Finding Fulfilling Work is Like an Easter Egg Hunt

It is Easter weekend and I find myself remembering my children at 3 and 5 excitedly exploring the house for the colorful eggs and other goodies (plastic wind-up chicks, jelly beans in pick plastic wrap and the like) left by the elusive bunny. I loved watching the kids dash from place to place excitedly shrieking with glee when they discovered an egg or foil wrapped treat. The joy in their little faces at uncovering an unexpected goodie was  truly a wondrous thing. Once the more obvious eggs had been located, the process evolved into a more serious hunt. Although the kids would diligently follow our suggestions of where to look, they were most proud and excited about the treasures they discovered on their own.

Finding fulfilling work is sort of like an Easter egg hunt. First you look at the obvious: what your education, skills and training qualify you to do and hope there is a match in the current market. When there isn’t, we need to look harder. Consider: How might your particular set of gifts, experience, and abilities benefit others? What talents do you possess that the world needs? Who needs your talents? This applies whether you are seeking employment or considering starting a business. 

We often fail to recognize that our gifts; things that come easily to us, can be marketable skills. Do you have a green thumb with plants? Are you creative in the kitchen? Do you tinker with cars or bikes on the weekends? Are you a movie buff that enjoys critiquing films? How might your interests, where your talents are often demonstrated, be applicable to the workplace? What are your transferable (non-occupational specific) skills?

I challenge you to look beyond your work history, your education, and your stated “qualifications”. Find those less obvious eggs and put them into your basket, for fulfilling work.

Expand Your Career Horizons

Irishfest sunset

Are you tired of your work routine, burned out on your occupation, or struggling to please your boss or coworkers?  Maybe it is time to seriously consider a career change.  Here are 5 Action Steps to help you get moving:

  1. Evaluate your current life situation and how your work fits into it.  Do you live to work or work to live?  Are you staying in a job that you don’t like just to pay your bills?  If so, how is that impacting your family, your health, and your precious time?  How do you want to spend your days?  Where you do want to live?  What lifestyle is desirable and what are your most important values?  Optimally, you want to have meaningful, purposeful, satisfying work that energizes and enlivens you as well as pays your bills.
  2. Look beyond your occupation.  Just because you’ve always worked in an office as an administrator doesn’t mean you have to stay in this field.  What are you passionate about?  What are your hobbies and interests?  What are you doing when you feel most exhilarated, alive and engaged?  Do you love to cook and fantasize about being a personal chef or having your own restaurant?  Well maybe you can!  Just don’t go after “hot jobs” because they might be lucrative unless they are truly a fit for your skills, talents and personality.
  3. Do the research.  One of my favorite sites to share with clients is  You can browse occupations by industry, by employment outlook, by how much education or training it requires, by industry or career cluster.  This Department of Labor website links with others to provide wage and data info, hiring trends, and growth patterns.  You can even find out the prevailing salaries of workers in an occupation in your geographic area.  (Handy to know when you receive a job offer and want to negotiate your paycheck).  Another consideration is the physical demands a new line of work may require.  For instance, it may not be practical to become a massage therapist if you have joint problems. Find out before you enroll in a program.
  4. Identify your transferable skills.  What skills and abilities do you already possess that are valuable in a different line of work?  We all have them but often overlook them.  I’m talking about non-occupation specific skills such as public speaking, writing concisely, gathering resources, implementing new systems, mentoring others, translating complex information, and building consensus.  Here’s a checklist for you
  5. Examine the market.  The bottom line here is who needs what you have?  Where is there a problem you can solve?  Does your community need another coffee shop or chiropractor or whatever it is you plan to do next?   Consider the timing.  If you need to go to a 4 year degree program to enter a new field, better be sure it is in a growth mode.  New occupations are arising all the time.  Five years ago “Social Media Consultant” wasn’t an occupation.  Today, it is a promising field along with distance learning coordinators, GPS systems developers, nanotechnology engineers, and about anything in the green industry.  Again, check out Onet for info on emerging careers, as well as the outlook for careers you are considering.

