3 Tips to Get Re-energized

Let's face it: job search is a tedious task, even during the best of times. When you're used to being motivated by others in a team work environment, it's so very difficult to motivate yourself while conducting a job search on your own. Particularly if you're a layoff survivor, you know that the longer you're out of the work, the harder it gets.

So, what can you do to keep up your spirits – to stay on track with your job search? To keep moving toward finding your next job?

Noah Blumenthal, best-selling author of "Be the Hero: Three Powerful Ways to Overcome Challenges in Work and Life," offers his five tips in a CareerBuilder article posted on CNN: 1) Go online; 2) Separate yourself; 3) Have fun; 4) Set a big goal; 5) Go to work. Jump over to the article to read all the details.

While I agree with everything Blumenthal says, as a career coach, I have three more tips (or variations on his themes) to offer you to overcome job search discouragement:

First, get in touch with your personal spirituality and get strength from an inner anchor. For believers, this is probably your God. For others, this may be your connection with nature and all its wonders. (Yes, a pet counts as nature! Pets offer a great source for unconditional love.)

Second, plan your escape time. Now, I don't mean sleeping around the clock. But everyone needs to take purposeful breaks in job search to jump start your creativity. Examples could include a short weekend trip to clear your head and make room for new ideas; take in a free concert; or invite friends over for a potluck dinner.

Third, join free job clubs for face-to-face social interaction with others who understand what you're going through. Empathy is good, as long as it doesn't turn into a pity party. Remember, you're seeking positive energy for rejuvenation. (Read about how "life rewards action" from Rules for Unemployment.)

Bonus tip: I'd be remiss if I didn't encourage you to hire a career coach. The special relationship you form with your coach can do much to help you stay energized and focused.

Whatever you do, some action is better than no acton. If you can stay connected to the "who" that you are, you will project a more powerful presence to all you encounter in your job search.

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

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. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Follow our hashtag, #careercollective, on Twitter, as well as follow everyone's individual tweets:

Career-Collective-original-small@MartinBuckland, Job Search Made Positive

@GayleHoward, Job Search: When It All Turns Sour

@chandlee, Strategy for Getting “Unstuck” and Feeling Better: Watch Lemonade

@heathermundell, Help for the Job Search Blues

@heatherhuhman, 10 Ways to Turn Your Job Search Frown Upside-Down

@WalterAkana, Light at the End of the Tunnel

@resumeservice, Don’t Sweat The Job Search

@careersherpa, Mind Over Matter: Moving Your Stalled Search Forward

@WorkWithIllness, Finding Opportunity in Quicksand

@KatCareerGal, Job-Hunting in a Weak Job Market: 5 Strategies for Staying Upbeat (and Improving Your Chances of Success)

@ErinKennedyCPRW, Dancing in the Rain–Kicking the Job Search Blues

@keppie_careers, What to do when you are discouraged with your job search

@DawnBugni, It's the Little Things

@ValueIntoWords, Restoring Your Joy in Job Search

@jobhuntorg, Just SO VERY Discouraged

@barbarasafani, Making Job Search Fun (Yeah, That’s Right!)

@GLHoffman, How to Overcome the Job Search Negativity

@LaurieBerenson, Ways to Keep Your Glass Half Full

@ExpatCoachMegan, Dealing With Job Search Stress: Getting to the Source of the Problem

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,

Meg

New Must-Read Resource for #Jobseekers: The Twitter Job Search Guide

#Jobseekers are always asking me, "How do I use Twitter for my job search?" Some have a difficult time believing that a staggering number of jobs are posted on Twitter every month. In fact, some career experts claim that Twitter is the fastest-growing opportunity for employment, even ranked as high as #1. TweetMyJobs.com has over a million jobs tweeted each month (enough to make a Monster tremble?).

[Newsflash: 48,099 jobs were tweeted on TweetMyJobs.com just in the last 24 hours.]

OK, so are you a believer yet? I can hear the moans now, "I don't have time to do Twitter." Or maybe you think LinkedIn or Facebook is enough in the way of social media tools for you. But wait! Aren't you still job searching? Maybe one more tool could really help? Consider this: Twitter is the "barrier buster." It's the only social media tool that doesn't require permission to network. There are no gatekeepers! On Twitter, you can as easily read the Twitter stream of a CEO as that of a college student. And connecting with anyone you want to follow is easier, too!

Twitter is really one of the fastest ways to find others who share common interests – to exchange job search practices, professional ideas, and resources for your job search.

41P4dyv16IL__SL500_AA240_ With a vision ahead of the curve, career management authors Susan Britton Whitcomb @SusanWhitcomb, Chandlee Bryan @chandlee, and Deb Dib @CEOCoach have collaborated to publish The Twitter Job Search Guide – to be released in March (reserve your copy now!). Their book is a practical tutorial in Twitter tools and best practices including pioneering Twitter-inspired techniques with step-to-step guides to:

>>> Creating your "160me" – your 160-character Twitter bio

>>> Writing cover letters in 10 tweets

>>> Developing your "Brand to Land Plan"

>>> Engaging with networking contacts, recruiters, employers, and more

>>> Tweeting in "Day Tight Compartments" for as little as 15 minutes a day

This book includes more than 100 contributors: 13 successful job seekers, plus an all-star cast of respected authors, recruiters, and career management experts (including me – @KCCareerCoach).

If you're not using Twitter, you're missing out on a cutting-edge job search method. Take a chance – dip your big toe into the pool – you won't drown, I promise. Nothing to fear here!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Building Your Online Reputation: 3 Tips for #Jobseekers

As a job seeker, do you manage your online reputation? "Digital Dirt" is no longer a foreign concept, but as a refresher just let me say: digital dirt refers to any negative information about you on the Internet. To counteract any digital dirt out there about you – anything you don't want recruiters or hiring authorities to find (like on your Facebook page, perhaps?) - your best strategy is to flood the space with positive information. This post offers three helpful tips for doing just that – plus a bonus tip. Remember, the most current information is usually at the top of any indexed list by search engines and will be what is viewed most.

Note: I've used examples from my own experience – hope you don't mind. Your challenge is to create your own experiences and use them to build your own online reputation.

First, become an expert in your field – and then get quoted in an online article.

Second, give an online testimonial of a product or service that you've used.

Third, complete a personal profile on any website you hear about, even if you do nothing else on that site.

BONUS tip, comment on someone else's blog post.

Now, get busy! Create your own online visibility for job search success!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Ready for a Creative Job Interview?

Saturday I sat on a panel discussing career issues in front of members of three engineering associations: ASEM / ASME / SWE. We had a lively conversation, but my biggest take-away was something shared by another panelist who had been a hiring authority at one time in his life. He said that one of his favorite ways to find new hires was to attend a professional development class where his ideal candidates could be. Informally, he'd strike up conversations with his "classmates" and ask questions about their interests, skills, work history, and even topics not normally covered in interviews. By the time the class ended, he would have a small pool of candidates from which he offered positions.

I have to admit that after 25 years in career management, this was a new idea for me. When I thought about it, it made so much sense! By getting to know people in an informal setting, he was able to see people in their most authentic way. By not knowing they were being interviewed for a job, these people were relaxed and truly themselves while their potential employer was evaluating them.

The lesson here? Just like a good Boy Scout, always be prepared. Be dressed for the part (like one gentleman wearing a tie who approached me today after the panel discussion) no matter where you go, even to a casual meeting of your professional association.

(By the way, taking a professional development course – not required by your company, but paid for by you – is a great way to add to your resume to help transition you into a new career.)

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Anyone Can Write a Resume (Sorry – Time to Rant)

A past client called me this week. She had hired me to write her resume 10 years ago and now wanted an update. We discussed her work history for the past 10 years, what her current goals were, and how resume writing strategies had changed over the past decade. Then I gave her a quote on the resume face-lift she needed. She was speechless! She just couldn't understand how my prices could have gone up in 10 years.

Considering that I had started writing resumes professionally 11 years ago, I'm surprised she couldn't grasp that my knowledge and expertise had grown to warrant the price increase – not to mention that prices for everything else have increased in 10 years. The resumes I write today are better and more powerful for my clients than the ones I wrote as a "newbie." But when a person has something fixed in their mind, they usually aren't open to other possibilities. How human nature resists change!

Anyway, my past client said she'd work on her resume herself, just adding verbiage to the one I had created for her in 2000. That's fine, but my amazement grew when she said, "After all, anyone can write a resume." Goodness, I'm totally baffled when people don't appreciate the study, practice and dedication that go into becoming a professional resume writer. No, not just anyone can do it, no more than "just anyone" can build a profitable business, fly an airplane, speak Chinese or transplant a kidney. Skills are learned. It takes time to become proficient in any occupation, including resume writing.

Job seekers in job search mode for any number of weeks know what I'm talking about. If "just anyone" could do it, there wouldn't be unemployment! Job seekers must prove their skills and abilities to land a job. Savvy job seekers know that a professional resume can open doors for them and get them interviews. And that's the way it should be. Professional resume writing is a profession – those who use the service will usually agree. The service exists to help those wanting a way to stand out among their competition – to move closer to their next job – to give them an edge in the job search game.

Thanks for listening to my rant. I feel a lot better getting this off my chest!

Wishing you career success in 2010,

Meg

The Art of Being Gracious: Much Needed in Today’s Job Search

"Being gracious in life will carry you far," espoused Ted Kooser, a Pulitzer Prize winner who served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004 – 2006. When my son graduated from college in 2004, I had the honor of listening to this wise man deliver the keynote address at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Speaking to the graduates, he assured them that his words would be brief and forgave them in advance if they didn't remember much of his speech. Attracted to the speaking manner of this 35-year-career insurance man turned poet, I hurriedly reached for a scrap of paper to scribble a few notes. I felt that I was about to hear a great speech, and I did.

Kooser shared with the graduates a gem of wisdom that all job seekers would be well advised to follow. He said that when these young people left with their diploma in hand, they needed only one other thing to enter the world – a box of blank thank you notes. Yes, they needed thank you notes to acknowledge their graduation gifts, but much more than that, they would need thank you notes throughout life's journey, especially throughout their careers.

While in a job search, expressing your thanks is critical. Besides demonstrating good manners, it can keep your name and face in the forefront. Of course, the most obvious time to send a formal thank you is following a job interview – even a not-so-good interview. But there are other times when a thank you is not only good manners, but also an important career strategy:

  • You receive a referral from a networking contact / colleague / business associate – send a thank you note to show your appreciation, or sending a token thank you gift is even better.
  • You ask a colleague / peer / VIP for assistance or advice – send a thank you with a brief follow-up as to how the advice helped you.
  • You work with a recruiter who refers you to an interview with an employer – send a thank you note that will help keep your name on the recruiter's desk.
  • You get a rejection letter from an employer – send a thank you letter thanking him again for the opportunity to interview, and let him know that you would still like to work for him someday.
  • You land the job – send a thank you to each of your references no matter how many times they were or were not contacted by your prospective employers.
  • You land the job – send a thank you note to each networking contact with whom you connected throughout your job search, even if you've already thanked them in some way.
  • You land the job – send a thank you letter to your new employer reiterating the terms of your new position. This confirmation may serve you well in the future.

One debate around thank you letters centers on email vs. direct mail. I equate direct-mailed letters and cards with being gracious; email with being perfunctory. You decide how much regard you want your message to express. Make it personal and you'll make it memorable.

I'm sure you can think of more times when saying "thank you" is a good idea. I'd love to receive your comments. In conclusion, I just want to say, "Thank you," for reading my blog!

P. S. Within the past four months my son was one of nine candidates hired out of 300 applicants. Having been laid off for 10 months, he really needed this job. I wonder if his thank you note – that he hand carried to HR following his interview - had any influence in his being hired. Hmmm…

Wishing you much career success in 2010!

Meg

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. Your comments are invited and appreciated. And follow our hashtag #careercollective on Twitter:

Career-Collective-original-small@MartinBuckland, Elite Resumes,  Career Trends and Transition 2010

@heathermundell, life@work, Kaizen and the Art of Your Job Search

@barbarasafani, Career Solvers, Looking Into the 2010 Careers Crystal Ball

@resumeservice, Resume Writing Blog, The Resume and Your Social Media Job Search Campaign

@kat_hansen, Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters Tips Blog, New Year: Time to Assess Yourself and Your Career

@keppie_careers, Keppie Careers, Help for job seekers in a rut

@heatherhuhman, HeatherHuhman.com, Job seekers: 5 tips for making the most of 2010

@DawnBugni, The Write Solution, Ya, but

@ErinKennedyCPRW, Professional Resume Services, Advice to Job Seekers in 2010–learn Yoga?

@Chandlee, The Emerging Professional Blog, Starfish, JobAngels, and Making a Difference

@ValueIntoWords, Career Trend, Is Your Job Search Strategy a Snore?

@debrawheatman, Resumes Done Write, Making the most of a new year

@walterakana, Threshold Consulting, Starting anew – tips for truly managing your career

@careersherpa, Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa, The Year of the Tiger

@WorkWithIllness, WorkingWithIllness.com, Dogs Can Do It, Can You?

@JobHuntOrg, Job-Hunt.org, Lifelong Learning for Career Security

@AndyInNaples, Career Success, What Are You Getting Better At? Make This the Year You Become the Best You Can Be!

@GLHoffman, What Would Dad Say, A Flash of the Blindly Obvious

@GayleHoward, The Executive Brand Blog, How are those New Year's Resolutions Panning Out?

Your Career Management Plan: Born from Your Obituary

A tweet on Twitter this morning caught my eye. In relation to today's holiday – Martin Luther King's birthday – the question was asked, "What will be your legacy?" It seems that most of us today are so caught up in day-to-day living – or even surviving - that we haven't pondered that question much. It's amazing, though, that if you do start to think about it, ideas regarding career management begin to surface. One hundred years from now, what do YOU want to be remembered for?

Curiously, this same issue was brought up on a movie I watched on television over the weekend – remember "Cocktail" with Tom Cruise? Tom – or rather his character, 20-something Brian Flannigan – was seeking ways to earn his life's fortune. He sat down with pen and paper and began writing his own obituary. When he did that, ideas flowed.

So, my career coaching assignment for career changers this week is this: write your own obituary. You can do it; just give it a try. Imagine the story your grandchildren will tell about how you made your mark on the world. What will they talk about? What do you want them to talk about? Consider all ideas, no matter how crazy they may sound. From all ideas, bits and pieces can be pulled together to gel into one cohesive plan.

Wishing you much career success in 2010!

Meg

Job Dissatisfaction Running Rampant: Are You Running With It?

How unhappy we are at work these days! Job satisfaction is at an all-time low, yet most workers are afraid to even contemplate making a career change. Fear rules most career decisions.

For the past couple of days I've been blogging about career change – how people want it, but many are afraid to take the leap, especially in today's uncertain economy. Everyone needs a paycheck, and most are willing to do anything to keep one coming in. Yesterday the Herman Group published their weekly alert quoting a respected source about employee job dissatisfaction:

"The Conference Board research group recently reported job satisfaction has fallen to a record low of 45 percent, the lowest level ever recorded in 22 years of surveys! Extrapolating from that number, more than half (55 percent) of US workers state that they are "dissatisfied" with their jobs. It is also logical that the most dissatisfied group is workers under the age of 25—64 percent of whom said they are unhappy in their jobs." (Read the full report from the Herman Group – Herman Trend Alert, 1-13-10)

It's so much easier for people to identify what they don't like, than to bravely venture out into the unknown to identify what they do like. Fear is a powerful emotion that will cripple your creativity – creativity that's essential for new career directions to be discovered, let alone be acted upon.

Don't get stuck in one place like the proverbial deer in the headlights. Take the first step to evaluate what your values, skills, and interests are that you'd like to transfer to a new career direction. You don't have to hurry the process, but do go beyond the fear to find your next career path to job satisfaction. You deserve to be happy! And believe it or not, that option does exist – even today.

Managing Career Change: Shift Your Attitude!

Whether you've been laid off or just burned out with your job, it's important to understand that the biggest factor affecting most worker attitudes today is a rapidly changing work environment. Change is occurring at warp speed all around us, and human nature tends to resist change. Why?

