June 27, 2012 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
Many of you struggle with your job search because you don’t know the career direction that’s best for you. If you’d like to stop spinning and start mapping, pay attention to your interests and hobbies. Do you love music and hiking? You probably want jobs that enable you to work in harmonious places and open spaces. Do you like acknowledging others and organizing social events? You’re likely to enjoy coordinating projects and activities for the common good. Do you like to work on the car, fix the plumbing, work on puzzles? Check out jobs that involve hands-on investigating, trouble-shooting, and problem solving.
Are you having trouble getting a job, an increase, or a promotion because you’re not willing to toot your own horn? Get over yourself and just tell the truth: describe what you do best, when you’ve done it, and provide evidence that supports it. Did you work with a team? Was it a team win? Were you the team lead? Say so.
If you’re still uncomfortable, refer to yourself in the third person. Instead of saying “I did thus and so…” say “John Jones has demonstrated significant inroads in identifying and developing new product ideas.” Or, “John Jones has improved bottom line results by leveraging existing materials and ideas into new and innovative opportunities.”
Are you having trouble explaining why you left a job before securing a new one? Focus on the future, not on the past. For example, if you left because you could no longer tolerate a micromanaging, controlling boss, say something like, “I want to work in an organization that values and develops team players who are independent self starters.” If your former boss was a foul-mouthed, abrasive lout, you could say something like, “I’m interested in working in a mutually respectful, professional setting that values and rewards diverse thinking and problem solving.”
Are you having trouble differentiating yourself from the competition? Pretend you’re in sales or marketing and position yourself as you would a great product: prepare a feature-benefit statement that succinctly describes what you do and how your talents drive top line sales or protect bottom line results.
Are you having trouble asking questions when you’re on an interview?
It’s an old story: You want a job, the opening’s right, and you want to seal the deal. The interviewer sells and you’re ready to buy. You lean in for the handshake and the interviewer asks if you have any questions.
Your mind races through empty file drawers and you respond with a hurried, “No, I’m good to go.”
Silence. You may be ready, now they’re not so sure. If you’ve done your homework, researched the company, and listened to what you were told, the interviewer expects you to have questions. If you’re stumped, try some of these: “What’s the most pressing and important challenge I’m sure to confront? What are the company’s greatest long- term concerns? “How do your best employees prove their worth?” “What does your company value most in its employees?”
Do you have trouble holding your own in an interview? Would a deer in the headlights have a better chance of getting the job? You may be suffering from over- worry and under-preparation. A sure cure comes from practicing with people willing to role play as well as provide candid constructive feedback.
Do you have trouble knowing what to say and what to keep to yourself? Follow this simple rule: If it’s business-related and you can prove it, say it. If it’s personal, don’t. For example: interviewers want to know about what you do and have done that relates to their work. They don’t want to know about your personal demons or family problems no matter how interesting or important they are to you.
June 20, 2012 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
What does job search and foreign travel have in common? Having recently returned from a business trip abroad, I’m not only brimming with fresh perspective and chock full of new learning, I see connections I’d earlier have missed.
The learning: Airline personnel, flight cancellations, impatient travelers. When the few are assigned the work of the many and there’s a critical intersection of the few, complicated by a critical interruption of the many, chaos reigns. The ensuring struggle becomes emblematic of any business or organization in the throes of downsizing, limited supply, and crushing demand. The fragile system that supports a tentative network breaks down.
The lesson for job seekers: Do your homework before you even think of
accepting a job offer, however attractive it appears to be. If the company you want to join has been laying off employees instead of hiring them, you’re walking into a structure that has been stressed and surviving personnel who have been stretched. Can they and their systems react quickly and appropriately to change that is predictable, yet not of their choosing? Are they planning for the long term or struggling to survive the world of “what’s happening now”?
The learning: It helps to speak the same language. When issues are simple and time ample, the gulf created by cultural and language difference is negotiated with relative ease (“How charming” we say. “How American” they reply, as we each smile, nod, and cautiously make our way around the other). However, when time is currency, and there’s too little of it to enjoy the impasse, minor gaffes create major blunders, cultural customs create corporate inefficiencies.
The lesson for job seekers: When interviewing, realize that what you say (or think you’ve said) isn’t necessarily what they hear (or thought they’ve heard). What are priorities for you, may not be priorities for them; what they value most may be what you value least. Clarify understanding, yours and theirs, while you both have time to adjust your thinking, alter your plans, negotiate your differences, and work for a common and desired outcome.
The learning: It’s important to be well rested. Travel can be tiring. International travel can be exhausting. You’ll change sleep cycles, social contacts, and meal times to meet the calendar and clock of the location and people with whom you interact. Change your circadian rhythm and you affect your blood pressure, body temperature, sleep patterns, and ability to digest the food you’re not used to eating. No wonder you feel as though your brains and your batteries have been popped in backwards.
