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.


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.


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.


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.


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?"


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.


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.