  • Change can mean that you need more education to qualify for a new position, one that didn't even exist when you earned your college degree and thought you were done with studying. (Does that anger you or entice you?)
  • Change can mean having to motivate yourself to meet new people and network to make connections to help lead you to your next position. (But what if you're shy or don't know the social rules of networking?)
  • Change can mean asking for more responsibility at work – cross training – so that you can provide more value to your employer. (What if you feel you already work enough hours and are unappreciated?)
  • Change can mean letting go of outdated ideas and embracing new methods, techniques, and ways of doing business. (But isn't it more comfortable sticking with what you already know – no matter how bad for you - than taking a risk by going into the unknown?)

Change means accepting personal responsibility for your own career management by proactively designing and following a plan to achieve your goals. (Just because you want to change employers, it doesn't mean you are willing to change your attitude – does it?)

Change can be fun, exciting, and full of promise and hope. Or it can be frightening, depressing, and just not fair. It's all up to you – which perception of change do you choose to influence your attitude? Are you letting your attitude block your opportunity to work your passion because you're not willing to change?

Most changes are not easy, but many, especially career change, can be very rewarding. Change will happen whether you want it to or not. Don't fight it. Adopt a flexible attitude toward change, become friends with it, and you will discover how to have less stress in your life and more opportunity for career growth.

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Career Change for You in 2010?

OK, admit it – haven't you been wondering what it would be like to work somewhere else? Aren't you tired of the long hours, reduced benefits, and while we're at it, when was the last time you got a raise?

According to recent surveys, about 50% of all currently employed U.S. workers are ready to find that elusive "better job." Before quitting what you have (especially if you have some degree of comfort there), take the time to evaluate your options. Know what's most important about the next job you go to. Is it the Money, the Work, the People? What really matters most? Perhaps you just want some work/life balance. Or a little fun – what a concept!

Whatever your reason, get the help you need to make a successful career change. On this blog you'll see the link to go grab my f*ree assessment, "The Top 17 Signs You're Due for a Career Change and What to Do About It." Sign up for this, take it and see what you learn. You may be ready to take the leap and didn't even know it!

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

6JU6TZYVZYCQ – How to get listed in Technorati???

Technorati 6JU6TZYVZYCQ

After weeks of trying to get listed in Technorati's blog directory, I'm beginning to wonder if it's even possible. They insist my blog feed doesn't include the claim number they gave me. Hopefully, this post that is unrelated to my blog's theme will convince them that I really exist.

For years I've loved the brilliance and challenge of technology. However, this one's got me stumped!

Anyone out there who can help me? Please?

Networking Blooper to Avoid

While cleaning old records from my computer during the holiday season, I came across a commentary I had written for my Abilities Enhanced company newsletter in 2003. Since the story is still relevant for today's job seeker, I'm sharing it again today:

"Last week I attended a networking event where the program was presented by an executive coach. The room held about 50 attendees, most of them working in businesses that I believe this coach wanted to target. The presentation focused on how coaching can best be used to improve company cultures when the CEO is the first person to buy into the culture change.

"Prior to the start of his presentation, this coach set out to "work the room," meeting and greeting many of the attendees. He was "all smiles" when he approached me, but as soon as he learned that I was just another coach, his eyes began to wander as he surveyed the room for a "hotter" prospect. You see, he perceived me not as a potential buyer of his services. His disconnect with me was obvious and I wondered about his authenticity, despite the fact that he had a successful practice and an important message to share.

"What is MY message here? Expert networkers know that most important contacts are only a few degrees removed from any person you meet. If the coach in this situation had taken a little more time with me, he would have learned that as a career coach I have access to business leaders in many different industries. Since my practice focuses mainly on individuals, not organizations, I could have probably been a great referral source to him. Instead, this coach was more interested in obtaining immediate gratification than building a referral network.

"As job seekers, rarely will you connect at any one event with a primary contact, that is, anyone who can hire you or even introduce you to a hiring authority. Networking is a process that takes time before you reap rewards. Get acquainted with as many people as possible. A major part of the process is "giving before taking," what I call the Golden Rule of Networking. Carry no self-serving expectations to a networking event. Avoid networking bloopers. Networking done right is a time-consuming process, a process paying high dividends when approached from a place of authenticity. Approach networking with the attitude, "It's all about them." When you are curious and show your interest in others, your circle of influence expands. Eventually, the leads you need will come your way."

Wishing you much career success in 2010!

Meg

Conventions tx and ICF 021 

6JU6TZYVZYCQ

Jump-start Your 2010 Job Search with 7 New Year’s Resolutions

It's that time again – the end of one year and the beginning of another. Many make New Year's Resolutions fully intending to keep them, but seldom do. Whether it's to lose weight, save more money, be nicer to in-laws, spend more time with your kids — speaking your intention is only the initial step to success. Creating a plan and then working it will bring you much closer.

This is particularly true when it comes to your job search. If you've been out of work or laid off for any amount of time, overwhelm and apathy may have set in. Yes, it's difficult – very difficult – to keep going. Rejection is the most painful emotion to feel, even when you try so hard not to take it personally. Now, more than ever, you need a job search buddy to keep you motivated and moving forward.

Hopefully, you took some time off during the holidays to focus on YOU and your self-care. You'll need every ounce of this renewable energy as you renew your job search in January.

To help boost your job search as we enter 2010, I've made a list of recommended New Year's Resolutions. Not in any particular order, each offers its own importance to assist you.

  • I will make it easy for recruiters to find me.Recruiters work for their client companies – not you – and few appreciate your seeking them. However, when they need qualified candidates, they want them NOW. So, facilitate their need by maintaining high visibility on the Internet. Many recruiters claim that LinkedIn is the first place they look – how findable are you there? Yes, your resume needs to be posted, but do you also participate in discussion groups related to your field?
  • I will spend no more than two hours per day in front of my computer. Get out of the house! Undoubtedly, you've heard that the majority of new jobs are gotten through networking. But beyond that, you must keep your social skills fresh while building and maintaining professional relationships. It's amazing how one's perspective can improve just by interacting with fellow human beings.
  • I will give before taking. While networking, offer your help to fellow job seekers. Volunteer at food pantries or church. Just the act of giving will make you feel valued again. This will enhance your self-confidence and get you going again in the job market.
  • I will devote at least one hour per day to self-care.Keep your mind smart and your boday toned with exercise. Reward yourself for any job search success, no matter how small, by reading a chapter in that novel you're enjoying or watching a TV program that lets you briefly escape. Better yet, read your kids a story or have a late candlelight dinner at home with your partner (after the kids are in bed).
  • I will invest time (and money) into perfecting my resume. Your resume must be PERFECT to stand out above your competition. Does yours do that? Does your resume brand you according the position you seek? A professionally written resume can get your foot in the door. Can't afford it? Just look at what percentage of your first year's income it will be to hire a professional resume writer. How can you NOT afford it?
  • I will get support to stay motivated in my job search. You need a job search partner with no vested interest in the outcome of your job search. Yes, a career coach can help, not only with keeping you motivated, but also providing job search resources, tips, and strategies. Slash your job search time when you invest in a career coach.
  • I will get over my Internet phobias. Hard to believe that in the 21st century there are still job seekers with no home email accounts, let alone LinkedIn, Twitter, or blogging savvy. But there are! If employed, PLEASE don't use your work email for job search purposes. This is so wrong on so many levels. Get up to speed on critical Internet applications (job search and others) – employers will assess your value to them accordingly.

While writing these resolutions, I see that there are so many more that could be added. What are your comments? What do you consider to be the most important New Year's Resolutions for job seekers?

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Wishing You Job Search Success and a Happy New Year!

Meg

 

 

2010 Workforce/Workplace Forecast

Seldom, if ever, do I print anyone else's material in my blog. However, the following article hit my email box this morning and I feel its value needs to be shared with all job seekers, employed workers and employers. Please share your comments on this blog.

Thank you, Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist, of the Herman Group (full attribution follows at the end of the article):

Each year at this time, The Herman Group issues its annual forecast. Once more, this year, we offer you our full forecast (longer than our usual alert) for the coming year:

1. Cutbacks and Re-Engineering will continue into 2010

Expect ongoing reductions in force as some employers continue to optimize their workforces and eliminate "redundancy". We caution these employers to be very careful, because we know that 54 percent of today's employees are ready to jump, as soon as the economy improves. They are currently "Corporate Cocooning".

2. Shortages of Certain Skill Sets will become More Acute

As the economy begins to recover, certain skill sets will be more critical and difficult to find. These high-demand workers will be more demanding about their work schedules, environment, etc. The wisest employers will embrace not only flex-time, but flex-place as well.

3. Employers will embrace Innovative Ideas to Reward their Valued Workers

This innovation will include non-financial ways and even non-reward (recognition only) ways to add value for their top talent; these innovative ideas will come from the employees themselves. Employers that do not mine the collective intelligence of their workers will find themselves unable to optimize profits.

4. Fear and Apprehension continue to reduce Productivity

A significant percentage of employees continue to worry about the future. These negative feelings will persist, unless addressed. Transparency, besides being one of those elements employees seek, will be imperative.

5. More Employers will invest in a Variety of Healthcare Cost-Cutting Strategies

Besides wellness programs to address expensive unproductive behaviors (like smoking and over-eating), more large employers will embrace ideas like onsite clinics and health coaches. For some candidates, the cost of not complying with the prospective companies' wellness programs will change their employee value propositions so drastically that they will choose to work elsewhere.

6. Focus on Engagement will replace the Focus on Retention

Recognizing that with engagement comes not only retention, but greater productivity and profitability, too, employers will change their focus. We will see Directors of Retention morph into Directors of Employee Engagement. The next step (coming much later than 2010) will be to recognize the importance of the total "Internal and External Customer Experience".

7. Increasing Attention to Succession Planning

Around the globe, we see an increasing attention to succession planning and management. However, the issue of succession preparation continues to take a backseat to succession planning. This big mistake will begin to be felt in 2010, when Baby Boomer retirements combine with the lack of trained people becomes a critical problem. Succession management continues to be critical to long-term success.

8. Employers that did not build Bench Strength will pay More to hire Experience

Organizations that did not take the opportunity presented by this business slowdown to send their people for more training, will have to pay more to hire trained, experienced people.

9. Some Employers will eliminate Reward Programs

Misunderstanding Dan Pink's new book, "Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us", some employers will abolish their reward programs altogether. This ill-advised shift will cause significant, negative, unintended consequences.

10. Burned out Employees will begin Leaving Employers

Over 80 percent of today's employees feel overworked and under-appreciated. Too many organizations have survived and maintained some level of profitability by over-loading their long-term employees. Once we begin to see positive job growth in the second half of 2010, some employees will feel confident enough to leave their companies.

11. Employers will accommodate Older Workers like Never Before

The exodus of their long-term employees will challenge some employers to get the work done, without resorting to hiring expensive contract help or paying high fees to recruiters. Enlightened employers will mine the rolls of their retired workers and hire them back on a part-time, temporary, or seasonal basis. These seasoned professionals will be welcomed back, in spite of the fact that they will dictate their own terms.

—-

From 'The Herman Trend Alert,' by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. (800) 227-3566 or

http://www.hermangroup.com. The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group of Companies, Inc. © Copyright 1998-2009 by The Herman Group of Companies, Inc., all rights reserved.

The Gift Every Laid Off Job Seeker Needs

If you use the Internet for any reason these days (like a job search?), you can’t help but notice all the advice swirling around on how to capitalize on this holiday season for your job search.

Sure, you can find all kinds of networking events to attend – professional and personal; some employers may still be hiring this year and you don’t want to miss out, so submit that resume now; stay up-to-date on your LinkedIn discussions and professional Tweets; research new industries that may get government grants in 2010 and will need to hire, so be ready – and on and on. Getting dizzy? I know I am just watching these info clouds race by – and as a career coach, I’ve been spouting off some these things myself!

But let’s get real. What’s most important right now?

Of course, paying the bills and putting food on the table take priority. Hopefully, you’re still able to do that. Some traditional, seasonal temporary jobs are still available (e.g., UPS) if you hurry. But if you are getting by – however weak you’re safety net is – I suggest taking a break from full time job search this month.

“Whoa! What’s wrong with her?” I can hear you all say. Pleeeez, I’m not advocating total irresponsibility here, just taking a break. If you’ve been laid off for any period of time, you are fully aware of how all the money matters pile up. Either you’re staying on top of it now or you’re not. A one-month job search break is probably not going to make a big difference. So stop worrying, OK?

Instead of busting your chops on your job search during this traditional month of giving, devote the time to self-care – give to yourself!

I recommend spending this month renewing your energy and your spirit. Get reacquainted with who you are as a person. Discover what it is about life that you love. Engage in the activities that will help you like yourself better, build your self-confidence, and strengthen your resolve to attack this job search process again in January – full steam ahead!

Mindful of cost, here’s a brief self-care list to get you started. But don’t just use mine – make your own. Self-care is only meaningful if done on your terms – do stretch a little, please:

  1. Read that book you’ve wanted to open, but just couldn’t find the time. Use your public library instead of a bookstore to find it.
  2. Call a friend and set a date to meet for coffee. Promise yourself you won’t mention your job search (good or bad) at any time while you’re together.
  3. Schedule time with your partner to play – you fill in the “how.” Again, no job search talk allowed. Give all your attention to him/her unconditionally.
  4. Find a new place to walk your dog or jog – even if you have to drive a few miles to get there. The new sights and sounds will open your mind to nature’s gifts to you.
  5. Listen – really listen – to your children as they share their life stories. See them in a new light as real people, not just as your kids. Amazing people, aren’t they?
  6. Start a journal of your thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams. No, this isn’t corny. Once on paper things take on a new perspective. You don’t have to share this with anyone.
  7. Sing songs in the shower or car – who cares if someone hears you? Belt them out!
  8. Seek out opportunities for belly laughs – those uncontrollable, hard-to-breathe, tears-in-the-eyes kind. They are so soul cleansing and make you feel truly alive.
  9. Befriend someone less fortunate than you. Give something small to make them feel appreciated. Yes, believe it or not, there are people worse off than you. (Even a canned item to the food pantry can uplift you in the spirit of giving.)
  10. Attend the worship services of your choice and enjoy being part of a community that shares its spirituality.
  11. Invite a gathering of friends to celebrate the holidays with you – potluck style and no gifts.

I hope my list helps you get going. Just remember, your goal is to enrich yourself by giving non-materially to you as well as to others. If you really can’t let go of your job search for the entire month, try doing so for a couple of weeks. Believe me, the shift in your focus will do wonders for healing your mojo, rebuilding your self-esteem, and getting you motivated for tackling the new year’s challenges, whatever they may be.

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:

Career-Collective (3)

 

 

@MartinBuckland, Elite Resumes, "Season’s Greetings and your Job Search”

@GayleHoward, The Executive Brand, It's Christmas: And a ho-ho-ho-hum?" 

@KCCareerCoach, Career Chaos, “The Gift Every Laid Off Job Seeker Needs"

@resumeservice, Resume Writing Blog,Holiday Resume Sparkle: Outshine the New Year Job-Search Mob

@heathermundell, life@work, “Have a Holly Jolly Job Search”

@sweetcareers,Sweet Careers, “Holiday Job Search Tips for College Students 2009″

@careersherpa, Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa, “Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa Cheers”

@careerealism, CAREEREALISM.com, “Holiday Tip for Job Seekers: 4 Ways to Impress Others with Your Professionalism”

@heatherhuhman, HeatherHuhman.com, “4 Tips for Making the Most of Holiday Job Hunting”

@LaurieBerenson, Sterling Career Concepts, Three Resolutions to Take It Up a Notch”

@KatCareerGal, Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters Tips Blog, “Avoiding the Holiday Blues in Your Job Search”

@WorkWithIllness, WorkingWithillness.com, Avoid this Minefield: No Holiday Here!”

@DawnBugni, “The Write Solution Could that sound really be opportunity? During the Holidays?”

@andyinnaples, “Shift Your Focus to the Highest Impact Job Search Activities During the Holidays to Leverage Your Time”

@erinkennedycprw, Professional Resume Services, How to keep up the Job Hunt during the Holidays”

@keppie_careers, Keppie Careers, “Four tips for effective networking follow-up for the holidays and the rest of the year”

@ValueIntoWords, Career Trend, “Navigating the Mistle Toe of Job Search”

@GLHoffman, What Would Dad Say, “Merry Christmas! Can I Buy You Coffee to Talk About Me?”

