Category: Career Change/Career Transition


Why “Keep It Simple, Stupid” Is the Best Career Advice

You may remember my blog post on the lesson of mindfulness. It was a lesson I learned when I went to the new Adventure Park Nashville ropes course.

It was all about how important it is to focus on the moment instead of always thinking and planning ahead (something I’m guilty of).

Well, when I returned to the ropes course and took a friend with me, it was obvious there was another lesson I needed to share with my readers.

This one is based on the old adage,

“KISS: keep it simple, stupid.”

Keep It Simple, Stupid

This time around I did some courses that were higher off the ground and more challenging. But what I noticed is not every element was as challenging as they first appeared.

While applying the previous lesson of focusing on only one bridge element at a time, I’d arrive at a new element and would study its configuration to figure out the best way to maneuver across it.

Upon first glance, most of them looked very complicated.

But instead of thinking too much about how to get across, I would just take the first step onto the element.

Once I did, it suddenly became clear that what looked like a real obstacle requiring a lot of thought and energy to maneuver was really very simple to get around.

We as a society, myself and my clients included, often overthink things when instead we should keep it simple.

Start by Starting

I see this especially in my clients who are thinking about changing careers or starting their own business.

They view the challenge in front of them and immediately start asking a bazillion questions about how they should start.

My response:

“You start by starting.”

I usually get a funny look from them as soon as it comes out of my mouth.

I explain to them it doesn’t matter how or where you start, as long as you take one step to start. There is no certain order you have to follow.

For someone looking to start their own business, it could be something as simple as securing a domain for your future business’s web site for less than $10.

Or it could be first reading Pat Flynn’s book Will It Fly? How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Your Time and Money.

For someone looking for a new job it could be as simple of a step as updating your LinkedIn profile.

Or it could be reaching out to one person in your network.

One Step at a Time

When a client asks,

“How do I make this big change?”

It’s just like the phrase of advice on how to eat an elephant: one bite at a time!

Of course the idea of changing careers or starting a business seems very overwhelming at first when looking at it as a whole.

But when you break it down into smaller steps, it’s not as complicated as it first appears. Each step is more simple than the process as a whole.

And once you take the first step, you gain the confidence you need to take the next step.

Before you know it, your steps have added up to a really big dent in your goal.

It’s as simple as that!

To learn more about how to break your goals and obstacles into more manageable steps so you’re not overthinking things, subscribe to my newsletter and receive a complimentary copy of the 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan.

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5 Common Fears (and Myths) of Quitting a Job You Hate (Re-post)

You hate your job, but because of it you don’t have the time or energy to start the overwhelming process of finding something new.

And you think you can’t quit it until you find another job.

But is that really a true statement, or just a common myth?

Let’s look at some of the common fears most people have about quitting a job with nothing else lined up.

Let’s challenge the assumptions that breed those fears.


Common Fear/Myth #1

I won’t be able to afford my bills. Is this a true statement?

Do you have a little extra money stashed away you can get by on for a little while?

Are there some unnecessary expenses you can cut to help you pay your necessary bills?

For example, could you sell your car and take the bus for a while? Or just park your car and cancel your insurance for a few months while taking the bus instead?

Do you really need cable or a Netfilx subscription right now? Do you need numerous music subscriptions? Or can you just listen to good old fashioned radio?

Are there some things you no longer need you could sell? What about that treadmill the only gets used as a place to throw your clothes when you don’t feel like hanging them up (you know who you are!).

What about the stack of books you’ve already read (or know you’re never going to read)?

If you live alone, do you really need a TV in more than one room?

Are there some other ways you can earn cash like picking up some temporary side jobs or a part-time job?

In addition, can you get a roommate and charge rent to help with some of your housing costs?

Do you own something else others might want to rent on a short-term basis?

Do you have a skill people will pay you to perform because of their lack of that skill?

Click here to see how this paNASH client has been able to affordably quit his job and pursue his passion in art and illustration.


Common Fear/Myth #2

I’ll lose my health insurance and retirement accounts. Not necessarily.

If you leave your job you can always transfer your retirement over to an IRA where it can still earn some money and you can still contribute to it yourself a little at a time until you get your next full-time opportunity.

