Tag: career advice


How to Be Realistic About Networking (Re-Post)

Networking is a necessary part of the career development process. It helps you discover opportunities you never knew existed.

This could include a career that is just the thing that fits nicely with your passions and strengths.

Or it could include opportunities in a field you’re already passionate about.

But most importantly, it helps you build long-lasting professional relationships.


Since 80% of the workforce found their opportunities (whether working for someone else or for themselves) through networking, it makes sense to spend 80% of your career development and job search on networking.

But before you dive into networking, you need to check your expectations about networking, and make sure they’re realistic.


Unrealistic Networking Expectations

When I used to work as a college career adviser at a local university, I had several students wanting to go into the music industry. While most of those students understood the need to network, some would put it off until graduation.

This was a huge mistake!

Especially since going into the music industry where getting to know the insiders is more challenging than in other industries.


I know this from personal experience when I used to do image consulting for recording artists. It took me three times longer to develop my network with music industry professionals than it did in my previous industry. In fact, it took about three years before people started saying, “Oh, yeah, I know you!”

If one of my seniors getting ready to graduate had waited until graduation to begin his or her networking efforts, he or she was about three years behind the competition who started their networking efforts their sophomore year.

Those who had already been fostering professional relationships were more likely to land a job upon graduation.


Even if your own chosen industry takes less time to get to know the insiders, it’s true the sooner you start developing relationships with appropriate contacts, the sooner you’ll see the fruits of your labor.

In other words, expecting it to happen overnight is unrealistic.


Realistic Networking Expectations

That’s also not to say it can’t happen quickly. I have two examples of each scenario from my own career.

First, I met the vice president of a Nashville-based company while attending an event downtown at the Entrepreneur Center. After an exchange of business cards and one brief conversation, he hired me a month later to do some contract work for him.

And I’ve been working with him for several years now. I didn’t expect this to happen so quickly. It just did.


This same gentleman introduced me to a wonderful small group of local business owners at the same time he had introduced another woman to the same group.

For two and a half years I got to know these business owners in a very close-knit way, including the other woman introduced to the group. In that time we shared our celebrations and concerns on a weekly basis.

After getting to know each other for two and a half years on such a level, she also hired me to do some contract work for her business.

Again, I didn’t expect this to happen, but with time, it did.


The “Organic” Approach

In both situations, I never asked them if they had a job for me.

Instead, after taking the time to establish a rapport with them, they approached me with the opportunity to work with them.

I never entered either relationship with the expectation of getting something from them.

This is what I call the “organic approach” to networking.

Anything that’s forced feels creepy!

In fact, one time there was a guy who was starting his own business doing similar work to my own. He called me to introduce himself to me and actually said,

“I’m calling to network with you.”

Eeww! That was an immediate turn-off and I chose not to engage in his approach.


The best approach to realistic networking is an organic one. It looks like this:

  • Be genuinely curious about other people. Ask them about their own career path and passions (without using the phrase “Can I pick your brain?“).
  • Listen to what they say! Don’t be the one dominating the conversation.
  • Share with them things they’ll find helpful or interesting based on what they’ve told you about themselves.
  • Lower your expectations of what they can do for you and raise your standards of how you can benefit them.

Start now. And be realistic!


7 Best Books That Will Make a Huge Impact on Your Life and Career

Last year I shared a post describing five books that will make a huge impact on your life and career. This year I want to share my latest reads guaranteed to also have a huge impact on your life and career.

I’ve read a lot books this past year. But, in an effort to save you some time, I’m only highlighting my top five (with a couple of honorable mentions) that provide tangible take-aways. These take-aways are guaranteed to produce results when you apply them to your life and career.

I’ve personally applied many of the principles from these books. And I’ve either seen immediate results, or the beginning growth of those sown seeds.

Top 5 Best Books

1. Will It Fly? How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Your Time and Money by Pat Flynn

I have several clients considering starting their own business. This is a great book for them or anyone else thinking of starting their own business or side hustle. It guides readers through several litmus tests to help determine if their business idea is viable, prior to diving in with a huge time or money investment.

