Category: Out-of-the-box career advice


The Best New Year’s Resolutions To Boost Your Career

The best new year’s resolutions to boost your career aren’t just resolutions. They’re also commitments. If you commit to incorporating even just one of the following resolutions into your career for this new year and new decade, I guarantee you’ll see a return on your investment of time and energy.

Resolutions guaranteed to boost your career

1. Deepen your knowledge and become an expert

Take the favorite part of your job or know-how and deepen your current knowledge of it so you can establish yourself as an expert in this area. Doing so can open doors for you down the road.

For instance, it can lead to a promotion, or it could make you a sought-after consultant in your industry. This could allow you to become independent and set your own hours and salary.

Start by reading as many books on your subject as possible. Once you deepen your knowledge on your chosen subject, you can then start to share this knowledge along with your experience by writing articles and speaking on panels or podcasts about it.

This is a way to serve as a resource for others in your field. It also gives you credibility which can begin your journey toward career advancement and career independence.

2. Use creativity when solving problems

Does your current job allow you enough freedom to be able to solve problems in different ways? If so, don’t be afraid to try new ways of solving old problems and see what happens.

If you’re able to invent a better way from what’s always been done in the past and you’re able to share your best practices, you’re for sure on your way to becoming an expert in your field.

3. Learn a new skill

While you’re spending time becoming an expert in your field, don’t forget to also take time to learn a new skill.

For instance, if you think you eventually want to become an independent consultant in your area of expertise, take some time to learn some digital marketing skills to help you promote your service to your potential client base.

Or, learn a skill you may need in a higher-level position if you were to get promoted.

4. Adapt

In addition to learning a new skill to advance your career, don’t forget to also learn the things you need to keep up with your industry. Things change rapidly in today’s world of work. It’s important to adapt to industry trends and changes to remain relevant.

5. Always be networking

You knew I was going to say this, right? Always, always, always build and maintain your network. Networking is important throughout your career, especially if you decide to leave your job to work for yourself.

Reach out and reconnect with old contacts and create new ones. Set a goal for yourself in this new year for a specific number of people you plan to reconnect with. Then set a goal for how many new people you want to add to your network this year.

You may even want to set a goal for how many networking events you plan to attend each month or how many one-on-one conversations you plan to schedule.

6. Resolve to do less

While all of the above suggestions may sound like more things to add to your already busy to-do list, you may have to let go of some things to make room for your new commitments and resolutions. But it’s important to know which ones to let go of.

Learn to let go of and say no to anything that doesn’t support your personal mission statement (see my post entitled “How to Make Your Big Decisions More Simple“). Also, let go of and say no to anything that isn’t a building block for your personal and professional goals.

7. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, update your resume every six months, even when you’re not looking for a job. You never know when you’ll be invited to serve on a panel or speak at an event (especially when you start fulfilling the above commitments and resolutions). When this happens, the coordinator of the event will likely ask you for a copy of your most recent résumé.

You’ll want to include the new skills you’re developing, the results of your new creative problem solving, and the speaking engagements you’re giving and articles you’re publishing on your area of expertise.

You’ll also want to update your LinkedIn profile and add to it your new contacts from your networking efforts.

Resolutions work if you’re committed

Making resolutions and keeping resolutions are two different things. It’s easy to make resolutions. It’s not easy to keep them. Therefore they will require commitment on your part.

To help you stay committed to your goals and resolutions, subscribe to the paNASH newsletter and receive a free download of the 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan. This free resource is designed to get you out of your rut and get you moving toward success.

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4 Reasons Why the Holidays are a Good Time to Job Search

The holidays are often a time for a mental break from all the hard work we’ve put into our jobs throughout the past year. But if your only job right now is looking for a job, you can’t afford to mentally check out.

Believe it or not, the holidays are actually one of the best times to conduct a job search. Here’s why:

1. Time to reflect during the holidays

The close of the year is a good time to reflect back on what you’ve accomplished the previous twelve months.

Focusing on what you’ve accomplished will boost your confidence in your abilities. It will also provide you with ideas of things to add to your resume.

2. Networking opportunities during the holidays

Holiday parties and events are great places to reconnect with people in your network and to meet new people. But be very careful not to make people feel like they’re being networked! Instead, focus on developing and maintaining your professional relationships. (See my blog post entitled “How to Be Realistic About Networking“.)