To look and behave as though you know what you’re doing, to have your words leave your mouth in the order in which you conceived them, you’ll have to pace yourself, and get the rest you need.
The lesson for job seekers: You don’t need to travel abroad to realize the benefits of good, sound, uninterrupted sleep. The better your rest, the more productive you’re likely to be. Each of us are different, some of us requiring more, some fewer hours of sleep to be at our best. Whatever you rest you need, be sure you get it and recognize that when stressed you might need more sleep than ordinarily would be enough. (How do you know? If you’re easily distracted, forgetful, moody, clumsy, and nodding off instead of networking and knocking on doors, get some sleep).
Whether you’re traveling to the coast or to Costa Rica, eyeing a job in IT or in Italy, plan ahead. Think strategically and behave tactically. What’s your goal? How will you measure your progress toward achieving it? What do you want, why do you want it, and how will accomplishing it align with your priorities, values, and longer- term objectives?
June 20, 2012 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
Three people, three challenges. The names aren’t theirs, but the stories are.
And many of you share them.
Daniel doesn’t know how to describe his career dilemma other than to say he is, “… lost, clueless, and stuck. I can’t get started because I don’t know where I want to go. I don’t want to interview because I know I’m flat. I’ve been told I act like I don’t care if I get the job. That’s true. I don’t want to be stuck in a job that I don’t like, can’t do, don’t want. I’m waiting for the right thing to show up. My friends tell me I’ll be waiting for a long time.”
Barbara has maxed out and doesn’t know it.
“When I got this job I thought I hit the jackpot. It was everything I loved. It challenged me by stretching and developing my skills and abilities. I got promotions and increases and everything was wonderful and then, it seemed almost overnight, I burned out. I thought I was tired, needed a vacation, a fresh perspective. My boss encouraged me to take time off (with my cell phone, computer and access to his emails). I took a two- week break, then six months leave. I’m due back tomorrow. I don’t want to go. I don’t want this job. And I don’t know “what’s next. ”
Clare is a go-getting, “high potential”. Her company fast-tracked her to stardom and then she lost her shine.
“Everything I did was aimed at getting promoted. I asked everyone who was supposed to know; mentors, coaches, bosses, for advice on how to get ahead. What I heard was that I was a creative and enthusiastic change agent who needed more visibility and opportunity to demonstrate my strategic agility. They told me that I could move up by managing more people and fewer tasks, allowing others to handle the tactics and day to day while I handled the strategy and design for the future.
I trusted their advice, did what they said, and tried my hardest. But I wasn’t a motivating, empowering, encouraging, delegating people manager. I wasn’t a visionary strategist. I wasn’t what they said I needed to be.
When I was doing what I did best everyone thought I hung the moon. When I wasn’t, everyone wanted to hang me. I worked insane hours. I was frustrated and distracted. I beat up my subordinates. They weren’t good enough or fast enough; they didn’t care as much and they didn’t work as hard. So I did it all myself. The more I did, they more they let me do.
I was more relieved than disappointed when my boss told me the company was letting me go.
I create and develop systems for change. From now on, I’ll connect with what I do best and leverage that talent for myself and my company. I still want promotions and want to be part of the leadership team and I’ll rely on my internal compass to get there.”
Three different people share similar challenges: “Where’s
‘there’?” “What’s next?” “Who am I supposed to be?” Daniel and Barbara need to look inside and ask questions that only they can answer: When am I at my best? What do I enjoy, do well, and want to continue doing? When am I determined to succeed? What makes me curious, what do I pursue?
For every interest, there are talents. For every talent there are jobs and careers. Questions like, “what I am supposed to do when I grow up?” are answered through directed self- assessment and increased self- awareness. You have to know your story if you want to find your future.
Clare learned, the hard way, to trust herself. What’s your story?
June 13, 2012 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
You’re having a struggle. You’re trying to identify the career direction your life should take and despite your best efforts you can’t figure it out. You’ve sought advice from your best friend to your dad’s business partner; you’ve read self-help books, walked in the woods, read the want ads, and nothing’s helped. Then, one night, you have a dream…
You’re standing in the great check-out line of life, and you’re handed a clip board and questionnaire. You’re told that you must complete the form before you’re allowed to pass from where you are to where you’re going. Once the Gates open you’ll get to choose what your next career should be.
You’re advised to pull up a chair, relax and reflect; you have plenty of time to answer the questions with care and consideration:
- Which of your life achievements are you most proud and why?
- What do you wish you had spent more time doing, and what, less?
- What areas of your life have you consistently overlooked despite their importance to your sense of self and well- being?
- If you had a chance to do next what you want to do most, what would next look like?
The man sitting next to you writes his responses with an energy and enthusiasm that suggests he knows exactly where he’s going.
“I do!” He says triumphantly. “It’s what I put off doing when I married and had children. It’s what I wanted but felt selfish pursuing. It involved financial risk and personal courage. I could have handled the risk and I had the courage, but I didn’t feel right asking my family to sacrifice a comfortable lifestyle for me to attain it. So I didn’t.”
