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Are You Stuck In a Nightmare Job? Share It Here!

Some of my clients hire me to help them find their dream job. Others hire me just to help them get out of their nightmare job.

I’ve heard some stories about nightmare jobs that are real doozies. But none of them beat my dad’s story of his first job out of high school.

A Real Nightmare Job

My awesome and wonderful dad will be 82 in a few months. He still remembers his nightmare job working in a funeral home in 1955 right after his high school graduation. Back then, new and inexperienced employees were allowed and expected to perform some duties now requiring certain licenses or certifications.

There was one particular incident where the funeral director was working on a body that hand just undergone an autopsy. After the funeral director had finished embalming the body, he told my dad to finish cleaning it up. My dad says he remembers the visual of a body following an autopsy and how it nearly made him sick.

As my dad made his way toward one end of the table to finish the clean-up, he suddenly felt the body’s right arm hit him in the butt! It turns out he either bumped the table or did something to cause the right arm to fall off the table and hit him.

As soon as my dad felt the arm on his butt he fled the embalming room so fast he probably left a dad-shaped hole in the door. He said to himself, “Forget this! I’m joining the Marines instead.” And a week later he did.

Luckily being a Marine turned out to be my dad’s dream job. He spent 20 years in the military, retiring as a captain. Despite experiencing the horrors of Vietnam and now dealing with disabilities associated with his military career, he’s said to me a few times recently he’d go back and do it all over again.

I can confirm he’s never said the same thing about the funeral home job.

How to Escape Your Nightmare Job

You  too may have a nightmare job you’re dying to leave. But you don’t have to run off and join the military to do so. (Although it might be a great option for some people.)

I’ve written several posts to help people like you create an escape…oops, I mean an exit strategy…from their nightmare jobs, in financially responsible ways. Feel free to check out any or all of these posts:

What’s Your Nightmare Job?

In the meantime, I’d like to hear from you.

What’s your nightmare job, past or present? Tell me about it and I’ll make sure to feature the worst, funniest, and most interesting stories in upcoming posts on this blog.

Click here to submit your story for publication, using the subject line “nightmare job.” Or enter it in the comment box below. I can’t wait to read it!

If you need help getting out of your nightmare job, fill out the paNASH intake form and we’ll set up a complimentary initial consultation.

nightmare job

Sunday Inspiration: Do You Have a Passion That Surprises and Delights?

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a bi-weekly devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. I hope these posts will inspire and motivate you in your life and career in addition to our weekly blog posts. Enjoy!

Meet Ed. Ed is a friend of mine I met about three years ago in an art class I took. He’s a retired guy who has a heart for helping other people make the transition from career to retirement.

Ed also has a passion for a rather unique skill he learned 40 years ago. This skill isn’t something he set out to learn. Instead he remained open to the idea of new things, and as a result found a passion that not only surprised him, but also surprises a lot of people. It’s a skill and passion he doesn’t earn money for, but instead uses to give back to others.

As you read Ed’s story, think about when the last time was you kept yourself open to learning something new. Do you have a skill or passion that maybe doesn’t earn you money, but gives you joy when you use it to give back to others? Does it serve as an outlet for you and give you purpose?

Ed’s Story

I play spoons. I’ve played spoons for over 40 years, ever since my wife surprised me for my birthday and took me, along with the friends she had invited, to a concert.

Two gentlemen representing the Smithsonian Institute were touring the country playing a concert of authentic American music—sea chanties, Dixieland jazz, blues, and a host of other music all born of the diversity we have in this country. The highlight for me was “Turkey in the Straw” with Jew’s harp, washboard, hambone, and, my personal favorite, the spoons.

At the end of the concert, we were invited to see the instruments and get a spoon lesson. Before that day, I’d never seen or heard spoons played. I was surprised and delighted.

Our party then headed back to my house for birthday cake. The guitars came out, we raided the silverware drawer, and we all tried to play spoons.

 
Here Bill, Lanette, Sheryl, and Carol all give the spoons a try in our living room.

Shortly afterward, my friend Earnie asked me to join a small group to play at a church gathering. Since I couldn’t blow on my clarinet and sing at the same time, he said, “Bring your spoons.” I spent that summer learning to play spoons—and sing at the same time. The effort has paid off with a lifetime of fun and meaning.

The group Earnie formed grew and became the Blakemore Boys Bluegrass Band. For 35 years we sang at church events around town, also for the infirm and homebound. We took our music to hospital beds, visited nursing homes, and did special fundraising concerts and caroling. One highlight was performing and recording a Christmas cantata that Earnie wrote.


Earnie, John, Earl, Kathy, Mary Ellen, Bob, and I surprise the neighborhood as we sing carols door to door, fundraising for a Nashville daycare center.