Remember to also go easy on the eggnog when attending holiday events. You don’t want to tarnish your job search by developing a negative reputation people will remember long after you’ve recycled your Christmas tree.

3. Holiday deals on interview attire

Day-after-Christmas sales are a great time to find a quality interview suit at an affordable price. It’s also a good time to try on suits since you’re likely to be at your heaviest weight then. You can always tailor down if necessary (because you can’t tailor up!). Most department stores provide free alterations with purchase.

When friends and family ask you what you’d like for Christmas, tell them you’d like department store gift cards or cash so you can pay for you new interview attire.

4. Prepare for an interview in the new year

The new year is when many job opportunities come open. This means you need to be prepared for interviews as early as the first week in January. Preparing for job interviews takes time since you have to conduct research on the industry, the companies you’re interested in, and yourself.

You’ll need to research industry trends and issues, company culture and mission, and how your skills and past experience line up with the skills in the job ad. Use any available down time you have during the holidays to do your research.

You’ll also want to use this time to prepare your answers to behavioral interview questions and other commonly asked questions. I recommend the online tutorial Steps to Acing the Interview and Reducing Your Interview Anxiety to help you get ready for the interviews you’ll have in the new year.

Conclusion

The holidays can be stressful. But being unprepared for an interview can be even more stressful, especially if you’ve used the holidays as an excuse to slack off during your job search.

As with anything, make sure you find balance. Schedule a certain amount of time for your job search (at least 20 hours per week). Then, prioritize your remaining time for what’s most important: family and thanksgiving.

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How to Create the Life You Want to Wake Up To Every Day

Life would be grand if you didn’t have work getting in the way of it, right? You’d wake up every morning (even Monday mornings) loving life instead of dreading your soul-sucking job. But we all have to work to make a living and to make a contribution to our world.

However, there are ways to create work opportunities which allow you to develop the life you want to wake up to every day. Work that allows you to blend your life and job harmoniously instead of it taking over your life. How do you create such a life?

Meet Dorothy

Photo of Dorothy by Lily Darragh

I just finished working with a client named Dorothy who is 58-years-old and has spent over 25 years of her career in the corporate world. Looking back on those years she was able to see how stuck she was. She wasn’t moving forward or up as she had expected to in the corporate world, and therefore also wasn’t increasing her annual salary. When she came to me, she had just left corporate for a much-needed break and not sure what her plan was next.

Because her outside hobbies include competitive body building which requires a lot of training, her friends told her she should be a personal trainer and coach others. They said it made perfect sense, especially since it’s something she’s excelled at and is passionate about. Dorothy agreed this could be a real possibility since she loves working out and has the body to prove it. But she wanted to get some guidance first to make sure. Thank goodness she did, because she made a very surprising discovery.

Photo by Lily Darragh

Wake up and make the investment

Dorothy admitted she’d never before considered spending money on herself, not even for career coaching. At least not until she found herself in need of some direction. Now having gone through paNASH’s program, she says she’s now able to see the value of it and the return on investment!

The first step in creating a career and life you want to wake up to is to decide you’re worth investing in yourself. (Because you are!) It may seem scary at first to make such an investment, especially the unknown part of it. (The unknown is always the scariest.) But, you can learn a little about what to expect by following Dorothy’s progress below.

Also, there are ways you can start with just a small investment to test the waters. This includes spending only a few dollars on a Kindle or paperback copy of my book on Personal Branding, along with the time it takes to complete the exercises in the book. Or you can get it as a free download with your purchase of the Personal Branding on-demand video course at yourpassioninlife.com/ondemand.

Dorothy was pleasantly surprised to see how such a little book was packed with so many powerful exercises that helped her in discovering her direction and her new path.

Wake up and trust the process

Whether you choose to start small with the book or decide to go big like Dorothy did with a one-on-one coaching package, you’ll need to trust the process. This is the second step in creating the life and career you can’t wait to wake up to.

After her first couple of sessions, Dorothy was wondering why she didn’t have answers to her questions about her career path yet. Since she’s a competitive body builder, she’s used to seeing almost immediate results after working out in the gym. Results like improved muscle tone are visible when she looks in the mirror. But this isn’t the case with career development.

I had to remind Dorothy this process of discovering her authentic career path is a marathon, not a sprint. However, she was on track because she was moving through the homework with as much discipline as she does when preparing for a competition. I promised her if she kept moving through the personal branding exercises at the rate she was, she’d see the results come together. But they wouldn’t be visible until she got closer to the end of the program.

