Category: Career Advice


A Summer Reading List That Will Boost Your Career

So summer 2020 didn’t pan out the way you’d hoped it would. You’re probably not getting to take your annual vacation due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Therefore, you have even more time for summer reading this year.

So what should you spend your quarantine time reading? You should always have a healthy mix of fun fiction, but also some books that will help you learn and grow as a person and as a professional.

Lori’s summer reading recommendations

I’ve been reading and listening to a lot of books already this spring and summer. Most of which I’ve checked out electronically from my local library while they were closed for COVID. And now the library is offering curbside pick-up of physical books, so I’m reading even more.

Below is a list of the ones I recommend to help you boost your career and grow you professionally, so you can be ready for whatever comes next in your career during these uncertain times.

(Please note: I do not receive any financial gain for recommending or endorsing the following books.)

Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude

By Raymond M. Kethledge and Michael S. Erwin.

While you may be completely bored with all the solitude and isolation you’ve had the past several months, there’s a lot of good that comes from times of solitude, when it’s time spent well.

While this book focuses on how leaders have used solitude to become even more effective, it’s not just for leaders. It shows how the practice of solitude can give you clarity to solve complex problems you may face, both in life and in your work.

I love the examples the authors share of the struggles of beloved historical figures. People like Martin Luther King, Jr., Jane Goodall, Winston Churchill, and Abraham Lincoln. This is a great read, especially if you’re a fan of military history, or history in general.

After you read it, you’ll be motivated to put your phone a way and turn off Netflix, to see what kind of solutions to your problems you’re able to come up with.

Wisdom @ Work: The Making of a Modern Elder

By Chip Conley.

A client of mine told me about this book, so I checked it out. It’s great for mid-career folks who work in a company or industry with multi-generational employees (which most people do!).

The book shares the secret to thriving as a mid-life worker, which it describes as, “…learning to marry wisdom and experience with curiosity, a beginner’s mind, and a willingness to evolve.” It confirms how older generations still bring value to the table, especially in the role of a mentor. But it also reminds the older workforce they still have a lot to learn from the knowledge and skillset of the younger generations.

All generations are relevant and valued, and they need each other to create success. This book explores the issues of ageism and age diversity in today’s workforce.

If you’ve been forced to make a mid-career change due to the economic impact of COVID, and now find yourself struggling to compete with younger candidates, this book will help you write the next chapter of your career.

Halftime: Moving From Success to Significance

By Bob Buford.

Speaking of mid-career, here’s another great resource for mid-lifers, or for anyone who cares more about making a difference and an impact with their work, than just making a fortune.

This book focuses on how to multiply the skills and gifts you’ve been given, and in the process, give back to the world in significant ways.

And I love the questions it asks at the end of each chapter. They’re great for personal reflection or for group discussions. It even includes assignments to help guide you into the next phase of your career.

The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future

By Chris Guillebeau.

I always like to include one or two books on entrepreneurship, for anyone who’s thinking of leaving corporate to start their own thing. These kind of books were helpful for me when I started my own business, but there were a lot of them out there, so it was hard to know which ones to read.

I wouldn’t say The $100 Startup is as good as Pat Flynn’s Will It Fly, which I reviewed in a previous post. But, it is different because it provides numerous examples of other people who’ve started their own businesses.

These examples include every day people, with no entrepreneurial skills, who discovered how to monetize aspects of their personal passions. This allowed them to restructure their lives and careers, in ways that gave them more fulfillment and freedom.

Their stories are super inspiring, and they provide enough detail to give you ideas of how you can accomplish what they’ve accomplished.

Never Go Back: 10 Things You’ll Never Do Again

By Dr. Henry Cloud.

Have you struggled for success in your life and in your work, but always seem to fall short? Do self-defeating patterns keep you stuck where you are, personally and professionally? Then you’ll definitely want to read Never Go Back, by bestselling author Dr. Henry Cloud.