            “You don’t have to do any kind of work, there is choice.  Get the information you need to chose well.”




Work: Labor or Love?

Labor or Love?

Work, is it a labor of love?

Today is Labor Day in America.  It became a national holiday in 1894 when President Grover Cleveland reconciled with the labor movement following the deaths of workers during the Pullman Strike.  Fearing further conflict, the bill was rushed through Congress a mere 6 days after the strike.  Much has changed in the workplace since then.  Now we largely look at Labor Day as the last weekend of summer and the kickoff of the football season, a day off for fun and relaxation. 

If we view this occasion as it was originally conceived, it is a day to appreciate those in the workforce and celebrate employment. I ask you; do you feel celebratory at work?  Are you fully engaged and joyfully expressing your talents and skills?  Do you really like your job? Are you appreciated and rewarded for your contributions?  Do you feel energized by the work you do?  Sadly, I don’t think the majority of workers would answer yes to these questions. 

When my daughter graduated college, she had a hard time being motivated to get that first job.  I asked her what came to mind when I said the word:  work.  She thought a minute and then said; “I get a picture of a sweaty bald guy in a warehouse pulling a huge chain.”  My internal response was “yikes, she views work as drudgery!”  Sadly, I think many people view work from this perspective. (Happily, my daughter now loves her work as a blogger, freelance writer and social media consultant in Denver).

For many people, a job is tied to the idea of being in servitude to get a paycheck.  I’ve had coaching clients tell me they are miserable in their jobs but are locked into the “golden handcuffs”.  They feel they cannot leave their jobs for fear of losing health insurance and other benefits.  I ask them, “If you really can’t leave your work, can you find a way to be more satisfied with it?”

What would happen if you shifted your perception and viewed work as a creative expression of yourself?  How might you bring your natural talents and skills into your work life?  Can you see how your work could then become a “labor of love”?  I believe that each and every one of us can find or create work that is inherently fulfilling.  If you are currently in a job, consider how you can experience it with more joy.  Ask yourself:   

  • What is one thing I can do this week to find more pleasure and satisfaction at work?
  • How can I make the best contribution to my workplace, my co-workers, or my employer?
  • What can I change in my daily routine to make my job more interesting?   

If you are looking at career options, consider these questions:   

  • What am I passionate about?  How might I express my passion through my work?
  • Is my work an expression of me?  Is the work I do in alignment with my value system? 
  • What kind of work would energize me?
  • Who could utilize my natural talents, skills, education, etc.?  Where is there a need I can fill?   

If you can’t find a way to “love the work you’re with” it’s time to look elsewhere. You might consider creative self employment, starting a small business or a combination in income producing endeavors.  Remember you don’t have to do a particular kind or work, you have choice!

“Follow the path of your potential and live the work you love”  –Dee


Use Linked In and See Your Career Opportunities Blossom

I participated inTree with pink blossoms a webinar last week; Linked In Insider Secrets and it was an interesting perspective on the job search process.  The presenter, Greig Wells, provided some great tips on enhancing your marketability to potential employers by utilizing social media.  You don’t need to be a job hunter to appreciate the following tips for leveraging Linked In as I think they work equally well for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and the self employed.

Create a strong LI profile.  Think about why you are on Linked In.  Are you looking for a career change, trying to attract customers or clients, or are you just creating a network of colleagues and potential collaborators?  If you are in the job market, you want to be sure your profile includes key words commonly found in your ideal position description.  Demonstrate your abilities and highlight your accomplishments as your profile is like a mini-resume. Do put that you are open to career opportunities under the contact settings unless you are concerned that your current employer may see it as a red flag in which case, indicate you are open to “expertise requests”. Be sure to get your profile to 100% completeness by adding a picture, your education, specialties and recommendations.