Wake up and be honest with yourself

When going through the process and doing the exercises, you’ll need to follow this next step of being honest with yourself. Once Dorothy got honest about what she wanted from her next career opportunity, she realized it was something different than what she originally thought.

Dorothy knew how much she loved working out and sculpting her body for competition. But she realized from the homework I gave her she did NOT want to train other people. She was happy to let others come workout with her and to help motivate them. But she did not want to have to hold others accountable nor chase people down for payment of personal training services. She realized this when she got honest with herself.

At this time Dorothy was also getting calls about jobs doing the same work she used to do in corporate. Since she realized she didn’t want to do the personal training all her friends were telling her to do, she started wondering if going back into corporate was her only option.

Body building is just a hobby and doesn’t bring in any income. But, the body building had previously led Dorothy to a talent agency and to some paid modeling and acting gigs which served as a side hustle for her. It brings in a few big paychecks every now and then for only a few hours of work. Because she previously worked full-time in corporate, she wasn’t able to accept every gig. Therefore, Dorothy viewed this endeavor as more of a hobby too. But after leaving corporate, she was able to say yes to more modeling jobs. She also started getting some brand ambassador gigs because of her modeling work and fitness competitions. This really opened up a whole new passion for her.

Photo by Randy Dorman

Wake up and stop worrying about what everyone else thinks

Even though Dorothy was discovering her excitement about brand ambassador work and how it fit well with her experience in modeling and fitness competition, she felt societal pressure to do the practical thing and respond to those offers for work back in corporate.

But Dorothy really knew she wanted to explore the brand ambassador opportunities more. She liked it because it allowed her the flexibility in her schedule she’d been missing out on for so long. It allowed her to meet new people in various fun and exciting settings. It allowed her to move from project to project with different companies instead of being stuck at one company. She could choose which projects she wanted and turn down those she didn’t. She also didn’t have to manage other people. And she was able to see the earning potential compared to her lower-rung corporate job offers.

I asked Dorothy two questions. One, “Are you able to earn as much money in a traditional eight-hour-a-day office manager job as you are in a few hours of being a brand ambassador?” And two, “If you were back in corporate, would you be able to accept as many modeling and brand ambassador gigs as you’re starting to get right now?” Her answers to both of those questions were, “No!”

With this realization and also knowing she didn’t want to do what her friends were telling her she should do, Dorothy stopped worrying about what everyone else thought. She stopped worrying about what society considers as practical. And she stopped worrying about what her friends would think. She said to me,

“Your program revealed to me my friends’ vision was not my vision for myself.”

Do you need to stop worrying about what others think about your goals and vision?

Wake up and understand your worth

Something else Dorothy said to me about paNASH’s program is,

“I now know my worth!”

She learned how her skills and talent were worth more than what she’d been making in corporate. And she learned from our work together how to negotiate higher rates for the brand ambassador gigs she’s continuing to land. This is the next step in creating a life you want to wake up to.

“At first I didn’t believe I could do any better but now I do!” she says.

Because of this, Dorothy has turned down the low-paying corporate job offers. She says the paNASH program gave her the vision and a path for her next career move. (Which does NOT include going back to where she was stuck before.) But she stresses to anyone considering the program, you have to put in the time and energy in the homework assignments. You have to be disciplined and be honest with yourself if you want real results.

“I have finally found my path!” Dorothy says.

Let me ask you: are you worth more than what you’re currently making? Are you worth investing in yourself to discover how you should use your talents and how much you should be making?

What will your new career path look like when you wake up?

Dorothy says she now has a career path she’s excited to wake up to every day. And she didn’t use age as an excuse to not pursue new endeavors. She’s 58-years-old but she’s never let age stop her. Not in modeling. Not in body building. And certainly not now in her new career path.

While Dorothy’s path may be very different from your future path, you likely have the same goals. You both want more flexibility and work-life balance in your career. And you both want to wake up to a life and career that excites you and energizes you.

You too can discover how to achieve these goals in your own unique way through paNASH’s Personal Branding program, either through personalized and in depth one-on-one coaching, the on-demand video tutorial, or the book. Visit yourpassioninlife.com to learn more or click on the links above. It’s never too late to strive for a better life and career!