The only thing you’ll be missing out on in the short-term is your company’s matching contribution.

When it comes to health insurance, you can easily find temporary health insurance, alternatives to Obamacare, and more.

If you happen to do a little freelancing on the side after leaving your job, you may qualify for very affordable insurance through the Freelancers Union at freelancersunion.org (also, it’s free to join the union!). I get my dental and long-term disability insurance through them at very little cost per month.


Common Fear/Myth #3

It’ll look bad on my resume. Sure, if all you do is become a couch potato after quitting, it will look bad!

However, if you use your time to improve your skillset, take some affordable online classes, do some side or freelance projects, volunteer with a local non-profit, raise money to travel on a mission trip, pursue a passion project, or work a fun part-time job, it’s not going to look bad at all.

Whatever you do, do something you find interesting.

I’m sure if it’s something interesting to you, it could be interesting to the people who’ll eventually be interviewing you.

Show on your resume what you’ve done and the skills and lessons learned from those interesting experiences. This will make your resume stand out.

Tim Ferris, author of the bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek suggests answering the interview question, “Why did you leave your previous job?” with,

“I had an once-in-a-lifetime chance to do [interesting experience] and couldn’t turn it down.”

He says because most interviewers are bored in their own jobs, they’ll spend much of the interview asking how you made it happen.

You can then respond with how your skills and resourcefulness you used to make it happen will make you the person they should hire.

When I started phasing out my image consulting business due to burnout to decide if I wanted to return to full-time career coaching or not, I worked a few weekends teaching beginner stand up paddling at my local SUP shop.

If I’d had to go through a job interview following that experience, I can guarantee you I would pique the interviewer’s interest if I said,

“I taught people the closest thing to walking on water.”

Then, I would tell them about how I used my teaching and training skills to do so.


Common Fear/Myth #4

I need to have a “real job” instead of trying to freelance. Freelancing IS a real job! And it’s one of the fastest growing jobs in the country.

Don’t believe me? Just check out this infograph courtesy of Upwork.com and Freelancersunion.org:

 

Even if you have no plans to become a freelancer, you still need the skills of an entrepreneur to be successful in your next job. (Click here for a list of those skills.)


Common Fear/Myth #5

If I don’t quit now, I’ll never find a way out and will be stuck in my job forever! Not true!

You may feel like you have to quit your job right away despite the fears listed above, but you don’t have to quit YET!

You can start creating an exit strategy now and implement it later when the timing makes more sense.

Yes, eventually you’ll have to rip off the band-aid and quit, but there are ways to be smart about it. I outline ways to wisely plan your escape route in my previous posts When Is the Right Time to Leave Your Job? and How to Make the Risk of Starting Your Own Business Doable.


How to Challenge Your Assumptions and Common Fears

Whatever your fears are about quitting a job you hate, I encourage you to challenge those fears and assumptions. Here are a few ways to do so:

Challenge #1

Learn how to deal with limiting beliefs (the lies your annoying inner critic tells you).

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is this limiting belief keeping me from?
  • What would be the worst-case scenario if I keep believing this?
  • How can I turn this belief around to a more positive statement?
  • How can I benefit from believing the more positive statement?
  • What would be the best-case scenario if I start believing the positive statement?

Challenge #2

Talk to others who currently work in a job or career field you think you might enjoy. Find out from them the career path they followed to get there.

You’ll likely find most people didn’t had a single direct career path that led them there. This will encourage and inspire you.

Also, they may provide you some tips for making the transfer to that industry.


Challenge #3

Take a weekday off from your job and spend the day doing job search activities just to get a feel for what that might be like.

Update your resume. (Click here to read why you should update your resume every six months.)

Spend some time familiarizing yourself with LinkedIn.

Can’t take a day off work to do this? Use one of your non-workdays.


Challenge #4

Put your resume out there and see what happens. Post your resume with no expectations.

You’ll be able to see what kind of opportunities your current resume is attracting so you can figure out how to tweak it with the right keywords to attract better opportunities.


Challenge #5

Write your resignation letter, but don’t send it.

Just write it to help you get used to the idea of what may need to happen in the near future.


