The Stay Where You Are, Job Search.

So things are not going well at your current job. You have outgrown your current role. And besides, every day, a new happenstance threatens to add to your six grey hairs (yes, you counted them last weekend, and you are now up from five). Should you indulge yourself and just quit or continue to work at this dreadful place as your job search?

No easy remedy exists for hapless employees who quit their current company before they have lined up a superior replacement job. When it comes to job leaving, you had better have a plan and an exit strategy, or there will be no meaningful sympathy for the rash move job-quitter. So, before handing in your notice, consider if there is any unexplored potential in your current job; that could make it worth your while to stay. Well, at least until you have formulated a proper leaving plan! 

 Here are a few other things to consider. Start with arranging a career status chat with your boss. Hiring is costly in terms of energy, time, and money, so companies are keen to keep their existing teams intact. Your manager will likely be receptive to meeting with you to work out remedies to help re-fashion your job in a new way that reflects your career interests. Talk to your boss about the possibilities for enriching your role and adding to your experience.

  Very few people use all of their skills in their current job. Consider what under-utilized skills or potential you have that could be of benefit to your current employer. Talk to your boss about the possibilities for augmenting your current role, and remember to ask a lot of diagnostic questions to ascertain whether your manager is in support of your goal.

The company will benefit from using more of your talents. You can build experience in the specialty areas that interest you, which you can use as leverage when applying for a new role later. Consider a lateral move to a different department. An internal move will enable you to leverage your existing knowledge of the business, its processes, and its culture. Besides a new learning opportunity, an internal move can create another vertical advancement ladder. 

 Try to ensure a smooth transition and minimize the disruption to your current team. You can do a range of things to accommodate the handover professionally. That includes completing ongoing projects, working out the project priorities with your manager, leaving clear documentation, or training your successor in processes or software.

If your only avenue for career advancement option appears to be the exit door, after considerable thought. I would recommend that you seek the help of a Career Strategy Coach. To be clear, Career Strategy is not the same as Interview Preparation or Interview Coaching, job search coaching processes that focus on answering fact-based interview questions precisely. The downside is that these performance-directed coaching processes often turn anxious, goal-oriented candidates into boring talking heads and often obfuscate the candidate’s personality.

A Career Strategy Coach can advise you on your relevant referential and replicable skills that will enhance the possibility of success in your job search. And help you fine-tune your interviewing tactics to ensure that you convey the complexity of your experience and your determined long-term goals to interviewers. Your coach can also help you to clarify and adjust your career decision-making criteria so you do not give answers at the interview that may succeed in getting you the job but do not convey your career goals.

Your Career Strategy Consultant can help you help change your interviewing approach from a spirited tennis match to a thoughtful, strategic, and goal-oriented chess match!

Dealing with Irascible Managers or Co-Workers

I have worked with and for quite a few problematic characters throughout my long career. Some are still friends and confidants, and a few continue to be valued as mentors.

Many of these irascible managers or co-workers lack social grace and a sense of control, so they cannot communicate well under stress. They also appear to forget that a timely apology can be a fallback position.

You see them coming from a mile, so the choice becomes whether you rise to and meet the verbal challenge or obfuscate. But, since nobody wins in these confrontations, you seldom try to deal with it.

They are unaware of how their behavior impacts others because they need to elevate themselves above others in a group situation. They do not hesitate to exploit their leadership role by insulting others because they are often insecure and quick to attack to assert their leadership.  

So they seek to maintain their position in the hierarchy through criticism, humiliation, and camouflaged insults, in a kind of unconscious narcissistic way.

The second group of tough characters are those with narrow interests and vapid sympathies. These folks say and do the same cruel things regularly as if on cue. I worked for one manager who lobbed the same petty insults at every group meeting but never in one-to-one meetings.

The worse part is that you feel bad for the manager. And deliberately avoid connecting with the “Oh No, Not Again” apologetic looks directed your way by the other team members. You think, “well, somebody has got to pull up the weeds.” Feeling all the while like the embarrassed parent of a preschooler misbehaving in public!

There is a stunning lack of creativity when someone overuses the same petty insult. If you must be regularly petty, try to be creative and offer variety. Unable to rise to the occasion, then stop it, the exercise of watching a manager or colleague try to diminish a coworker publicly is tiresome and embarrassing for everybody!

The Unexpected Reference Call.