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Did You Get Ghosted After Your Interview? What to Do Now

This is a re-post of a previous blog of mine on the topic of interview ghosting. The post has gone viral on Medium, and I was interviewed by The Wall Street Journal about the same topic this past summer. Since tomorrow is Halloween, I thought it would be appropriate to share it again, especially since so many job candidates experience this phenomenon!

Have you ever been ghosted? You know what I’m talking about, when someone unexpectedly ceases all communication with you with no explanation. It’s almost like they dropped off the face of the earth.

This phenomenon typically happens in personal relationships such as romantic liaisons or fledgling friendships.

But it now also exists in working relationships, including the job search. While it’s extremely unprofessional, it does happen.

Job interview ghosting

Most of the time it happens following an interview process. A candidate spends time going through a cumbersome online application process, researching the company, preparing for the interview, traveling to the interview, and sweating through the interview.

The candidate is told at the end of the interview they’ll hear something soon. Then they hear nothing but crickets.

They follow up first with a thank you letter like every good candidate should after an interview.

Still nothing but crickets.

The next week they email to find out if a decision has been made.

Still more crickets.

Another week later they call, only for that call to go unanswered.

This has probably happened to you at one point in your career or another.

It’s happened to me before too, both after a job interview and with a couple of potential clients.

There’s no way to know the reason for the ghosting. All you can do is follow up one more time and then move on.

Console yourself by realizing you probably dodged a bullet since you likely wouldn’t want to work for someone who treats people this way.

What to do next time: a preemptive strike against ghosting

In your next interview, there are some things you can do to try to protect yourself from ghosting, or at least reduce the chances of being ghosted.

This begins in the very first interview. When it’s your turn to ask questions, one of your questions should be about the timeline for the hiring process.

You want to be as specific as possible in your question in order to receive a specific answer. For instance, instead of asking “When do you plan to conduct second-round interviews?” you should ask,

“What is your deadline for scheduling second-round interviews?”

“Is that deadline firm?” and

“Are you going to let those who didn’t make it to the second round know they won’t be moving forward?”

In the final round of interviews, instead of asking “When do you plan to make a hiring decision?” you should ask,

“What is your deadline for making an offer?”

“How firm is that deadline?” and

“Are you  going to notify each person being interviewed of the final decision as a courtesy or just the person receiving the offer?”

These questions are for your own sanity so you can know what to expect and so you’re not sitting around wondering why you haven’t heard anything back.

Click here to find out what other questions you should ask in an interview.

Know when to move on

Keep in mind however that sometimes companies tend to underestimate how long the interview process might take them. Or, deadlines might get pushed back due to other priorities in the company.

Continue to follow up 1–2 weeks after their original deadline.

If after that you still haven’t heard anything, assume they either hired someone else or put a freeze on the hiring process. 

Then move on.

And try not to take it personally so you can maintain your confidence. You have to keep your confidence in tact as best you can for your next interview.

Other things you can do

There are several other things you can do to reduce your chances of being ghosted.

First, avoid doing the things that irritate hiring managers and recruiters. For instance, don’t be late for your interview and don’t be dishonest in your answers or give canned answers.

More importantly, don’t interview for a job you don’t intend to take just to get interview practice. This is unethical and word could easily get around in your industry about you doing such a thing.

Also, indicate at the end of the interview you want the job. So many people fail to say they want the job. Those who do increase their chances of getting the call with the offer.

Next, send a thank you letter (via snail mail) to each person you interviewed with, reiterating your interest and what you have to offer the company.

Finally, even if you’ve been ghosted by a company, don’t do the same thing to another company. Just because unemployment is at an all-time low and you may have your pick of offers, this doesn’t give you an excuse to ghost recruiters or hiring managers.

Conclusion

While you can’t completely prevent a company from ghosting you after your interview, using some of the strategies above can help reduce your chances of it happening.

For more tips on how to improve your job search, subscribe to my weekly newsletter for free and receive a complimentary 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan. Or, receive additional resources when you choose an advanced subscription option.

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Nobody Likes a Know-It-All. Be a Learn-It-All Instead!

How to Enrich Your Life and Career with Lifelong Learning

I’m currently learning how to land paddle. Last week one of my stand up paddle boarding friends gave me another lesson in it. Land paddling is similar to stand up paddle boarding on water, but it feels so different! It’s like being on a big skate board with a stick that has a stopper instead of a paddle at the end of it.

