Tag: career change


Why Focus Is So Important in the Job Search

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you have to find a job, any job, and fast? My clients usually find themselves in one of two situations:

1. They’re at a place in their career where they can take the time to be more intentional in discovering the most meaningful next step for their career.

2. They’re suddenly out of a job they had no intentions of leaving, often due to a layoff. They need a replacement job  fast.

The latter situation is where clients feel they don’t have the luxury to be picky with their next job. But if they aren’t somewhat selective, they can delay the time it will take to find their next opportunity.

How a lack of focus hurts your job search

Even if you find yourself in a desperate situation, you should resist the temptation to take the first job offer you get. You should also resist the temptation to apply to any and every job you see advertised.

Employers and recruiters can recognize a lack of focus immediately just from reading your resume and cover letter. Also, lack of focus is especially evident if you’re applying for several different jobs with the same company.

Both of these things can send up red flags for employers. They don’t want to pursue a candidate who lacks focus or seems desperate.

This in turn can delay finding a job and extend the length of your job search. In addition, the rejection will erode your confidence. And lack of confidence will hurt you in any future interviews you land. All of this can make you more desperate, which creates a vicious cycle.

A better use of your time

You can improve your job search by taking the time you would spend in the cycle described above and instead using it to develop focus. This will keep you on track with the average time it takes to find a job. Also, it will help you find a more fulfilling job and perhaps one with a higher salary.

In addition, by not taking the first offer that comes along, you’ll likely reduce the chances of having to look for something better again a year or so later. This will save you the time it will take to do a second job search after you realize you’ve wasted time in the wrong job.

How to gain focus

There are a lot of ways to determine what your focus should be in your next job search. One way is by making the kind of three-prong list of must-haves for your next job, compromises, and icing-on-the-cake items as described in my post “How to Know If You’re In the Wrong Job.

But often it requires an even deeper dive into such things as your personal and career values, transferable skills, talents, gifts, weaknesses, goals, vision, personal mission, the current job market, and more.

Then, you want to take all of this and see where and how all these things fit together. This part often requires a second pair of eyes to help you see which opportunities you might be missing.

Many clients come to me needing help with this. They find it difficult to figure out their unique differentiators and where those fit in a new career path all on their own.

If this is something you know you need help with, you can start either with paNASH’s on-demand online video courses, or with one-on-one personalized coaching. These resources are designed to help you focus on finding the right fit and to help you stay focused for a successful job search.

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How to Know If You Should Go Back to School

One question I often get from my mid-career clients wanting to make a career change is,

“Should I go back to school?”

You might expect someone who previously worked in higher education and who’s a huge fan of lifelong learning to enthusiastically respond with, “Yes!” However, this is not my typical response.

Instead, I respond with,

“Is it necessary for your career goal?”

If you don’t know your career goal yet, then you can’t answer this question. Therefore, my first order of business is to help you figure out what’s next for you.

Once you know what you want to do, then we need to determine if taking the plunge into a new degree program is necessary for your goal.

Are the educational qualifications required, or just preferred?

Does the job you’re now targeting require a degree or coursework you don’t have? Make sure you read the job description carefully. Don’t confuse the word “required” with “preferred.”

For example, if the majority of the job ads for the type of job you’re targeting typically requires a 4-year degree but prefers a master’s, you probably don’t need to rush back to school for the master’s and get yourself in more debt.

If you already have the required 4-year degree along with a substantial amount of experience (at least 5-10 years), you’re likely a qualified candidate. Especially if the master’s is about the only thing you’re lacking from the listed qualifications.

Employers typically put more stock into your experience and skills than they do your education. Think about it. If you’re mid-career, when was the last time someone asked you in an interview what your college GPA was? But they probably asked you about your skills and experience instead, right?

And if there are still a couple skills you’re lacking from the job ad, determine if those are skills you could learn quickly and easily through some online courses or tutorials.

However, if the job ad says an advanced degree is required, then you will need to go back to school.

Educational alternatives

Certification programs and boot camps

Let’s assume you’re making a career change and you’re going to have to learn some new skills. Before committing to a lengthy and expensive degree program, find out if the educational requirement can be satisfied with a short-term intensive certification program.