@BarbaraSafani, Career Solvers, “Holiday Networking Can Facilitate New Year Opportunities”

@expatcoachmegan, Career By Choice Blog, “Expat Networking: Holidays Are a Great Time to Nurture and Grow Your Network”

@chandlee, The Emerging Professional Blog, “Footprints & Associations: Job Search Tips for the Holidays”

@JobHuntOrg, Job-Hunt.org, "(Holiday) Party Your Way to a New Job"

Internet Job Search Tips – More

In a follow-up to my last post, here are a few more tips to add to your Internet Job Search toolkit:

Google Alerts: Free service to set up through Google (http://www.google.com/alerts?hl=en). Use targeted keywords related to your job search to get daily or weekly digests of published resources related to your job goal delivered directly to your email inbox. A very handy tool!

Twitter Follows: Now that you have a Twitter account, look for others to follow that post job openings, offer career advice, and support your job search in any way. Create your Twitter Lists!

Blog Responses: Not only post frequently to your own blog, reply to the posts of others on their blogs. This cross-posting will build your visibility on the Internet. Just remember to control your digital dirt!

Discussion Boards: Beyond LinkedIn, find other discussion boards where you can spotlight your expertise. Industry-related are great, as are boards geographically pertinent for local job search.

TOP 5 INTERNET JOB SEARCH TIPS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

Gone are the newspaper classified ads – so we go to the Internet to look for jobs. How you use the Internet will impact your success in landing your next position. While a new medium for many job seekers, the Internet should not scare you. Many reputable businesses operate online. As you conduct your job search, it’s important to remember that you are CEO of Me, Inc. and responsible for your own success. The job search process is a lot like marketing and sales – your resume is your marketing brochure representing your brand and your job interview is your sales presentation. You are your own product. And job search success depends on how well you connect with everyone..  
 Connect

  1. Create an eye-catching, professional LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) profile with industry specific keywords to boost your findings in the search engines. Invite people to join your network. Post your resume on this website.
  2. Join industry/role specific LinkedIn groups as well as general LinkedIn networking groups in your city. Build your visibility inside these groups by participating in discussions and posting your own questions. Showcase your expertise and make yourself a “go-to” person.
  3. Start your own blog where you demonstrate your expertise and share good resources with others in your industry. Develop a blog theme and stick to it. Again, make your blog keyword rich for find-ability purposes.
  4. Learn how to use Twitter (www.twitter.com) professionally. Set up an account and post several times a day. Ensure your tweets show up on your blog and LinkedIn profile. Cross-promotion enhances online visibility. Tweets need to be about 80% career-related and 20% personal to show your human side – beware of your digital dirt!
  5. Apply for jobs on the job boards, but also make a list of jobs that have recently closed for applications. In six weeks, send your resume to these companies along with a cover letter commenting that you appreciate that this position has already closed, you hope the new hire is working out, but if not, here’s your resume to review. Track the responses your get.

BONUS TIP: When looking online for professional career services (resume writing, career coaching, etc.), “shop” no more than three businesses at one time – too many will just confuse you. Request free phone consultations and references – your comfort and others’ satisfaction should figure highly into your decision of choice, more so than the final cost. Cheaper is usually not better. Ask yourself, “Who will help me the most for what I need?”

Now, go make connections! Get that job you want!

HOLDING A GRUDGE AGAINST YOUR PAST EMPLOYER?

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.

FIND YOUR “JOY BUDDY” FOR JOB SEARCH MOTIVATION

Do you struggle with finding your creativity when exploring new career possibilities? Some of my career coaching clients do. They let the overwhelm of money worries, coupled with the facts and fears brought on by high unemployment rates, get in their way of productive introspection and career clarification.

As a dog lover living with three rescued canines (I only get rescued dogs – but that's for another post), I regularly watch Cesar Milan's "Dog Whisperer" TV show. One of his frequent lessons is to explain that dogs live in the present, not the past or the future. We can all benefit from living in the present. Instead of dwelling on the past (why was I laid off?) or fearing the future (I'll be living on the street with a tin cup in a year), job seekers can help themselves more by focusing on the present.

"Present" questions to ask yourself:

  • What are my core values and why are they important to my career?
  • What makes me want to get up in the morning and go to work?
  • What job skills am I good at AND love to use?

If you let your emotions, or fears of the past or future, cripple your creativity, you will freeze your ability to act. And you have to act to change your job situation for the better!

I found an inspirational article that I recommend to anyone trapped by their worries: "How to squash worry and grab more happiness out of life in tough times". Please read it and discover things you can do today to get your job search back on track once you make room for creativity to flourish again. And while you're at it, find a "joy buddy" – dogs make great "joy buddies," by the way.

FINDING YOUR “MOJO” AFTER A LAYOFF

JobActionDay2009Logo (2)

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 www.usajobs.gov 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

CAREER EVOLUTION, NOT CAREER REINVENTION

We hear a lot these days about the need to re-tool, re-train or re-invent ourselves into a new career to survive the workplace jungle. My suggestion is that we look at this process differently. Think of it as a "career evolution" that you're experiencing.

From global warming to global business, change is occurring rapidly. Many occupations have disappeared forever. But your skills and knowledge have not been lost. Your challenge is to determine how to transfer what you know into new occupations and new fields.

Look at your career as a small business – you are the CEO. Now, manage it! Create your career plan as a CEO creates his business plan. Look to the future; study the trends. Make your plan fluid and flexible. Relying solely on the past is not the ticket to future career success.

EMPLOYER REQUIRED SMART PHONES – YEA OR NAY?

Last week a reporter interviewed me for an article he's writing on how employer-supplied "smart phones" affect employees’ work-life balance. My first reaction was that work-life balance is a concept I haven’t heard much about lately. During the recession workers have been more focused on hanging onto their jobs at all costs – even cutting back to part time and reducing their salaries. But work-life balance? I haven’t seen people come out from under their desks and ask for that. Sure, there’s grumbling about long hours, work-related stress, and just-wait-until-this-recession-is-over-when-I’ll-look-for-another-job – but “balance” appears to be a dream right now for the distant future.

That being said, the issue of how smart phones affect work-life balance is an interesting one. When you accept or are assigned a PDA or Blackberry from your boss, how much of your life are you surrendering to your career? I can appreciate that fast-trackers like the idea of being on-call 24/7. An excellent example of how that works can be found in the movie, “The Devil Wears Prada,” where a career ladder-climbing fashion assistant always puts her personal life after the demands of her boss. But what about real life? What happens when you live your life on-call?

What does “on-call” can mean to you? If you categorize yourself as a 24/7 smart phone carrier, work issues will interrupt your movie, vacation, or son’s soccer game. Is this annoying, or do you just accept it as the way it is?

What does your business smart phone mean to those around you? What does your husband say when you leave the table at the restaurant during your anniversary dinner? Or how about your kids – do they “get it” that your work comes before them? Really?

The human mind is complicated. When it’s filled with only one thing (e.g., work), your creativity around that one thing will become stifled. Your brain needs to breathe! Only when you take a break and forget about work for awhile will you become more productive at your work. Really!

So when you interview for your next position, be sure to ask what is expected of you in the after-hours. Will you be assigned a smart phone? Then decide if this is the way you want to live your life before accepting a job offer.

JOB SEARCH FOR FEDERAL POSITIONS

Job seekers say they want more information on finding federal jobs, but don't know how to find it. The web site, Where the Jobs Are, has been updated for 2009. It's well worth the time to check this out – for both job seekers and career coaches.

The site is keyword searchable. It also offers tons of information on how to find U.S. government jobs for the next three years, job trends to be aware of, and resources you really want to have. I've bookmarked this web site and advise you to do the same.

“JULIE & JULIA”: A SCRIPT FOR CAREER TRANSITION

"Julie & Julia" appealed to me on many different levels: I love to cook, I love Julia Child's personality, but as a Career Coach, I most love the process of career transition demonstrated in the movie. Seeking a purpose to her life as she felt stuck in a mundane job, modern day Julie set a goal to cook her way through Julia's French cookbook in a year – and blogging about it every step of the way. Her blog took on a life of its own (as blogs can do) and propelled her to job offers from media and publishers. Voila! No more mundane job – hello new career!

Responding to the question every Career Coach asks a hopeful career changer, "What do you really like to do?", Julie Child tells her husband, "Eat!" In a parallel universe we watch Julia Child engineer her own career transition from stay-at-home wife of a diplomat to a professional French chef student that leads to teaching and then to writing her renowned cookbook – half a century ago. With determination and commitment to the process, she keeps pursuing her cookbook dream despite publishers' rejections. She networks (as does Julie) with people who can help her.

The first ingredient required to start any career change process is self-motivation. Julie and Julia did not quit, despite the many obstacles thrown into their way: spouse relocation, unsuccessful cooking attempts, negative comments from others. Instead, they stay focused on their goals, fearlessly trying new things and thriving with the support of those who truly cared.

What really grabbed my attention in the movie was how powerful the blog became as a vehicle for skyrocketing Julie's career transition. Many times a week I discuss blogging with my career coaching clients. Want to get a new job? Start a new career? Then get known on the Internet! That's the first place hiring managers and recruiters look today to learn more about you before scheduling any job interview.

If you don't have a presence on the Internet, you are at a disadvantage – almost as much as if you have a negative presence on the Web. Blogs get indexed quickly so Internet surfers can find them soon after you post. Blog about your career passions spotlighting your knowledge. But if blogging just isn't for you, at least create a professional profile on LinkedIn, the most popular online hot spot for career changers and employers alike.

"Julie & Julia" is a movie everyone who desires a career change must see. Besides its obvious appeal that showcases Meryl Streep's character acting, this movie provides a blueprint for orchestrating your own career change. Watch, listen and enjoy. And take away all its tips to help YOU find the career you really can enjoy.

Bon appetit! (Change your career with confidence!)

CAREER COACHES: DIFFERENT OPINIONS ON VALUE OF THE PROFESSION

Sometimes you just have to speak your mind. And that I did in response to the article, "Your Career: Pros and Cons of Coaches" that appeared on the MSNBC website. I felt the article was presented as fact when opinion was more appropriate. I also felt it was written as advice not founded on fact.

Here is my commentary as it appears on Newsvine along with the article that prompted my response:

"So sad to see an author's opinions being presented as fact based on the experience of publishing a book or two. I wonder how many job seekers has this author actually helped? How many testimonials can she offer to her readers?

"There is NO comparison between self-study through books and regular human interaction with a trained/certified/experienced career coach. What book offers discourse on choices or empathy on personal situations endured?

"There ARE credentialing bodies for career coaches, most notably the International Coach Federation and the Institute of Career Certification International. There are even some colleges and universities now offering coursework in coaching.

"As a Career Management Fellow through ICC International, a Master Certified Career Coach through Career Coach Institute, and an Officer of the Board of the Association of Career Professionals International, I can attest to the fact that most career coaches are true professionals. Career coaches help people discover career options and make tough career choices; clarify/organize their thought processes; enhance their workplace communications; and support/guide them in solving their most challenging career-related problems. And NEVER do true career coaches find jobs for their clients!

"In this very trying recession when layoffs happen at the drop of a hat, career coaches help layoff victims work through the shock and anger of job loss so they can find the courage to risk rejection as they submit resumes into a great abyss and compete for new jobs among hundreds of candidates for each position.

"Active on both Twitter and LinkedIn, I have many times referred followers to MSNBC's career column. Too bad I won't be doing that anymore.

"Oh, BTW, I'm celebrating 10 years as a career coach this year after working as a recruiter, job developer, and employment specialist since 1986."

CAREERS CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS

Last week I attended the Career Management Alliance annual conference in San Antonio, Texas. So much talent in one place was quite the experience. Not only were long-time professional career management members present, but also attendees from military transition career centers. The job of translating military experience into terms easily understood by corporations and private industry is a challenging task. I applaud those working in that field helping our separating and retiring armed forces personnel enter/re-enter the traditional workforce.

There were many good conference speakers and presentations, but the ones that stood out for me were the opening keynote by Peter Weddle, "Work Strong: Career Fitness" and breakout session by Carol McClelland, "Plug into the Green Economy: A Field of Opportunities for You and Your Clients."

A few of Weddle's presentation nuggets included (some paraphrased by me):

  • Workplace is seeing downsizing of structure, not just downsizing of jobs.
  • Just as individuals are responsible for their health, they are responsible for their careers.
  • The career ladder has been replaced with a career jungle gym.
  • To be "qualified" isn't enough – must be "best qualified."
  • Slide: "The Greater & Unspoken Danger: The Perceptions People Work With" – e.g, do a good job, & you'll advance up the career ladder

A few of McClelland's presentation gems incuded (some paraphrased by me):

  • Green economy: ever-evolving & advancing at different rates in different industries
  • "Green jobs are jobs that provide products and services which use renewable energy sources, reduce pollution, conserve energy and natural resources, and reconstitute waste" (White House definition)
  • Green collar jobs = trades jobs, e.g., installation, manufacturing, distribution
  • Green professional jobs = technical – hard science (research, engineering, IT) and non-technical – managment, finance, marketing, human resources, operations
  • Find green jobs by "following the money" – the federal government money being invested into a greener economy

Interested in learning more from this conference? You may find tweets from conference attendees by going to search.twitter.com and searching for #careers09. I have some tweets there, too. Look for them – my Twitter handle is @KCCareerCoach.

JOB SEARCH METHODS: BLENDING THE OLD WITH THE NEW

In this time of using cutting-edge, online social networking (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) for enhancing our job searches, we sometimes forget about tried and true tradtional tools. Here's my favorite list of four must-read books for anyone engaged in a serious job search with links to their authors' LinkedIn profiles:

FIGHTING THE “NO JOB” FEAR

Are you one of the hundreds of thousands of job seekers in a state of panic – not landing fast enough in your next job? Today's job seeker must come to terms with the possibility that work as they've known it may be gone forever. Kind of harsh, to be sure, but necessary to accept. A new job IS out there, but retrofitting your skills and interests to it may take some time.

Online Wikipedia defines retrofitting as "… the addition of new technology or features to older systems." Does that feel like what you're in the middle of doing?

The process of retrofitting takes place in a state I call Career Dissonance, a plateau where the old no longer works, but the change required to adapt to the new has not yet been accepted. Personal attributes required to get you through the Career Dissonance and over to the "change" side include curiosity, creativity, patience, and a healthy dose of self-motivation with perseverance.

Without the above personal attributes, you run the risk of deflating like a balloon, or worse, sinking into a hopeless pit. Panic and fear are your worst enemies. Keep them at bay by maintaining your social contacts, doing something productive everyday, and giving yourself permission to take periodic breaks from the grinding job search to do something fun. It's amazing how much better you can feel after a heartfelt belly-laugh – let the tears flow! Laugh until your side aches!

Everyone has to find their own way to manage the stress, but if you don't find a way, it will control your feelings and your actions.

Just remember that you will eventually come out on the other side of Career Dissonance. Make friends with change because right now it your strongest ally.

JOB SEARCH TIPS FROM A CAREER COACH

Times are tough! Not exactly a news flash, huh? Massive layoffs, stock market losses, slashed retirement funds, companies sprialing downward – where does all that leave you, the worker?

Hopefully, if you have been laid off, you were fortunate to have received outplacement services paid for by your employer. However, if your company is going through bankruptcy, it probably doesn't have any resources to support the job transitions of its laid off employees.

If you are still lucky to have your job, despite the skyrocketing unemployment rate, you may be hanging on to it for dear life, stressed out and fearful of IF or WHEN the pink slip will hit your office door.

What can you do today to make work more worthwhile? More secure? More within your control?

