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Sunday Inspiration: Success Requires Hard Work and Integrity

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!

“A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense.” Pr 12:11 NLT

In The Finishing Touch, author Chuck Swindoll tells about a man he met who made a great impression on him: “With a grin and a twinkle, he whipped out his hand. It was a hand you could strike a match on, toughened by decades of rugged toil. ‘You look like a man who enjoys life. What do you do for a living?’ I asked.

‘Me? Well, I’m a farmer from back in the Midwest.’

Swindoll asked him, ‘What did you do last week?’

He said, ‘Last week I finished harvesting ninety thousand bushels of corn.’

I then blurted out, ‘Ninety thousand! How old are you, my friend?’

He didn’t seem at all hesitant or embarrassed by my question. ‘I’m just a couple of months shy of ninety.’

He laughed again as I shook my head.

He had lived through four wars, the Great Depression, sixteen presidents, ninety Midwest winters, who knows how many personal hardships, and he was still taking life by the throat.

I had to ask him the secret of his long and productive life.

‘Hard work and integrity’ was his quick reply.

As we parted company he looked back over his shoulder and added, ‘Don’t take it easy, young feller. Stay at it!’

Hard work and integrity! Those two qualities go together, and are the essence of a life well-lived. And when you practice them faithfully, you experience the highest level of joy and fulfillment in life.”

The Bible puts it this way: “A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense.”

Source: https://www.jentezenfranklin.org/daily-devotions/hard-work-and-integrity

When I read this, it made me think of my grandfather who worked his farm up until two weeks before he died at age 95.

It also made me think of my clients who come to me with a desire for a more fulfilling life and career.

They want to know if they have what it takes to start their own businesses. They want to know if it’s too late in life to do so. They want to know if their idea is a viable career option or if it’s just a “fantasy.”

First, it’s never too late to start something. Colonel Sanders was around 60 years old when he started KFC. Prior to then he’d had multiple career failures in other jobs and ventures, and his Original Recipe was rejected 1,009 times before it was accepted.

Second, sometimes things are just fantasy, but you have to do the research first to find out or not. Otherwise, you’ll live life always wondering, “What if?” There are ways to test the viability of an idea and that’s something I teach my clients how to do.

Finally, if you have a viable idea, then yes, you have what it takes to be successful if you work hard and do so with integrity!

Lori

Why You Need to Stop Overthinking Networking

Networking is necessary not just for a successful job search, but also for a successful career as a whole.

In fact it’s so important you should spend 80% of your job search networking and only 20% applying to online job postings.

This is because 80% of the working population found their current job through networking. Therefore it makes sense to spend the same amount of time on the most effective job search method there is.

But unfortunately, most people have it backwards and only spend 20% (if that) of their job search networking.

Based on the suggestion above, you may need to re-adjust how you currently invest your time in your job search.

But, this doesn’t mean you should overthink your networking efforts.

Stop Overthinking Networking

When I’m coaching my clients on various aspects of the job search, I’ll often get questions about how to write something on a resume or how to respond to a specific job interview question. When I answer those questions, the client usually doesn’t have to ask the same question again.

But when it comes to the topic of networking, I’ll get a question from a client on how to find contacts or how to reach out to them. When I answer those questions, the same client will often ask the same question again, sometimes in a different way.

When this happens, I can tell they’re way overthinking things. They’re doing so either because they think it should be more complicated than it actually is, or they’re afraid of what other people will think of them. Sometimes it’s both. Usually it’s the latter.

One of the most common examples of “overthinking it” is the question, “What if I reach out to that person and I don’t hear back from them?”

You know what? You may not hear back from them. Is this a reflection on you as a person? NO! It’s more of a reflection on the contact. That is assuming nothing simple happened like your voicemail getting accidentally deleted or your email ending up in their spam folder.

And you may not hear back from them now, but perhaps later.

I remember emailing someone and not hearing back from him until THREE YEARS LATER! When he finally did reply, my original message was included in his reply. I looked back at my first message and saw a few things things I would’ve done differently in my approach.