In this book, Cloud outlines 10 bad habits successful people have learned never to return to. They’ve become successful, largely in part by not making these common mistakes again. You can do the same, and Cloud shows you how.

I encourage you to at least read the preface and the introduction of this book before passing it over. I firmly believe this book can boost all areas of your life.

Lori’s summer reading list

In addition to the fun books I’ve been reading, I have plans this summer to read books my clients may also find helpful. This includes:

  • Escape From Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur, by Pamela Slim, who also wrote a book I highly recommend, called Body of Work
  • Off Balance: Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction, by Matthew Kelly
  • The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day With Passion and Purpose, also by Matthew Kelly
  • Powershift: Transform Any Situation, Close Any Deal, and Achieve Any Outcome, by Shark Tank’s Daymond John

I also invite you to check out my own books and e-books I’ve published, available on Amazon, in paperback and on Kindle. And feel free to share your book recommendations in the comment box. I’m always looking for good books to read!

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How to Re-Direct Your Career in a Time of Uncertainty

My older brother is a unicorn. He’s been with the same company his entire career, almost as many years as I’ve been alive. This is extremely rare these days. Most people change companies (or even careers) seven to ten times in their lives.

However, in all his years as a hard-working and successful employee of a strong company, my brother has faced the threat of the organization’s frequent mass layoffs.

Each time he faced such job uncertainty, it would send him into such deep anxiety he would get physically ill. Add to this the daily stress of his job, plus his lack of passion for it, and you get misery and depression.

So why did he stay all these years? Because on paper, it’s a “good” job. But he also stayed because of:

  • A false sense of security.
  • Self-imposed restrictions.
  • Fear of instability.
  • Discomfort with change.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Even if career change isn’t new to you, you may be experiencing some of the same negative issues due to the uncertainty of our current job market.

But this is one of the best times to take your uncertainty and nervous energy, and use it in a positive way to re-direct your career. Let’s look at how to do this.

Re-directing your fears and uncertainty

My brother has stayed in his current job all these years because he assumes it’s secure. Even though he’s seen numerous layoffs at his company. He recognizes he’s been lucky to escape the layoffs. And each time he has, he thinks to himself, “since I didn’t get laid off, my job is secure for now.” Well, maybe it is, until it isn’t.

If we’ve learned anything from the economic impact of COVID-19, it’s nothing is certain. And, there’s no such thing as job security. But this has always been the case. Yet we tend to fool ourselves into thinking if we have a steady paycheck and benefits, we’re secure. This in turn leads to a place that’s comfortable yet complacent at best.

Instead of fooling yourself there’s such a thing as a secure job, or freaking out because there isn’t, focus on exploring your potential options to diversify your skills and your income. This could include developing multiple streams of revenue, changing industries, or developing a new skill. While this may feel uncomfortable, think of it as a way of saving for a rainy day.

If you’re currently furloughed or laid off, this is more important than ever. But even if you still have your job, you need to spend time taking stock of your interests, passions, skills, strengths, and experience. Look to see what problem(s) they help solve, and for whom.

This process helps you identify which of your skills are in demand and which market will pay money for them. It opens your eyes to opportunities you may have never previously considered, such as a different job, or working for yourself. And it’s a process I walk you through step-by-step in my on-demand career success videos.

Watch your uncertainty turn into confidence

Once you’ve completed the process of taking stock of your unique skillset and value you bring to the table, you’ll notice an increase in your confidence. A boost in confidence may be what you need right now, especially if you’ve lost your job.

Then, once you experience renewed confidence, you’ll more likely have the gumption to apply for a job doing something new or different, or to start your own thing. Once you’re mentally ready for this, it’s time to take what you’ve discovered about your unique skillset and market it.

This includes putting together a resume, elevator pitch, and interview presentation that stands out from your competition’s cookie-cutter job search efforts. paNASH’s on-demand career success videos teach you all the steps to market your unique assets, so you won’t blend in with all the other job candidates.