LOSE THE FEAR! Become proactive. Take charge of your own career! Here are ten tips to help you do that:

  1. Get your resume and cover letter in order. Don't wait until you need them "yesterday."
  2. Start researching your options to learn what's available "out there" that you could really enjoy doing.
  3. Get involved! Join professional groups where you can meet people with the connections for you to get that "perfect" job.
  4. If unemployed, it's not too late to start networking. Join local free job clubs. Get your profile on LinkedIn. Let everyone you know among your friends and acquaintances that you are looking for a job.
  5. Take a class. It's amazing what you can do when your mind gets stimulated.
  6. Consider starting your own business. Future trends predict more people working for themselves from homebased offices within the next five years.
  7. Think positive. The Law of Attraction brings us what we focus on the most. Really! (Have you read "The Secret?")
  8. Identify a mentor. Find someone who will support you in your career. It helps to have a role model who takes an interest in your welfare.
  9. Stay informed. Read business publications, attend seminars and talk to those "in the know." The best time to find a job is before it is ever advertised.
  10. Hire a career coach! Your return on investment could result in more than six times your cost. This has been proven true by many who have done just that!

WRITING RESUMES THAT GET RESULTS

Put yourself into the employer's shoes – why should they hire you? That is the question your resume must answer.

Realize that your resume is a snapshot of your career. It should reflect your achievements, plus represent your skills and abilities. It must be a positive expression of what you do and how well you do it. It needs to sell YOU!

So how do you write such a document? Start by identifying your strengths. Don't hesitate to sing your own praises – it's OK to promote yourself in a job search. In fact, it's expected.

Once you have a comprehensive list of strengths, prioritize it according to your accomplishments. The most important ones need to appear at the top of your resume. Did you know that your resume must catch the employer's eye within a few seconds, or it will get tossed?

Resumes are written according to a prescribed structure. There are self-help books you can buy to guide you. Better yet, hire a professional resume writer who is trained and credentialed to promote you at your best.

The final step is to proofread, proofread, proofread. Did I say proofread? Only candidates with flawless resumes get considered for interviews. And isn't interviewing the result you want from your resume?

RE-DEFINING JOB SECURITY

After 35 years of dedicated service to a job he could count on everyday, my father retired from his company in 1985 with a good pension. Today, that reality is gone for all but just a very few. Most of us will not see such a reward for the years we put into our careers. In fact, most of us won't spend our entire lives working for the same employer. It's no secret that the American dream of retiring from a company after working there for a lifetime no longer exists. Instead, thousands of workers who entered the workforce believing in retirement benefits have fallen victim to company downsizing, restructuring, outsourcing, and even bankruptcy.

How can we survive in a work world where there is no job security? Today's job security must come from within each of us. We must ensure it by becoming so competent and so self-confident in whatever we do that we can do it or transition it anywhere. We accomplish this by adopting an assertive learning style, by earning that college degree or finishing advanced training. We do it by attending professional training and development opportunities – on our own initiative. We network with colleagues. We become experts in our fields. We ask our companies for cross-training and we volunteer our services for special projects. We constantly seek out ways to update our skills, knowing that change is the only constant in the workplance. Acknowledging that no one is indispensable, we don't take our jobs for granted. Instead, we accept the fact that every day we must continue to earn the right to keep our jobs.

Build your job security by taking risks. Submit that application for a new and challenging position, even if you are comfortable and satisfied with your present job. Always be ready for the unexpected. Did you know that the best time to write your resume is immediately after starting a new job? That way you always have your resume up-to-date and ready to go on short notice.

Have you ever seen that perfect job opportunity, but didn't have the time to update your resume and submit it before the application deadline?

The worst time to write your resume is when you are hit with an unexpected layoff or termination. Emotions will take their toll when this happens making it next to impossible to organize your thoughts into a sharp, professional resume.

Become friends with the unknown. Embrace change as an opportunity for career growth. "Fortune favors the bold," observed Virgil, a wise poet of long ago. That holds true today. Are you bold enough to create your own job security? You will need to do just that to survive in this rapidly changing work world of the 21st century.

We will probably see more layoffs this year, maybe even next, before our economy begins to swing back. Don't wait for the layoff bug to bite you. Take charge of your own career so that you can design for yourself a happy, productive life.

BOOST YOUR JOB SEARCH ACTIVITY

Ready to kick it up a few notches?

If you are like most job seekers, you may have reached a place where you are burned out, burned up and just plain tired. But instead of giving up, the time has come to act like the long distance runner nearing the finish line – dig deeper for that extra spurt of energy to sprint across the line!

Now is NOT the time to stay home. Since looking for a job is a full time job in itself, challenge yourself to increase your weekly contacts. If you are making fewer than 20 each week, you are contibuting to your state of unemployment. Consider public speaking and publishing as two creative ways to get in front of your target market. Most people are getting jobs today through networking – the kind of face-to-face interaction that builds personal, ongoing relationships.

When you meet and greet people you must pull yourself out of that "black hole" where you may have fallen. Put a smile on your face, even if you don't feel it in your heart. Get to know others by asking questions to learn what you can do for them and their job searches. When you leave meetings, you will feel reconnected with humanity. You will be remembered for what you have to offer which will result in others wanting to return the favor.

Watch how many job leads begin to come your way! And don't forget that career coaching can help you reach that finish line!

DO YOU RUN YOUR CAREER OR DOES IT RUN YOU?

Career self-management is the name of today's employment game. Whether between jobs or not, you must continue to explore your career options, even after achieving your "dream" job. Don't get stuck in a career rut. Job security comes only from within YOU.

Research your career interests. Talk to people in different fields. Develop networks and get involved. Keep looking for ways to improve your skills and increase your knowledge. Gather data, make decisions, and plot your course to career success. Never, ever, ignore the proverbial handwriting on the employer's wall. Always be ready for the next change.

And don't forget about life/work balance. What do you need to do it all most effectively? How can you get focused with a sound action plan? Don't hesitate to reach out for professional guidance and support.

“PLEASE” & “THANK YOU” DO COUNT

This week I received three thank you cards from individuals conducting job searches. What a surprise since none of them had purchased any services from me! Our only interaction had been brief phone conversations where we had discussed their challenges in the job market and I had made a few suggestions on how they could improve their resumes. I was impressed that these people had taken the time to acknowledge my time with them. And it made me feel appreciated to know that they weren't taking my time for granted.

In today's tight job market, there are a lot of people (job seekers AND employers) who are feeling overwhelmed, rushed, unappreciated and just plain tired. What a difference manners can make in easing the stress!

Here are three perfect times when a "thank you" can help you rise above the crowd. Remember, the preferred attention-getting method is handwritten or typed sent by postal mail. However, the most common method is email and is better than not sending a "thank you" at all.

1) Always, and I mean always, send a thank you following any job interview. If possible, individual thank yous should be sent to each interviewer you encounter. Pick up business cards at the interview to make sure you have correct name spellings and addresses.

2) Your references are precious commodities. Don't forget to thank them when they respond to employers on your behalf. When you land that right job, send a special thank you to each reference with information about your new position.

3) When a networking contact shares a job lead or gives you a referral, send them a thank you. Your database of networking contacts can become your career's life blood, a gold mine of resources to sustain you throughout your career, not just between jobs.

What other times come to mind when a thank you would be appropriate during a job search? Leave your suggestions as comments on this blog.

JOB FAIR STRATEGY

A marketplace frequented by job seekers and employers alike is the job fair. Some are hosted by employers themselves, while others are sponsored by third parties. Either way, this job matching can work to the advantage of the individual looking for that "right" job.

An employer-hosted fair usually has a tight agenda to find new hires for many open positions. You should attend one of these job fairs only if you are interested in working for this particular company and want a job they are seeking to fill.

On the other hand, a third-party sponsored career fair is usually a lot larger in scope and participation. Many employers share the stage, some with positions to fill and others just scouting the avaiilable talent – YOU!

Sometimes you'll find booths staffed with college representatives, headhunters and military recruiters. You may even find free career-related seminars to attend where you can learn the latest in hiring trends, interviewing techniques, job search methods, and more.

Prparing for a job fair is similar to preparing for a job interview. Get your resume written and print several copies – it's your calling card! Choose your attire carefully, a conservative suit or dress with appropriate dress shoes. A practical suggestion: take an attache or small briefcase to carry your resumes and any materials you may pick up the day of the job fair. Role play tough interview questions like, "Why should I hire you?" and "What are you looking for in a job with this company?" The night before get plenty of rest – this is not a good time to party!

When you arrive at the job fair, put on a smile and enter the door with self confidence on your face. Firmly shake every hand extended to you. Ask appropriate questions to company representatives. Since you have practiced your interview questions, you are ready to sell your skills to the employers that interest you.

When you go home, review your materials before filing them. Make notes on the back of business cards you collected to help you remember what you liked or disliked about a company. Within the week, contact the people you met to help them remember you.

Good luck!

IS YOUR RESUME GETTING YOU INTERVIEWS?

If you're not getting the interviews you want and expect, maybe it's time to rewrite your resume. In this challenging economy hiring authorities don't have time to pour over your resume to determine if you are someone who qualifies. Make it easy for them. Give them the information they need at the top of the first page in a summary of qualifications. Include keywords pertaining to your industry and position so your resume can be recovered from any database into which it is downloaded.

Stick with a reverse chronological format. A functional resume is sure to frustrate its reader and will likely get tossed. Emphasize your quantifiable accomplishments for each position with each company, but don't bullet every statement in your resume…bullets lose their effectiveness when overused. Use action words to begin your phrases.

Keep personal information off your resume. Employers don't want to see anything that could potentially make them liable, such as age, marital status, and religious affiliation. And don't put your photo on it, either.

Contain your resume to two pages, if at all possible – one page if you have fewer than five years of work experience. Proofread your resume to ensure perfection; there's no room for error.

If you feel you aren't doing your resume justice, by all means, hire a professional resume writer to partner with you to get the job done. One of the most difficult things to do is to be objective about what to include in your own resume – get the help you need to ensure your resume will open the door to job interviews.

I’M ADDICTED TO TWITTER

I admit it. I discovered Twitter and got addicted to posting tweets instead of blogging here. Sorry, but Twitter is so cool! Each post (called a tweet) can only be 140 characters or less, so it forces me to be succinct and focused in my post. I love being brief!

So far, the only other problem is I find myself slipping into Twitter shortcut language when writing emails. Oops! Not very professional.

Want to follow me on http://twitter.com/KCCareerCoach?

Here are fivelinks I've picked up from other tweeps' tweets this week:

1) Twittering Recruiter Directory (free). 250 recruiter links: http://tinyurl.com/cwdu5w

2) Ten Things to Do After Layoff: http://tinyurl.com/cf6xkd

3) Take Proactive Steps to Avoid a Layoff: http://tinyurl.com/cqd3cw

4) Why Your Job Search Isn't Getting You a Job: http://tinyurl.com/c3ba3l

5) Have a job search question? Need advice? http://jobsearch.about.com/

Explore!

WHY I LOVE TO BLOG

I accept the challenge of my friend Patsi Krakoff to share why I enjoy blogging:

1. I love to reach out to help my audience who's facing career changes.

2. I love being "edgy" sometimes just for the heck of it.

3. I love making new friends who find me through my blog.

4. I love to challenge others to think outside that darn box.

5. I love being on the Internet – and blogging is a huge piece of that.

So who will accept my challenge to share why they love to blog?

I'm tagging my friends below:

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

Janine Moon

Melani Ward

Maiya Rose Benda

Laura Berman Fortgang

JOB SEARCH WITH TWITTER

From one of my LinkedIn Groups I found a great post on how to use Twitter to help you with a job search. The following is from Mary Pat Whaley who has her own blog, "Manage My Practice." Mary Pat has been in the healthcare field and is now looking for a new opportunity. You gotta check out her blog.

Here's one of her job search strategies:

1. Join Twitter ( www.twitter.com ) for free. You can use Twitter on your computer, or on your phone, or both.

2. Click on the "SEARCH" link at the bottom of your new home page.

3. Enter these hashtags (or pointers) in the search box to find tweets relating to jobs: #rtjobs #jobangels #job

4. In the box where you can answer the question "What are you doing?", enter info about the job you need to fill, or the job you want (in 140 characters or less.) Here's mine: #rtjobs Desire job managing lg doc practice that is interested in SM & innovation – my blog is managemypractice.com, will relocate

5. Feel free to Follow me – my name is @mpwhaley and you can go to my home page by using this: http://twitter.com/mpwhaley What innovative ways are you finding to address your needs in the new job market?

BTW, follow me on Twitter, too, @KCCareerCoach – happy networking!

CAREER CHANGE: CAN A RECRUITER HELP?

When you contemplate changing jobs, you may consider looking for a recruiter. But did you know that a recruiter is only interested in you if you meet certain criteria? Before we even go there, though, know that recruiters NEVER work for you – they work for the employers who contract with them.

So what criteria do recruiters use to assess if you are worth their time?

First, recruiters usually prefer candidates who are currently employed. If you're not working, an employer can usually find you on their own.

Second, recruiters usually can't make a match with a candidate who wants to change careers. Employers will only pay recruiter commissions for candidates who currently work in the field they're hiring for – they won't pay recruiter commissions if they have to train a candidate for an entirely new career. Training vs. commissions – see my point?

Third, recruiters usually want to find you – not the other way around. Many consider it a waste of their time to interview candidates if they don't have employer contracts for the positions these candidates want.

In today's Kansas City Star, columnist Diane Stafford explores recruiting practices and has some good advice for job seekers from an actual headhunter, "How to Attract a Headhunter."

LAYOFF LEFTOVERS AFFECT ALL WORKERS

Even those who are left behind following a layoff have "stuff" to deal with. "The psychological fallout of surviving a layoff lasts six years, according to the study published by the Institute of Behavioral Science," as published by Los Angeles Times. "Layoffs clearly have emotional and practical consequences for companies and workers."

Looks like no one wins today except maybe the CEOs who got big bonuses when they used taxpayer dollars from their federal bailouts. I wonder when the last time was that these guys ate macaroni and cheese for dinner.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm a business owner – I'm all for making a profit. But if I had to borrow money from strangers to keep my "boat" afloat, I wouldn't go out and buy a new car with the money.

Why don't these guys get it? The taxpayer money they got is not an entitlement.

NO JOBS? IT JUST AIN’T SO

If you listen to the news and read most of the newspapers, you'll come away believing there's no hope for anyone in today's job market. Yes, layoffs are happening, but good jobs still exist for workers with the right skills and attitudes.

That's right – attitude. Improve yours accordingly to improve your job opportunities:

  1. It's not just about you. Sure, you have needs to meet like paying bills, but you work to meet a need of your employer. Don't forget where you paycheck comes from.
  2. Become proactive. Ask for more responsibility. Assume a high profile on your job. Get noticed by getting real about what you can do for others.
  3. Be flexible. Bounce back quickly if you do get caught in a layoff. Your job is NOT who you are – it is NOT your identity in this world. It's only a job – and you CAN replace it.

So where are the jobs? According to CNN, Fortune has announced 20 employers that are looking to fill at least 350 jobs each. And if you want to retrain yourself or advise your college-aged son or daughter, the need for registered nurses is growing. Do your research to unearth all possibilities. Work with a career coach to determine what's best for you.

Finally, don't get me wrong. Your work IS important. I firmly believe that everyone has the right to work his/her passion. You spend way too many hours each day doing your job to do one that doesn't make you happy. But make your job your CHOICE, not a knee-jerk reaction to fear.

WHERE ARE THE BRIDGE JOBS?

Layoffs abound. Traditional career advice says, "Find a 'bridge' job until you can get back into the full time workforce." But where are these bridge jobs? They used to be in retail services – but so many stores have closed their doors and there's a hidden hit list of coming retail bankrupties in 2009. So where does one go to get a temporary cash flow?

The federal government is one option. The IRS seeks part time clerks and processors in the first quarter every year. And I've seen a plea for census workers, though that time is a little ways off.

Fast food restaurants may still be hiring, though minimum wage applies here.

Handy with tools? You might be able to find a casual labor job as homeowners work at fixing up their houses as they wait for the housing market to improve before selling.

Let's face it. Bridge jobs are few and far between. I'm looking for solutions for my career coaching clients. Help!

GREEN JOBS: WHERE ARE THEY?

If "green" jobs are the way of the future, where do you go to find one?

As more layoffs head our way and whole companies disappear forever, creativity is the name of the game as we position our strengths, skills, and brands to move into the new future of work.  "Green" jobs will play a huge role in the new work world – are you ready to make the switch?