Bob, one of the band members, then invited us to form a new group that plays almost exclusively in nursing homes. September 2018 marked our eighth anniversary of playing at least three times a month. Our repertoire of gospel and old hymns is very popular among patients and staff; most everybody knows the words and many sing along as they are able.


The camera caught Earnie, Bob, me, Clare, and Jim by surprise.

Surprise and Delight

I tell you all this to offer a backdrop to 43 years of what I call surprise and delight.

One of the earliest things I did after learning how to play the spoons was to invent and use the “Happy Birthday Cha, Cha, Cha.” It’s pretty much the same as the original except that most lines end with “cha, cha, cha.” I lead the singing of that at most birthday parties I go to at home or elsewhere. But for me, the most fun is at restaurants. You see, I try to make it a surprise.

My favorite gambit is to solicit some volunteers to be a cha, cha, cha chorus. I like to find a table with two to four youthful guests. I’ll go sit down with them. By the time I’ve shaken everybody’s hand and introduced myself with, “It’s good to see you,” two are convinced they know me but don’t remember how.

I invite them to come sing cha, cha, cha backup and surprise my friend. So… off we go back to the table where the birthday boy or girl is usually very surprised—and once the embarrassment wears off—delighted as well.

I’ve done this so often and for so many years nobody in my family is embarrassed any longer. People do get wary, though. Our friend Lanette wanted no surprises at the Spaghetti Factory and asked whether I’d brought my spoons. I truthfully told her I hadn’t, but when it was time, my wife passed me the spoons we’d hidden in her purse. It’s all about surprise and delight.

I also like to show up and play impromptu with different bands. I have played with a Dixieland band on a Mississippi River paddle boat, a mariachi band in a restaurant, an Eagle’s cover duo on St Martin’s Island, and a Cajun band, as well as several street bands in New Orleans. I also got to play a solo with a jazz quartet in the swanky Court of Two Sisters in New Orleans at a Mother’s Day brunch. Very cool.

  
My wife and I play with a Cajun band, and I play with a street band in New Orleans.


I definitely surprised the jazz group on Mother’s Day!

As often happens after I play, two kids invited me over to show them how the spoons worked. They were surprised and delighted.

One time the table was turned on me. When I was leaving a restaurant where we’d celebrated my daughter’s birthday with my signature song, I heard coming from the kitchen the unmistakable sound of two spoons banging together. These weren’t just the usual kitchen noises! I found some of the wait staff trying to work with spoons to get the sound right. I took some time and gave them a spoon lesson. I was surprised and delighted that day.

I was surprised and delighted again one afternoon in a nursing home. We saw a mother and daughter on the sideline that afternoon. Mom had her head on her daughter’s shoulder most of the time, but she was singing along with her daughter. Afterward, the daughter came up to thank us for “bringing Mom back.” Mom had Alzheimer’s and hadn’t talked in over a year. The daughter told us that she had grown up singing those songs to her mother’s piano playing. For that one brief hour, we were able to bring Mom back for an encore.

I was surprised and delighted.

Singing in nursing homes is fun but also eye-opening. Some patients walk to the performance on their own. Many more have some sort of conveyance like a walker. Still, others are brought in a wheelchair or bed. It’s not uncommon to see people hang their heads and slump in their chairs. Some even seem asleep.

After the music one afternoon, I went out to meet and greet some listeners. I saw a head rise off the table; I stuck out my hand to shake his and said, “Hi, I’m Ed. Did you enjoy the music?” Straight away I felt his grip tighten on my hand and heard a whisper, “Oh. Very much. It was great.” I had thought he had slept through the whole concert. But no. I saw an unmistakable light in his eyes.

I learned a valuable lesson that afternoon, one that I hope you take to heart too: Surprise and delight are universal. I knew that kids could be surprised seeing spoons played. I knew that musicians could be surprised and sometimes delighted by hearing a well-placed burst of rhythm from what they thought an unlikely source. But… I hadn’t known that even if you can’t talk anymore or raise your head or clap, there is still room for surprise and delight in your heart.

Never give up on life. Take surprise and delight with you. You may one day be like the man who couldn’t raise his head off his arms but was still open to surprise and delight.

Ed Zinkiewicz
…the retired guy

How to Avoid Common Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Career

There are many wrong moves you can make in your career. We’ve all fallen on our faces a few times, especially during the learning curve of a new job. But some mistakes are worse than others.

Today I’m focusing on some of the common mistakes that can ruin your career and how you can avoid them. I won’t include the obvious ones like doing something illegal. Everyone should already know not to do anything illegal!

6 Common Mistakes That Can Cause Career Ruin

1. Agreeing to a superior’s order to do something unethical.

It’s obvious to most people not to do anything illegal in their career. But it may not be so obvious to others they shouldn’t do anything unethical. Even if it’s an order from your supervisor.

