Tag: career coaching


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!


5 Common Fears (and Myths) of Quitting a Job You Hate (Re-post)

You hate your job, but because of it you don’t have the time or energy to start the overwhelming process of finding something new.

And you think you can’t quit it until you find another job.

But is that really a true statement, or just a common myth?

Let’s look at some of the common fears most people have about quitting a job with nothing else lined up.

Let’s challenge the assumptions that breed those fears.


Common Fear/Myth #1

I won’t be able to afford my bills. Is this a true statement?

Do you have a little extra money stashed away you can get by on for a little while?

Are there some unnecessary expenses you can cut to help you pay your necessary bills?

For example, could you sell your car and take the bus for a while? Or just park your car and cancel your insurance for a few months while taking the bus instead?

Do you really need cable or a Netfilx subscription right now? Do you need numerous music subscriptions? Or can you just listen to good old fashioned radio?

Are there some things you no longer need you could sell? What about that treadmill the only gets used as a place to throw your clothes when you don’t feel like hanging them up (you know who you are!).

What about the stack of books you’ve already read (or know you’re never going to read)?

If you live alone, do you really need a TV in more than one room?

Are there some other ways you can earn cash like picking up some temporary side jobs or a part-time job?

In addition, can you get a roommate and charge rent to help with some of your housing costs?

Do you own something else others might want to rent on a short-term basis?

Do you have a skill people will pay you to perform because of their lack of that skill?

Click here to see how this paNASH client has been able to affordably quit his job and pursue his passion in art and illustration.


Common Fear/Myth #2

I’ll lose my health insurance and retirement accounts. Not necessarily.

If you leave your job you can always transfer your retirement over to an IRA where it can still earn some money and you can still contribute to it yourself a little at a time until you get your next full-time opportunity.

The only thing you’ll be missing out on in the short-term is your company’s matching contribution.

When it comes to health insurance, you can easily find temporary health insurance, alternatives to Obamacare, and more.

If you happen to do a little freelancing on the side after leaving your job, you may qualify for very affordable insurance through the Freelancers Union at freelancersunion.org (also, it’s free to join the union!). I get my dental and long-term disability insurance through them at very little cost per month.


Common Fear/Myth #3

It’ll look bad on my resume. Sure, if all you do is become a couch potato after quitting, it will look bad!

However, if you use your time to improve your skillset, take some affordable online classes, do some side or freelance projects, volunteer with a local non-profit, raise money to travel on a mission trip, pursue a passion project, or work a fun part-time job, it’s not going to look bad at all.

Whatever you do, do something you find interesting.

I’m sure if it’s something interesting to you, it could be interesting to the people who’ll eventually be interviewing you.

Show on your resume what you’ve done and the skills and lessons learned from those interesting experiences. This will make your resume stand out.

Tim Ferris, author of the bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek suggests answering the interview question, “Why did you leave your previous job?” with,

“I had an once-in-a-lifetime chance to do [interesting experience] and couldn’t turn it down.”

He says because most interviewers are bored in their own jobs, they’ll spend much of the interview asking how you made it happen.

You can then respond with how your skills and resourcefulness you used to make it happen will make you the person they should hire.

When I started phasing out my image consulting business due to burnout to decide if I wanted to return to full-time career coaching or not, I worked a few weekends teaching beginner stand up paddling at my local SUP shop.

If I’d had to go through a job interview following that experience, I can guarantee you I would pique the interviewer’s interest if I said,

“I taught people the closest thing to walking on water.”

Then, I would tell them about how I used my teaching and training skills to do so.


Common Fear/Myth #4

I need to have a “real job” instead of trying to freelance. Freelancing IS a real job! And it’s one of the fastest growing jobs in the country.

Don’t believe me? Just check out this infograph courtesy of Upwork.com and Freelancersunion.org:

 

Even if you have no plans to become a freelancer, you still need the skills of an entrepreneur to be successful in your next job. (Click here for a list of those skills.)


Common Fear/Myth #5

If I don’t quit now, I’ll never find a way out and will be stuck in my job forever! Not true!

You may feel like you have to quit your job right away despite the fears listed above, but you don’t have to quit YET!

You can start creating an exit strategy now and implement it later when the timing makes more sense.

Yes, eventually you’ll have to rip off the band-aid and quit, but there are ways to be smart about it. I outline ways to wisely plan your escape route in my previous posts When Is the Right Time to Leave Your Job? and How to Make the Risk of Starting Your Own Business Doable.