Build your network. When you send emails to people you’d like to add to your network be sure to personalize your request and remind the person how you know one another.  LI offers to search you email address book and send a generic request to all.  It sounds like the easiest way to gather a network but there is the quality vs quantity issue.  There is some debate over whether to ask to link to everyone or just people you have some personal connection to. Linked In Open Networkers (LIONs) for instance, link to anyone who asks which is how they have those prodigious numbers!  I think it is more productive to approach individuals who are well known in your field and have a large network.  You are more attractive to recruiters if it appears that you are connected to leaders in your industry.  Additionally, you are much more likely to show up on recruiters’ searches if you have 500+ connections.

Join and participate in Groups. If you have been out of the workforce for a while, creating a group can be a good way to fill your gap in employment.  Greig shared an example of a marketing professional who started his own association on Linked in and subsequently listed his role there as Vice President under his work experience. Another advantage to being in groups include meeting new people with similar interests, learning from what others share in the discussions, and enlarging your sphere of influence though your contributions.

In summary, if you want to be found on Linked In, you need to be perceived as having expertise, providing value to others, and being well connected.  If you’d like more information on using Linked in and other social media resources for finding a job, I recommend this book:  How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other Social Networks by Brad and Debra Schepp.


Dream Careers are Like Butterflies

Butterfly on Yellow FlowerIn our culture, the mass media bombards us with the idea that there is a “dream career” or a “perfect job” out there for everyone. I believe this is true, but for many of us finding that ideal work situation can be like trying to catch a butterfly – it always seems to be just beyond our reach.

You may spend years in school studying to become a ___________ (you fill in the blank) only to enter that career and discover it’s not what you really want – or worse – that you just aren’t good at it.

Some folks chase the money and plan their career trajectory based on what work yields the highest paycheck, but even if they end up making the big bucks, most don’t report feeling they have the “work of their dreams.”

So the question is, how do we discover what the perfect career for each of us is?

The keys to determining what might be fulfilling work  for you are pretty simple:

1.     Identify what work tasks you both enjoy and do well

2.     Identify work tasks that you don’t like BUT do well

3.     Identify work tasks you enjoy BUT don’t do well

4.     Identify work tasks that you both dislike and don’t do well

Here is a video explaining this further:

The challenge is that most people get stuck in jobs where they have several tasks that they do well, but don’t really enjoy. In order for us to be fulfilled at work, we need to be engaged doing things that we both are good at and therefore can be successful doing, but that also connect us to our passions and have an intrinsic value to us. This is what makes work truly fulfilling. By identifying the things above, you are taking the first step toward determining what the best work for you may be.

Bottom line:  you’ll never find that dream job without first determining what you’re naturally talented at and enjoy doing.  You must to be willing to take some risks in following your heart’s desire for doing work you’ll really enjoy.  You may need to take a less than perfect job to make ends meet while you return to school to increase your knowledge or get training to learn new skills.  You may experience criticism from friends, family and colleagues if you decide to “leave the mainstream” and significantly change your career path.  You are the only one who truly knows what that great work will be and it won’t be found in a job description written by someone else.

If you’d like some support and resources to begin this process, check out the exercises and inventories in my free “Discover Your Calling” e-course.  Sign up on the top right of this page.

Interviewing Tips to Get the Perfect Job

Did you know that 85% of communication is NOT the words you speak?

The best interviewing tip I give people is to learn good body language and practice it.

In this video, I tell 6 easy to remember interviewing tips that can make your job interview a huge success.

7 Steps of Career Transition

Whether you are just graduating college or are experiencing a mid-life career challenge and rethinking what kind of work you want to do, it is critical to do some self examination. What do you really want to do or be?  What are your natural talents, abilities, and skills?  How do you get energized, and what challenges you in a positive way?  Gaining self-knowledge; determining your priorities and identifying your values are important factors in choosing a career direction and are the first steps to a successful career transition.