People are drawn to confidence and competence. Your renewed confidence, along with an attention-grabbing marketing plan of your skills, is what will help you re-direct your career.

Don’t live a life of regret

My brother will be retiring next year. That is, if he doesn’t face another potential layoff before then. He’ll get a pension for all his years there. But he won’t ever get back the years he spent doing work that made him depressed instead of fulfilled.

In fact, a few years ago when he was visiting me, he admitted how he wished he’d had the gumption and the courage to leave his job and start his own thing like I had. He regretted never trying something different. It broke my heart to see him look back over his “good-on-paper” job and have nothing but regrets.

The good news is, it’s not too late for him to do something more fulfilling, if he wants to, after he retires next year. And it’s not too late for you either, no matter where you are in your career. You always have the opportunity to re-direct your career, both in good times and in times of uncertainty.

You can take your job security into your own hands. And you can start now!

How to get started

My on-demand career success video courses have always been an affordable and effective way to prepare you for any of the following scenarios:

  • Discovering what’s next for your career.
  • Making a career change.
  • Finding a new job.
  • Improving your resume
  • Preparing for job interviews.
  • and much more!

And best of all, they’re available to you on-demand anytime, allowing you to work at your own pace.

There are other online career and job search programs that make you wait every week for the next course to air, further delaying your job search.

Why spend two months completing an 8-week course when you can complete 8 courses in the time frame you prefer, and therefore find your next job sooner?

The paNASH on-demand bundle includes:

  • 8 courses with 23 episodes, both on finding your purpose and practical ways to stand out in the job search
  • 16 instructional handouts, résumé samples and templates
  • 5 e-books
  • 1 résumé critique

And this summer, you’ll receive access to live group coaching sessions to get your specific questions answered (available for a limited time).

Click here to get started right now.

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How to Know If It’s Time for a Career Change

It felt so good this past Saturday to eat in a restaurant again after two months of quarantine. To sit down at a table, face-to-face with a friend not contained inside a square on my computer screen. To have someone else cook for me, wait on me, and clean up after me. I made sure to leave a generous tip for the waitstaff who’ve gone two months with no pay.

The restaurant was only at 50% capacity, so it wasn’t a full move back to the old normal. But it was a nice change from the new normal of shelter-at-home life.

However, in experiencing a return of some freedom, I still sensed some fear and hesitation in the air. Any kind of change can cause feelings of fear and hesitation. This is true for career change.

But change can also be good, even in the most uncertain of times. This is also true for career change. I know this from personal experience when I left my full-time job with benefits to start my own business in 2008, right around the time of a recession.

Some people may think this is not the time to make a career change. They assume if they still have a job in the midst of everything happening, they should hold onto it. This may be true.

Or it may not. Instead it may actually be the best time to consider a career change. This could include changing jobs within your industry, changing industries all together, or starting your own thing. Let’s explore which is true for you.

Is it a good time for a career change for you?

A career change within your industry

Are you currently in an industry that’s booming due to the current state of the world? For instance, are you currently in healthcare? Or are you in an industry that manufactures, markets, or sells high-demand products like cleaning agents? In other words, does your industry meet a need now, and will it likely continue to meet a need once things settle down?

If this is the case, you probably want to stay within your industry but do something different. This could mean making a lateral move to a different department, or advancing to a higher level in your current area. It could mean shifting from one function to another, like moving from HR to management, sales to market research, or vice versa.

Make a list of the results you’ve accomplished in your current role for the company. Use this as leverage to help you advance, or to show how your skills can bring new perspective to another area of the company. Don’t be afraid to have a conversation with your supervisor and with other department heads about your desire to continue contributing to the company in other ways.

A career change to another industry

Perhaps you’re in an industry that’s struggling right now. But you have the transferable skills to change to an industry in need of more employees due to the current crisis. For instance, you may currently be in HR in the travel and hospitality industry. But, your skills may be more needed in the HR department of a grocery store chain.