How to Challenge Your Assumptions and Common Fears

Whatever your fears are about quitting a job you hate, I encourage you to challenge those fears and assumptions. Here are a few ways to do so:

Challenge #1

Learn how to deal with limiting beliefs (the lies your annoying inner critic tells you).

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is this limiting belief keeping me from?
  • What would be the worst-case scenario if I keep believing this?
  • How can I turn this belief around to a more positive statement?
  • How can I benefit from believing the more positive statement?
  • What would be the best-case scenario if I start believing the positive statement?

Challenge #2

Talk to others who currently work in a job or career field you think you might enjoy. Find out from them the career path they followed to get there.

You’ll likely find most people didn’t had a single direct career path that led them there. This will encourage and inspire you.

Also, they may provide you some tips for making the transfer to that industry.


Challenge #3

Take a weekday off from your job and spend the day doing job search activities just to get a feel for what that might be like.

Update your resume. (Click here to read why you should update your resume every six months.)

Spend some time familiarizing yourself with LinkedIn.

Can’t take a day off work to do this? Use one of your non-workdays.


Challenge #4

Put your resume out there and see what happens. Post your resume with no expectations.

You’ll be able to see what kind of opportunities your current resume is attracting so you can figure out how to tweak it with the right keywords to attract better opportunities.


Challenge #5

Write your resignation letter, but don’t send it.

Just write it to help you get used to the idea of what may need to happen in the near future.


Challenge #6

Dip your toe in the freelance water by offering your unique skills or expertise to a few friends or on sites like Fiverr.com or Upwork.com.

Determine from these small assignments if you like working for yourself or not.


Make Time to Experiment

Feel free to find other ways to experiment with the idea of making a job or career change.

Short-term experiments don’t have to financially break you and don’t require a huge commitment.

In fact, these little experiments might be just the thing to provide a little breath of fresh air to your current dreadful situation.

They can either help you hang on a little longer until you’re able to quit your job, or give you the courage now to go ahead and rip off the band-aid.

Related Posts:

common fears

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:

sucky job

Quiz: Do You Really Need to Spend Money On a Career Coach?

Or Do You Just Think You do?

Hiring a coach to help you improve your career can be very useful. But it can also be a big expense. Since I work as a career coach, I know what the cost can be.

Not everyone can afford it. Some can’t afford not to get coaching (since the services can help them increase their salaries). And for others it will be a complete waste of their money.

For this reason, I don’t take on every client.

I actually turn clients away if from our initial consultation it’s evident they’re not going to benefit from coaching.


When hiring a career coach is a waste of money

Signs that coaching will be a waste of money for someone include:

  • Their unwillingness to learn something new.
  • A negative attitude.
  • An expectation that I’m going to do the work for them (i.e. write their resume for them, find a job for them).
  • An inability to receive constructive feedback.
  • Only doing it because of pressure from someone else instead of doing it for themselves

(If any of the above describes you, don’t waste your money! If it doesn’t describe you, keep reading for the main quiz.)


The Red Flags

Just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about, let me share a little story with you.

Early in my business I had a potential client reach out to me wanting my services. We’ll call him Steve.

I scheduled an initial consultation with Steve to discuss his needs and determine if he was a good fit for my services and vice versa.

When I met with Steve, I asked him,

“What’s brought you to the point that’s made you seek out a career coach?”

Steve’s response:

“Well, I haven’t been working for the past couple of years. And my girlfriend is tired of me mooching off of her. So she made me call you.”

(Red flag #1: he’s doing it for someone else instead of for himself.)


While trying to uncover additional information about Steve to help me determine fit, he continued to push his resume in front of me trying to get me to give him a free resume critique on the spot.

The more I tried to reiterate the purpose of the meeting, the more it became obvious he just wanted me to “fix” his resume for him (at no cost to him).

(Red flag #2: he has an expectation of getting something for nothing and not having to do any work on his part.)


Once Steve realized I wasn’t going to critique his resume for free, he said (in a rather negative, cynical tone):

“Well, how important is a resume any way?”

(Red flag #3: he has a negative attitude and is showing another sign he’s not willing to take responsibility for his part of the process.)

The response I was thinking in my head: “In a job search? Pretty darn important!”

It was obvious from Steve’s attitude that not only would coaching have been a waste of his money, it would’ve also been a waste of his time and mine.


Luckily, I’ve had very few potential clients quite like Steve.

In fact, the clients I’ve ended up working with have brought me so much joy and vice versa.