Challenge #6

Dip your toe in the freelance water by offering your unique skills or expertise to a few friends or on sites like Fiverr.com or Upwork.com.

Determine from these small assignments if you like working for yourself or not.


Make Time to Experiment

Feel free to find other ways to experiment with the idea of making a job or career change.

Short-term experiments don’t have to financially break you and don’t require a huge commitment.

In fact, these little experiments might be just the thing to provide a little breath of fresh air to your current dreadful situation.

They can either help you hang on a little longer until you’re able to quit your job, or give you the courage now to go ahead and rip off the band-aid.

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How to Make Your Sucky Job More Bearable (Until You Can Leave)

Most of the places I’ve worked at in my career have been wonderful places of employment.

However, there was one college I worked for that had low staff morale campus-wide. I provided career services for the students, but oftentimes faculty and staff would come to my office seeking job search help for themselves.

One of the perks of working for a college or university is your children get to attend tuition-free. The staff members coming to me were the ones who had stuck it out until their children graduated, and were now ready to move on.

Because of the low staff morale, they lacked passion in their job. Some weren’t even sure anymore what they were passionate about.


Are You Tied to Your Current Job?

This is something I also hear today from potential clients.

People often contact me because they want to find their passion and either get a job they can feel passionate about, or start their own business related to their passions.

However, they feel tied to their current job and don’t see a way out.

At least not yet.


Have you found yourself in this situation?

If you can’t leave your current job yet, there are ways to cope until you can develop an exit strategy.

You may even be able to recapture your passion, or discover new passions by trying some of these simple suggestions.


8 Ways to Make Your Sucky Job More Bearable

1. Eat lunch away from your desk.

No matter how busy you are, be protective of your personal time, even if you only get a half-hour lunch.

If the weather’s nice outside, go eat at a picnic table or under a tree.

If you can’t get outside, eat lunch by a window.


2. Have lunch with some of your favorite co-workers.

Set a rule that you won’t discuss anything negative or anything related to work during those 30 to 60 minutes.


3. Get a little exercise.

Spend part of your lunch or your break taking a quick walk around the building or doing some stretching exercises.

This will get your blood pumping and lighten your mood.


4. Volunteer to serve on a committee.

Every company has various committees that need people from different departments to serve on.

Find one that matches your interests or goals and dedicate a reasonable amount of time to it (1 to 4 hours per month).

Doing this will get you out of your daily routine and your everyday surroundings, introduce you to new people in other departments, give you purpose, and build your resume for when you’re ready to leave.


5. Ask to represent your office at a conference.

There may be money in the budget to send you to a local, regional, or even national conference.

Not only will this provide you professional development, it will also expand your network and bring you a change of scenery from your current geographic location.

If you can’t attend a several-day conference, see if you can attend a one-day drive-in conference or luncheon.

A day away from the office while still being productive can help cure some of the doldrums.


6. Take a class.

Your company may offer some continuing education opportunities you can take advantage of.

If not, your local community will have numerous classes available to learn a new skill or hobby.

This is especially important to make time for (1 to 2 hours per week for only a few weeks) if you’re no longer sure what your interests or passions are.


7. Update your resume.

Make a list of all your accomplishments you’ve made in your current job and add them to your resume.

Taking an inventory of this builds your confidence in your skills which in turn gives you the courage to start looking for something new.

Just make sure you do this on your own time and not company time.


8. Stay focused

Stay focused on the things you like about your current job.

Look for other opportunities that have those same positives.


Take the Next Step

I encourage you to come up with some of your own ideas.

I also encourage you to not let yourself stay stuck.

Recognize when it’s time to seek something new and start working toward it now.

You want to be ready to move when the time opens up for you to do so!

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How to Gain a Little Protection From Ageism (Part 2)

In last week’s Part 1 post, I talked about the unfortunate reality of ageism that still occurs in the hiring process. I also talked about several things you can avoid on your resume to reduce your risk of age discrimination and increase your chances of landing an interview.

This week I want to share several ways to reduce your risk via your LinkedIn profile.  

