Expand Your Career Horizons

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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 http://www.onetonline.org/  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.”




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.


Answering the Toughest Interview Questions

In preparing for a mini-course I’ve been teaching; “Ignite Your Interview” I came across some terrific “inside information” from professional recruiter Skip Freeman. He suggests that the most challenging questions for candidates are:  “What questions do you have?” And “What is your salary expectation?” From my own experience in the staffing industry I am inclined to agree with him.  Let’s look at the first one.

When the interview is about finished, the typical interviewee is relieved and ready to make an exit.  Not surprising then that many candidates respond to the interviewers; “Do you have any questions you’d like to ask?” by saying something like, “no, I think I got a good overview of the position, thanks.”  Skip refers to this as the “kiss of death” for your candidacy.  What the interviewer wants to hear is why you should be hired.  You want to finish the interview expressing your value, your intelligence, and your ability to assert yourself.  Here’s the answer Skip suggests:

“Mr./Ms. Hiring Manager, let’s assume for a moment that I am your candidate of choice and that I become your next (position for which you are applying). It is one year from now. You look back over the past year and say, ‘I made a good hire.’ What is it that I would have had to have done over the year for you to be able to say that?”

Talk about getting inside info!  Not only have you impressed the interviewer with your question, you now have a better idea of what the job entails and the employer’s performance expectations.  If you aren’t comfortable with the above question, here are a few others you may find beneficial to ask:

  1. In six months, what would the successful candidate have accomplished?”
  2. What is the most important and pressing problem for the new hire to tackle?
  3. What would you like done differently by the next person who fills this job?
  4. I noticed on the company website that your firm’s mission is to ___________. How do you see the successful candidate contributing to that mission?
  5. How does this department affect the company’s profit?
  6. How would you describe the organization’s culture and personality?
  7. How are risk taking and creativity rewarded?
  8. How does the company recognize outstanding employees?

Now let’s look at how to answer the second question; “What is your salary expectation?” If your inclination is to name a salary that your want, stifle yourself!  Here is the answer Mr. Freeman recommends to his clients: “I am very interested in this opportunity.  If I am your candidate of choice and, in turn, you are my company of choice, then I know the salary will be more than fair.”

In this instance, you have let the interviewer know that salary isn’t the deciding issue on whether or not you’d accept the position.

It is also important to know what the average salary range is for the position.  Often the salary is not divulged in the job listing and it is up to you to do the research.  Check out onetonline.org and identify the job title, ex:  Sales Manager.  See if the description is a match to the position you are applying for and then scroll down to “Wages and Employment Trends”.  The Dept. of Labor provides the median national wages and employment outlook.  You can find out the local median wage by plugging in your state and then county or city.  Armed with this data, you can also answer the salary question by saying:  “the average salary range for this position is ______, I would entertain an offer in this range. Keep in mind the DOL data is usually a year or so old so adjust the rates accordingly. The salary information is critical to know if you are offered the position and chose to negotiate your terms of acceptance.

Bottom line for going into interviews is: Be Prepared!  Research the industry, the organization, the employment outlook and the nature of the job itself.  Use your social media contacts and network to identify and connect to employees in the company you are considering and do some informational interviewing.

May you land the job you want!



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.

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