Start doing as much research as you can about the industries you’re interested in. Make a list of your transferable skills and add them to your resume and LinkedIn profile. Start connecting with people in those industries via LinkedIn, email, and phone.

Starting your own thing

Perhaps you’ve been thinking for a while about starting your own thing. Could now be the time to do so? Maybe, especially if you’ve been laid off due to COVID and can’t seem to find another job working for someone else. Or you may have some extra time on your hands because you’re currently working from home.

Spend your extra time writing down your skills, along with some current needs you’re noticing. Look to see how your skills match up with the needs. Then brainstorm some ways you can deliver a solution to those needs. You may also want to use your time to read the book, Will It Fly? How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Your Time or Money, by Pat Flynn.

Conclusion

Don’t let the current market make you fearful or hesitant when considering a career change. And don’t let bad news or ominous predictions keep you stuck where you are. Instead, pay attention to the needs around you. Then, ask yourself how and where your skills and talents fulfill those needs.

This process may not be easy to do on your own, but paNASH can help! Get started by completing the paNASH intake form to schedule a complimentary initial consultation.

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Your Job Provides You Security. Until It Doesn’t. Then What?

Depending on what industry you’re in, your job security may feel a little shaky right now due to COVID-19.

Even if you haven’t lost your job because of the economic impact caused by the coronavirus, or even if you’re able to return to work soon, you may feel less sure of your future career than ever before.

No one could’ve predicted six months ago the situation we’re currently experiencing world-wide.

This is why there really is no such thing as job security. Stuff happens.

The only constant is, business will always be business. Companies will always do what they have to do to keep afloat for as long as possible. Which often means downsizing.

This is why it’s important to invest in what I call “career insurance.”

What is career insurance?

Career insurance is basically another term for comprehensive career coaching. It’s designed to prepare you for any event that may arise in your career.

This includes the expected, like a promotion, voluntary job or career change, or starting your own business. It also includes the unexpected, like a layoff or a loss of business.

Think you don’t need career insurance?  Let me share a few stories with you.

The unexpected layoff

I’m often hired by companies to provide career coaching and outplacement counseling for the employees they have to lay off.

This service isn’t something all companies provide their pink slip employees. So don’t assume your company will do the same for you if you get laid off.

If they do, take advantage of it!!! It’s on the company’s dime and it can help you find your next opportunity much faster than trying to do it all on your own.

Many of the laid off employees I’ve worked with in this capacity were taken by surprise by the company’s decision.

Several have said to me, “I always thought I’d retire at this company. I love my job and the people I work with. And I had no intentions of ever leaving and never thought I would get downsized.”

Lesson #1:  Never assume you’re not at risk of losing your job. Even if your company is in a growing industry and promises to be loyal to you. Business is business and things change. If your company doesn’t provide you any outplacement services, you may want to invest some severance money into career coaching. This is so you can find your next opportunity quicker, and learn how to negotiate a higher salary. Learning such skills will pay for any coaching expenses, and then some.

The need for a change

Teresa* hired me for some career coaching services because she was very unhappy in the job she was in.

She wanted to look for something new, and also explore the possibility of being her own boss. So I got to work on helping her meet these goals.

After only three coaching sessions, Teresa found out her job was being eliminated.

When she got the news, she felt a sense of relief she’d already paid for a career coach and had begun the steps to a successful job search, making the news less of a blow.

She knew our sessions would help put her in the best possible position to find her next opportunity more quickly. She also knew the coaching would help position her for promotion the following year.

Lesson #2:  It’s better to already have some career insurance in place, if and when an issue arises, than to not have it and wish you did. Especially if you don’t receive a good severance package.

Prepare for the worst, and the best

I started working with Shane* at the beginning of the season. He chose my basic package of just a few sessions which we completed several weeks later. When I received an update from him, this is what he had to say:

“All of my worlds have been colliding since our last session, and I’ve only been able to handle it because of the great place we got to with our sessions. So thank you. I just had my interview for my promotion that was in the works earlier this season. Whatever shakes out, the confidence and clarity I gained from our sessions made the interview process really rewarding.”