Perhaps you can satisfy the educational requirement with a 12 to 24-week certification program or a 10-month boot camp. These alternatives are sometimes offered online and part-time so you can continue working your current full-time job while attending. There are numerous options like this which serve as an alternative to going back to school full-time.

Beware though when you begin searching for certification programs. There are a lot of certification programs out there that are just money-makers. The only value they add is giving you another line on your resume or more letters behind your name, but aren’t really necessary for compliance in your chosen field. You’ll want to make sure the certification is necessary for the type of job you want. Otherwise, you probably don’t want to spend your money on it.

Also, look for certification programs with a good reputation (like those offered by accredited universities). And look to see if they offer some type of career placement assistance. Before registering, talk to others who’ve completed the program. Get their thoughts of it and see if it has significantly boosted their careers. They will be able to tell you if it’s worth the time and money.

A few of my clients have made a successful career change to the field of coding by investing time and money in a reputable coding boot camp. One such client had no previous experience at all in coding. She landed a job a week before her graduation from the boot camp with a well-known company she’d always wanted to work for.

MOOCs

Another great alternative to a traditional degree program is MOOCs which stands for massive open online courses. They’re taught by professors from highly reputable universities such as Stanford, Princeton, and Duke. Others are taught by professionals from companies like Google and IBM.

These courses are delivered online and vary in costs. Some are free if you’re just wanting to learn something new for personal interest. Others have affordable rates allowing you to learn a new skill, prepare for a career change, or even earn a certificate or degree.

One of the best MOOCs sites is www.coursera.org. They offer over 4,000 courses in subjects such as business, computer science, arts & humanities, engineering, social sciences, and even personal development. I’ve taken a few interest courses myself on this site and really enjoyed the flexibility of it. Once I completed each course a badge was added to my LinkedIn profile.

Reading and Listening

Finally, you can still learn the old fashioned way through books. It’s been said that reading at least five books on one subject can bring you up to near-expert level on the subject.

If you don’t like to read, there’s no excuse! Many books are now available to listen to on Audible or other audio platforms. There are also numerous podcasts available for you to listen to and learn about new subjects.

Improve your job search skills

Sometimes going back to school isn’t the answer. Sometimes the answer is to get help in improving your job search skills.

I recently had a new client come to me thinking he needed to go back to school to get another degree in something else. He assumed this because he wasn’t having any luck with his job search in his current field.

I asked him if he was having trouble finding jobs to apply for. He said he’d applied for several but wasn’t getting many interviews. And when he did get interviews, he wasn’t getting any offers.

Since there were jobs available to apply for, the problem wasn’t a lack of demand. It was his approach to the job search, specifically his resume and interview skills.

Spending A LOT of money on another degree instead of a little money on some career coaching didn’t make sense. So he hired me to help him improve his job search skills.

I spent time giving him new and fresh approaches to networking, helping him tweak his resume, revealing his blind spots in his interview skills, and coaching him on how to improve in future interviews. It’s now up to him to apply what he’s learned from the coaching.

If he’d just gone back to school full-time for another degree program requiring two additional years of studies like he’d originally planned, he would not only be out the money he spent on tuition but also out the money he could’ve earned in those two years. Plus he’d be two years behind in salary increases.

Is going back to school worth it?

So is going back to school really worth it? Definitely not in the example described above. But you have to determine based on your own career goals if it’s worth it or not.

Make sure you take into consideration the following factors:

  • Is it required or necessary to achieve your career goal?
  • How much will it set you back in both time and money?

Also, consider how higher education has changed since you last attended college. Tuition has gone up while the quality of the programs have been watered down.

One client hired me after having started a master’s degree in a new field because she was extremely frustrated and disappointed with the lack of challenge from her classes. The rigor did not equal the amount she was paying in tuition. Therefore, she felt she wasn’t getting her money’s worth and wanted to find out what other options she had.

School vs. lifelong learning

The main reason to go back to school is if it’s absolutely necessary for your career goals. And you don’t want to go back to school simply because you don’t know what to do next.

However, this doesn’t mean you should ever stop learning! You always want to invest in yourself and stay relevant with lifelong learning. Start with some of the more affordable alternatives listed above. Doing so can help you better determine what you want to do next in your career, which will help you know if going back to school for another degree is really the answer.