Top 10 Green Jobs for the Future gives us an idea of what fields we may find ourselves working in soon. Can you see yourself fitting into any of these 10 jobs? What does your creativity tell you is the best way for you to take the "green" job plunge?

GOT LAYOFF FEAR? BEAT IT BY BECOMING PROACTIVE – NOW!

Web 2.0 offers many ways to job search beyond posting your resume to a job board. Networking still rules as the #1 way to get a new job, so take advantage of online tools as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and more to meet new people, spotlight your career knowledge and expertise, and make it easy for the hiring people find you.

“Job seekers have only scratched the surface when it comes to using Web 2.0 to assist their search. They are learning that simply posting resumes on job boards and responding to online help-wanted ads is not enough. During downturns in the 80s and 90s, there were several instances of job seekers parading the sidewalks with sandwich boards that contained their resume. YouTube could become the sandwich board of the new millennium,” says John Challenger, chief executive officer of the outplacement firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Read the full article, "Job Market Outlook Grim for 2009" but keep in mind one thing – don't let yourself become a victim – take charge of your career now!

HOW TO BEAT THE BUSINESS BLOGGING BLUES

I think I've found a solution to the business blogging blues…you know, those days when you're faced with a blank screen, a blog that needs a post, and a brain that's really not sure your blog is getting good results anyway?

Have you ever had an argument in your head that goes like this:

  • I know I should be blogging more often for my business or work or career, but I'm not sure what to say
  • I know other people swear that their blog is a major source of leads…but why don't more people know about mine?
  • My writing's not bad; maybe I should post more than once every two weeks?
  • I can't seem to get my paragraphs formatted right…
  • I probably should be splitting up my longer posts, but how do I do that?
  • How do I get subscribers to my blog?

Well, unless you grew up on the Web, maybe you just aren't comfortable with blogging software and geek-speak. So if you're like me, and you need a little help with your business blog, here's a great learning system that's just been launched by Patsi Krakoff and Denise Wakeman aka The Blog Squad™.

The Better Business Blogging Training System

There are plenty of blogging manuals out there, but very few specifically address "business" blogging and break things down into clearly prioritized steps with tutorials and audio training.

What's different about this program? It's a comprehensive learning system. Lessons are delivered over a period of several weeks, giving you time to implement, practice, and learn before the next module is delivered. Cool.

And there are 3 entry levels so you can choose how much training you need:

Plan A: For do-it-yourselfers starting a business blog
Plan B: Intermediate level training including basic manual plus modules for better business blogging and writing persuasive content
Plan C: Get your blog set up by The Blog Squad™ and let them train you personally

>>Personally, I've experienced the training of The Blog Squad first hand. I was a student in their very first virutal training class in 2005. I know I couldn't have gotten started blogging without them. When it comes to using Typepad, they rock - they know it all – and they know how to get it across to the beginning blogger like I was just 3 years ago.

Today The Blog Squad has so much more to offer, and I know you can find the solution to any blogging problem in the Build a Better Blog ebook that's included with all three levels of training in the Better Business Blogging Training System.

If you're struggling with your blog or haven't started blogging yet, The Build a Better Blog Training System is the best place to start! A little bit of knowledge on how to do it right will change your blogging experience into something fun and profitable!

A TRULY “GREEN” JOB FOR SOME

I just read an article about landscaping that got me thinking about this as a possible transition position for some workers - especially those who've gone through layoffs in the construction field. Additionally, the spin-off jobs related to landscaping, such as in the retail sector, are also potentially hot areas.

"Landscaping Emerges as Sound Investment Amidst Recession" discusses "a new report just released by leading industrial market research publisher SBI, (that) provides an in-depth treatment of this under-investigated market." (While this article looks at "green" from a financial investment perspective, read this article from a career transition perspective.)

As this trend toward "green" continues to grow, start thinking about what you can do to plug into this new opportunity for job growth. Here's a tip if you are in the job market again: set up a Google Alert for "green jobs" and watch your email box for new career ideas. These times we're in demand creativity when it comes to your job – get that thinking hat on now!

CAREER CHANGE – WHAT’S HEADING YOUR WAY?

In his weekly address to the nation today, President-elect Obama hints at what could yet come for U.S. workers – potentially millions of layoffs in 2009. But he also proposes a plan: "The economic recovery plan being developed by his staff aims to create 2.5 million jobs by January 2011."

The Big Question: Will you be ready to change jobs – even careers – if necessary? Now's the time to take stock of what you know, what you can do, and what you can learn. Don't let a layoff catch you off guard – be ready for it even if you can't imagine how YOUR job could possibly be in jeopardy.

While financial expert Suze Orman says now is the time to "hunker down," only pay for purchases with cash, and save 10% of your income — now is NOT the time to "hunker down" job where your job is concerned. Instead, you have to become proactive – take charge – grab control of your career and your job. Whatever you do, don't trust your company to take care of you – you must take care of yourself.

[Sidebar: Last week I bid an outplacement project for a small company that was eliminating the positions of three employees - each person over 50 years of age and each with 13-20 years' experience at the company. THIS COULD ALSO HAPPEN TO YOU!]

Career change is never easy. It requires an open mind, flexibility, and acceptance that your current job situation is going in a different direction whether you want to go with the flow or not. Please, use this time while you're still employed to create your personal career plan. Take the time to do the research to know where you could fit in if the next layoff hits you.

NO JOB COMES WITH A GUARANTEE

Are you in "hunker down" mode at work – just trying not to "make waves?" Afraid that the next layoff may snag YOU?

Now’s not the time to act like an ostrich – but more like a bird of prey. Get proactive. If you like your job, find ways to become more visible in the workplace. Make yourself indispensible. Ask for extra work – get cross trained in various areas of responsibilities.

But if you feel like a seat warmer in your job or if you are burned out and can’t bear the thought of taking on more work, then perhaps you are due for a career change.

What? A career change now? Yes! There are still industries that are hiring – you just have to find out which ones. Some fields (e.g., healthcare, security, some technology – to name a few) are needing new hires. You’ll need to get answers to questions such as: 1) Will your skills transfer? 2) Will this new job pay enough? 3) Will you like the work?

But first find out if a career change is for you. Take a free assessment such as the one you find at www.CareerChangeSigns.com. This can be the first step to your wanting again to get up in the morning to go to work. You owe it to yourself to know if a career change is for you.

HOW TO ACE A JOB INTERVIEW

While getting a job – just any job – may be the most important thing in your life right now, the harsh reality is this: Potential employers don’t care about your problems; they are focused on their own. Employers are interested in finding the best candidate to hire for their open positions. So that puts the burden on YOU to prove your value, to prove your uniqueness, as to why YOU should be the one that is selected.

Proving value can be done by discussing examples that support any statement you may say in response to interview questions. For example, if you are asked, “What are your best qualifications for this job?” you might respond with, “I am a hard worker and have a great work ethic.” OK… So prove it! Give a couple of examples from past jobs where you went the extra mile, where you voluntarily worked overtime, or where you got kudos from your boss for the great work that you did.

It’s important to prepare for the interview by thinking about your examples or work stories in advance. Writing your stories out using a formula – CAR – really helps. CAR stands for Challenge/Action/Result. Explain a challenge that you faced in a previous job, the actions that you took to resolve that challenge, and the great results that occurred. This is the best way to prepare for any interview that you go to.

Before leaving an interview it’s important the employer knows that you are interested in the job. Employers don’t like rejection any more than you do. They are more apt to offer a position to the person who expresses that they really want the job than to a person about whom they have no clue if they’ll take it or not if offered. So at the end of an interview, thank the interviewer and politely say, “I just want you to know how interested I am in this position and I’d really like to work here.” That’s enough – they’ll get the message and hopefully, you’ll get the job offer when they are ready to make one.

DO YOUR VALUES MATCH THE COMPANY CULTURE?

Are you in touch with your core values? How do you determine if a potential employer will honor your values in their workplace? Many workers walk into misery when they accept a position at a company where their values are not in alignment with those of that company.

Cindy Maude, President/CEO of Callahan Creek (a marketing communications agency) addressed a networking group I attended today. Her presentation about women in leadership roles was very compelling. She shared her lessons learned from 20 years of growing a successful business.

But what stuck with me was her message about how important values are to her agency. They are so important that all employment candidates are screened for value alignment by being asked behavioral and situational based interview questions prior to any employment offer being extended.

So, here’s another reason to know your core values and how you "show up" with them. Give this some thought before starting your next job search.

JOB TIPS FOR RETURNING TO WORK

Just got back to the office following my morning interview on WDAF-TV, Kansas City’s Fox station. The three-minute interview afforded so little time for information sharing, so here is the expanded version of what I discussed today for those who are unemployed and trying to return to work.

Tip 1: Get out of the house: networking trumps Internet job boards.

Most jobs are gotten through networking – up to 60-80%. Meet people who know people that can introduce you to new people. Attend professional and community events. (Sidebar: One of my career coaching clients got his new job by getting to know his son’s Little League coach.)

Only 10-15% of all jobs are gotten through Internet job boards. Spending hours in front of a computer hoping to find the right job will only make you feel more like a deer in the headlights. You may think you’re doing something; it looks like you’re doing something; you may fool your spouse or partner into believing you’re doing something – but really, you’re not doing enough.

Tip 2: Only you can make it happen: recruiters work for employers.

Recruiters aren’t there to find you a job. They’re job is to find the right candidate for their client companies who can’t find the ideal client. Someone who’s unemployed is not that person as a company gets tons of applications from unemployed people. Why should they pay a recruiter to find unemployed applicants?

You have to find your way to your new job on your own. It takes long, hard work to succeed. Take advantage of a support team of family and friends to help you, as well as professionals like a career coach – people who really care about your success.

Tip 3: Get a temporary job while continuing your job search.

Temporary employment can help out with a cash flow problem while you’re looking for a job. Apply at employment agencies that specialize in temp jobs. Look into seasonal employment such as tax time work and retail holiday work.

Tip 4: Embrace change: new job field, maybe self-employment.

Don’t be afraid to change, grow, and take on new challenges – try new things. "Green" jobs, or environment-related work, are a growing area. There are still jobs available in technology, health care, customer service, sales and accounting for those who qualify.

Don’t qualify? Assess your current skills and interests, then get more education, if necessary, to change to jobs in careers that are available.

Starting a small business, whether from scratch or through franchising, is an option to consider for some people. For others, self-employment can become a bigger disaster than being unemployed. You have to test your entrepreneurial skills before starting any business. Know your threshold for handling risk. If risk stresses you out, you are not a good candidate for becoming a small business owner.

Bottom line? Don’t give up. Looking for a job is a full time job in itself. Put in your 40 hours per week and you’ll be surprised at what you will find.

GREEN JOBS – THE NEWEST, HOTTEST CAREER TREND

Kermit the Frog (from Sesame Street) says, "It’s not easy being green." Maybe not, but it’s beginning to look like "green" has a bright future for many careers.

As you consider your first career or a new career, contemplate how what you do can be applied to work with and in the environmental field. It appears that opportunities are growing rapidly, at least according to the article, "Green Jobs Take Root and Proliferate."

LIFE AFTER LAYOFF: HERE WE GO AGAIN

Seems like only yesterday that I wrote the article, "Life After Layoff: Three Keys for Speeding Up Reemployment." Actually, it was 2002 when it was first published – and now, unfortunately, it is in vogue again.

This morning, major layoffs are in the news, e.g., General Motors. Workers begin to wonder – am I next?

If you find yourself facing a layoff, your mindset will become the biggest factor in how quickly you get reemployed. As you shift into job search mode, take care of yourself – exercise, eat healthy, get plenty of sleep – and look at career management as your new temporary full time job.

Today I was interviewed on Kansas City’s Fox 4 TV morning news about how to survive a layoff. Watch this interview, read my article, and if you are currently employed, take immediate steps to safeguard your job security.

In other words, don’t take your job for granted. Now is the time to touch base with your network of contacts, dust off and update your resume, and become alert to what’s happening in the marketplace. You never know when your time may come, when you need to make your next career move. It’s a lot easier to change jobs by choice, not by default.

NETWORKING MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER

According to the Silicon Alley Insider, "Monster’s employment index fell 4.8% year-over-year in January — meaning companies were looking to fill fewer positions online this month than they were a year ago."

Although networking has always been the #1 way to find a new job (some estimates as high as 80% for the best job search method), while online job search has accounted for 5-15% of successful new jobs, networking is definitely now more important than ever if you want to find your right position.

YOUR CAREER VALUES VS. YOUR WORKPLACE

Are your values in alignment with your workplace? Or do you cringe sometimes because your values don’t just quite fit in where you work?

Over the years of coaching many people about their careers, I’ve seen the values piece come up over and over again. I’ve learned that when you feel out of sync with your employer, you tend to feel out of place in your workplace. This will contribute to your discontent with your job and can become a primary reason for starting a job search.

Take the Workplace Values Exercise to see where your own "disconnects" are.

SURVEY PROJECTS 2008 EMPLOYMENT TRENDS

As I read the results of CareerBuilder.com’s recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive, certain numbers jumped off the page at me:

  • 32% of all employers want to hire more permanent full-time workers in 2008
  • 45% of employers in Professional and Business Services and Information Techonology will lead the hiring trend
  • More hiring will take place in the South and West than in Northwest and Midwest (Midwest is at the bottom of the group.)
  • 80% of employers plan to increase current employees’ salaries with 69% expecting to issue raises in first quarter
  • 45% of employers currently use online search and social networking sites to research job candidates (Beward of your digital dirt!) and 19% plan to add these activities to their searches
  • 85% of employers will be looking for bilingual candidates, and 48% claim Spanish is the most important second language to English

Take a few minutes and read the entire survey results. There’s a lot interesting data here gathered from November 13 through December 3, 2007. Hope it helps you with making your career plans for 2008.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

CAREER CHANGE – WHAT INFLUENCES IT?

Have you heard the news? Gas prices are rising, the housing industry is in crisis, health insurance premiums are soaring, visitors from abroad come to the U.S. to do their holiday shopping as the dollar declines in value. And the cost of food continues to skyrocket! (Milk, eggs, and cereal are almost beyond the reach of the average household.)

So, how does this all impact you? Just stop and reflect: When was the last time you got a cost-of-living raise? Is your salary keeping pace with your everyday expenses? Surprisingly, the so-called employment index appears steady – people aren’t losing their jobs – yet. But are workers thriving or barely surviving?

If you find yourself barely surviving instead of thriving, what will it take for you to make a career change in 2008? Don’t stay stuck in "business as usual" just because it’s familiar. If you’re not getting anywhere, take a chance – even it means an unknown change. Familiarity may feel comfortable, but it’s not always better.

Take this quiz to see what gets in your way of career change. For more info, contact meg@abilitiesenhanced.com.

JOB SEARCH TIPS

Wouldn’t it be nice if job search was easy? Unfortunately, it isn’t. It’s hard work that takes a long time to see its rewards. Here are a few tips to make it a bit more manageable:

Job Search Is a Numbers Game

Throughout your job search, ponder this – You must collect your share of "No’s" before you get your "Yes." And it only takes one "Yes" to get a job!

Ready My Lips

Interviewing is not just a question and answer session with a potential employer. Body language plays an important role, too. Shake hands with the interviewer, sit up straight, look the interviewer in the eye and SMILE! Smiling relaxes your facial muscles making you appear at ease and receptive to what the job interviewer is saying.

Grab more job search tips on the Abilities Enhanced resource page.

EMPLOYED? WHY YOU STILL NEED A RESUME

People are changing jobs at a rate many times faster today than they did only a few years ago. Your updated resume ensures your readiness when the right career opportunity arises. The worst time to try to write a resume is right after you find out that you are being terminated or laid off. Most people cannot emotionally handle the resume writing task at this time.

Companies continue to change and grow. When your time comes for review and promotion, your current resume becomes a documented record of your accomplishments, not to mention actual job responsibilities. (Have you ever had a boos ask you to write your own job description since he hadn’t a complete understanding of what you actually do during the normal course of a workday?)