“What is it?” I asked, assuming it involved sword-swallowing, storm chasing, or bungee jumping.
“I’m going to be a musician.”
“A musician? What’s so daunting about that? It doesn’t seem like such a risk.”
“It is if you’re a teenager and your parents say ‘You’re a fool’; ‘You’ll fail’; ‘Play it safe’; ‘There’s no future in it’. So I gave up on what I loved most and went with a career that paid the mortgage and made me miserable. I never dreamed I’d get another chance to do what I love. This time I’ll get it right. He completed the questionnaire, gave it to the Company Representative, and jogged through those Pearly Gates.
You were about to revisit the questionnaire when you noticed a woman seated to your right. She appeared deep in thought. You waited for her to break her concentration so you could ask if she were making any progress in completing the form.
“Oh yes, thank you, I am. I know exactly where I want to go next.”
Thinking of the conversation you just had with the fellow to your left, you asked, “Is it somewhere you’ve always wanted to go but hadn’t the courage to make it happen?”
“No”, she said simply. “I’m going to do a better job of going where I’ve already been.”
Your quizzical look spurred her to continue.
“I’ve spent too much time worrying about my looks, my title, and my competence. I want to do whatever’s next, differently. I want to spend more time exploring ideas and pursuing possibilities. I want to be fully present for the people who spend their time with me. I want to embrace life as it is, rather than battle it because it’s not what I want it to be.”
Your alarm clock rings and as it does, you realize that it’s time to wake up to the fact that you’ve avoided the obvious: asking yourself the questions you’ve not wanted to answer. You go to your laptop, and remembering the questionnaire, begin writing…
June 5, 2012 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
If you were getting ready to selling your home, and to buy one, instead of leaving a job and looking for onea job, I bet you’d do whatever you could , that was affordable and within reason., to be successful.
If you were buying a home, you’d do the same.
You’d begin wby doing a ith a full house inspection, eyeballing the interior and exterior of your space to figure out what works and what doesn’t, what needs to go, what needs to stay, and what’s appealing to the greatest possible number of buyers. You’d highlight its special features and downplay its least attractive characteristics. what’s least attractive about it.
You’d consult with a trusted financial advisor, and ask advice from savvy professionals with a positive track record in home sales.
Job seeking isn’t much different, so, here’s your short list of things to do and get done before you put yourself on the job market.
If you’re serious about your search looking for a job, commit yourself fully to it the search. If you’re ambivalent, not sure that you’re ready to make the change to something different, and better, you haven’t done the challenging work of assessing your personal, professional, and financial situation. That assessment involves more than knowing you’re miserable where you are and that you want out. It requires your knowing, without doubt, what you do best and the ecircumstancesnvironments inunder which you are most likely to succeed. Those are the strengths you want to utilize, develop, and grow, and the circumstances that will allow you to do just that.
If you were selling your home you’d want to do more than ask advice from savvy insiders, you’d want them to play a proactive role in your preparation. You’d ask them to do a homea house inspection, along with you. You’d invite them to open the drawers and the closets, and point out the clutter that you’ve overlooked or the eccentricities you’ve come to loveonly you could love. You’d ask for answer their pointed questions, despite your discomfort, and stumblecourageously ask when asking a few of your own.
So it is with your job search. You need input from people who live outside your head and your perspective. You need their objective opinion regarding aspects of your style that you might think endearing and they see as difficultoppositional. If you were selling one home to move to another, you’d need to know the questions that are essential to choosing wisely, well, and once. You’d getneed a professional’s take on your strengths and skill-sets; what’s competitive, what needs upgrading and what is best overlooked. And you’d need to know how to sell what you do best by first finding out what the prospective buyer is looking for and why.
Since you’re selling one home to move into another, you’d need to know the questions that are essential to choosing wisely, well, and once.
If you were selling your home and the carpet was shot, the paint peeling and the roof leaking, you’d make the necessary upgrades and required repairs or suffer the consequences of having to lower your price and expectations regarding the less return on your original and sizable investment.
So it is with your job search. If your wardrobe is in serious need of repair, and your general physical appearance issadly lacking in energy and spirit, you’ll you’d make the appropriate changes. You’d gYou’ll get in shape, emotionally and physically, and you’ll buy clothes that indicate you know how to dress for the workplace and the levepositionl to which you aspire.
If you were to sell your home before buying another, you’d need to know where to find affordable and available and affordable temporary housing.
And Sso it is in your career search.
If you, were you to lose your job or leave it, intentionally or otherwise, before you have another, you’d. You’d have planned ahead by knowing how and where to for the unwanted yet possible to feel in control were it to happen. You’d arrange for short term and part-time jobs or consulting opportunities that could see you through the tough times..
If you were selling your home, you’d do it right. If you’re looking for a job, you’ll do the same.