Category: Career Change/Career Transition


Career Advice No One Will Ever Share With You (Re-post)

As a career coach, I’m always responding to career-related questions with various tips and career advice. I recently received a question asking,

“What are a few unique pieces of career advice nobody ever mentions?”

This is a good one because there are a lot of possible answers to it, but I chose two answers to reflect what most of my clients don’t know when they first come to me.


Career Advice Tip #1:

If you work for someone else, you still need to think like an entrepreneur.

Why? Because no one’s job is secure.

You have to view your employer as your client. And if your “client” decides not to continue working with you, you have to be in a good position to quickly land your next client.

You do this by becoming a good salesperson of your skills.


Career Advice Tip #2:

If you work for yourself, then you need to think of each meeting with potential clients or potential investors as a job interview.

For instance, I have several consultations with potential clients each week. Therefore, I’m going on job interviews EVERY SINGLE WEEK of the year!

I know I have to clearly express the benefits of my skills as a career coach.


Determine Fit

In either scenario, you not only need to sell your skills.

You also need to treat the situation as a two-way street. You need to find out if your next job or your next client is going to be a good fit for you.

This is why I always suggest job seekers ask their own questions during a job interview.

These questions should be ones to help them determine if the company (i.e. “the client”) is who they really want to spend 40+ hours a week with for the next several years.

**Check out The One Surprising Tip That Guarantees a Good Interview for sample questions to ask when being interviewed.***


Be Selective

For me personally as a business owner, I’m selective in who I take on as clients.

Therefore, not only do I present the benefits of my services and make sure they’re a good fit for the potential client’s goals, but I also ask questions to find out if they’re the type of client I’ll want to work with.

I start with questions in my intake form and ask additional questions during the initial consultation.

I’m looking to see how serious the person is about my coaching program.

I’m also looking for someone with a teachable spirit, an open-mind, respect for others, courtesy, and professionalism.

Someone who doesn’t possess these qualities is not a good fit for me or my company’s mission or programs.


You need to be selective too.

If you’re a job seeker with multiple job offers, be selective.

If you’re an entrepreneur with multiple potential clients, be selective (even when you feel like can’t afford to be!).

Here’s how.

Before walking into an interview or a meeting, take some time to do an inventory of:

  1. your skills and strengths,
  2. how you uniquely demonstrate those skills and strengths,
  3. the benefits of your skills and strengths,
  4. your needs and wants,
  5. your deal-breakers,
  6. and the questions to determine any potential deal-breakers or to determine if the other party can meet at least 60% of your needs and wants (because you’ll rarely find a case that meets 100% of them! — BE REALISTIC!).

Choose only those opportunities that are at least 60% compatible with your inventory.

Keep in mind also numbers 1–3 will give you leverage to ask for numbers 4–5.

Following this advice will help you develop good habits and preparedness for those times when you find yourself at a career crossroads.

career advice

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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