In your present position, your current resume could be requested for a variety of reasons unrelated to job search activity:

  1. Perhaps a civic organization is seeking information about you for consideration to a special board appointment.
  2. Maybe you are preparing to expand you business and need an up-to-date biography as part of your loan application.
  3. Is it time to begin work on your post graduate degree? Schools might request a resume as part of the application process for admission.
  4. Public speakers often must present a biography before scheduling an engagement.
  5. Have you ever volunteered your time to a non-profit organization? A resume is helpful in presenting your qualifications and special interests.

So, get that resume written! Keep it on your home computer, not just at work! Be ready for any eventuality that pops up. Be ready when someone asks, "Do you have a resume I could look over?"

Take a look at some resume samples at Abilities Enhanced to get you started.

SO, YOU WANT TO GET PROMOTED?

You’ve been working long hours and lucky to get your 3% annual pay increase. Living expenses keep outpacing your raise. How can you ever get ahead financially? A promotion seems the answer, but your boss doesn’t seem interested in considering it – what’s up? You know your work is valuable and necessary to the department – doesn’t anyone care about what YOU need?

If this sounds like your situation, listen up. “People don’t get promoted as a reward for a job well done. They get promoted as part of the company’s total strategy – otherwise known as succession planning.” Huh?

It’s time for you to get strategic in your thinking about your career path. Remember, at work it’s all about “them” and not “you.” You have a job because you provide value to your company; you are contributing to your company’s overall profits. In order to get a promotion, not only do you have to contribute more value, you have to do it in such a way that fits into your company’s long term goals.

As you create your promotion strategy, dig into your company’s valued competencies and determine how your personal attributes align with them. Map out your plan for how you can boost your involvement to get recognition from the key management responsible for your promotion. It’s all about building relationships, building bridges, and spotlighting your achievements. Status quo won’t get you promoted – embracing change will!

Here’s a book to help you – Power Tools: Top Executive Coaches Put You on the Fast Track to SUCCESS! Check it out! Read my chapter, "Careers in Motion: Hang on for the Ride!"

NEW AMERICAN WORKPLACE

Gotta get the book, The New American Workplace, by James O’Toole and Edward Lawler. The authors presented a webinar today based on their book (sponsored by the American Management Association) where they analyzed the changes, consequences and choices of today’s organizations. They also traced the evolving history of work in America. Their book is based on serious research.

Some items of interest from the webinar:

1) Every individual has to manage his own career as companies won’t accept that responsibility anymore.

2) Companies are less willing to make long term investments in their employees’ professional development.

3) Although there are several companies out there that encourage participative work environments, many large companies resist this mode as it would limit executive pay checks.

What can an employee do?

SIGNS YOU’RE DUE FOR A CAREER CHANGE

Remember when you first started your job? Everyone and everything was new, different and full of promise and hope. You were excited about all the possibilities and eager to get started solving the problems of your company.

Today, perhaps only a few years later, everything’s changed. You may have a new boss, or new team members, at the very least. Systems have changed, perhaps company direction has changed, and you’re beginning to wonder what you ever saw in this position anyway.

If any of this rings true for you, you may be ready for a career change. Want to find out if it’s time for you to move on? Get my free report, "The Top 17 Signs You’re Due for a Career Change and What You Can Do About It!"

BUILDING AN ONLINE NETWORK

Whether you’re looking for a new job or just trying to manage the career you already have, it is common knowledge that networking is the key to success. But if you’re like most people, networking takes a lot of time and energy – commodities usually in short supply.

Linked In provides an online solution for strategic networking. The popularity of online networking is growing in leaps and bounds. Now’s the time to get involved. Check out my Linked In button under my picture on this blog. See what a difference a few connections can make to your being found online.

HOW DO YOU GET PROMOTED?

I attended an interesting seminar yesterday, delivered by a business professor. She presented the topic, "Myths on Moving Up the Ladder." A lot of good stuff here, but one thing in particular really resonated:

You won’t get promoted at work as a reward for how well you do your job, but rather only for how your promotion will play in to the company’s overall succession planning process. It’s all about the company’s needs – not yours.

Interesting – is this really true?

CAREER CHAOS ISN’T EASY, BUT IT’S WORTH IT!

Making changes under pressure usually results in the wrong decisions. Who can think clearly if you’ve just lost your job? However, if you have the financial resources and peace of mind, then, by all means, take the time following layoff or termination to carefully explore the changes you want to make in your next career move.

"Change Isn’t As Easy As It Sounds" (Kansas City Star, 12-31-06) addresses the dilemma of how much change one should undertake in finding a new job after layoff or termination. It makes for an interesting read, but fails to tell the stories of those who did make radical career changes successfully.

As a career coach, my files are filled with those success stories. It is possible to make radical career changes that result in your increased happiness and overall job satisfaction. It’s up to you to decide when you are ready to change instead of just looking for a job that pays you for doing the same old thing.

WANT TO CHANGE JOBS IN 2007?

It’s that time of year again. You know, goal-setting and New Year’s resolutions with all the best of intentions. If you are one of the many wanting to change jobs in 2007, here are a few basic tips:

1. Know what you want in a new job.

Make sure you’re moving toward a better job and not just running away from one you don’t like. What are your values and how do they align with a new company’s culture? What will make this new job better than the old one? (Money may not be the most important reason to change jobs.) A coach can help you work through the confusion.

2. Create a professional resume.

Your resume acts as your introduction to a company. It makes your first impression for you. Find books with resume samples to guide you or hire a professional resume writer who is trained, experienced and certified in this field. Make sure your resume reflects your work achievements. Don’t forget to send cover letters and interview thank you letters to show you understand business etiquette.

3. Evaluate your network of contacts.

The job search process is a lot like dating – prospects usually don’t come knocking on your door! You have to get out and meet people. More people get new jobs through networking than any other activity – up to 80% according to several surveys. Look at the business relationships you already have and what you do to cultivate them. What professional, civic and social groups do you belong to? Where do the people hang out that can introduce you to the right opportunities.

4. Practice your interviewing skills.

Most hiring authorities use "behavioral or situational" interviewing methods. Prepare for interviews with storytelling techniques. Write down examples from your work experience of specific challenges or situation, the actions you took to resolve those challenges, and the positive results of outcomes of your actions. Be ready to discuss these stories in any interview to demonstrate the value you have to offer an employer.

5. Test for business reality before saying, "yes."

Find out the salary, benefits, overtime expectations, relocation/travel requirements – you don’t want any surprises after you start a new job. Some executives even negotiate exit agreements before signing acceptance letters – kind of like pre-nuptial agreements!

6. Revisit old opportunities.

If the job you really want doesn’t choose you, check in with the employer 6-8 weeks later to see how their new hire is working out. Sometimes – not always – you can head off your competition and get a foot in the door before a second job vacancy notice is issued.

WHY WORKERS CHANGE JOBS

More money or something else? According to an 11/13/06 article in the Wall Street Journal ("Opportunity Knocks, and It Pays a Lot Better" by Erin White, section B-3), a recent survey of top performers showed that 71% considered compensation to be one of the top three reasons for changing jobs.

What’s up with this? I disagree with this survey. In fact, when interviewed by the reporter for my take on this finding, I said that money is often an employee’s camouflage for some other reason, such as career stagnation, boredom, or feeling unappreciated. (See my quote in the article.)

How about you? What do you see as the main reason people change jobs? What would be your reason?

DEFINING JOB SECURITY

After 35 years of dedicated service to a job he could count on everyday, my father retired from his company in 1985 with a good pension. Unfortunately, many of us will not see such a reward for the years we put into our careers. In fact, most of us won’t spend our entire lives working for the same employer.

The American dream of retiring from a company after working there a lifetime is no longer a realistic expectation for today’s workforce. Instead, thousands of workers who entered the workforce believing in retirement benefits have fallen victim to company downsizing, or rightsizing, as the process may be labeled today in an effort to turn a negative experience into a positive one.

How can we survive in a work world where there is no job security? Today’s job security must come from within. Each of us must ensure his or her own job security by becoming so competent and so self-confident in whatever we do that we can do it anywhere.

How do we accomplish this?

  • We must adopt an assertive learning style by earning that college degree or by finishing that advanced training.
  • We do it by attending professional seminars and networking with colleagues.
  • We do it by becoming experts in our fields, sharing our knowledge and showing others that we have what it takes to do it best.
  • We ask our companies for cross training and we volunteer our services for special projects.
  • We constantly search for ways to update our skills, knowing that change is the only constant in today’s workplace.
  • Acknowledge that no one is indispensable; don’t take your job for granted.
  • Accept the fact that everyday we must continue to earn the right to keep our jobs.

Build your job security by taking risks. Submit that application for a new and challenging position, even if you are comfortable and satisfied with your present job. Always be ready for the unexpected. Don’t ignore the proverbial “writing on the wall.”

Did you know that the best time to write your resume is immediately after starting a new job? That way you always have your resume up-to-date and ready to go on short notice. Have you ever seen that perfect position in the Sunday help wanted ads, but didn’t have the time with your busy work schedule to write a resume and submit it before the application deadline?

The worst time to write your resume is when you are hit with an unexpected termination or layoff. Emotions will take their toll when this happens making it next to impossible to organize your thoughts into a sharp, professional resume. Instead, be prepared!

Become friends with the unknown. Embrace change as an opportunity for career growth. “Fortune favors the bold,” is an observation from Virgil, a wise poet of long ago, that holds true even today. Are you bold enough to create your own job security? You will need to do just that to survive in this rapidly changing work world of the new millennium.

Our economy has endured many layoffs over the past several years. While the economy has definitely improved of late, do not take your job for granted. Don’t wait until the proverbial handwriting appears on your own company’s wall. Take charge of your own career so that you can design for yourself a happy, productive life.

WORKFORCE DISSATISFACTION

Workers are not only still unhappy at work, but getting more unhappy, according to a recent Harris Interactive Survey as reported in the business section of the Kansas City Star today.

"Fifty-eight percent of 1,050 adult full-time American workers recently surveyed by the Harris Interactive said they might leave their jobs if the economy continues to improve, an increase of 12 percentage points from the 2005 survey."

When will employers start to "get it" that workers need more than a paycheck to stay happy on the job? They need to be shown respect, appreciation, and have the opportunity to stretch their skills set. And they need decent benefits.

What else would keep you happy?

THE ULTIMATE JOB INSULT

Fired by email – what’s this work world coming to? Several hundred Radio Shack employees have started dusting off their resumes after learning their job fate this week electronically. Though they had advance warning of layoffs in the air, can you imagine the shock when you log on to your computer and find out you’ve been permanently logged off?

In this fast-paced electronic age, we seem to have lost our human touch and compassion. Is this firing by email another new job trend we just have to get used to?

TRAVELING WITH YOUR BOSS

Some of my manager-level clients have asked me lately what’s the proper behavior and etiquette for traveling with the boss. Good question… I posed it to the executive ExecuNet members on their forum and got some interesting replies.

View from the bosses:

"I was a CEO and was surprised when people who were normally attentive and very respectful would get into an ‘outside’ environment and act as if they were with their best friends on weekends. People should be attentive to what is going on. Be considerate and have an understanding that their behavior with other members of the party and ‘outsiders’ is still very important. Also be punctual, it always helps."

AND this view:

"Some negative things I have seen:
* Poor table manners
* Lack of punctuality for travel
* Pursuit of the opposite sex while still in business company

"In some organizations you are expected to spend a couple hours per evening with your colleagues at and after dinner discussing business, and those who retreat to their room or to exercise are viewed negatively. In other situations, the after-hours are not scripted and you are free to do as you please. It is important to know the difference."

From the manager’s perspective:

"I’ve traveled with a wide variety of bosses over the course of my career. Knowing your boss’ habits BEFORE the trip will make your life much easier.

"I tend to over-prepare, which means I am rarely caught off-guard on the professional side of the trip. Also, it is usually ‘my’ territory, so I know my way around and can make the trip much easier for the boss or anyone else.

"I hope some bosses will also take heed of any tips – I have traveled with at least one who expected everyone else to dance attendance – meet for a leisurely breakfast at 8, when we should have been on the way to the client location before then. I hate being late; my clients know that I am punctual – it’s uncomfortable when the boss creates an awkward situation."

It looks like there are two sides to this issue as there are with most issues. An interesting article on this topic is "How to Travel with Your Boss: 7 Tips."

What experience can you share? Please send me your comments.

TIME TO MOVE ON?

So you had your review. And the boss really socked it to you. What do you do? Do you take it on the chin and make the changes your boss wants? Or do you chuck it all and walk out the door?

The Wall Street Journal published an article on this topic, "Review Went Badly? Stay Cool and Find a Fix." Take a look. Yours truly is quoted on reasons why you might get a bad review and how to handle it.

Whatever you do, keep in mind that your actions at work shape your career’s destiny. Choose wisely.

PHONE ETIQUETTE – PLEASE!

It happened again. I had only a few minutes between appointments to grab my phone messages. Someone interested in coaching services had decided to leave a 3-minute drawling summary of his career situation and then zipped off his phone number as if I were a stenographer typing 150 miles a minute! No way could I write down his rapidly fired number without listening to it 3 times! That meant I had to replay the drawling summary 3 times, too. What a waste of my time!

Please… When you are in a job search – or whenever you use the phone – consider the person who listens to your phone message. Make it brief leaving only the simplest facts to convey your reason for calling. But more than that, s l o w l y speak your phone number, then repeat it so the listener does not have to re-listen to your message. This will not only make a good impression on the listener, but will enhance your chances of having your call returned.

Read other Job Search Tips to help get your career in gear!

PERSONAL EMAILS AT WORK: BE CAREFUL!

Before hitting the send button on your work computer, read what you have written. That’s the career advice coming from the CCN report of a survey of almost 300 companies with at least 1000 employees.

If you send an email with any confidential information or obscene/offensive language from your company computer, you may find yourself among the 1 in 3 employees fired – or at the very least, disciplined – for this type of behavior.

Employers mean business where their property and image are concerned. This applies to your email, blogs, instant messaging and any Internet activity you engage in at work on company computers. Note: nothing you do on your company’s computer is private – everything is subject to company review at any time. Did you realize that your emails will last forever? Even long after you have forgotten that you even sent them?

As a career coach, I see many of clients use their company email accounts to communciate with me. Makes me wonder how many employers actually know that their people are looking for new jobs.

CEO PAY: OUT OF CONTROL?

Coaching executives on managing their careers, I hear from those who pledge their lives to their companies, working long hours for barely a six-figure income. I ask them, "Is it worth it?" And they reply," What else can I do?"

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I recently read an article in Business 2.0, "Ending CEO Pay Envy." I had no idea that CEOs in the U.S. earn "more than 170 times the average worker’s pay." In Great Britain, the article continued, "that multiplier is just 22." So what’s up with that? (BTW, CEOs earned only 40 times more in the 1970s – only…)

More stats from the article:

  • The median salary for CEOs of the 100 largest U.S. companies hit $17.9 million in 2005 – a 25% jump over 2004
  • U.S. workers got a 3% raise in 2005

What’s the author’s solution to the problem? He advocates that everyone stops writing about it as it just fuels the fires. If not discussed, the CEO pay pendulum will stop swinging and move back to its balanced state. Really? No, seriously, really?

So, think about this picture as you fire up your laptop at your son’s next Little League game. Do you think you can become one of the CEOs in the out-of-this-world income levels? How many times have you won the lottery lately?

BUSINESS START-UP: IS IT FOR YOU?

Are you one of the many feeling driven to start your own business? If so, you are part of a growing movement among disillusioned corporate workers. Frustrated with no annual raises – or raises that equal less than the cost of living – people are tired of being squeezed out of their time as they work double shifts and longer. They are looking for solutions that give them more control of their work lives with a promise of higher returns on this time.

An article in the June 2006 issue of Business 2.0 Magazine, "How to Build a Bulletproof Startup," caught my eye. I was impressed by the clean and straightforward map of how to build a small business. I wish I’d had such a model when I started my career coaching business six years ago! If you’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurship bug, take a look. This article will help you decide if you have what it takes to start your own business.

Top 5 Ways to Jump Start a Stalled Job Search

1) Have your resume critiqued by a professional and certified resume writer. Ensure your self-marketing materials are promoting you in the most up-to-date manner with a spotlight on your proven results.

2) Seek out a career coach for a "career review." Most career coaches offer complimentary initial consultations. If you see the value in this service, you may be pleasantly surprised at the results you can get when you create a strategic career plan.

