Managers, clients, peers, and potential employers will see you as someone who lacks desire, drive, and enthusiasm. If you’re craving a career that inspires you, then you need to step up and take action. As a leading Career Coach, I encourage you to ask yourself three (3) questions to help you decide whether you should leave your current job…
- What do I really want in my career?
What is it that will give you the feeling of being happy and fulfilled in your job? Is it status? Prestige? Fame? Respect from your peers? Credibility within the industry? Money? Less stress? An easier lifestyle?
Stop a minute and think about it. You need to define the specific things or “gets” that you want to ultimately achieve in your career. You should be able to narrow it down to one or two very specific objectives. Once you are able to identify your ultimate career objectives, then the next thing you need to do is take stock of your current career and where you are today.
- What are the “gives and gets” in my current situation?
This means taking a quick inventory of what you are currently giving to your manager, company or clients, and what you are getting in return. Let’s first look at the “gives” of your job. Write down the value that you are providing to your employer by being in your current job role.
For example, do you have knowledge, experience and skills that are valued by your manager or clients? Are you an expert in your job and providing work that is valued? Are you consistently delivering high quality projects that are on time and on budget? Are your clients thrilled with your work? Does your manager think of you as a valued contributor? Do you have the most relevant training and certification to do the job effectively? Are you adding to the bottom line by bringing in new business and maximizing opportunities, or saving costs by streamlining processes or bringing in advanced technologies? Are you leading projects and initiatives? Are you training and mentoring team members and peers? Are you providing some kind of unique expertise and viewed as the “go to” person for that knowledge or skill?
I encourage my career coaching clients to also identify another kind of “get.” Those are the negative “gets” in your current position. Every job has a certain amount of frustration and stress, but does your job give you an excessive amount? Does it make you feel inferior? Incompetent? Overwhelmed? Undervalued? Underutilized? These negative “gets” should also be identified. Think about any negative gets that you have in your current situation and write them down.
Now it’s time to review all of your “gives”, “positive gets” and “negative gets”. Are the gets that you are receiving the gets that you really need to feel valued and inspired? If not, then you may want to consider making a career change.
- Before I leave, is there anything else I can glean from my current situation?
There are times in everyone’s career when you hit a roadblock, and it’s best to simply move on. But before you disconnect completely from your situation, I encourage you to glean anything else you can from your current employer or client.
Are there any projects you could join or lead that would allow you to gain knowledge or experience in a new area? Could you strengthen your leadership skills or boost your credibility by leading a project? Is there a project you could create that would challenge you and help you grow professionally?
Also, is there anyone in your current environment who could guide you, mentor you, or teach you about a product, technology, or the industry? Is there anyone else you could work with who could give your career a boost just by saying that you worked together?
Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist, international speaker and best-selling author of two books including “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand” which is currently on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books, and “The Bounce Back – personal stories of bouncing back higher and faster from a layoff, re-org or career setback“ also available on AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE. For a limited time, grab (3) THREE FREE CHAPTERS of “The Bounce Back” at http://www.MyBounceBack.com
You are the “story teller” of your own career.
Every day, people are making judgements and assumptions about you based on what you’re telling them. So if you’re sending the message that you’ve been short-changed, passed over or stepped on in your career, then people will see you as someone who doesn’t have much value in the workplace.
However, if you send a strong, clear message that you’re a key contributor with some big successes under your belt – others will be more likely to give you job leads, job offers and bigger career opportunities.
Here are a few tips to help you frame your “career story”…
Stop being humble.
Being humble can be a career killer, or at its very best, a career stifller. Yes, it’s a nice quality to have, but if you never talk about some of the successes you’ve had with your professional network, then you career is sure to sit on a shelf for the next 10 years.
I had lunch yesterday with one of my best friends from college who went on to become an Emmy winning TV news reporter and now advises Corporate leaders as a Media Strategist. He mentioned that he’s ready to expand his business, but he’s not the type of person to brag about himself. This is a man who has interviewed 3 U.S. Presidents (Carter, Clinton and Bush Jr.) How would organizational leaders ever know to hire him if he doesn’t “put himself out there”?
Talking about your accomplishments builds your credibility. It lets people know what you’re good at, what you can accomplish, and what you have to offer. It makes you stand out from the crowd. If you want to get noticed, then you’ll need to learn how to talk about your achievements, not in an arrogant kind of way, but more in an “I’m a key contributor who gets big results” kind of way.
Write down 2-3 of your biggest achievements over the past three years. Now, practice saying out loud in a sentence or two how you contributed to those successes and what the impact was to the organization. For example, “I was the technical lead for a new internal tool that was launched on the SAP platform. The tool is now saving the company $100,000 a year.” Or, “I was the Creative Director on the marketing campaign for the xyz product which helped the company gain 3% more market share.”
The key to getting more job offers, leads and opportunities is leaning how to talk about your successes. Nobody will know what you’ve accomplished unless you tell them.
2. Frame your story in a positive way.
One of my favorite chapters in my new book, “The Bounce Back” gives strategies on how to frame your story to hiring managers after you’ve been laid off or experienced a career setback. Managers, Sr. leaders, customers, and hiring managers create their perception of you based on what you tell them. So if you talk about your career in a positive, confident way – then they are going to think of you as a positive and confident employee.