Lesson #3:  Career coaching isn’t just for leaving your company. If you like where you work, coaching services can help you advance in your company if this is your goal. It can also prepare you for any career curve ball (good or bad) that may come your way.

How to increase your job security

While you have no control over the current pandemic or your company’s response to it, you do have control over your own career strategy.

paNASH’s career coaching services help you develop a strategy to leverage your skills and market them for new opportunities, providing career insurance and improved security no matter what happens with your career.

Is it time for you to invest in some career insurance? If not now, when?

Don’t wait until your current job security is gone. Click here to get started.

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*Names have been changed for confidentiality purposes. Click here to see client-submitted Google reviews.

How to Make Phone and Video Interviews Run More Smoothly

I have a few clients who’ve done video interviews in recent weeks due to COVID-19. While phone and video interviews are nothing new, at least not to first-round interview screenings, they’ve temporarily replaced all in-person job interviews during the quarantine.

Companies are likely to continue holding remote interviews throughout the different “re-entry” phases. And they’re likely to continue using them even after the pandemic is behind us. This is simply because it saves the company a lot of money, especially in travel reimbursement expenses for non-local candidates.

Job interviews are already stressful. Throwing into the mix a technology platform that doesn’t always work perfectly can make it even more nerve wracking.

Here are some tips to help make your next remote interview run more smoothly, so you can focus on landing the offer.

Tips for video interviews

When undergoing video interviews, you’ll want to:

  • Have a strong internet connection. Make sure you’re computer is close to your router. For an even better experience, you may want to use an Ethernet port to hardwire your computer to the router.
  • Close out any programs or apps running in the background. For the best experience, I suggest using Google Chrome as your browser.
  • Have everything set up and ready to go well before the interview time. This includes having already downloaded any necessary software for the given platform.
  • Use a headset or earbuds for clearer audio.
  • Look directly at your webcam instead of your screen. This allows you to maintain good eye contact and reduce distractions from other things popping up on your screen. Practice this with a friend prior to your interview.
  • Use the “share screen” option when showing samples of your work from your online portfolio. Make sure you don’t use this option for too long, and ask for permission first before sharing your screen.
  • Get comfortable with any silence caused by a delay or lag time in the connection. Waiting it out instead of trying to fill the silence will keep you from interrupting or talking over the interviewer.
  • Be mindful of your background. Make sure it’s not distracting and doesn’t reveal anything the interviewer may consider questionable.
  • Keep a notepad next to your computer so you can take some notes. Just don’t take so many notes you forsake too much eye contact.
  • Let family members know not to interrupt you, and put pets in another room.
  • Silence your cell phone.

Tips for phone interviews

Many of the above tips can apply to phone interviews as well. I this situation, you’ll also want to:

  • Use the interviewer’s name more frequently in your conversation. This is especially necessary when you have more than one interviewer on the line.
  • Smile, even though they can’t see you. They’ll still be able to hear your enthusiasm for the job when you’re smiling as you talk.
  • Get comfortable with silence and pauses. They may take notes and need some time between your answer and their next question to finish writing down those notes. When you’re done with your answer, stop talking and resist the urge to fill the silence. Wait patiently for them to respond.
  • Disable your call waiting in your call settings.
  • Reduce all chances of background noise if using your phone on speaker. This means disabling any alarms or Alexa devices that could possibly go off during the call.

Conclusion

By taking the steps above, you’ll be better prepared, less stressed, and more focused. For other interview tips, see related resources listed below.

Related resources

Blog post: What You Need to Know About Job Interviews of The Modern Era

Free video: The Most Common Job Interview Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

On-demand video course: Steps to Acing the Interview and Reducing Your Interview Anxiety (free e-book included)