3) Get out of the house at least 3 times per week! This is critical – I know you’ve heard this before, but MOST jobs are landed through networking. Just as in dating, they don’t come knocking on your door.

4. Make yourself "findable" on the Web. Write professional articles and publish them; post to a variety of professional boards (not just job search boards); and start blogging in a professional and informative way (beware of your digital dirt!).

5. Assemble a core support team of colleagues and friends on whom you can count to 1) introduce you to key people, 2) notify you of job openings in your field, and 3) offer you cheese to compliment your "whine."

6) I know, I said 5 ways, but this is a bonus I just had to add. TAKE CHARGE! It is possible to control your own job search instead of turning the reins over to recruiters and hiring companies. How? Get proactive by developing a lifelong career plan that includes an interactive/reactive/proactive network of the "right" people in your field. Don’t fall into the trap of "career by default" instead of by choice. Instead, imagine your career as a chess game. Each of your moves is strategic and critical to your success.

THE GLOBAL CAREERS PERSPECTIVE

What a week! As I finish packing and get ready to leave Boston, I look back on my global experience of these past few days at the annual Association of Career Professionals International conference. Once a year I join colleagues from 30 countries as we expand our learning on how to better help people manage their careers. This year we listened to founding experts remind us of our professon’s roots – how today’s best practices were founded on principles from a half century ago. But more than that, we heard about how yesterday’s future has become today’s reality.

Words like expatriate, outsourcing, talent management, dual careers, emotional intelligence, retirement careers – all dominated workshops and dinner conversations alike. Whether from the Netherlands, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Italy, Canada, Brazil, UK or USA (and so many other countries), attendees are leaving this careers conference with the common understanding of the critical role we all play in today’s global economy.

But more than that, we go home today with our own global network intact and even stronger – knowing that we have allies around the world supporting each other as we return to coach and consult our clients on how to grow their careers at home and abroad.

BEWARE YOUR RANTS & RECORDS

What’s happened to the hiring process? Not only can HR check out your credit report before extending an offer, they will Google your name to find out everything they can about you before even interviewing you. According to the March 27 article in Business Week Magazine, "Your Are What You Post",  learn how to "clean up your digital dirt" so that you have a chance to get the job you want. (View online at the link.)

There are no more secrets that you can keep from employers who want to know. They’ll find it all out, so just beware of your Internet rants and records. Your career depends on it.

JUGGLING JOB OFFERS – WHAT TO DO?

In today’s work world, where we expect employers to treat us ethically, a growing number of job candidates (even at the executive level) are facing a huge dilemma – do I take the job offer on the table or hold out for the one I really want?

The Wall Street Journal ran an article January 24 that offered advice from experts on this: "Juggling Two Offers Takes Special Skills." My .02 were included. Although it’s easy for all of us "experts" to say what’s the right thing to do, until you’re facing it yourself, what’s most important is hard to define.

One of my local ExecuNet networkers emailed me: "I read your quote a couple of days ago in the WSJ talking about what to do when you get an offer from your second priority employer and have to make a decision. I’m in that position today, and as opposed to letting a soon-to-be-offer go, I intend to take it. It’s with (a Fortune 500 company) and is really a pretty good job anyway. Thanks for your advice!"

I hope it works out for this exec. What would you have done?

FLIPPING THE JOB INTERVIEW

Cracking Your Next Company’s Culture is a must read for anyone embarking on a job search. Instead of spending all your prep time rehearsing your answers to tough interview questions, read this article and note what you need to do to ask the right questions.

One strategy that grabbed my attention is to ask the interviewer to give an example of how the company "lives and breathes its value statements." Of course, you have know what the company value statements are, so your research is highly critical.

Tired of all those behavioral and situational interview questions? Turn the tables by asking the interviewer to "walk you through a recent initiative." Wow! This is great stuff!

EXECUTIVE EXODUS

Despite the improving employment market, there are still a lot of unhappy executives out there. According to a recent survey of 147 employed executives by ExecuNet (executive job search and employment network), "67% are not satisfied with their current jobs – up from 55% in July 2005 – and of those who are not satisfied, 78% plan to change companies in the next six months."

What’s up with that? I thought executives called the shots. Why are they so unhappy?

The survey gave five main reasons:

  1. Poor company culture
  2. Limited opportunity for advancement
  3. Lack of challenge or personal growth
  4. Compensation (not high enough? – come on!)
  5. Boss is not a good match

Dave Opton, founder of ExecuNet, summed it up this way: "Companies have neglected retention for too long and now that the competition for talent is heating up, many are responding with too little, too late."

The executives that responded to this survey had been on their jobs an average of 6 years and earned around $171,000. (I repeat – compensation not high enough? – come on!)

My response to this survey is mixed. If executives are unhappy with the company culture, why don’t they try to change it? At their level, wouldn’t they have some influence? As for not getting along with their boss, in what perfect world are they looking to live? This survey just goes to prove that executives share the same job satisfaction issues as the people they are trying to lead.

MANNERS MATTER

"Being gracious in life will carry you far," espoused United States Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser. Attending my son’s college graduation ceremony, I listened intently as Kooser delivered the keynote address. Speaking to the graduates, he assured them that his words would be brief and forgave them in advance if they didn’t remember much of his speech. I was instantly attracted to the manner of this 35-year-career insurance man turned poet, so hurriedly reached for a scrap of paper to scribble a few notes.

Kooser told the graduates that when they left the university with diploma in hand they needed only one other thing to enter the world – a box of blank thank you notes. He asked these young achievers to heed his one bit of advice as they began their new lives. Yes, they needed thank you notes to acknowledge their graduation gifts, but more than that, they would need thank you notes throughout their journey of lifelong learning.

Graduates aren’t the only ones who can go far by being gracious. How many bridges can be built with a simple thank you! Looking back over the years since I launched my coaching business, I can point to several instances when doors were opened due to my thank you notes. One particular time stands out.

After finding my website on the Internet, a local television reporter contacted me for an on-camera interview about career coaching. Immediately following the interview, I wrote out a thank you card and mailed it to her. She called me a couple days later, pleased to get the thank you note, saying this was the first one she had ever received for doing an interview. We chatted briefly, and she asked if she might refer another reporter to me who was doing a feature series on career challenges. Meeting with the second reporter resulted in my being interviewed two more times on local TV in one summer! Would this have happened if I had not sent a thank you note? Maybe, but I believe my thank you note to the first reporter caused her to refer me.

Everyone wants to feel appreciated, even a television reporter who finds herself in the spotlight everyday. When we omit the "thank you," we take people for granted – in a way telling them that they don’t really matter. Showing your appreciation is not only a matter of expressing good manners, it is a gesture that will help you reap many rewards.

GET KNOWN TO GET RESULTS

Since the demise of job security, YOU are in charge of your own career as if you were in charge of your own company: CEO of Me, Inc. (Branding Guru, Tom Peters, first labeled this workplace shift in 1997.) Just as entrepreneurs are advised to build business by integrating four key strategies – publishing, public speaking, networking, and creating a website – these actions can also work for you!

To close a business deal (i.e., get a job!) as CEO of Me, Inc., do the following:

  • Publish – Write expert articles to attract interest in YOU, your personal brand. Research what your target market (i.e., potential employer) reads, then submit articles to print and online publications. Get acknowledged!
  • Present – Develop expert presentations using the above approach. Contact event organizers to offer your speaking skills. Professional groups welcome presenters who don’t charge fees. Get seen!
  • Network – Meet and greet hiring authorities where they hang out: civic organizations, nonprofit boards, fund raising events, the golf course… Get involved!
  • Create a Website – Put your resume on its own website, then list the URL on your business cards used for networking. Get connected!

Visibility builds credibility. Become a commodity a company must have!

CHASING HAPPINESS

As a career coach I see a lot of self-proclaimed unhappy people. When I ask new clients their main goal for the next three months and 90% say they want to be happy, I have to sit back and ask, "What does happiness look like to you?" and "When will you know you have achieved it?"

Most have no specific answer to either question. It seems that happiness is an elusive state of being, some nebulous sense of utopia that can only be realized by having more than "enough" money (how much?), the "perfect" mate, zero stress, total freedom (at work and home), absence of boredom – and so on.

The clarifying question becomes: Is happiness more like a half-full glass or a half-empty glass? "Neither," say most. "Happiness is when the glass is 100% full." So, am I to believe that no one in this world is happy? After all, let’s get real – how many of us live our lives with our glass 100% full? Is that even possible?

Coaching moment: Choose ONE thing you can do today that would result in raising the water line in your "happiness" glass. It doesn’t have to be big, but it does have to be sincere. Step back and ask yourself, "Why does this make me happy?"

STUPID INTERVIEW QUESTIONS?

There seems to be a contest among HR folks as to who can ask the most innovative interview questions. Some of them pop up over and over again. Others appear to be a stretch to ask, let alone answer. Business Week recently offered its own commentary on what are stupid interview questions. My only question is this: If you really want the job, can you afford to NOT answer the question just because you see it as stupid?

CAREER HELP FOR KATRINA JOBLESS

Hundreds of thousands of individuals have lost jobs (not to mention resumes and address books) as a direct result of Hurricane Katrina. These people need the help of career professionals to get their lives back on track. Volunteers for Careers is up and running to provide pro bono career services to these individuals.

Professional resume writers, career coaches, and career counselors – members of several professional careers industry associations – have volunteered to assist. Each careers professional is experienced, credentialed and available by phone to advise on resume writing, job search strategies, and career transitions.

If you have been affected by Hurricane Katrina, take advantage of this fr*e service today! Register online at Volunteers for Careers. You will be matched with the appropriate careers professional to help you return to work ASAP!

A RESUME TELLS ALL – EVEN WHAT’S NOT LISTED

Once again a resume trips up the person it was meant to help. Whether by intention or by accident, FEMA’s Michael Brown has now had his entire career compromised in part due the false information in his resume. Was he aware that his resume had untrue statements in it? I don’t know – only he can tell. But we all know the difference between listing one’s self as an Assistant City Manager vs. Assistant to the City Manager.

When was the last time you looked at your resume? Rest assured that there is no part of your resume safe from scrutiny. Your work history, educational background, professional credentials, even your community involvement – all can be verified by resume checkers – and it WILL be verified in today’s age of integrity.

SMART NETWORKING VIA THE INTERNET

Everyone’s talking about LinkedIn. What’s that all about? After ignoring several invitations to join this online networking group, I finally did. And am I glad! All I can say is WOW!

Seventy-five of my closest colleagues and clients accepted my invitation to join me which now gives me the opportunity to obtain introductions to over 13,000 people – that’s just from direct connections. If expanded to 3rd and 4th connections, the number skyrockets into the six figures!

LinkedIn provides me several ways to search for new industry contacts, old friends, job opportunities (if I was looking), and more.

The job search piece I find very interesting for any of the 75% of the USA’s employees out there planning to jump ship this year. In fact, LinkedIn announced a new relationship recently that they forged with the Association of Executive Search Consultants – the global professional organization for retained executive search firms, representing over 4,000 search professionals in more than 70 countries. Anyone want a recruiter?

CAREER CHANGE IN MIDLIFE

It seems this year that all the major news magazines are focused on Baby Boomers, retirement issues, and life after 50. Rightly so, since this age group is the largest demographic in the workforce.

The first of the boomers turn 60 next year and employers are starting to worry who’s going to replace them. Boomers, on the other hand, are starting to think about new career choices to take them into their 90s and beyond.

A recent article on this topic appeared in the July 25 issue of Business Week. Some interesting ideas here, but are they practical? You be the judge.

BURNED BY EMPLOYERS?

It’s been an "employer’s market" over the past few years. With job applicants glutting the market, employers have been overwhelmed with massive "stacks" of applications. They haven’t had time to respond to all of them, even the ones they liked. This has caused bad feelings among job candidates – they don’t understand why they have to use good manners while employers can get away with being rude.

Well, the worm has turned! Suddenly, certain companies are experiencing talent shortages and are having a difficult time finding qualified candidates. However, many of these same companies don’t "get it" that they need to improve their manners. Job applicants are moving into the driver’s seat. It’s way past time for companies to start courting them.

I found an interesting article that explores this "flip" in employer-employee dynamics. You might even want to sign up to receive these free weekly Herman Trend Alerts.

HOW LONG WAS YOUR JOB SEARCH?

Based on a recent ExecuNet survey of 122 executives, job search now takes 4.9 months, down from 6.8 months reported in January 2005. In fact, during the past 30 days, these executives have averaged 2.9 interviews. This has spurred executive confidence.

“The employment market has made a quiet comeback during the last twelve months,” says Dave Opton, CEO and Founder of ExecuNet. “As the growth in new job opportunities becomes more apparent, an increasing number of employed executives are starting to explore their options for advancement.”

After all the downsizing, restructuring, and cost containment of the past few years, "advancement" is a nice place to hang around for awhile. I wonder what qualities will rise to the top as those being sought most by hiring authorities.

What do you think? Post your comments to this blog.

You can learn about what the new world of work may ask of you by reading "Careers in Waiting," on the Abilities Enhanced website.

2005 JOB MARKET DATA

Executives are still optimistic that this year will be a good one job-wise, according to today’s D-Business News (New York) that reports on an executive survey conducted by TheLadders.com.

The article reported on the survey’s data, "Tampa has shown the most growth in the number of $100K+ jobs offered during the first quarter."

What do you think? Are executive jobs plentiful this year, or is it still hard to find a good position? Does it depend where you are in the country, or does it depend on a particular industry?

Your comments are welcome on this blog. I’d really like to hear them.

TOP TEN PET PEEVES OF A CAREER COACH

Working in the careers industry I hear many stories of what "turns off" a hiring authority. Here are some of the top pet peeves along with some of my own. A career coach can support you in modifying these behaviors to enhance opportunities for getting and keeping a job. My comments follow each pet peeve:

  1. Conducting more than 5% of a job search in front of a computer – time waster!
  2. Answering machine with a child’s voice giving instructions – not cute!
  3. Message left with a garbled / racing / indistinguishable phone number – delete!
  4. Business card collector working a room at a networking event – ineffective!
  5. Resume or CV with grammatical, formatting, and data errors – toss!

Want the other 10 pet peeves? Get the whole article in the career articles section of Abilities Enhanced.

FIND A CAREER COACH

On this beautiful afternoon in Kansas City, I’ve been sitting on my patio with notebook computer and cold drink doing keyword research for my website – you see, keyword research is done for more than just resume writing. Anyway, since I’ve been blogging the past few months about career change, I decided to check out that phrase for frequency of use by Internet users.

WOW! I learned that about 350,000 search engine searches are done each month for "career change." What’s the significance of that? You tell me! What makes a person search for "career change" on the Internet? (Post your comments here.)

My guess is people are seeking help with how to make career change happen as they don’t know how to do it themselves. If that sounds like you, maybe it’s time to find a career coach to help you figure it out. Just a thought…

BORED WITH THE BOARDS?

I just heard about a new crop of job search boards sprouting up on the Internet. They’re called "vertical job search engines" or job aggregators / job consolidators. These guys spider great numbers of job boards and then give you a neat package of results all at one time – while you wait!

They provide no-cost job search services and some even have the capability to search jobs close to a specific zip code. For you execs out there, you’ll find that some of the well known $100K websites (including subscription sites) will be searched, too.

Check these out for job search assistance:

Indeed.com

SimplyHired.com

TopJobsUSA.com

WorkTree.com

WorkZoo.com

Thanks to Mark Hovind of JobBait.com for sharing this information!

UNWANTED CAREER CHANGE

Is your career over when you turn 50? Are you truly "over the hill" as the birthday banner proclaims? NO WAY! There are many options open to us – we just have to claim them.

Did you read the May 16 cover story of Fortune magazine? It screamed, "50 and Fired." Executives all over the U.S. sat up and took notice. Their reactions varied:

  • Is my career at risk?
  • Oh, so that’s why I’ve been out of work for 18 months.
  • What’s the best franchise for me to purchase?
  • I’m too old to make radical changes.

Ah, radical career change – just when we thought we could coast through the next 10-15 years. Change – that dreaded disruption to the status quo. "You can’t teach an old dog new tricks" – really? How old is old?