Have you received an unexpected request or a call for a reference for a friend or former colleague? You knew your friend was thinking about job searching, but you wonder, how could they put you in such an awkward situation? You do a credible job, but you believe your responses lacked actual content.

This reference checking incident jolts you into thinking – how are YOU sorted for current and relevant references to validate your qualification and suitability for your dream job should your dream interview arise?

Most employers will request references when the company is seriously interested in you as a potential hire. So we should all be prepared to provide a list of employment references who are knowledgeable regarding your expertise in the qualification and skills required for the job you are seeking.

Remember to get your references in order before you need them. It will save time scrambling to put together a list at the last minute. Quickly forwarding your references upon request to a potential employer can help you secure the job offer.

Once you start the interview process, be mindful of informing your references, and unless you have their permission, do not use someone as a reference.

1) Asking for a Reference: Update the potential reference giver about the type of positions you are applying for, so they can tailor their recommendation to fit your circumstances.

2) Whom to Ask for a Reference: Former bosses, co-workers, customers, vendors, colleagues, and college professors are good references. Recent graduates may use a personal connection.

3) Company Reference Policy: Some employers will not provide skills verification references. They may only provide a job title, dates of employment, and salary history. So find alternative references.

4) Create a reference list of three to four people, containing their name, title, and email in addition to the telephone number. When emailing the reference list, paste the list into the email rather than sending it as an attachment.

5) Request a Reference Letter from soon-to-be former colleagues: Create a file of recommendations from people you may not necessarily be able to track down later.

6) Keep Your References Up-to-Date: Let your references know where your job search stands and update them on who might be calling for a reference.

A prospective employer should ask your permission before contacting your references. And, it is perfectly acceptable to say that you are not at ease with the company contacting your current employer, and offering a list of alternative references available.

Why You May Not Be Invited To Interviews

Look, there are many possible reasons why you are not getting interviews. And, you are beginning to sense that your career search journey, while not entirely derailed, is turning out to be very bumpy and indeterminate. Plus, you are not enjoying the ride, one bit!

As you try for a correction, it turns out there is one area you may have overlooked – your social media footprint. Question – do you know what your social footprint looks like to an employer who looked you up on social media or googled your name? Was your response to the search results: Yikes?

What you publish about yourself or the personal info you allow unfettered access to by everyone on social media; has the power to enhance, neuter, or severely hinder your chances of obtaining the job interviews. Consequently, you must plan out and curate your existing social media collateral to improve your chances of success in your career improvement project.

So, beyond publishing your skills and experience to the public domain and networking online with professionals from various employment sectors, here are some things you should do immediately.

1. Resolve to keep your personal intrigues, fallouts and updates, and professional updates on separate social media accounts.

2. Ensure that your LinkedIn URL and the name you generally know in the business are in simpatico.

3. Widen your reach; build your network, and engage in professional dialogue with a broader audience across multiple social channels.

4. Interact with recruiters, former colleagues, and prospective employer representatives by liking and commenting on their posts across all channels in real-time.

5. Resist the urge to be disagreeable and pedantic in your comments and responses to the posts of others. Alternative views are encouraged, but razing someone on a social media post, does nothing to further your career improvement project.

Are you ready to take the lead in your job search? Then it is time for a social redo or upgrade of your social footprint?

Interviewing Tips for the Mature Jobseeker

As a career strategy coach, I can offer that mature job seekers often get themselves into trouble at interviews by over-communicating and overselling their value and experience.

The mature job seeker needs to accept that they are at the interview because the hiring managers believe they have the skills and the experience to perform well in the new position based on their resume. Nobody interviews an unqualified candidate.

These interviews are often more about the fit, and the jobseekers’ ability to understand why the company is seeking to hire someone in the role they are interviewing for and what needs to be accomplished in the new position.

This interview is a different type of interview. It requires being a good listener and asking thoughtful exploratory questions so you can identify the problem to be solved and speak to that solution.

Success at this type of interview requires a practiced approach, a bit of restraint, and some retraining. As a mature professional and career strategy coach, I know how easy it is to oversell.

As Janis Ransom at Franklin Paterson Company Inc., shared on LinkedIn: I was asked the age question recently at a meeting to discuss a potential project. Can I ask, the hapless manager said, how old you are?
Her reply: “Will there be mountain climbing or other vigorous sport involved in the project? Because I generally do not accept projects that require extreme athletic skills.”

The response was absolute silence. A long silence. Followed by profuse apologies. Sometimes you get the opportunity to teach AND have a bit of fun.