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

Career On-Hold for December? Why?

When I went to the post office this week, I had to firmly grip my steering wheel with both hands as my car wanted to turn down the street to the shopping mall — all by itself! Seriously, I wanted so much to go "play" and leave work behind in the office. But if I did, what would my career coaching clients say when they called for their appointments and I wasn't there? What would my clients think who were expecting their resumes completed, and I hadn't even started writing them? What would my creditors think if I ignored the bills on my desk and just added more? I had obligations to myself and others that I needed to fulfill despite the holiday season with its good cheer and temptations beckoning me.
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Traditionally, December is a time when employees party-hearty, slack off some, use up vacation days, and wind down in anticipation of holidays during the month. On the other hand, companies look for ways to meet budgets, trim expenses, and complete their annual planning for the new year. Sometimes layoffs occur before December 31 as cost-saving measures to enhance a company's year-end bottom line – you know that, right?

You may ask, "How does this relate to MY career?" Well, let me tell you — plenty! The economy is coming back. Today the national unemployment rate was announced at 7.7%, the lowest rate in four years. When employers begin hiring in 2013, will you be ready? Or will you be someone who has put your career on hold for December, choosing to play instead of prepare for the hiring rush? Perhaps you are happily employed and have no desire to change career or job right now. If that is your situation, congratulations…you must be working your passion, and I am so thrilled for you.

However, according to several recent reports, 20-50% of all workers are miserable in their current
Definesuccess208gifjobs and want to "bail out"
the first chance they get. If you are ready to jump ship, or if you are currently unemployed, December is the perfect time to update your resume, practice job interviewing skills, work on your career plan, and get ready for January. Don't be left behind when hiring gears up.

Contact Abilities Enhanced for your career change needs. I'm ready to help you!

Wishing you career success in 2013!

Meg

Your Career: Have You Reached Its Final Frontier?

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

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

Curiosity

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

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

Exploration

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

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

Discovery

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

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

Summary

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

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

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

Abilities Enhanced Acquires KansasCityCareerServices

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

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

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

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

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

Find Career Solutions By Taking Time to Process!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Shift of Ben's Belief:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg

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

Don’t Have a Mentor? Why You Need One!

Each of my new career coaching clients is asked a question on the enrollment questionnaire, "Do you have a mentor (or role model)? If so, who?" We all need inspiration to be successful, especially in this crazy work environment. However, most of my new clients don't have a mentor. Do you? Many answer that question by naming a parent, sibling, or friend. That's OK, but did that person really inspire you in your work? That's what a true mentor can do.

If unable to answer the mentor question, I suggest to my career coaching clients that they research biographies and autobiographies of successful people, particularly in their fields. It is possible to glean "mentor-esque" inspiration from reading about accomplished individuals, and applying that inspiration to your own life and career.

One creative, brilliant person that most would happily call a mentor left us this past week. Steve Jobs A lot of glowing information has been written, spoken, and broadcast about Steve Jobs. And all of it is rightfully justified. He was thoughtful enough to produce his biography which is due for release in a few weeks. But even without that, you may learn a lot about him just by researching on the Web. I recommend that college students, as well as all others, spend some time learning about the life and gifts of Steve Jobs. Here is your "mentor" for almost any career.

Perhaps what has impressed me the most is what Jobs said in his commencement address to the Stanford graduating class of 2005. At that time, he knew his life would not be as long as most, so he used his address to inspire young adults to make best use of their own lives. He encouraged them to discover the career that made them happiest as that is the only way to go through life – living your dream. His bottom line was, "Don't settle." These words are simple, yet so powerful! Watch this speech for yourself that is posted by author, Daniel Pink, on his blog.

Don't get to the end of your life, or even retirement, and feel you lacked the will power, direction, or whatever it was to allow yourself to be able to work your passion. Yes, money is important, but most of the time you can find a way to follow your dreams after they filter through a business reality.

Now that we've entered Fall season, it's a time to start making career plans for 2012. What big career dream do you have that has gone by the wayside? Or is it that you just can't come up with any great dream at all? Start with a career coach to discover and clarify, then move forward with a mentor who can give you long-time support as you shift career gears and reclaim your career passion!