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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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How to Go From Burned Out to Fired Up!

I have so many clients who come to me feeling burned out in their current job. For some of them it’s not from working too much. Instead it’s from working outside their gifting. For others, they love their job and company, but their employers treat them as machines instead of humans!

Burned out from working too much

For those of you who are in a company or job you enjoy but are feeling burned out from overwork, looking for a new job and sending out resumes is probably not the answer right now.

Doing so would be the same as uprooting your family and moving to a house right next door to a restaurant just because you happen to be hungry right now.

Trust me. You don’t want to trade a burnout with a company you love for a burnout with a company you’ll hate.

Have the tough conversation with your boss

Instead, I suggest having a frank conversation with your supervisor, no matter how difficult or scary it may feel.

Former Wall Street CEO (for both Smith Barney and Merrill Lynch) and now entrepreneur Sallie Krawcheck says,

“The days of the boss as ‘hard-ass’ need to be kissed good-bye. Today the business world increasingly values the kind of leaders who recognize that their employees’ lives don’t begin and end when they are at work. Many of us have families, and pets, and outside interests, and medical needs, and hobbies. Really, it’s well past time to get over requiring face time. And work as an extreme sport, complete with all-nighters and last-minute business trips-it isn’t good for employees, and it certainly doesn’t allow anyone to do their best work; and younger professionals are turning away from it in droves. Why not own the fact that we are all people and acknowledge that all of us need time for our outside lives? It’s just smart business.”

Instead of taking the angle of needing some much needed relief from your current workload, take the angle of how you want to be the best and most productive employee you can be for your boss.

Tell him or her how your current workload is negatively impacting your ability to do your best. Then focus on how you can improve your performance and productivity with just a few suggested tweaks.

Propose a win-win-win situation

Think ahead what tweaks you can suggest to be a win-win-win. (A win for your boss that will make him or her look good, a win for the company’s bottom line, and a win for you and your sanity.)

Some examples of tweaks you can suggest may include:

  • Delegating some things to your subordinates.
  • Working remotely from home one to two days a week.
  • Trading travel to in-person site visits for Skype meetings.

A trial period

Give your boss the option to try what you’re suggesting on a trial basis (typically two weeks). Offer to go back to the old way if it doesn’t work.

During those two weeks, track every single positive impact on the company’s bottom line you notice.

Examples of positive outcomes include:

  • Reduction in errors.
  • Financial savings for the company.
  • More satisfied clients/customers.
  • Increase in more qualified prospects.
  • Increase in repeat sales from current customers.
  • Time used more wisely.

Deliver results

Create a report reflecting these positive outcomes and present it to your boss at the end of the two weeks.

Then once you share your positive results, ask your boss for two additional weeks to see if you can repeat what you’ve accomplished in the first two weeks. If you can, he or she will find it hard to justify saying no to an indefinite continuation of your new approach to your workload.

Consider your next move

Only after you’ve had this conversation with your boss should you consider looking for a new job.

If your supervisor likes your work as much as you like working for him or her, you shouldn’t feel paranoid about broaching the subject. In fact, your boss will probably be glad you brought your struggle to his or her attention.

But if your proposal is immediately shot down and it’s obvious your feedback is not appreciated, then you’ll know it’s probably time to look for something new. But I strongly recommend taking some vacation time (even if you don’t go out of town) to really think about if you should leave your job. And if so, for what other kind of job?

Use this time to also figure out your personal mission and purpose in life so you’ll know what opportunities to say yes to and which ones to say no to. Make sure you’re targeting opportunities that allow you to work in your gifting. Otherwise, you’ll end up burned out all over again.

Don’t get burned out on burnout

When looking for something new, do so with a clear mind. Again, use some of your vacation time to take a step back and get some proper perspective on what exactly you want in your next job and what will be a good fit for your personal mission. It will be worth it!

If you need help determining your purpose and gifting, start with paNASH’s on-demand video course on personal branding. Do this before you update your resume and just start sending it out randomly with no real focus.

Don’t get burned out on burnout. If you follow the suggestions above, you can find a new lease on life which can really get you fired up about your career!

