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

5 Tips for Fighting Summer Job Search Blues

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

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

Here are five tips to help:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Handle Five Common #Career Skeletons

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

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

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

Common Career Skeletons

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Top 3 + 1 Tips for Making a Successful Career Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me boil this down into simple terms:

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

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

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

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

Are You Ready for a Career Change? @Debra Wheatman

Changing Careers? Ask yourself these questions. @erinkennedycprw

Changing Careers: Not for the Fainthearted, @GayleHoward

Career Change Isn't An Exact Science, @careersherpa

The 10-Step Plan to Career Change, @KatCareerGal

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

Best Career Change Advice: Target & Plan, @JobHuntOrg

How social media can help you change careers, @keppie_careers

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

Changing The Direction Of Your Career, @EliteResumes @MartinBuckland

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

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

Changing Careers: Look Before You Leap, @barbarasafani

10 Commandments for Career Changers, @LaurieBerenson

Is Career Change for You?, @workwithillness

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

Career Success CAN Be Yours in 2011!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Your Building Blocks for Career Self-Management

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

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

Building Block 1: Self-Assessment

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

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

 Building Block 2: Self-Branding

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

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

Building Block 3: Self-Training

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

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

Building Block 4: Self-Talk

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

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

Building Block 5: Self-Action

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

How NOT to Knock Down All Those Blocks

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

And remember – your job security comes from within you!

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

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

A Self-Empowering Job Search Resource

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the link to get you started:

http://tinyurl.com/29osgno

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

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of careers experts who will each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to   their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Follow our hash-tag on Twitter - #careercollective  as well as follow everyone's individual tweets on this month's topic: "Favorite Resources for Job Seekers."

 Career Collective Posts for September 2010:

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

6 Ideas to Put In Your Toolbox, @WorkWithIllness,

Your Best Job Search Resource? You!, @WalterAkana

In a Job Search, Knowledge is Power, @barbarasafani

Jump Start Your Job Search Now!, @resumeservice

Favourite Resources for Jobseekers, @GayleHoward

The Best Job Search Tool Ever, @careersherpa

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

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

Invaluable Resources for Job Search Success, @heathermundell

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

Canadian Resources for Job Seekers, @EliteResumes @MartinBuckland

A Self-Empowering Job Search Resource, @KCCareerCoach

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

Favorite resources for Job seekers, @DawnBugni

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

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

Favorite Internet Resources for Jobseekers, @ErinKennedyCPRW

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