Why the key to a successful career may be our relationships with others.

The feeling that we must make up for time lost by job-related turmoil, or lay-offs, has heightened the need to rethink our careers. This career-changing hustle has pushed every working man, woman, manager, and manipulator to accept that a job change should future-proof your career.

The need to constantly keep an eye on the possibility of a career blip has made it difficult, if not impossible, for many careerists to use the most effective career management and career enhancement strategy, which involves developing career enhancement relationships with other people. 

Given the general feeling that everyone is now a competitor, people find it difficult to reach out to colleagues. But the fact is that people will help you, but it’s up to you to reach out to them.

Improving the quality and frequency of our interactions with others who are also building their careers increases our visibility. It can positively influence their perceptions of us as professionals as we share insights and reinforce our reputation as colleagues to be recommended for a job opening with their firm or as someone who can be recommended to others.

Participating in deliberate advice and feedback sharing can help us and others confirm that they are on the right track in their career moves. It can also educate us on the areas where we need to develop or gain further experience. Although many people are back at the office, far too many continue to maintain their WFH isolationist this is my space approach to interacting with their colleagues. As career strategists, we hear from clients that it is currently more difficult to share or hear of potential opportunities.

If change is the impetus to encourage inertia, a short-term contract role that isn’t your first choice may be worth consideration. Future employers will appreciate that sometimes individuals need to be pragmatic yet adaptable to ensure they can pay their bills. You will still need to show enthusiasm and perform well regardless of the interim role you undertake while continuing to look for your ideal role.

Share your career successes with your former colleagues, others in your professional circle, and decision-makers. Above all, try not to beat yourself up about accepting a lesser role temporarily and whether it will affect your career prospects; this thinking is exhausting and defeating. Try to demonstrate a willingness to learn and adapt; ultimately, you will be more employable and more likely to be retained. 

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!

Is it time for a Career Self-Assessment?

The reality has set in. You are getting career restless. You are not bored, but Mondays are tough! By Wednesday, you are back in the groove; But for some reason, “thank God it’s Friday” is now the week’s longest, most challenging day. How do you restart your job love-engine?

Don’t start by simply updating your resume. If you do, you will end up with an autobiography masquerading as a resume. Try doing a career self-assessment to help you identify your critical talents, career interests, goals, and needs.

A self-assessment will help you gather valuable content for your new resume and is an excellent prepping tool for interviews. The process will help you uncover expertise and work patterns that illustrate your capabilities.

It will enable you to gauge your employability at this time relative to what is available. Self-assessments highlight and lay bare gaps in your expertise and suggest repair resolutions. It will also prepare you to run an effective job search campaign. How do you go about conducting a career self-assessment?

1.      Review your skills
Do the fun stuff first. What aspects of your current job do you do well, which ones do you like doing, which fall into the “not so much ” category, and which ones do you do poorly. Think about the skills required to do your job effectively. Now think of two or three examples where you excelled in each skill. You may also identify several related skills you utilized to enhance the skills you already accepted are your strengths.

2.      Are you an expert? What do you know?
If you have worked at a company for an extended period, you may underestimate your product knowledge, technical know-how, service sector, or customer type. Did you come up with a deficit during this exercise? Then make this an immediate correction item.

3. Did you add real value?
Did you help your organization generate quantifiable income, reduce costs, solve unique customer problems or improve the quality of its service? Your contribution may have been as an individual or as part of a team. Include it all.   

4.      What do you truly want?
Your wants may include an improved salary, but what else is important to you? How do you want your next job to differ from your current role? Are there things you would like to keep the same? These items will be your decision criteria for future opportunities.

Finally, benchmark your skills and value by reviewing job postings that interest you to see what employers define as needed skills and attributes.

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Problems with 1st Interview Feedback?

So, no one called you back after your first interview. You were told they would get back to you in two days, and it has been two weeks! Plus, you’ve called three times for a status. Imagine getting no credit for your restraint!

By the end of week two, it is slowly beginning to dawn on you that you have crossed into the high-maintenance job seeker category. So even if you performed well at the interview, you might have blown it with your overanxious, aggressive interview follow-up.

Are you a high-maintenance jobseeker? The high maintenance jobseeker views interviewing and job search as a proactive, highly competitive exercise. The HMJ candidate believes that they should take control of the interview and the interview feedback process and may make some mistakes to get an edge over other jobseekers.

Have you committed one or many of these mistakes while job searching? Here are the most often abused missteps.

1)     Once contacted for an interview, the HMJ candidate bombards the recruiter or manager with a series of “before I set up the interview, I would like to share” emails.

2)     When asked for additional or supporting documents, the candidate sends each item in a separate email. As a result, the recruiters or managers are so overwhelmed that they never open any documents.

3)     During the interview, HMJ struggles to allow the manager to ask complete questions or constantly interrupts to present supporting documents, forgetting that there is no prize given for being a “quick-draw” with the responses. It is important to remember that some people ramble before coming to the point, so answering the question too soon can hurt you.

4)     Post-interviewed HMJ often calls to find out the state of their candidacy or will email show-and-tell items to highlight their projects, reference letters, reviews, etc.

5)     HMJ forgets to write down the Key Manager’s name and addresses their Thank You note “To whom it may concern” – the answer to which is “Nobody.”

Many job seekers inadvertently commit one or more of these interview mistakes to stand out from other candidates.

If you were not invited to a second interview or did not hear back after your first interview, check the items above. Did you commit any of these blunders – are you an HMJ- a high maintenance jobseeker?

Handling Gaps in your Work History

How prepared are you to respond to questions regarding a Gap in your work history? Being laid off or fired is infuriating, especially if you are dumped by an organization that you were thinking of leaving anyway.

Maybe the timing is terrible, but consider yourself rescued and liberated, PLUS you get to keep your “I am not a quitter badge”!

Is there is a plus side? Yes indeed!

You are being forced to reconsider your career options and proactively restructure the next phase of your career. If you got a decent severance package – HURRAH! You are being paid while you make this career upgrade.

Here are some recommendations for processing and handling the work gap in the initial phone call with a recruiter or hiring manager:

1)   Develop a concise non-emotional explanation for the gap. Was there a company-wide layoff, did your department fold, was there a personal health issue, or did you move to a new city?

2)   Do not fudge the truth. Do not change a full-time tenure at the company to a contract or temp role. Lying about your employment can be damaging. The wise among us realize that being dumped can be a good thing. So, evaluate what you have gained from working at the company that set you free.  

3)   One of the funnier moments in my coaching history is a candidate explaining that she was fired, but not really.

In response to my quizzical: Say What? She said that she was the only one laid off in her division, so she felt she was fired. Too much info…. Was the severance reasonable? I asked, she said yes. I suggested that we will call it a “dissociation.” It is incredible what language can do to improve one’s view of things!

4)   Explain what you were doing during gaps between jobs. Think hard. Did you volunteer, take classes to upgrade your skills, travel, or use the time to take care of a relative. Did you attend webinars take online courses etc.? In short, were you productive?

5)   Unless you are good at disassociation, try to subdue your maverick go-it-alone approach. Consider engaging a professional to help you sophisticate your resume and prepare for this and other tricky interview questions.

6)   Invest in yourself and your career, and above all, do not wait until you are at the interview itself to craft a response to what you have been doing the last three or six months. Above all, do not slime the people at your previous employer; they can be excellent sources for referrals.