But he was kind and said he always held on to emails like mine in case he was ever looking to hire someone with my skills. And so he did hire me to work with one of his clients. It turned out his timing was better than my timing.

So you may not hear back when you’d like, or you may not hear back at all.

But there’s one thing I can guarantee. You’ll never hear back from the person you don’t reach out to.

Are you really okay with wondering “What if?” the rest of your career?

Are you okay with missing out on a potentially great contact just because of fear of no response?

Because remember, no response doesn’t always equal rejection. It could just mean bad timing. Which is why you shouldn’t be afraid to follow up one or two times again. (Follow-up is another area I see clients overthinking.)

Instead Be Strategic (and Reasonable)!

When I say “Stop overthinking networking,” understand I’m not giving you license to not be strategic in your networking.

It’s important to know your reason for networking, who it makes the most sense to reach out to, how to explain to them why you’re reaching out to them, and how you can be an asset to them as well.

Therefore, you must also be reasonable.

Be reasonable in your expectations. Don’t expect someone to offer you a job right off the bat. You need to take the time to build and nurture the relationship first before you can expect any immediate tangible results.

Occasionally you might see some immediate results, but usually it takes persistence and consistency. This is why you need to spend 80% of your job search networking. It takes time!

Also, be reasonable in your requests. Don’t expect someone to drop everything to connect with you or to spend all their time talking with you. Don’t expect them to cater to your needs when you’re the one asking for their help or expertise.

Instead, do everything you can to make networking and connecting with you as easy and pleasurable as possible. This may mean driving out of your way to their offices for an informational interview instead of meeting at a location more convenient to you. It may mean getting up extra early to meet with them at 6:30 in the morning before their busy schedule begins.

Networking Resources

I could write a book about networking and the ins and outs of networking etiquette (and someday soon I might!). I’ve already written several other posts about networking, including the best way to write an elevator pitch (yet another thing people overthink!).

But what I want to emphasize in this post is to stop overthinking networking by not letting fear take over. Don’t let fear, whether it’s fear of rejection or fear of failure, get in the way of making a meaningful connection that can have a long-term positive impact on your career.

Always be fearless, reasonable, and respectful.

For more posts and resources on the topic of networking, check out the following:

stop overthinking networking

How to Know When It’s NOT the Right Time for Career Assessments

Let me preface this post with the fact that I believe career and personality assessments can be very useful tools when used properly and at the appropriate time.

I felt the need to state this upfront after I recently commented on a popular comedian’s spoof of the Enneagram. I thought his spoof was hilarious because I constantly hear people saying, “Oh I’m this way because I’m a 5,” (or whatever number they are on the spectrum). As if everyone knows what every # represents!

Because I’m a career coach, I received a little criticism for my support of the comedian’s post.

This criticism gave me the green light to write this blog post. It’s one I’ve been wanting to write for some time. I guess now is the right time thanks to Christian comedian John Crist.

In the same week of coming across the Enneagram spoof, I met with a potential client who’s deciding which career coach to hire. She mentioned to me how one of the other career coaches she talked with wanted to start her off with several batteries of assessments.

I explained to her how my approach is different. When I told her why I don’t use a lot of career assessments, I could see the relief in her face. Her response was, “Thank goodness!”

My personal philosophy on career assessments

My services are geared toward those who are mid-career and are looking to make a career change. They’re tired of being treated like a number in their current job or company.

The last thing I want to do is make them feel even more like a number. (Or some kind of code they can’t remember.)

Instead, I want them to feel heard.

And what many of them are saying is,

“I’ve done assessments in the past and didn’t find them helpful at all.”

Also, I’ve noticed two major issues with doing career assessments when working with my target market.

Issue #1

First, when clients who’ve been in one job or industry for a while (like most of my clients have been) and are wanting to make a career change, they’re mindset is so accustomed to and entrenched in their current role.

When this is the case, their assessment results become skewed.