Wishing you career success now and in 2012!

Meg

“Horrible Bosses” Strikes a Nerve

Have YOU ever had a "horrible boss?"Almost half of all workers have according to a new OfficeTeam survey as pointed out today by Diane Stafford, the Kansas City Star's careers and business columnist, in her article, "Bad Bosses: Nothing to Laugh About." This number makes sense when you look at how many media outletsBad boss  and blogs are publishing "bad boss" articles as the movie, "Horrible Bosses," is released to the general public this week. Besides the Kansas City Star, I've seen commentary on this subject on MSNBC.com, ABC.com, DailyFinance.com, Complex.com (blog), and more.

I can honestly say that I, too, have experience working for a horrible boss – a demanding, demeaning, tyrannical person. But I want to play devil's advocate today. I think it's only fair to walk in a boss's shoes for awhile before casting judgment on so many.

In the present workplace environment influenced by current economic conditions, it takes a lot of skill, poise, and savoir faire to keep a team of disgruntled, tired, and sometimes bored subordinates engaged and productive. Many of these employees are feeling overworked and underpaid before even considering how they feel about their boss. All kinds of surveys have reported that most workers would jump ship if they had a ship to jump to. Furthermore, the boss himself (or herself) may feel the same way about their own jobs, but because they're the boss, they have to follow "mum's the word" on sharing their true feelings.

For example, "bottom line results" is the number one goal in most companies these days. Bosses get leaned on pretty hard by their own bosses – all the way up the line – to squeeze every bit of work out of each person under them. "Do more with less" is the motto of most companies. That kind of pressure can create a lot of stress for a boss. Do you think they enjoy making their people unhappy – really?

Routinely, I have career coaching clients complain to me about their bosses. Some are fearful that they will be terminated based on their boss's behavior toward them. However, most of the time I've seen my clients find some inner peace once they address communication gaps with their bosses. Just yesterday a client confided that she and her boss had a total breakdown in communication over a new, simple procedure involving the use of email to notify outside sources of a situation. An entire procedure had been devised to accommodate this new policy. My client approached the implementation as she always does, using an analytical and logical processing method. On the other hand, her boss's main concern was, "How will this new procedure be regarded by the email recipients?" Bam! Left brain met right brain, a head-on collision. Neither knew how to proceed from their position.

Communication is the real key to success in the workplace, especially when you sprinkle in some empathy. "If you can't get out (of the company), take a deep breath and examine how you can improve communication lines (with your boss)," is part of my quote in today's Kansas City Star article. Try to imagine yourself in your boss's place – what would you do if you were the boss of you?

Approach your boss with open-ended questions to initiate dialog about your communication gap. Listen – really listen – to what your boss says about how you can improve. Don't defend yourself, but ask for guidance on approaching problems from your boss's point of view. Sure, it may not be as comfortable as your space, but give it a chance. No matter where you work, there will be people who look at things differently from you. Maybe sometimes you can get your way, but not always. Play the empathy card and you'll become amazed at how workplace communication slowly starts to improve.

Wishing your career success in 2011!

Meg 

#Jobseekers: Networking 101 for Introverts

Last week one of my executive career coaching clients asked for tips on how to do in-person networking with new contacts. As an introvert, he feels hesitant just going up to someone and initiating a conversation. Since he is Networking working on improving his relationship-building skills, an upcoming conference offers an opportunity he can't afford to ignore.

Here's what my career coaching client said:

"How can I get more comfortable and effective in general networking situations? When I am in a setting where my position/authority/role is clearly defined, I am much more comfortable approaching people and engaging in conversation; for example, if I am giving a presentation, then interacting about that material is very easy and comfortable. Or, if at a conference with table seating, I can be comfortable conversing with the people on either side because that is a clear expectation.  

Where I am less comfortable is: 1) walking into a general cocktail party or reception where no one knows me or why I am there, and initiating a conversation with anyone. I know this is partly a self-confidence issue as I tend to be thinking, 'why would anyone want to talk with me?' 2) also, engaging directly with people I admire from afar is difficult; I can be totally fascinated listening to a presenter from the audience, but incredibly uncomfortable approaching that individual to have a one-on-one. Part of this is my learning style – I learn by listening intently and then absorbing internally what I have heard – but I have to be able to approach and make contact with key people."