The first half of the book is very similar to my program on personal branding. The author Pat Flynn (who’s known for teaching people how to create passive income streams) spends a big chunk of the book discussing the importance of having a personal mission statement and personal brand prior to starting any kind of business idea. It truly is the first step to starting anything new in your life or career.

Biggest take-away:

“Make sure you’re running to something instead of away from something.”

This is so true. I see many people who come to me wanting to start their own business for the sheer desire of leaving their current job.

Will It Fly? helps you determine both the right reasons and the wrong reasons for starting your own business. Because it is so important to know these reasons, I did an entire group coaching call on this very topic with this book as the basis for the discussion.

Related Blog Post:

2. The Rise of the Youpreneur: The Definitive Guide to Becoming the Go-To Leader in Your Industry and Building a Future-Proof Business by Chris Ducker

I read The Rise of the Youpreneur on the heels of Will It Fly? It’s a good follow-up after you’ve done all the exercises from Will It Fly? and determined which of your business ideas are most viable and best support your personal mission.

Like Flynn’s book, The Rise of the Youpreneur is chock-full of exercises and online resources to help you get your business off the ground.

Biggest Take-Away

While I’ve been doing a lot of what Ducker recommends to become a successful brand in my own coaching business, I hadn’t been doing all of it because it just seemed so overwhelming. Drucker’s book helped me to organize and prioritize all those things into manageable phases and steps.

I’m currently working through those phases to improve what I’ve been doing and to add in what I haven’t been doing.

Related Blog Posts:

3. Breaking Money Silence: How to Shatter Money Taboos, Talk More Openly About Finances, and Live a Richer Life by Kathleen Burns Kingsbury

I got a copy of Breaking Money Silence from the author when I heard her speak here in Nashville. It is BY FAR the best book on finances I’ve ever read.

Kingsbury delves into the emotional side of money. She talks about the various mindsets people have about money, explaining why money often creates unnecessary conflict between people. It dispels myths both men and women have about money. And it reveals the hidden costs of staying quiet about an often uncomfortable topic.

What I love most about it is it provides tangible ways to have uncomfortable but necessary conversations about money between couples, children and aging parents, siblings, and more. It also helps readers see their worth and the importance of negotiating a fair salary with their employer, something I often teach my clients how to do.

Not only is this a great book for anyone who feels insecure about their knowledge of finances (or thinks they already know everything about finances), it’s also recommended for financial advisers so they can learn how to address the emotional side of money when working with their clients. There are exercises at the end of each chapter for both the interested reader and their financial advisers.

Breaking Money Silence is also a nice prerequisite to one of my honorable mentions listed below, Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover.

Of all the books on this list, this is the one I’d buy a copy for everyone if I could. I plan to keep my copy because I know I’ll refer back to it every time I need to.

Biggest Take-Aways

There are too many take-aways from this book to list here, but the big ones for me were:

  • Understanding my own personal money mindsets and where those came from.
  • How to broach difficult but necessary conversations about money.
  • How to best prevent or handle potential financial conflicts in the future, especially if I ever get married.
Related Blog Posts:

4. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Tim Keller and his wife Kathy Keller

Speaking of marriage, I chose a book on marriage to include on this list, even though I’m not married. I initially read The Meaning of Marriage because it’s also a good read for singles. Plus, I’m always trying to best prepare myself for whatever God has in store for my future.

Keller, who is the founder and pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, discusses the importance of purpose and vision in a marriage. Purpose is obviously important in helping my clients discover work they can be passionate about, so this concept of purpose in marriage really piqued my interest.

Biggest Take-Away:

A Christ-centered marriage can’t be merely about itself. It must be about something else, something both partners are committed to and passionate about besides one another.

A marriage based on attraction alone does not provide a common vision. Physical attraction and financial goals will bring unity for only a while. But such goals don’t create deep oneness, because eventually you reach those superficial goals (or you don’t), and then what? What is your marriage for? Where are you going?