They’re responding to questions based only on what they’ve been used to for several years. Therefore, their results often point toward a suggestion to pursue the same kind of work they’re trying to leave.

This can be very disappointing and frustrating for these clients. They feel like the assessments are telling them they’re limited in their value and abilities and have very few options.

This makes them feel even more stuck in their careers when their goal is to get unstuck!

Issue #2

Second, the assessments designed to suggest possible career options don’t include all the newly-created jobs available in today’s job market.

Because job creation is happening so quickly due to rapid advances in this age, these assessments can’t keep up in order to provide a full picture of one’s potential.

And they don’t include quickly growing alternatives such as gig economy roles, side hustles, “solopreneur” opportunities, and more.

Because of this, many career assessments can be very limiting.

By the time my clients come to me, they’ve felt the negative effects of the limiting beliefs they’ve already imposed upon themselves. They don’t need anything else to limit them right now.

career assessments

Nobody wants to be treated like a number

My focus is helping people pursue their passions.

Instead of bombarding my clients with a battery of assessments in the beginning, I prefer to make the client feel like a person instead of a number.

I do this by getting to know them and listening to their concerns.

I then help them discover their personal brand and develop a mission statement that’s authentic to who they are. (This process will be made available in my next book, due out in early May!)

Together we brainstorm the ideas they’ve pushed deep down because society told them their dreams were impractical.

I help my clients explore how they can incorporate their passions in their lives.

Are their limiting beliefs real or perceived? If it’s not realistic to pursue their passions as a career, can they find an outlet for them in other areas of their lives?

The point is to first let them dream big without restricting them. Then we sift through their ideas for the ones that are viable career options.

Then, and only then, will I recommend certain career assessments if necessary.

It’s about being intentional without adding another layer of limits for the client.

Things to remember

This approach isn’t for everyone. There are some people who do want or need to take a lot of assessments. I’ve just not found this to be true with the majority of my niche market.

To you who choose to start with a lot of career assessments or are working with a coach who requires them, I recommend always taking your results with a grain of salt. Remember these three things:

  • Understand your mood and stress level at the time of taking the assessment can affect your results.
  • Never allow the results to label you or limit you in any way.
  • Resist the urge to use your results as an excuse for your behavior (i.e. “Oh, I’m this way because I’m a ‘6’ and that’s just who I am.”)

Use of career assessments in the interview process

You need to also know companies shouldn’t make hiring decisions based solely on your results of any assessment.

I had a client who interviewed for a job she was highly qualified for. The company had her jump through a lot of hoops in the interview process. She excelled in each challenge.

They told her she pretty much had the job, but still needed to take a personality assessment to round out her interview process.

When they saw her results they were no longer interested in her and she didn’t get the job offer.

Of course she couldn’t prove their decision was based only on her results of the personality assessment. But it appeared to be true.

Regardless, she felt discriminated against because of a little code from one simple test.

Since it was a small start-up without a fully-developed HR department, the people conducting the interview probably had no clue it’s not kosher to make hiring decisions based solely on personality assessment results.

If you’re ever in a similar situation, ask if their HR manager has approved the use of the assessment in the interview process and ask how the results will be used in making hiring decisions. Ask these questions prior to taking the assessment.

Do you want to be treated like a person instead of a number?

Remember the potential client trying to decide which career coach to hire? She just signed a contract with me because she said my approach gives her hope since it’s not as “cookie-cutter” as the others.

Do you want to be treated like a person instead of a number? Are you more interested in real results instead of just assessment results? If you answered yes, take a moment and complete the paNASH intake form. You’ll soon be on your way to a career coaching experience that’s truly unique.

Subscribe to the paNASH newsletter to receive updates on the release of my next book, Personal Branding: Why You Need to Know What Makes You YOUnique and AWEthentic.

Related Posts:

career assessments

Sunday Inspiration: Take the Risk!

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!