Here are two possible scenarios to consider:

Scenario A;  Career Transition to a New Job

  1. Explore your wants and needs for career fulfillment by identifying your particular requirements (How much income must you have?  Where and when are you willing and able to work?  What are your top 3 things you must have in your next job in order to be happy?)
  2. Identify potential employment opportunities
  3. Research potential employers to determine corporate or organization culture, management style, mission and vision.
  4. Update and revise your resume to maximize getting interviews
  5. Build your network through informational interviewing, attending events related to your profession, joining professional associations, and using social media.
  6. Enhance your interviewing skills – practice how you will answer difficult questions
  7. Navigate job offers, negotiate your salary/benefits

Scenario B;  Career Transition into Self Employment

  1. Explore your wants and needs for career fulfillment by identifying your particular requirements (How much income must you have?  Where and when are you willing and able to work?  What are your top 3 things you must have in your next job in order to be happy?)
  2. Analyze ways of working to determine the best fit for you.  For example: be employed part time while building your business, or writing your book or going to school, etc., or jumping full time into starting a business.
  3. Conduct market research to be sure that your business idea is realistic.
  4. Launch your business and determine your niche.  What is the scope of your service or product line?  Who benefits from what you are putting out into the marketplace?
  5. Develop your marketing strategy for your business including your brand.
  6. Build your network:  create cross referrals with colleagues who serve the same customer demographic, utilize social media, blogging and article writing to establish your expertise.
  7. Navigate project offers, draft proposals to meet customers’ needs, determine pricing and distribution channels for your product or service.

In either scenario A or B you start in the same place: exploring YOUR wants and needs for career fulfillment.

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.”  -Henry David Thoreau

The #1 Reason You Aren’t Getting Hired

I heard from a former client recently who has been having a hard time finding work.  He shared his frustration about applying for “100’s” of jobs not getting interviews, or if he did have an interview, not getting a job offer.  After 18 months of this, he was pretty angry.  He proceeded to give me a litany of reasons for his negativity.  Let’s look at these four:

1. Employers are rude, they won’t even acknowledge that they have received my applications.

2. The economy sucks, no one is hiring.

3. Companies won’t pay me what I am worth.

4. The people doing the hiring are guilty of age discrimination.

While these statements may have some truth to them, they are undermining the candidate’s chances for employment.  Why?  Because the unhappy jobseeker is blaming externals for his predicament and his negative attitude is derailing his forward motion.  Yup, the number one reason you may not be getting hired is your attitude.

Let’s look at each of these complaints from a more positive perspective.

1. Employers are swamped with applicants and may be short staffed.  Imagine yourself as the hiring person being deluged with resumes, many of which are poorly written, hard to read, and inappropriate for the position.  Having been in the position of screening resumes, I can tell you it is an exercise in patience to review each one and make thoughtful decisions regarding which pile to put it in:  maybe a fit, not a fit but maybe could be considered for something else, and totally unqualified for the position.  Then you take the maybe stack and sort it down to the strongest candidates, coming up with the number of candidates to be interviewed (like the top 3-10).  Is it reasonable to expect every person be sent an acknowledgment that their application has been received?  I don’t think so.

2. Even in economic downturns people are hiring. You may just have to look harder to identify where you might fit. 80% of jobs aren’t advertised. I encourage you to do some information interviewing to get the inside scoop on a company’s culture, needs and potential openings. If there truly are no jobs in your field, consider starting your own business.  Really look at your resume.  What else can you do with your experience, education, training, and talent?

3. What are you worth, really, to a potential employer?  In your correspondence and contact with an organization you need to stress what YOU can do for THEM, not the other way around.  Can you save them time, increase productivity, save them money?  How will the organization benefit by hiring you?

4. Although there may be age discrimination, carrying it around as a chip on your shoulder is not going to help you get hired.  Instead of tackling the “age issue” emphasize your experience, your knowledge, the wisdom you bring and the maturity.  Another advantage of hiring older workers is that they tend to be reliable, dependable, and diligent workers. Turn your attitude into thinking about what a great catch you are for some fortunate employer and see if that doesn’t make a difference!

Bottom line—put yourself in the employers’ role, wouldn’t you rather hire a candidate with a positive attitude?  Yeah, so would I.

Go forward confidently, energetically attacking problems, expecting favorable outcomes. Norman Vincent Peale

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude. Thomas Jefferson

More great quotes on attitude