I firmly believe that’s because I don’t take on every client. Instead, I have a vetting process in place that allows me the chance to determine if my coaching program is going to be a good experience for everyone involved.


Sneak Peak

Once I determine the potential client is a good candidate for my coaching programs, then I help him or her decide if coaching will be a good investment.

I do this by asking questions and often walking the candidate through a list of statements to see which ones apply to his or her current situation.

So for the sake of this post, I’m going to give you a sneak peak to part of my vetting process.

Below I’ve turned my list of statements into a little quiz. You may want to print the list out as a hard copy so you can participate in the quiz.

Once you have a hard copy of the list of statements, mark each one that applies to you right now.


The Quiz

  • You’re dissatisfied, frustrated or unhappy with your current life or work situation and feel stuck.
  • There’s a gap between where you are and where you want to be.
  • You’re not exactly sure what you want to do next in your career and need guidance.
  • You know what you want but aren’t sure where or how to start and you need direction.
  • You want a job you love and enjoy at least 60% of the time.
  • You’ve tried several things, but nothing’s worked.
  • You know if you don’t do something, things won’t change or you’ll miss out on “what could’ve been.”
  • You’ve already mastered one area of expertise and you’re bored and ready for the next challenge.
  • You want to move from talking about your passion to actively pursuing it.
  • You know what you need to do, but you lack confidence.
  • You’re committed to improving your life and/or work.
  • You want to avoid the same mistakes other people have made.
  • You need unbiased and objective advice your friends or family can’t provide.
  • You’re ready to put yourself high on your priority and values list.
  • You need someone to show you your blind spots.
  • You’re willing to make an investment in your happiness.
  • You accept that a 30-day to 90-day commitment is a small investment for long-term change.
  • You know no one else can do this for you.
  • You’re open to new ideas, new routines and new mindsets.
  • You know change starts with you.
  • You’re willing to do or try something different for a new result.
  • It’s costing you more (either financially, emotionally, or physically) to stay stuck where you are, than it’ll cost you to invest in coaching services.

How do you know coaching is for you?

If you found seven or more statements that describe you or your current situation, then coaching will likely be an investment and a benefit for you instead of a waste of money.

In fact, if you even made it to the end of this post and are still reading this, I’d say your level of readiness is pretty high.

At this point, it’s just a matter of finding a coach that is a good fit for your specific career goals and your personality.

My career coaching services focus on helping infuse passion into your work.

While this often attracts a lot of creative types (especially since I’m currently based in Nashville — a very creative town in more ways than one), I work with people with diverse passions from different industries and geographic locations.

Other career coaches will have other niches that might better fit your needs.

You just need to do a little research to find the best coach for you.


3 Calls to Action (Choose One)

I know I’m breaking all the rules of blogging by listing more than one call-to-action. But first, I’m not a blogger, I’m a career coach.

And second, only one of the following actions will apply to you. So choose the one that best fits your own level of curiosity and take that small step towards action!

You’d like more information before jumping in:

If you’d like to learn more about my career coaching services, go to my web site at yourpassioninlife.com and subscribe to get a free 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan. This resource is designed to help you get out of your current rut.

Also, my blog provides a lot of free advice and tips for you to “test-drive” for your own career.

You’d like to dip your toe in the water:

My on-demand career success videos provide an affordable option if you’re still testing the waters. You can work at your own pace and at a fraction of the cost of personalized one-on-one coaching.

You’re ready to dive in:

If you know you’re ready to take the next steps in coaching, complete the paNASH intake form and we can schedule an initial consultation to determine if you’re a candidate for my personalized coaching programs.

Related post:

Get Unstuck! How to Know When It’s Time to Invest in a Career Coach

career coach

What You Need to Know to Ensure A Successful Career


As both a career coach and a creative thinker, I’m always brainstorming ways to help my clients be successful in their careers with unique and out-of-the-box strategies.

It’s important to be innovative and unconventional when competition for opportunities is fierce.

It’s the only way to get the attention from the right audience (those who have the opportunities to offer) and to stand out from the competition in a good way.

That’s why I’ve shared posts like:


However, there is some career advice that stands the test of time, but only when it’s put into practice.

The problem is, some people still don’t even know about this timeless advice.

And even if they do, they fail to implement it and then wonder why they’re not having the success they’d like to have in their careers.

Don’t be one of these people!


Career Advice That Never Goes Out of Style

To have a successful career, you have to always work at your career, even when you think your job is secure. (Understand that it rarely is!)

