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

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

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

2010 Career Resolutions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Unemployment: An Emotional Roller Coaster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

#Career Coach Musings on Office Politics

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Phone Coaching: Getting Best Results for Clients


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

Career Change Requires Losing the Fear

Career change isn't easy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wishing You Job Search Success and a Happy New Year!

Meg