If your supervisor has no problem making such a request, he or she probably has no problem throwing you under the bus when the unethical act is discovered. And it will eventually be discovered. Everything comes to light sooner or later.

If ever faced with an order to do something unethical, explain your discomfort and document the conversation. If your boss tries to push the matter or threatens to fire you, start looking for a new job ASAP! You do not want to continue working for someone like this.

If you get fired for refusing the order, you should be able to collect unemployment until you find something new. And depending on the circumstances, you may have a legal case worth pursuing.

2. Relying on just one source of income.

Since anything can happen in your career where a scenario like the one described above could leave you suddenly without a job, you should never rely on just one source of income.

As I’ve written before, there’s no such thing as job security in any company. So start NOW pursuing a side hustle or passion project for a little extra money or start making smart investments. This will help tide you over if you find yourself between jobs or decide to start your own business.

3. Accepting a counter-offer from your current employer.

One of my co-workers at a university where I used to do career advising started looking for a new job at a different university. When he had a potential offer from another place, he casually mentioned to me he might tell our supervisor to see if she’d counter-offer with more money to get him to stay.

I looked him dead in the eyes and told him “Do NOT do it!” He looked a little confused when he asked me “Why not?”

I told him taking a counter-offer can be career suicide. My answer is the same to you if you’re considering accepting a counter-offer.

There’s a reason (or reasons, plural) why you went looking for work elsewhere in the first place. It’s likely those reasons won’t change if you stay for more money. And while the additional money may seem great at first, it won’t outweigh the distrust and resentment which will grow between you and your supervisor or co-workers after cutting this type of deal.

When you do finally leave your employer (and you will), word will get around to other potential employers how you manipulated the situation. This will make you the kind of candidate they won’t want to hire.

4. Overstaying at an unhealthy job.

If your job is affecting your mental or even your physical health, it’s time to go. No job is worth your sanity or your health.

If you overstay at a job like this, you could become so unhealthy you run the risk of not being able to work at all, and therefore losing your income anyway.

Do what it takes to find something new using the resources available on this blog and on paNASH’s on-demand video courses.

5. Agreeing to take on extra work without extra pay for an indefinite amount of time.

There may be times when your company is short-staffed and you have to pick up the slack. When it’s necessary to take on extra work for the best interest of the entire company, you should do so.

However, this should only be temporary. And before agreeing to this, ask what the set end date will be for the extra workload. If you’re told, “until things settle down,” don’t accept this as an answer.

Instead, indicate the length of time you’re willing to do the extra work and schedule a meeting as soon as possible to discuss how you’ll be compensated for any extra work done beyond the specified date.

For instance, you’d say, “I’m happy to cover Sallly’s projects until the end of May. You and I can meet next week to decide how to move forward in June.”

Whatever agreement you come to, get it in writing.

If you’re still doing Sally’s work in June, you need a title change and pay adjustment, or at least a bonus.

6. Promising your employer you won’t job hunt.

Unless there’s a formal agreement in place or you’re receiving tuition reimbursement, never promise not to job hunt or to stay with your company for any specific length of time.

If your boss begs you to stay in a time of high turn-over or a rough patch, ask her for an employment agreement giving you the same assurance she’s asking of you. If she won’t or can’t, don’t allow better opportunities to pass you by.

These are just a handful of mistakes that can ruin your career, but equipped with the knowledge above you’ll be able to maneuver these landmines so you can move successfully through your chosen career path unscathed. Consider it career self-defense!

Click here for more career advice.

Related Posts:

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How to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out

A couple of weeks ago I did a group coaching call with my clients on the topic of LinkedIn. It was a Q&A call and one of the many questions I covered was, “How should my LinkedIn profile differ from my resume?”

How Your LinkedIn Profile Should Differ From Your Resume

The beauty of a LinkedIn profile is it can do things your resume cannot. Trust me, you want to take advantage of these features so your profile will stand out from your resume. And so it will stand out from other LinkedIn profiles.

The first difference is, a resume limits you to your employment history and professional items from the past. On your LinkedIn profile, you can share both your professional past AND your future professional goals.

You can incorporate your future professional goals in your headline and summary section. Feel free to share in these fields what it is you’re working toward using relevant keywords that will show up when recruiters’ search results when they search those same keywords. You can also incorporate your goals in the interests section. Do this by following companies and joining groups related to your career goals.

The headline and summary are also good places to show some of your personality and work philosophy. You can’t always do this on a resume.

Another great feature of LinkedIn is you can include a digital portfolio within your profile. You can add media, files, and links of samples of your work in both the summary section and in each job entry. This keeps your profile from looking “flat” and gives viewers an idea of the type of work you’re capable of.