What to Include on Your LinkedIn Profile

Your LinkedIn profile doesn’t have to, and nor should it, be just a repeat of your resume. There are several things you can include on a LinkedIn profile you can’t include on a resume. Do the following suggestions and you’ll convey the spark and energy you still have to offer an employer.

1. Talk about your future goals and show some personality!

Your resume only allows you to discuss your past work experience. But your LinkedIn profile also allows you to share your future professional goals. Your headline and summary section are the perfect places to do this.

Sharing your goals shows you still have a lot left to accomplish in your career and a lot to offer a company.

Your LinkedIn profile also allows you to show a little personality since you can use wording that paints a picture. Be yourself by including your passions, personal mission statement, and hobbies. Just make sure you remain professional in your descriptions.

While you should never write in first person on your resume, it’s better to write in first person on LinkedIn (at least in the summary) to be a little more personable. And so it doesn’t sound like you had someone else write it for you.

The LinkedIn profile is where readers of your resume go to learn more about you. Give them something more than just what’s on your resume!

2. Include the current buzz-words of your industry.

Sprinkle your industry’s current buzzwords throughout your descriptions in your summary and experience sections.

Not only will this make you appear up-to-date on the latest industry trends, it will also make you more searchable when recruiters do a keyword search on those terms. Your profile will likely pop up in their search results.

3. Share trending articles about trending ideas in your industry.

In addition to including your industry’s buzzwords in your profile, you can also show you’re up on the latest trends by posting articles about the current and future issues facing your industry.

You’ll not only want to post these articles in the general news feed, but also in the relevant groups where your industry’s recruiters are likely to be a member.

4. Join the right groups.

Speaking of LinkedIn groups, you want to make sure you join the right groups!

Recruiters can go to your profile and see which groups you’re in, so you’ll want to stay away from any groups with the words “mid-career” or “mid-life” in their name.

You’ll want to join more industry-related groups than you would job search groups. Being a member of a bunch of job search groups will scream desperation.

Instead, join the groups of the industry you’re in (or trying to transition to) since these groups often announce job openings within the industry. (To see jobs in groups, go to a group’s page and click on the “Jobs” tab to the right of the “Conversations” tab.)

This saves you time from having to sift through any job announcements you may not be interested in.

5. Include your updated skills.

Include your new skills, programs, platforms, and technologies you’ve been learning on your own time. (See #5 in Part 1.)

6. Include online courses.

LinkedIn offers a lot of online courses. So do MOOC (massive open online courses) sites like Coursera. These are great places to learn new methodologies and technologies in an affordable way. And many courses give you a badge to add to your LinkedIn profile once you’ve successfully completed them.

Listing these courses on your profile shows you’re constantly learning new things, you know how to use current technology, and you’re staying abreast of the latest knowledge.

7. Decide if you should include your photo or not.

If you look young for your age, or you have a photo from a few years ago that’s not obviously out-of-date (i.e. you’re not wearing out-of-style glasses frames), then definitely include it on your LinkedIn profile.

If you feel like you may be at risk of age discrimination based on your photo, you may decide not to include one. But you should know recruiters are also wary of profiles without a photo. In this case, you’ll need to decide for yourself which risk you’re willing to take.

Conclusion

You’ll never be able to completely eliminate your risk of ageism. But, by following the above suggestions, you’ll at least reduce your risk and increase your chances of getting an interview.

When you do land the interview, you’ll want to walk in with confidence and wow them with your competitive advantages by addressing their pain points and showing how you can be a problem solver for them.

To learn how, purchase my on-demand course Steps to Acing the Interview and Reducing Your Interview Anxiety.

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How to Gain a Little Protection From Ageism (Part 1)

While ageism is illegal in hiring processes, it unfortunately still happens to those over 40. Also unfortunately, there’s not a lot a job seeker can do to fight it.

My clients who’ve previously experienced age discrimination often say,

“If I could just get in the door for an interview I could really market my experience and show them I’m the right person for the job. I could show them how I’m an asset for their company instead of a liability.”

But much of the discrimination comes prior to the interview, usually at the first glance of the candidate’s resume or LinkedIn profile. This is when it’s hardest to prove or fight.

The timing of the discrimination makes it darn near impossible to advance to the interview where the candidate can really show his or her competitive advantages.

