Changing Careers? Take a lesson from a Millenial

Gotta love the millennials, those 18 – 33 year olds who will account for half of the workforce by 2020.  I envy this generation’s comfort with risk taking, always having been change and risk adverse myself.  I was just talking to an intern at my fitness center and, upon learning that she was from Colorado, asked her how she ended up interning in Florida.  riskShe told me she had several intern opportunities near her hometown of Colorado Springs; however, had always lived there and jumped at the opportunity to work in Tampa, learning about another part of the country and meeting diverse people.  As I worked out on the treadmill, I observed her with others exercising.  She is industrious, approaches members with sincere interest and has, I have heard, introduced new ideas and improvements to the center. The fitness manager raves about her and has already  Continue reading

WHY A CAREER COACH? BENEFITS FOR EVERYONE

Although there are more Career Coaches than ever before, most people don’t really understand the role or return on investment.  Granted, Career Coaches have reported being busier the last few years, based on our economy and challenging job market conditions; however, even in a booming job market, there is value to having a personal Career Coach at your side as a trusted advisor.

What does a Career Coach do?  The simple answer to the question is “to help you attain your career goals which will lead to greater career satisfaction.”  My motto says it all – “changing lives, one career at a time”.  We all know that if we are fulfilled in our career, we are more fulfilled in other dimensions of our lives.  In particular, your Career Coach will be in partnership with you and focus on these key areas:

  1. Identify Career Goals – studies show that most of us have spent less than 20 hours on our career plans or paths.  I spend more time than that on planning a vacation or holiday celebration.  Once settled into a career track, many of us tend to go on auto-pilot and get complacenet.  We need to take control and manage our careers.  A Career Coach can help you identify your values, goals, aspirations and create career goals as well as a plan to get from Point A to Point B.
  2. Stay Focused & Accountable – one of the most helpful benefits to a Career Coach is to keep you on track, focused on your priorities, measure your success and encourage you to take risks.  A good Career Coach will be direct and provide you with honest feedback.  If you get distracted or fail to stay focused, s/he will  help redirect you, as well as help you to design and execute upon an action plan.
  3. Enhance Signature Strengths – A Career Coach has a variety of assessments available to assist a client identify his or her strengths and opportunities.  These include non-cognitive assessments such as personality and Emotional Intelligence.  After skills have been identified, your Career Coach can help you enhance them in order for y ou to fully use them to your benefit.
  4. Share Knowledge – ask what type of work experience your Career Coach has before you agree to working with her or him.  The more rounded of an experience foundation, the better for you.  Your Career Coach will ideally have experience in the industry or sector in which you are interested and have had the opportunity to work with successful people, within that career or industry.

YOUR JOB SEARCH IS YOUR JOB

Especially with the challenging job market and stiffer competition, you would be well advised to approach your search as though it were a full time job itself, spending about 30 – 40  hours a week on it. Even if you are currently working, an effective search will consume at least 10 hours per week. Schedule and structure your days as though this was a job. It will prove a more effective search and you will feel productive and inspired by your progress.

Consider the following seven principles – One for every day of the week:

  1. Use multiple job search methods and focus on those that will help you be most efficient.  Consider the following resources: online job boards, social media (LinkedIn is for everyone), Facebook and Twitter as well as your personal contacts,  employment or temporary agencies, local state and social service agencies, professional organizations, Chambers of Commerce,  colleges and university job boards or alumni offices.  As a rule, simultaneously use at least a handful of different job search methods.
  2. Be organized!  It goes without saying that, if you are working at this like a full time job and utilizing multiple strategies, you will need to document who you talked to and when, what you discussed and any next steps or follow up.  I recommend, at the least, a log or journal which you can refer to or files based on your job search resources.
  3. Be professional and persistent when contacting or following up with potential employers. Don’t assume they will return calls or send you status updates.  Remember the number of job seekers has escalated and company resources have not kept pace; most companies do not acknowledge receipt of resumes nor will you be informed if the job is filled.  More than any other trait, persistency is a key to your job search success. This may mean that you will need to be more assertive than you normally are.  The key:  don’t take it personally when you don’t hear from companies or if you are turned down for a job. Learn from each encounter.
  4. Don’t limit your search to large companies.  In my city, there are many small to medium sized companies and organizations and that’s where most of the new job growth is. A smaller company may be more flexible, also, and be willing to forgo some of the formalities of the hiring process.
  5. Know your signature strengths and transferrable skills.  Read that sentence again and highlight it if you need to; however, so many people in the job market are applying for jobs and going to interviews but can’t articulate their top five strengths and/or skills. Additionally, you must know and be able to differentiate yourself from the competition by knowing what is unique about your skillset. Consider a hiring manager who is interviewing 50 people for one job.  What will you do to ensure that you stand out from the others?
  6. Once you can identify your strengths and skills, use examples of them when answering the interview questions.  Think “skills” vs. the “job” you held.  Don’t answer the question with a memorization of your prior job description.  What did you achieve and how did you use your knowledge or skills?  For example, an  event planner has exceptional organizational, relationship building and creative skills.
  7. Develop and maintain a strong support system.  Even though many of your friends may be employed, don’t let that discourage.  Keep in contact with them and consider asking one or more to be an accountability partner, to whom you report weekly on your job search activity

YOUR JOB: STAY or LEAVE?

It’s a question I’ve heard hundreds of times:  “I’m not happy at work.  How can I find a better job?”  Jobs are like marriages.  You will experience peaks and valleys; loving every moment is unrealistic.  On the other hand, you aren’t married to your career and there are times when it is right to move on.  Before you decide to launch a job search requiring time, effort, emotional and sometimes, financial investments, ask yourself the following:

  • Company fit: does your company’s culture align with your values?  Are you comfortable with the company’s mission, purpose and goals?  Are you treated fairly and with respect?
  • Work/Life Balance:  does your workload and schedule allow you enough personal and family time?  Do you have flexibility when you need it?  Is working from home an option?
  • Your Manager:  do you work well with your boss?  Are you respected, value and appreciated?
  • Your Talent:  are you using your knowledge, skills and abilities to meet your employer’s needs and leaving you with a sense of success?  Is your job fulfilling and challenging?
  • Work Environment:  are your surroundings ideal for you to work optimally?  Are you provided with the technical support and equipment  needed to perform to your max?
  • Advancement:  is there opportunity for advancement, additional training, responsibility and promotion?
  • Compensation:  are you fairly compensated (base salary, bonus and benefit package) and is your pay a true reflection of the value you bring to your company?  As a reference, compare your compensation to those on  www.salary.com
  • Security: for the past few years,people were laid off who never thought it would be possible.  Do you feel secure or are there threats of mergers and layoffs?

I hope you answered positively to most of the above questions.  Even if you didn’t, consider what changes you can make in order for he job to meet your needs and fully utilize your gifts and talents.  If you have a good relationship with your manager, consider discussing your situation with him or her.  Human Resources is another option.  Over the years, I’ve helped many employees explore options and opportunities in their current organization.

If, however, your responses to the questions convinced you it’s time to move on, read the next blog.