For an executive to admit this is quite a feat. I give him kudos for stepping up and confronting his fear. Perhaps you can relate to his situation? One way to help conquer this fear of networking is to seek out career coaching.

I offered my client the following quick tips:

1) When entering a room, most people are hesitant to jump right in and start meeting people. As an introvert, I suggest you look for one person standing alone and walk up to him first. (Chances are he is also feeling intimidated by the experience.) Introduce yourself and then ask questions that you can feed on in order to ask more questions, adjusting as you go for contributions that you can make about yourself. Usually, an individual will ask questions in return.

2) When it’s time to sit down, look for a different individual who may be alone and sit by her. Then strike up a conversation again with questions. As more people join the table, they will want to get involved in the conversation, too. It’s important that you connect with as many people as possible.

3) Don’t freely pass out your business card if not asked for it, but ask for another’s IF you really feel you’d like to stay in touch. Sometimes at the table, everyone will pass around business cards so all get each other’s. That’s OK.

4) Know your agenda in your mind before you enter a room for networking. Know what you want to take away from this experience. That will help you feel focused and organized.

There are entire books written about networking. One of my favorite books is Make Your Contacts Count by Anne Baber and Lynn Waymon. These authors offer a site with lots of good networking information.

For introverts to become successful at networking, it's important to practice, practice, practice! Eventually, you will become more at ease with this activity. And don't forget, whenever you meet someone with whom you want to develop a relationship, make sure you email him/her within 24 hours to schedule a follow-up meeting for coffee or lunch. Don't wait for someone else to call you – take the lead and help this relationship grow!

What do you think? How do you initiate conversation in a networking situation? I'd love to hear from you - please leave a comment below.

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Importance of Loving Your Job: Diverse Opinions

How important is it to love your job? Only 29% of Americans do, according to a recent global survey.

I know I love mine as a career coach, and find it sad that more people don't feel the same about their jobs. LoveJob Going to work with anticipation of achievement and self-satisfaction puts a smile on my face. I get enthused about what the day may bring my way as I help my career coaching clients reach their goals. I believe I'm truly working from my life's purpose with my career being a vehicle for me to express who I truly am.

My curiosity was piqued by this global survey. So much so, I posted a question about it on LinkedIn to get others' perspectives. What was surprising were the differing view points that showed up, some truly stopping me in my tracks. My assumption has always been that everyone dreams of loving their jobs – but do they? Does this matter to workers?

Apparently, not loving your job raises a lot of issues:

1) Would people change jobs or careers if given the opportunity? Do we really have choices?

One LinkedIn respondent answered, "We all get to choose, Meg." But do we – really? While I think there are all kinds of choices – do I want to major in Chemistry or Computer Programming – we impose restrictions on ourselves influenced by external factors. How about job opportunities after graduation – what will the job market need? Can I predict several years ahead to make sure I choose the "right" (a relative term) college major? And don't forget, most of us will change careers and jobs several times throughout our lives.

The middle-aged careerist faces a different challenge. Following a layoff, what does she do if her career choice no longer exists – that is, the job has completely gone away? Survival has to figure into any career change she makes as she undoubtedly has bills to pay, maybe children to support. Can she really afford to invest the time and money into re-training so she may enter a new field at the low end of the pay scale?

2) Are people afraid to pursue other work due to this uncertain economy?

LinkedIn answer: "Wherever people are in life, they tend to lose their dreams and settle for what they have. Over a period of time, they get bored with or dislike their J. O. B.; however and particularly in these days of economic crisis, most people are reluctant to make changes because they, at least, have a job."

It's sad when we let fear dominate our choices. Fear is a negative motivator, though very real. What if you could hang on to your job while still exploring more suitable career options? Could you lose the fear and choose to embrace hope instead? Time can become a nuisance in the career change process, but you can still choose your priorities. Don't become stuck win your assumptions – discover what's best for you!