CAREER CHANGE TIPS FROM A PRO

As I board a plane to Southern California for a coach training workshop, I find it very appropriate to share this Career Corner from NewJersey.com. Laura Berman Fortgang, career coach and author of "Now What: 90 Days to a New Life Direction," shares pointers about changing careers. Laura is conducting my workshop where I’ll be trained to administer her Life Blueprint program.

BEWARE OF SKELETONS IN YOUR CLOSET

It used to be that in applying for a job your signature on your application was your promise that everything on it was correct. Sure, a few former employers were contacted for references, but employers realized that what they saw was what they got.

Today everything is different. Not only do you complete the application, have all of your information scrutinized and double checked (including college degrees and all employers), but enter background checks onto the scene.

"Background checks have risen 16% in the past year, the ADP Employer Services Hiring Index found." (Grand Forks Herald)

Interesting fact from the report: "45% of credit records checked showed judgment, lien or bankruptcy, or some report to a collection agency."

My question is this: If one has to have a stellar credit history to not only borrow money and get car insurance, but now obtain employment, too, how can one expect to earn the money to rise above bad credit status? What does your credit history have to do with your employability anyway, especially if you aren’t trying to work in non-finance related jobs?

JUMP STARTING CAREERS

Got spring fever? I know I do. Watching the flowers bloom, taking the dogs for walks in the park, hanging out in the patio – so nice to get outdoors again!

It seems many people are getting restless at work these days – a type of spring fever? Perhaps. After a long winter of no promotions, no pay raises, and no big changes on the horizon, maybe it’s time to check out new opportunities. Where to begin?

I found a CNN Money article that offers 5 tips for jump-starting your career. Take a look and see if this helps you to make a career change. Check out the suggested resources for additional help.

LATE STAGE CAREER CHANGE

Retire? Never! But how do you convey that intent to employers? I found this article that quotes experts on how to keep your skills current, Tips for Those Nearing Retirement. Don’t lose your cutting edge – keep your computer skills sharp – this is one message. Read the comprehensive list of career tips.

"The 14th national conference of the Australian Association of Careers Counsellors recently heard that to succeed in today’s world older workers must cultivate a new personality type: the change catalyst." What is a change catalyst? Read Take Another Swing at Life.

HOW NOT TO DO A BLOG

OK, I’m guilty. I’ve slipped up and not added frequent entries to my blog. Take note – this is not good if you want to be considered a serious blogger. Of course, I have my excuses, but are they good enough to get me off the hook? Probably not, though I really have been busy. 🙂

Last week I attended the annual conference of the Association of Career Professionals International. What a conference! I had the opportunity to share best practices with career industry colleagues from 15 different countries. I learned that my new friend from Israel would not be able to succeed in doing business over the Internet as I do since in his country, people are suspect of Internet businesses.

I learned from the editor of Career Journal, Tony Lee, that many executives are now hiring agents to negotiate their employment contracts. I learned that there are many trends and economic factors that will impact career changes in the next few years.

The networking was fast and furious from the dinner cruise to the Roaring Twenties themed gala dinner. This year’s event was in Chicago, next year in Boston. I can hardly wait!

BRIDGING THE FAULT LINE

Last week I attended a webinar (online teleconference) delivered by Daniel Pink, an author and futurist, and until now best known for his book, Free Agent Nation. His newest release, A Whole New Mind, was the reason for the webinar. Now I’m no clairvoyant, but I see this new book as a future bestseller.

Dan Pink is "right on" with his premise, "Abilities that matter most are right brain-like." (Left brain = analytical, sequential, rational; Right brain = holistic, intuitive, artistic, big picture.) While the left-brain activities of the Information Age have ruled business of late, Pink predicts that right-brain capabilities will "mark the fault line between those who make it and those who don’t" as we move forward into the Conceptual Age of the 21st century.

This is good news for people who are looking for ways to retain talent in the workplace. It is also good news for those who believe in the power of Emotional Intelligence. It is very good news for Executive / Business / Life / Career Coaches who help people in their quest for personal and professional development.

I was so excited about Pink’s presentation that I rushed out and bought A Whole New Mind immediately following the webinar. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the information overwhelm of the Knowlege Economy. I’m ready to embrace the Conceptual Age. It’s time we valued each other as whole persons – to tap into our intuition – to appreciate the power of art.

CAREER CHANGE AT WARP SPEED

I’ve been reading a very interesting book, "Re-imagine!" by Tom Peters. It’s particularly interesting since it was published in 2003. I know that’s only two years ago, but you have to realize that this book is all about change and it even makes predictions for 2005 that have come true!

Here’s a quote to whet your appetite:

"White-collar employment as we’ve known it is dead. The transformation may be Ugly. And painful. But it’s on… with Unimaginable Fury.

All of our organizations will be reinvented – completely – in the next 25 years. All of our careers will be reinvented – completely – in the next 25 years. All job security, as we have known it over the past three or four generations, is over. Over and gone."

Author Tom Peters is an international bestselling writer, master of business reinvention, and management guru. I suggest you get this book – even if you borrow it from the library – and read it, over and over. We’re in for an amazing change!

YOU KNOW IT’S TIME TO CHANGE CAREERS WHEN…

Are you overworked, stressed-out, and just plain tired of juggling work and family responsibilities without any time for yourself? If you are, you’re not alone. In fact, a recent study found that over 1/3 of Americans are overwhelmed with their jobs and are at risk for major health problems.

What can you do to get out of this mess? Consider changing careers! That’s what I did. On the eve of my 7th anniversary of starting my own business, I reflect on what my life was like before I put on my entrepreneurial hat and hung up my corporate coat.

One symptom of my overwhelm, fibromyalgia, has been in remission since I discovered how to work my passion. My migraines are gone, too. Don’t get me wrong – there’s a lot of work involved in running your own business, but since it’s the kind of work I enjoy, I am happy! My family is happier, too, knowing that I now love what I do.

You can be happy, too. Be bold. Take the first step to choose the right career for yourself. Life is too short to be imprisoned by a career that doesn’t meet your needs.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN “WORK STINKS”

Are you part of the problem or the solution? Some think a "crisis" is brewing in the U.S. workplace with over 50% of all people unhappy at work. "Please Change That Stinking Job" explores which age group is most contributing to this movement.

I hope employers are listening to the cry of their employees. While different reasons contribute to worker dissatisfaction, feeing undervalued by their employers ranks right at the top. We all want to feel appreciated for what we do with 1/3 of our lives. What motivates you to do a good job?

FROM TECH VP TO TRUCKER

A lot of career changes are driven by unplanned circumstances called layoffs. Why is that? Why does it take such a major career event to happen before one realizes he isn’t happy and wants to do something else? Or does the change happen because one is settling for something less since he can’t get work doing what he did before?

Following his layoff, one tech exec chose to start his own trucking company as a way to change his pace of work. Perhaps it takes a life crisis to jar us out of complacency – to really examine what’s most important – to make a commitment to do what’s best for ME.

What do you think?

CAREERS AFTER RETIREMENT

This working over 50 stuff is really hot! Last week MSNBC did a weeklong feature on planning for retirement including the types of work that those of us over 50 are doing.

Did you know that The Home Depot looks for older workers to hire? In "A Second Chance to Work After Retirement," NBC reporter Campbell Brown explores why companies are eager to hire mature workers these days.

CAREER CHANGE OVER 50+

The news is full of features about retirement planning. As a card-carrying AARP member, retirement is starting to occupy my thoughts these days. Retirement planning includes much more than financial planning – for most of us, it includes how we will live our daily lives.

Believe it or not, many in their 50s and 60s consider changing careers instead of stopping work altogether. Who wants to lose the feeling of being productive? Not me! One of the reasons I started my own career coaching business was so no one could ever tell me when to retire.

I found an interesting website that explores all aspects of retirement. "Too Young to Retire: 101 Ways to Start the Rest of Your Life" is the book by Marika and Howard Stone. Take a look if retirement is on your mind, too. Discover new and different ways to add meaning to your llife.

CAREER CHANGE FOR ENTREPRENEURS

While reading my April issue of Entrepreneur Magazine (not yet available online), an article caught my eye – "In Full Boom." Author Mark Henricks briefly summarizes a new book by economist and New York Times bestseller, Harry S. Dent, Jr. – The Next Great Bubble Boom: How to Profit From the Greatest Boom in History: 2005-2009 (Free Press).

According to Henricks, Dent claims we’re entering a new, bigger boom that will be bigger than the one in the 1990’s, to be followed by a "bust rivaling the Great Depression." Well known and highly respected, Dent has been right on target in previous predictions, though has also missed a few times, too.

As an entrepreneur, I’m all for the boom, but that bust sounds a little scary. Is there another career change in my future? Hope not. This is one book I’m going to have to get!

NEW CAREER FOR MOM

Some of my career coaching clients are mothers who left powerful careers to raise families and now seek their way back into the workplace. Since the "old" job may not be there anymore – what next? Here’s one mother’s career path reflecting her career changes – from sales and marketing to stay-at-home mom to …. drum rollrecipe development! She "works as a research chef consultant in the test kitchen cooking new recipes and reformulating old ones." Cool!

If you are a mom making a career change to reenter the workforce, please share your story here to inspire other moms who are trying to solve this dilemma. Thanks!

DRIVING CAREER CHANGE

Today I finally saw Million Dollar Baby, this year’s Oscar-winning movie. Waitress turned boxer, Maggie Fitzgerald, made her career change happen with pure self-determination. Sure, she had talent and the smarts, but without her drive and self-confidence, she wouldn’t have succeeded. For the past 20 years, I’ve had a simple saying posted above my desk, "Believe in yourself and everything is possible." It’s worked for me. What will motivate your career change?

CAREER CHANGE – MORE THAN A DREAM?

If you dream of changing careers, what are you actually doing about it? Career coaches and career counselors are trained to help. Your dream can become a reality – but first you have to name it.

How sad to see so many stuck in a rut at work and think they have to stay there. Does that sound like you? With a little help, you could be on your way to a fulfilling career – in other words, "working your passion."

I found this article written by Margo Frey, a Career Counselor, that advises you to start the career transition process by indulging your fantasies: Fantasies can lead to realistic job expectations. Sweet dreams!

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE

Did everyone see the Academy Awards show last night? Though not directly related to career change per se, I can’t help but comment on Hilary Swank’s best actress acceptance speech. Now a two-time Oscar winner, she remarked about being raised "in a trailer park" and look what she’s achieved.

Sure, she’s an actress, but that wasn’t always the case. Maybe luck played a role in her career success, but if you take a deeper look at her career path, I’m sure you’d find a lot of hard work, perseverance and focused goals.

I think this just goes to show that anyone can achieve career success provided you know what you want and set out to get it. What do you think?

EXECUTIVES WANT CAREER CHANGES, TOO

How long do you think executives stay with one company? According to a press release issued by the executive search firm, Korn Ferry International, one result of a their recent survey shows that 56% of the executives have worked at 4-7 companies over the life of their careers.

More amazing though, the survey indicated that 33% would change industries – WOW! a radical career change!

Interestingly, 4% said they wouldn’t consider any career change at all. That says to me that only 4% were totally satisfied with their jobs. So, it looks like job dissatisfaction goes all the way up the ladder. How does that make you feel?

Read the entire article and let me know your opinion.

RADICAL CAREER CHANGE – WHY NOT?

So far this blog has been uncharacteristically non-controversial. That stops now!

I hope you’ve seen here that career change CAN happen. No one has to stay bound to a career not of his choosing. You have what it takes to proactively choose to change – just start to make it happen!

However, not every careers industry talking head agrees with this philosophy. Marty Nemko of "Cool Careers for Dummies" fame claims that "most aspiring career changers usually end up deciding to stay in their old career." Is that true? If so, why?

In his "Making a Radical Career Change," I claim he’s way off base. Focused on more of what is than what’s possible, Nemko offers some old-school advice and concludes, "try to get your job description changed to suit your strengths."

What do you think? Is it the job that’s lacking, or is it your inner self that’s crying for more?

MASTERING CHANGE

When contemplating a career change, create a plan to organize the process. Change is never easy – yet improvement always requires change. Check out The Top 10 Steps to Mastering Change for tips on how to become more accepting of change. My favorite tip is the first one listed: Accept that change is inevitable.

No job remains static, no career lasts forever. How many job or career changes have you had? Would you believe that most of us will change jobs about every 3 years during our lives?

BURNED OUT? CHANGE CAREERS?

Are you one of the 70% of all U.S. employees unhappy at work? Does your job meet your employer’s needs but not yours?

From every career corner, I hear the roar of burned out workers – so many people want to quit but not sure how. Can you relate?

Before walking out, speak up. Perhaps your boss could help – is he really that bad? Of course, there was a Gallup poll done that showed 75% of employees left because of their manager, not the job. BUT,  "career development is a whole new topic in the boardrooms aroung the country." (Take This Job and Love It!).

Don’t quit on whim. Weigh the pros and cons carefully. Know what you want to do and where you want to go. Planning is the key for your choosing the career instead of letting the career choosing you.

DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR CAREER – OR DID IT CHOOSE YOU?

Many of us go through life working a job we really don’t like because we just kind of fell into it. Does that sound like you?

I know it was true for me for the first 12 years of my work life. Once I realized I wasn’t happy, it took me 3 years to figure out what I really wanted to do – and then get it! Luckily, I was able to identify my true calling and discover how to work my passion. Of course, if I’d had a career coach, it wouldn’t have taken nearly as long.

Picking a Career isn’t easy anytime, but when you take charge and invest the time and resources into choosing your career instead of letting it choose you, you will find more joy in your work. Take a look at 20 questions to ask before making a leap.

CAREERS IN WAITING

According to a December 2003 survey conducted by CareerBuilder, 38% of the directors, managers, supervisors and team leaders polled said that they were likely to change jobs in 2004. (Did that happen?)

"Warm chair attrition" is affecting Corporate America, said Joyce Gioia, co-author of the bestselling book on employment trends, "Impending Crisis: Too Many Jobs, Too Few People." She added that 30-40% of the workforce is unhappy at work and only waiting for the first opportunity to "jump ship."

ExecuNet, an online career management and recruiting resource center for executives and recruiters, publishes an annual "Executive Job Market Intelligence" report based on January surveys of about 1000 executives and 150 search professionals.

Its 2004 report stated that despite the anticipated 2004 "hiring growth across the board" predicted by search professionals, "the new realities of the job market will likely require some executives to recreate or reposition themselves. That may mean changing functions or industries," said Dave Opton, CEO and Founder of ExecuNet.

The January 2005 data is being gathered as this is being written. What will the new results look like? If you join ExecuNet, you can be one of the first to receive the newest report.

Where does all this leave you? If you are an employer, perhaps a bit unsettled at the prospect of a mass exodus from your organization. If you are one of the unhappy-at-work employees, what are you doing to manage your own career? Are you ready to move forward when the opportunity arises, or are you hanging on to outdated skills and experience because you’re too stubborn or afraid to "recreate or reposition" yourself for the new world of work?

It’s a natural human tendency to resist change. However, we are living in a world that is changing so fast that no one can remain immune to its impact. The time for hunkering down has passed. If you don’t embrace change and make it your friend, it will bury you. Take that first step to a happier life!

CAREER CHANGES: HOW NOW?

Economy experts say things are improving. Yet, layoffs abound, companies are still closing, whole industries are declining…AND…workdays are becoming longer, benefits are being cut, retirement dreams are crumbling…what can one do to cope?

Maybe you are just plain burned out or no longer interested in the work you do. What would it take to switch careers and find a way to work your passion? How can you shift career gears to create career satisfaction with work/life balance? Total fulfillment?

There is no one perfect answer for everyone. More than anything else, a healthy mindset about the concept of change can do the most to motivate positive action leading to your desired results. How do you view change? Do you fear it, ignore it or embrace it?

By making change your ally, you can grab opportunities and convert them into realities…realities that will create a happier, more rewarding career for you and enhance your overall quality of life.

To develop a positive attitude toward change, consider working with a career coach to help you focus on your goals and create an action plan to attain them. What specifically do you want to change…your career, industry, employer, or way of life? Do you want to explore self-employment possibilities? How do you answer the question – what is most important?

Th