“Give it to the one who risked the most.” Mt 25:28 TM

Remember the three stewards who were each given a sum of money to invest? The first two doubled theirs; the third buried his in the ground. The first two were promoted; the third was fired.

“Get rid of this ‘play-it-safe’…won’t go out on a limb” (v. 30 TM).

Could there be a more powerful incentive to taking a risk of faith based on what God promised you?

You say, “But what if I fail?”

Failure trains you for success! It can show you what you need to change in order to move forward.

Think of it this way: As a redeemed child of God you have a security net that allows you to fail safely.

But if your reputation and self-worth are all tied up in knots over some failed enterprise, you’ll not be motivated to try again.

It’s human nature to want to feel good, to succeed, to win the prize, to move forward. But just like a world-class athlete backs up to gain the momentum to run faster, sometimes a few steps backward now will fuel your progress later.

And here’s something else to keep in mind: God assesses our accomplishments differently than people. A failure in the eyes of men is often a success in the eyes of God.

Remember Noah? Before the flood he looked like a loser; afterward he became the most successful man on earth.

Your most fulfilling reward isn’t human approval—it’s God’s “Well done…good and faithful servant!” (Mt 25:21 NIV).

So take the risk!

Source: https://www.jentezenfranklin.org/daily-devotions/take-the-risk-2

How to Get Experience When You Can’t Get Hired Without It

Be careful who you get your career advice from

This post is in response to an article on Medium (“How to Get Your Dream Job Without Experience”) that shared a suggestion for how to overcome the common career catch-22:

Not being able to get your dream job because you lack experience, and not being able to get experience because you can’t get the job.

The suggestion came not from the author of the post Darius Foroux, but instead from another Internet article he referenced, dating all the way back to 2009.

Now, I’ve already written on here about how most of the career advice floating around on the internet is outdated (by as much as 20 years!). So is the advice shared in the article referenced in Foroux’s post.

The post suggested those facing this catch-22 to gain experience by offering to work for free at a company for a short period of time.

If this sounds like a good idea to you, stop for a second and put yourself in the company’s shoes. Think about the legal implications this can cause for the company.


You can’t legally “do free work”

There are labor laws in the US that don’t allow for-profit companies to legally let people work for them for no pay. These laws are designed to protect you, the (potential) employee.

Note: even interns cannot work for free. They either have to earn academic credit (which they pay tuition for), or be paid as an employee for it to be legal.

Furthermore, in an internship the intern must receive a training and/or educational experience.

They can’t come in and just do crap work. If they do, the company has to pay the intern the same amount of money they would pay a regular employee to do the same tasks.

In other words, the internship has to be at the benefit of the intern, NOT the company.

This gets into another example of questionable career advice I’ve heard. Many entrepreneurs tell new entrepreneurs and start-ups:

“If you can’t afford to hire an assistant yet, just get an intern to help you…it’s free labor!”

Um, NO!

(Click here for the US Fair Labor Standards Act rules regarding interns, updated in January 2018.)


Question those who are willing to do what’s illegal

Because of labor laws in place to protect employees, most for-profit companies will not touch your offer to work for free with a 10-foot-pole.

They don’t want to risk getting sued by you down the road. And they don’t want to get in trouble for violating federal law.

And if they do take you up on your offer, you should question either:

1. Their knowledge of federal law.

It could be the person you make the offer to isn’t aware of the laws because he or she leaves this area of expertise up to the company’s HR department or legal department. Be concerned if they don’t want to first consult with HR or legal before saying yes to you.

2. Their ethics.

If they agree to knowingly break the law by letting you work for free under the table, you’ve got to wonder if their lack of ethics is common practice or part of the company-wide culture.

If so, do you really want to work for a company with this kind of reputation? Won’t it make you wonder what other unethical or questionable things the company does?


How to legally overcome the Catch-22

So how do you legally gain experience to land your dream job?

Here are my suggestions based on my combined 20 years of experience as a career coach (at both the university/college level and private practice level) and as someone who tries her best to keep up with the most up-to-date career info available:

1. Do a formal internship.

If you’re still in college or have gone back to college and can therefore sign up for academic credit, do an internship.