So, what can a 40+ candidate do (or not do) on his or her resume and LinkedIn profile to increase the chances of landing an interview?

Several things!

What to Avoid Doing on Your Resume

There are several mistakes older job seekers make on their resumes that quickly give away their age. These are mistakes you can easily avoid and therefore increase your chances of landing an interview.

1. Avoid using outdated contact methods.

If you still have an email address ending in aol.com or hotmail.com, this just screams over 40 (more like over 50)! Instead, create a Gmail account you can use just for your job search correspondence.

Also, don’t list both a landline and a cell phone in your contact info. Only include your cell phone.

You probably also don’t need to include your mailing address since most companies no longer send snail mail. Just your city and state is fine.

2. Avoid specifying exactly how many years of experience you have.

Announcing immediately in the profile summary exactly how many years of experience you have is not always a selling point. The only time it is a selling point is if you have the same amount of years of experience as the job ad requires.

But, if for example you have 20 years of experience for a job only requiring 15 years, you probably want to re-word your summary from “20 years of experience” to either “15+ years of experience” or “extensive experience.”

3. Avoid listing jobs from more than 10 years ago.

Many candidates want to show every job they’ve ever had, but employers really only need to see the last ten years of your experience.

If basing it on requirements like the one in the example above, adjust accordingly.

4. Avoid the outdated typing rule of two spaces between sentences.

If you’re over 40, you probably took typing in high school on a type writer. And you were probably taught to put two spaces between each sentence.

Well, this rule no longer applies since people no longer use typewriters (Google it if you think I’m wrong).

So break the habit now before you give away your age! Trust me, it’s not as hard of a habit to break as I thought it would be.

5. Avoid listing outdated (or obvious) technical skills.

That software program you learned at your old job which is no longer used anywhere else – leave it off!

Also, unless the job ad specifically states Microsoft Office as a must-have skill, don’t list it. At least not the programs EVERYONE uses, like Word or Outlook. Almost everyone has (and should have) these skills so they’re kind of “a given.”

And if you do feel like you need to include Microsoft Office, indicate your level of proficiency for applicable programs if you can honestly say you have “intermediate” or “advanced” proficiency.

Or name some of the advanced features you know how to use that will be useful in the potential job.

This will make you stand out from those who only list the program names.

Next, go and start learning some of the software and platforms required for the job you’re not already familiar with.

Many programs and platforms have free demos or online tutorials you can do right from your own computer. Start there and then play with them! Then, you can at least say you have “working knowledge” of those programs.

An example would be Slack, a platform many companies are now using as a team collaboration tool.

I have a Slack channel set up for me to communicate with my clients and for them to communicate with each other (both openly and privately) in one place.

By making this available for my clients, it gives those new to Slack the opportunity learn it and add it to their skillset.

6. Avoid listing your graduation dates.

You can take your graduation dates off your education if you’ve been out of school for at least 5 years.

There’s no need to have them on your resume. (And you definitely don’t want the hiring managers doing the math in their heads from your grad date since you’re trying to protect yourself from ageism.)

Just list all the other information about your education, and use the most up-to-date name of your institution. (For example, if your alma mater’s name changed from “_____ College” to “_____ University” after you graduated, change it on your resume.)

7. Avoid including your photo.

This advice isn’t just true for older candidates. It’s true for most candidates of all ages. While it’s okay and even encouraged to have a photo on your LinkedIn profile, it’s still not widely accepted on the resume.

This is true even though there are several online resume templates with a designated space for the candidate’s photo.

But, you can appear younger to employers by using one of these more modern looking templates (check out Canva) and just deleting the placeholder for your photo.

The templates found on Canva are good if the job is in an especially creative field where graphic resume designs are more appropriate. I would advise you not use these templates if you’re seeking employment in a more traditional or conservative industry.

How to Protect Yourself from Ageism, Part 2

But what about LinkedIn? Should you include a photo there? And how far back should you go on your experience in your profile?

Stay tuned for next week’s Part 2 post!

In the meantime, get more resume writing tips and advice when you purchase my on-demand course Resumes That Get You the Interview: Surprising Secrets to Getting Your Resume Noticed.

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