Related Blog Posts:

5. Your God Is Too Safe: Rediscovering the Wonder of a God You Can’t Control by Mark Buchanan

Last but certainly not least is Your God is Too Safe. The very first words of this book in the introduction are:

“I’m stuck.”

This is a phrase most clients say to me when they first reach out to me. Many of them feel stuck in their life or career. My job is to get them unstuck by helping them discover and pursue their passions.

But it’s also common to get and feel stuck spiritually. Buchanan’s book addresses this feeling of being stuck spiritually and how to move to new levels of spiritual passion.

He sets out to diagnose why Christians get stuck in their faith and are unable to see God at work in their lives. He calls this “living in borderland” – the barren but crowded place between a Christian’s old life and their adventurous and abundant new life. It’s a place where doubt, disappointment, guilt, and wonderlessness can keep us in mediocrity.

Then Buchanan shares how to move beyond borderland to a place of excitement, boldness, and exhilaration by not putting our own limitations on God and allowing Him to do beyond all we can imagine for our lives.

Biggest Take-Away

“Christianity without a deep longing for Christ in your heart is no Christianity at all, just a cheap imitation of the real thing.”

This quote actually comes from another reader who reviewed Your God is Too Safe. I believe it’s very well-said.

While as humans we all want to remain safe and feel secure in our own comfort zone, this book reminds us that’s not what real Christianity is. It’s not what we’re called to as Christians. We’re called to live boldly in Christ’s name, even when it’s uncomfortable. Not to do so is to live an inauthentic life and to miss out on all God has planned for us.

Related Blog Posts:

Honorable Mentions

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan For Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey

The Total Money Makeover is an oldie but goodie in overcoming debt and finding financial peace. It’s a good follow up to Breaking Money Silence mentioned above.

While I don’t listen to Dave Ramsey’s radio show, I did enjoy this book. I’ve been following the steps in it which has resulted in significant head-way in my finances this past year.

Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age by Jeff Goins

Another great read for those who need help understanding their worth. While this book is geared toward artists, the principles can be applied to anyone who’s working for themselves selling a product or service (their version of “art”).

Real Artists Don’t Starve doesn’t provide a step-by-step approach to setting your rates, but it does give you the confidence to ask for what you’re particular “art” is worth and gives you a sense of your art’s value to the world.

Many of the creative types here in Nashville will really appreciate what Goins has to say!

What I’m Reading Next

Right now I’m in the middle of reading two books:

I’m really enjoying Secrets of Six-Figure Women because it turns out it’s not just about money. And the strategies for career success can be applied to both genders.

I have several more books on hold at the library, and several I purchased during the Southern Book Festival here in Nashville.

So I have a long reading list and look forward to sharing another post next year about my best reads. Stay tuned!

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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!

Related Posts:

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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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How to Hack Your Way to a More Passionate Life and Career

Life can often be mundane, causing you to feel stuck. Especially when you aren’t living and working in your purpose.

I remember what that felt like for me.

So how can you become more passionate about your life and your work?

How can you better enjoy both?

By following these 8 simple life and career hacks:


1. Try again at a previously failed attempt.

Most people will suggest you try something new and I’m all for that.

I’m a big believer in trying new things, whether it’s new food, a new hobby, or even something as simple as a new route to work.

But I also know it’s important to try something old. Especially something you once attempted and failed at before.

You may remember from my post 5 Ways to Discover New Passions, I shared how I failed at my first attempt at rock climbing and how something clicked after giving it a second chance.

This gave me more confidence and a greater interest in the activity, resulting in physical improvement in my body.

What’s something you can try again?

What would be the possible benefits of trying it again?

Source: 5 Ways to Pursue Your Passions in Life and Work: How to Overcome Obstacles + Achieve Job Search Success


2. Do one thing you can complete within 24–48 hours that will put you one step closer to achieving a long-term goal.

You can accomplish a large goal by taking a step-by-step approach.

Incremental steps add up to big achievements. Simply doing one small thing each day will help you develop habits necessary to reaching your goal.