Make sure it’s with a company that has had a formal internship program in place for some time. Ask for references and talk to other interns to find out what their internship experience was like.

Go into it equipped with the knowledge of what your rights are as an intern. Understand what kind of experience you’re legally supposed to gain from the internship. (Click here to see the US Fair Labor Standards Act rules.)

Establish expectations before you begin the internship, both with your academic adviser and the on-site internship supervisor.

If those expectations aren’t being met early in your internship, have a conversation with your supervisor.

Include your academic adviser in the conversation if you feel the need for an advocate. Here or she is there to ensure you’re needs are being met.


2. Do a “returnship”

If you’re no longer in school but you’re wanting to change careers to something you have no experience in, there are some opportunities for you to do a “returnship.”

This is basically an internship but for mid-career and late-career professionals. (Think Robert De Niro’s character in the movie The Intern.)

Several companies offer such opportunities. These opportunities are typically paid, and therefore don’t require you to get academic credit.

To find a plethora of these type of internships, Google the following key phrases:

  • “adult internships”
  • “internships for mid-career professionals”
  • “internships for middle aged”

You’ll also want to check out the resources listed in the appendix of Chip Conley’s book Wisdom @ Work (published 2018).


3. Volunteer at a non-profit

While you can’t legally work for free at a for-profit company, you can always volunteer with a non-profit organization.

Do a little research to see if there are any non-profits relevant to the industry you’re interested in going into.

Or, determine which non-profits have a need for a specific job function relevant to your dream job. Seek opportunities that will allow you to develop one or several necessary skillsets.

For example, if a non-profit needs someone to do their social media and you’re wanting to develop social media marketing skills, offer to help with their social media promotion.


4. Job shadow

If you can’t get access to hands-on resume-building experience, the next best thing is to shadow someone already in the job/field you’re interested in.

Research to find companies offering formal job shadowing programs. Also, ask companies without formal programs if they will allow you to shadow one of their employees.

A job shadowing request is less legally intimidating to companies than a request for you to work for free.


5. Find a mentor

While trying the above suggestions, you may want to pinpoint some people who could potentially become good mentors in your career.

You do this by building and fostering the relationships you made even after your hands-on experience is over.

Mentors can help you find additional ways to gain experience and can tell you what skills you need to develop.


6. Do the first thing Darius Foroux suggested

While I don’t agree with the second suggestion Foroux made in his post on how to get your dream job without experience, I do agree with his first suggestion:

“Be the person you would hire.”

What he means by this is, no matter what work you’re currently doing, always show professionalism.

You do this by having the right attitude and taking your career seriously.

It’s showing up early, asking questions, not wasting company time playing on your phone or gossiping with your co-workers, volunteering for new projects outside your current job description, serving on committees, staying late when needed to get the job done, etc.

When you do these things, you’ll develop more skills. Then when you find a company who hires more for skills than they do for experience, you’ll have those skills in your repertoire.


Final words

This post is not meant to slam Darius Foroux. I’ve liked several of his past articles and have shared them with my readers.

Instead it’s meant to teach you how to be more discerning and how to ask questions when it comes to all the different career advice available on the Internet.

No one, myself included, has any way of knowing all the legalities when it comes to every law for every industry. Nor can anyone know every company’s own policy regarding the suggestions outlined above.

When working with my clients, I always preface anything I’m not 100% sure about with,

“Double check that with your industry and the company’s policies.”

Ultimately, it is your responsibility to know as much as possible about your chosen industry.

This includes asking those who have the specialized knowledge about your specific industry’s hiring practices and company’s policies.

And don’t always rely on your first point of contact to know this info since it may not be their area of expertise. Ask them to check with their HR or legal department to verify any legalities or policies.

Follow the suggestions above and you’ll be able to gain the experience you need to make a smoother transition into your dream job!

Related Posts:

catch-22