In addition, you can showcase your writing ability by posting articles on LinkedIn on a regular basis. This is great if you like to write or are looking for a role that requires a lot of writing. These articles show up on your profile and you can share them via the newsfeed and within your groups.

While you can’t target your LinkedIn profile like you can a resume, you do have the option to add a personalized note to potential recruiters. You’ll find this feature under the “Career Interests” section when in the profile edit mode.

What You Need to Know About Your Profile Photo

The most obvious way your LinkedIn profile should differ from your resume is you should include a photo of yourself.

While there are several new resume templates in platforms like Canva that have a place for you to insert your photo, it’s still frowned upon in some industries to include your photo on your resume. But you are expected to have one on your LinkedIn profile. (In fact, it appears kind of “sketchy” if you don’t!)

You don’t necessarily have to hire a professional photographer for your picture. But it should be a photo of you looking professional. It should be one of you wearing the type of clothing typical of your chosen industry. And the background should be one of a work environment.

It amazes me how many people still will use a wedding photo of them and their spouse for their LinkedIn profile picture. Or a photo with their bestie. If you and your bestie are of the same gender, how am I supposed to know which one of you in the picture is the one I’m reading about??? Don’t ever do this!

How Your LinkedIn Profile Should NOT Differ From Your Resume

What should NOT differ from your resume is your descriptions of your past jobs. Just like on your resume, you want to include the things you accomplished in your job and the results of your work (with numbers to quantify it!).

If you choose to only list your job title, company name and dates of employment, you’re leaving a huge, gaping hole in your LinkedIn profile. Especially if a recruiter decides to save your profile to a PDF, which is an option available to them directly from your profile (see screenshot below).

 

Most job seekers aren’t aware of this option, but recruiters know about it! When anyone saves your profile as a PDF and downloads it, it pops up in a resume format. Not having all of your profile filled out, especially all your job descriptions/duties/accomplishments, will make the PDF look like a very sparse resume.

Don’t believe me? Go to your profile and click the “More” button under your headline. When you “save to PDF” and the downloaded PDF pops up, are you happy with how it looks? If not, you need to go back and fill out your profile more thoroughly.

Disclaimer:

Keep in mind the above suggestions are based on the features and functionality of the LinkedIn platform available at the date of this post. LinkedIn is notorious for changing its functionality and removing features on an extremely frequent basis (one of my biggest pet peeves). What may be accurate at the date of this post may not be accurate even a week from now.

Help With Your LinkedIn Profile:

If you’d like a critique of your own LinkedIn profile or would like to learn more about how to better use LinkedIn to your advantage, please click here to fill out the paNASH intake form.

If you become a paNASH client, you’ll also receive access to the recording from the LinkedIn group coaching call where I answered several other questions about LinkedIn including:

  • Should I purchase the Premium membership?
  • Do recruiters really use LinkedIn?
  • Do people really get jobs through LinkedIn?
  • and more!

In addition, you’ll receive access to other past group coaching recordings and invitations to future group coaching sessions.

Related Posts:

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Sunday Inspiration: Four Steps to Overcoming Fear

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a bi-weekly devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. Each post comes from an outside resource (as referenced). I hope these posts will inspire and motivate you in your life and career in addition to our weekly original blog posts. Enjoy!

“The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.”

Ps 118:6 NIV

First, be willing to take a risk.

Yes, you might be hurt or embarrassed—so what? To overcome insecurity and gain confidence you must allow yourself the freedom to take a chance.

Start writing that book, take those music lessons, stand up and speak at the meeting! Feel the fear and do it anyway!

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe” (Pr 29:25 NIV).

Second, learn to laugh at yourself.

Get over your obsessive need for approval and acceptance and learn to laugh at your mistakes. We’re all human; stop taking yourself so seriously!

When you make a mistake, be the first to see the funny side, and you’ll find people more supportive than you think.

Third, start thinking realistically.

It’s time to drop the security blanket and realize it’s not all about you.

You are not the center of the universe, and your little faux pas don’t mean that much in the bigger scheme of things. Besides, mistakes are often better teachers than success.

Fourth, reward yourself for little victories.

When you complete a project, reward yourself. When you take advice or correction without retaliating, reward yourself.

Often the people we lash out at, are those trying the hardest to help us.

Get used to the idea that you’re valuable, talented, and skilled, and your worth in God’s eyes is inestimable. Stop scrutinizing yourself through distorted lenses and start seeing yourself with 20/20 vision.

Once you can do that, your fears will be replaced by confidence in yourself and in your future.

Source: https://www.jentezenfranklin.org/daily-devotions/four-steps-to-overcoming-fear-2