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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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?

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?

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.

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?

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!

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?