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How to Know if Your Burnout Is Killing You

For the past week and a half, the words “rest” and “burnout” keep coming up. Every conversation I’ve had this week has included the discussion of burnout and the need for rest from it. And just about every article I’ve read has mentioned the importance of rest and avoiding burnout.

Perhaps this theme is circulating because it’s now summer time (my favorite season!). Summer is typically thought of as a season of down time and rest.

But perhaps it’s circulating because so many of us have been working so hard we’re starting to experience the effects of burnout.

I have several new clients coming to me because they’re experiencing burnout in their current jobs and recognize a need for a change. I also can easily experience burnout if I don’t take time to rest.

And just last month, the World Health Organization redefined burnout as an actual syndrome linked to unmanageable chronic workplace stress. There’s been a lot of buzz about this new medical classification of burnout since it was announced. Perhaps this is also the reason the topic of rest keeps coming up.

Hidden Signs of Burnout You Shouldn’t Ignore

The syndrome for burnout includes several physical, emotional, and cognitive warning signs:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feeling like you’re constantly failing
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Re-upping a bad habit (i.e. if you previously quit smoking but started up again due to the stress from your job)
  • Dizziness and headaches

Do any of these things describe how you’ve been feeling lately? If so, first, do what you can to find the time needed to get some rest! Second, you might need to consult a physician. Then, you might want to consult a career coach to help you make some changes either in your current job or to a new job.

Quote: “If you don’t make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.” Unknown

Burnout is Toxic

In fact, if you want to live longer, a recent article says one of the 30 things you can do to live longer is to establish more balanced work hours.

The article criticizes the fact that our current work culture has made it acceptable to work over 40 hours a week, to work through lunch and breaks, and to come in early and leave late.

Another article states if management has little or no concern for work-life balance on a daily basis, this is one of  eight signs your workplace is extremely toxic.

This means you feel like you have to sacrifice your personal life and family for your job on a regular basis. Which is evidenced by more hours per week, little to no vacation time, and 24/7 availability for work communication.

How to Reduce Burnout by Making Good Decisions

This lack of balance has become our “new normal,” and it needs to return to the “old normal” if we want to be productive both in our jobs and our personal lives.

Of course this is easier said than done. It will require a culture shift in the world of work. While the shift has begun, it still has a long way to go before the pendulum will swing back to what’s considered realistic.

But there are things you can do as an individual to start making this shift in your own personal and professional life.

This includes learning how to negotiate win-win scenarios with your current supervisor when asked to take on additional responsibilities. This is something I help several of my clients with. In fact, I’m currently working with a client on this very thing.

It also includes learning to make good decisions when seeking new opportunities. Always choose those opportunities that support your personal mission statement and turn down those that don’t.

Think about what you value above a just the monetary return on an opportunity.

Quote: “There are four types of wealth:

  1. Financial wealth (money)
  2. Social wealth (status)
  3. Time wealth (freedom)
  4. Physical wealth (health)

Be wary of jobs that lure you in with 1 and 2, but rob you of 3 and 4.” @entrepreneursquote

It’s Okay to Rest and Do Nothing

It’s okay and necessary to do what it takes to recover from your burnout. This means getting the rest you need, and also spending some time just doing nothing.

If you’re like me, it’s hard to just do nothing. But The New York Times published an article by Bonnie Tsui which assures us we’re doing something important when we aren’t doing anything at all. Tsui says,

“We need to rest, read, and reconnect. It is the invisible labor that makes creative life possible.”

I had the opportunity to do so a week and a half ago. Every summer I take a weekend to myself to drive up to Kentucky to the Abbey of Gethsemani for a silent retreat. I spend a weekend in silence reflecting on the first half of the year, reading, and thinking about how to be more intentional in the remaining half of the year.

It is so tranquil and renewing to my mind and soul. I always come back rested and refreshed. (Click here to read more about what a silent retreat looks like and how to sign up for one yourself).

Since tomorrow is a holiday (and not a stressful one like the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays), I encourage you to spend this holiday and this weekend getting some quiet time and some rest, both alone and with your family.

Doing so will give you the clarity and energy you need to make some necessary changes moving forward in your career. Whether it’s learning to manage your manager, carving out some work-life balance, or making a career change to something healthier. Let me know how I can help!

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