3) Is any job better than no job?

LinkdedIn answer: "I find it baffling that only 29% of Americans love their jobs in this economic downturn. Every individual that is currently employed should love their job. We all need to count our blessings."

Burnout from overwork and underpay can negatively impact gratitude. Don't believe everything you hear, especially in the media – there are still good jobs out there needing to be filled. Finding the right fit has always been a lengthy process of analysis, exploration, and application. Today it just takes a little longer.

4) Should people rethink their view of work – perhaps it's just a way to earn money, not a way of life?

LinkedIn answer: "Most people don't manage their careers, set goal(s), or take preemptive career change action. As a result, they end up feeling 'stuck' and settling for less than they are capable of achieving."

Does that sound like you? We can all become guilty of surrendering our personal power to our employers. Remember, you are CEO of Me, Inc. – manage your career as if it's your own business. Never become complacent or take your job for granted. As soon as you do, your choices will become fewer.

What's your opinion about why so few people love their jobs?

There are still four days left to respond to my LinkedIn question, or please leave your comments below. This is a topic that affects all of us. Speak your mind! I want to hear from you.

Wishing your career success in 2011!

Meg

A New Job Thanks to the Elephant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

2011 Employment Trends Supercharged with Twitter

One thing I always advise my career coaching clients:

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

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

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

My 2011 career coaching prediction:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you ultimate career success in 2011!

Meg

Career-Collective-original-small SPECIAL NOTE: I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of careers experts who each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Please follow our hash-tag on Twitter – #careercollective  as well as follow each expert's individual tweet on this month's topic of "Things job seekers should keep an eye on in 2011 (trends/tools/hiring practices). You'll be amazed at all the free career advice and knowledge that is available to you from these professionals in the careers field!

Social Media Recruiting to Grow Further in 2011, @debrawheatman

Another Year, Another Job Search Begins, @GayleHoward

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

4 Lessons Learned From Job Search in 2010, @Careersherpa

Your Career Action Plan for the New Year, @KatCareerGal

Trends Job Seekers Should Look For in 2011, @erinkennedycprw

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

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

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

2011 Employment Trends Supercharged with Twitter, @KCCareerCoach

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

Everything old is new again @DawnBugni

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

Career Tools to Check Out in 2011, @barbarasafani

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

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

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

Where has 2010 gone?

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to purchase the Career Power Hour

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

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

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

Click here to purchase the Career Power Hour

Wishing you career success in 2011!

Meg

Make New Technology Work for You

Just a quick note and tip today:

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

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

 

Wishing you career success,

Meg

 

CEO Pay: Out of Control?

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

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

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

More stats from the article:

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

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

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

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

Wishing you career success in 2010!

Meg

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

Your Career Management Plan: Born from Your Obituary

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

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

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

Wishing you much career success in 2010!

Meg

FIND YOUR “JOY BUDDY” FOR JOB SEARCH MOTIVATION

Do you struggle with finding your creativity when exploring new career possibilities? Some of my career coaching clients do. They let the overwhelm of money worries, coupled with the facts and fears brought on by high unemployment rates, get in their way of productive introspection and career clarification.

As a dog lover living with three rescued canines (I only get rescued dogs – but that's for another post), I regularly watch Cesar Milan's "Dog Whisperer" TV show. One of his frequent lessons is to explain that dogs live in the present, not the past or the future. We can all benefit from living in the present. Instead of dwelling on the past (why was I laid off?) or fearing the future (I'll be living on the street with a tin cup in a year), job seekers can help themselves more by focusing on the present.

"Present" questions to ask yourself:

  • What are my core values and why are they important to my career?
  • What makes me want to get up in the morning and go to work?
  • What job skills am I good at AND love to use?

If you let your emotions, or fears of the past or future, cripple your creativity, you will freeze your ability to act. And you have to act to change your job situation for the better!

I found an inspirational article that I recommend to anyone trapped by their worries: "How to squash worry and grab more happiness out of life in tough times". Please read it and discover things you can do today to get your job search back on track once you make room for creativity to flourish again. And while you're at it, find a "joy buddy" – dogs make great "joy buddies," by the way.