For example, earlier in my career I was laid off and then hired as the Regional Marketing Manager for a Fortune 100 company. I believe that a large part of the reason I was hired was because of the way I told my story to the Vice President (who hired me and became my direct manager.) During the interview, I talked about how the company that laid me off was a great company and how much I loved my role and responsibilities. I truly believed in what I was saying and so my tone was very genuine. Then, I addressed the reason for my layoff which was, “I didn’t realize when I took the position that I was expected to fill the shoes of two employees. Even though I had some big results and was good at my job, I just simply couldn’t fill both of their shoes.” The VP called me the next day to tell me I was hired.
Everybody has setbacks in their career. Everybody!! The key is to frame your career story in the most positive, honest and confident way possible.
3. Don’t take yourself out of the game because you fumbled.
It happens to all of us. Whether it’s a job interview, a big presentation or the perfect networking opportunity – sometimes, we just freeze up. It happens, and it happens to everyone. The key is not to beat yourself up. And don’t shy away from future opportunities to give a big presentation or go on job interviews. The lesson is to learn from the situation and then do better next time.
Continue looking for opportunities to step into the spotlight and tell your story again and again. If you flubbed up a presentation, then go ask the team leader if you can present again with some new data that you just received. If you fumbled an interview, then send an e-mail to the interviewer providing a little more clarity on your experience or area of expertise. For me, I wrote to the TV reporter and tee’d up a few more tips out of the book to share with her viewers, and right now we’re scheduling a follow-up interview.
Sometimes a do-over isn’t possible, and if that’s the case, then just get on with looking for your next opportunity and be ready to strut your stuff. Don’t let a negative experience stop you from moving your career forward. Get out there, find your voice and share your career story with confidence. Your next career opportunity is out there – you just have to go find it!
Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist, international speaker and best-selling author of two books including “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand” which is currently on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books, and “The Bounce Back – personal stories of bouncing back higher and faster from a layoff, re-org or career setback“ also available on AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE. Sherri’s gift to you is (3) THREE FREE CHAPTERS of “The Bounce Back” at http://www.MyBounceBack.com
The goal of networking is NOT to start asking someone about job opportunities. The goal of networking is to build a relationship with someone.
It takes two things to be successful in your career: 1) doing high quality work; and 2) having positive relationships with the right people. The right people will help you get hired, promoted and introduce you to others who could potentially hire you, as well as give you a continuous supply of job leads, referrals and recommendations.
Whether you’re employed or not, it’s impossible to have a successful career without the support of others. So how can you build strong supportive relationships with others? Here are a few key strategies that can help –
Show an interest in them
Let’s say that you have an upcoming meeting, conference or a professional networking event. Look at the agenda and ask yourself, “Who would I like to meet?” Maybe it’s someone you’ve never met, or maybe it’s someone already in your professional network.
Plan ahead and think about a topic that you think might interest them such as a new product launch in their division, or how you’ve applied one of their teachings that you read about, or perhaps offer them an idea you have on a challenge they are currently facing. The point is to keep the conversation focused on that person (it’s not about you! -at least not yet!)
2. Listen more than you talk
You connect with someone by being genuinely interested in him or her. While you’re establishing relationships, you’ll want to listen more than you talk. This is worth repeating – you need to LISTEN more than you TALK So to keep the focus on them, you’ll need to ask some good questions like, “How’s that big project going that you’re working on?” or “How is the new product doing that your company just launched?”
If it’s the first time you’ve ever met, then you don’t need to have a long, in-depth conversation. Instead, when you feel that the conversation has run its course, simply say, “I’d love to stay in touch – do you want to exchange business cards?” Or, “I can send you an article I just read on that very same topic. Would you like me to forward it to you?”
The point is that you want to connect with your contact and do so in a way that is genuine, authentic and shows an interest in what they are doing.
3. Be a resource for them
As a leading Career Coach, I’ve noticed that many professionals make the mistake of sending a message to others that shouts, ” I need a job!!” The message is all about them, and not about the other person. It’s a one-way relationship, instead of a two-way relationship. It’s very selfish. Who wants to be in a relationship like that?
Instead, you want to be sending the message that you’re a successful professional who’s resourceful, well connected, and who has some similar interests as they do. You want them to realize that you are someone that THEY should get to know!
Send out personalized notes and e-mails to your network with links to industry news, reports, case studies, press releases, videos, or cool websites that you think may interest them. Volunteer to write recommendation letters, and introduce them to others in your network. Invite them to business networking events, and introduce them to movers and shakers that you know. Be proactive and offer to connect them to others in your network that may help them solve a problem, offer advice, or potentially advance their career.
One thing that works really well for me, is offering to share my resources, tips, and lessons learned that may help them in some way. I’ve found that doing this provides the foundation for a long-term relationship. Also, one of the key benefits of building a connection and being a key resource to others is that you are more likely to receive career support from them including job leads, personal recommendations and referrals.
Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist, international speaker and best-selling author of two books including “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand” which is currently on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LISTfor personal branding books, and “The Bounce Back – personal stories of bouncing back higher and faster from a layoff, re-org or career setback“ also available on AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE. Right now you can download three FREE CHAPTERS of “The Bounce Back” at http://www.MyBounceBack.com