To me it feels very foreign compared to being on water. (Confession: I’m much more clumsy on dry land than I am on water!) I’ve never skate boarded before, so this is way outside my comfort zone! But it’s a great way to get outside and get exercise, especially after paddle boarding season ends.

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I’m also currently teaching myself about financial investing. This is something I once had no interest in because I didn’t think I had the ability to fully comprehend it. Even though it’s never too late to learn about investing, my limiting belief kept me in my comfort zone longer than it should have. This probably cost me money in hidden fees and the additional money I could’ve already earned had I understood it better.

Luckily my father is well-versed in this area and got me started early on with a financial adviser. But now I’m becoming more educated on how it all works. And I’m starting to make my own investment decisions instead of just relying on my financial adviser.

Finally, I’ve hired a digital marketing expert to teach me how to improve my business marketing and increase the sales of my on-demand video courses. Much of what she’s teaching me are things I know I need to do, but I’m learning from her how to prioritize it all. It’s not always easy to find the time to implement her suggestions while balancing my client base, but I know it’s important to do so I can scale my business.

Importance of Being a Learn-It-All

I’m doing all of the things above because I understand how important lifelong learning is. Being a “learn-it-all” is imperative for growth, success, and fulfillment. In fact, lifelong learning is so important I’ve included “education” as one of the seven goal categories in my 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan (free when you subscribe to my weekly newsletter).

Continual learning can increase your earnings, reduce your risk of age-related diseases, and enrich your life!

Learning Doesn’t Follow the Smooth Road

You can see from my own experiences listed above there are oftentimes obstacles involved in being a “learn-it-all”. These obstacles can include discomfort, limiting beliefs, and time constraints. But those obstacles should never be used as excuses for not being open to learning new things.

These negative feelings and risks are to be expected. Author and CEO Gary Burnison says,

“People who are curious and risk-takers are often the best learners. But learning doesn’t follow the smooth road.”

And learning opportunities are not limited to the risk-takers. Even if you’re not a natural risk-taker, you can learn how to become a better learner.

How to Become a Good “Learn-It-All”

Burnison also goes on to say,

“While learning agility, to a large degree, is inborn…it can be developed. One of the was you can become more learning agile is to develop your curiosity. People who are curious are engaged in the world. There interests are varied, and they are constantly learning. They intentionally expose themselves to the new and different, whether that means eating unfamiliar foods or listening to music that’s outside their favorite genre. They approach every day as a new opportunity to learn something, especially about themselves. That’s why the best…CEOs begin and end the day with self-reflection.”

You can be a good “learn-it-all” by increasing your curiosity in some of the simple ways Burnison listed above.

For instance, next time you go out to eat, order something on the menu you can’t pronounce or have never heard of. And don’t just take a picture of it for your Instagram! Actually taste it and savor it. I shudder when I think of all the great foods I would’ve missed out on (including camel!) had I not been curious enough to try them.

Burnison says you can also be a good learner by ending your day or week with self-reflection. Self-reflection is the very first exercise in my book and on-demand video course Personal Branding: Why You Need to Know What Makes You YOUnique and AWEthentic.

Tangible Examples

It’s this same branding program that’s helped so many paNASH clients open their minds to learning something new and enriching their careers. It’s even led several clients to some really cool side hustles and career changes.

For instance, my client Ashley discovered she has both a passion and a talent for voice-over work. Had she not taken a voice-over basics course at the local community ed program I told her about, she never would’ve discovered her new-found talent.

She’s since taken a more intensive voice-over course while also building her voice-over portfolio. She’s even landed some voice-over gigs with her current corporation she works for. Her short-term plan is to get an agent so she can get more gigs. Her long-term plan is to eventually turn it from a side hustle into a full-time thing.

Another client, Adelaide, decided to leave her job without knowing what she wanted to do next. But because she’s a saver she was financially able to do so.

Shortly after leaving her job and in the midst of our work together, she discovered the Nashville Software School. She did some research on it and decided to delve into the world of coding which is something completely different from what she went to college for or what she’d been doing in the past. Because of her savings and her creative budget management, she was able to afford the six-month program.

A week before graduation she landed a job with a highly sought-after company. This company’s interview process usually takes several months, but she had one interview and got hired a week later.

What are you learning?

So my questions to you are:

  • What do you want to learn?
  • What are you curious about?
  • Are you currently learning something new?
  • Are you making time to expand your mind on something interesting?

Education doesn’t end after graduation. So become a “learn-it-all”!

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