What’s one thing you can do today to get you closer to achieving your bigger goal?

What’s one thing you can do tomorrow?

Ask yourself these questions every day.

Before you know it, you’ll have accomplished more than you thought you were capable of!

Source: Don’t Just Set Goals, ACHIEVE Them!


3. Understand how your strengths and skills benefit others.

Knowledge of what you’re good at is power, especially when trying to win a job interview or get promoted.

But knowing how your skills solve other people’s problems also helps you better understand your purpose, not just in work but also in life.

Think about your strengths and skills you possess both within and outside of your job.

How do they benefit others?

For example, my top spiritual gift is encouragement. I use this strength in so many aspects of my life, including my work, my interactions with friends, and when learning alongside others.

I’ve been fortunate to see how this gift helps people gain the courage to pursue their passions.

Source: Personal Branding: How to Know What Makes You YOUnique and AWEthentic!


4. Update your resume every 6 months, even when you’re not looking for a job.

Because of my background as a career coach, I’ve helped thousands of people with their resumes.

I always tell them the same thing,

“Keep your resume updated every six months.”

Why?

  1. Because you never know when someone will ask for a copy of it.
  2. You never know when another career opportunity or promotion will come your way.
  3. It’s easier to remember what you’ve accomplished in the past six months than in the past six years if you find yourself in another job search down the road.

Source: Resumes That Get You the Interview: Little Known Tips to Get Your Resume Noticed


5. Ask 3 people who have your dream job how they got to where they are.

These conversations can open your mind up to ideas and opportunities you never before considered!

Listen carefully to their stories while asking a lot of good questions.

Learn not just from their successes but also from their failures.

You may find there wasn’t a straight line to their career path. There rarely is for most people.

This can give you confidence to pursue a new career path despite lack of formal education or direct experience.

Take their encouragement and advice.

Put it into action to see how far you can go in the direction of your personal and professional pursuits.

Source: The Secret to Successful Networking: How to Do It Naturally and Effectively


6. Make a list of questions you’d ask if you were interviewing the interviewer.

People often forget the job interview is a two-way street.

You should always ask questions to help you make the right decision when faced with multiple offers.

Besides money, think about the things you’d need or want in your next job.

They could include similar core values, a flexible schedule, a culture that promotes “family first,” healthy living, etc.

Formulate a few questions you’d need to ask to determine if your next opportunity will provide those things.

Make sure to ask these questions in your next job interview, along with the other type of questions I outline in my Quora answer to “What are some interview hacks?”

Here’s what one of my clients experienced when she did this:

“One of the companies I interviewed with I decided not to accept any offers from them based on their answers to my questions so as not to get myself into the same work situation I was in previously. It is SO empowering to know what is good for me and to be able to say no! I have the tools now to spot the red flags and this has been helpful on several interviews. I am so glad to have this confidence.”

Source: Steps to Acing the Interview and Reducing Your Interview Anxiety


7. Start a collection of your best work.

Curate a collection of your best work both from your job and your outside projects.

This can include personal things you’ve made (i.e. a book, a painting, etc.), and the projects your most proud of from your job.

Your body of work will help you see how your skills overlap.

But most of all, it will reveal your own career path thus far and where it might be pointing to next.

Source: The 3 Super Powers of Successful Job Seekers: Stand Out Above Your Competition


8. List the ways you’ve impacted the bottom line in your job.

When you’re working on hack #4, always include your on-the-job accomplishments and results of your efforts.

By focusing on results and not just your job duties, you’re able to easily see where you’ve had an impact, giving you a greater sense of purpose.

Also, it helps you confidently discuss your worth when it comes time to negotiate a new job offer, a promotion, or a pay raise.

Source: Make More Money, Without Taking a Second Job


When you follow these life and career hacks, you’ll start to see ways to become unstuck. Soon you’ll be living a more passionate, vibrant, and productive life!

For more life and career hacks, subscribe to the paNASH newsletter and receive a complimentary 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan.

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