So what is the best course of action and best use of your time? Following these career success strategies that never go out of style!


1. Keep your resume updated every 6 months, even when you’re not looking for another job.

It’s a lot easier to remember what you’ve done in the past six months than in the past six years.

By then it will be nearly impossible to remember how you impacted the company’s bottom line with each project you worked on.

So, every six months, take an inventory of your most recent on-the-job accomplishments.

Ask yourself how each of your duties, ideas, or efforts made an impact on the bottom line.

  • Did they increase profit or revenue? By how much?
  • Did they decrease spending? By what percentage?
  • Did they save man hours? How does that translate to dollars saved?
  • Did they increase customer satisfaction or decrease customer complaints? By what percentage?
  • Did they make processes more efficient? How much time did this save?
  • Did they boost staff morale? How much did productivity increase with this boost?

Add your accomplishments to your resume each time you update it.

If you do this, you’ll be prepared for three possible scenarios:

  1. When you’re up for a promotion.
  2. When you’re ready to ask for a pay raise.
  3. Or when you need to look for a new job.

There have been times when I’ve been asked for a copy of my resume when I wasn’t even looking for a job, like the times I’ve been hired for a speaking engagement.

When that happens, I’m always glad I’ve got something up-to-date to send them.

(For more details on updating your resume, see my post Why You Should Update Your Resume Every 6 Months.)


2. Find a mentor. 

You should always pinpoint someone in your industry or company you aspire to be like and get to know and learn from that person.

Also, a mentor is something you can negotiate for when you’re offered a job and are negotiating salary and perks.

Asking for a mentor makes you look good because it shows your initiative to learn. It’s a perk that doesn’t cost the company any additional money, and you’ll gain priceless lessons and advice.


3. Serve on committees that match your interests. 

Every company or organization has various committees that need people from different departments to serve on.

Find one that matches your interests 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, help you develop your soft skills, and build your resume.

For instance, I have an interest in both sports and international travel.

When I worked in the career center at a university back in North Carolina, I volunteered to serve on a committee that initiated the athletic department’s implementation of the NCAA’s life skills program for college athletes.

I also represented the University of North Carolina’s Exchange Program and served on the Australia Exchange Student sub-committee.

And when I worked in the career center at Vanderbilt University, I partnered with both the Study Abroad Office and the Athletics Department to provide presentations to their students on how to market their unique collegiate experiences to potential employers.

These experiences enriched my career because I got to work with others in areas that fascinated me and I got to develop skills in public speaking and program development.


4. Take advantage of professional development opportunities offered by your employer.

This can include professional association memberships, conferences, in-house professional development programs, etc.

These opportunities also help you build your knowledge, skills, resume, and network.

In fact, there’s a company here in the Nashville that’s hired me to present my program on personal branding to several of their employees.

It says a lot about a company, its culture, and its dedication to the holistic development of their staff to offer such programs to their employees on the company’s dime.

So if your company offers it, take advantage of it of the free self-improvement!


5. Always build your network and maintain professional relationships, even when you’re not looking for a job. 

You’ll benefit from professional relationships whether you stay within the same field throughout your career or if you change industries or start your own business.

And because relationship building takes time, the sooner you start building and maintaining your professional relationships, the more your connections will be willing to assist you when you find yourself in need of their help.

But you have to be realistic about networking. While I’ve had some professional relationships that resulted in immediate career benefits, most have taken years of investment and being of assistance on my part before I fully experienced the benefits.


6. Prepare for a layoff, even if you don’t think one will happen

This goes hand-in-hand with #1 and #5.

You don’t want to find yourself suddenly without a job and having to scramble to write a resume because it’s been 15 years since you’ve last had to write one.

And you don’t want to have any awkwardness when reaching out to your contacts because it’s been WAY too long since you last spoke with them.

Instead, you want to always be prepared with the tools needed to find your next opportunity when the need arises.

Other suggestions to prepare for a layoff:

  • Always have a few months worth of expenses saved up.
  • Develop your transferable skills and your soft skills (i.e. communication skills, presentation/public speaking skills, interpersonal skills, etc.).
  • Develop the skills of an entrepreneur in case you have to (or desire to) work for yourself for a while.

Yes, it’s easier to be short-sighted and just do your job, focusing on the bare minimum and most immediate items on your to-do list.

But investing time and energy into the above strategies will lead to long-term success in your career and will pay off in spades down the road!

If you need help to ensure success in your career, sign up for a complimentary initial consultation by completing the paNASH intake form.

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