Feeling stuck in your career? Challenge yourself to change…


Nothing is worse than the feeling of being helpless in your career.  Helpless.  Hopeless.  Stuck.

The notion that you don’t have any career options is a myth.  Every day you are making choices.  Every day you make the choice to work for the company where you are.  You make the choice to work for the boss you have.  You make the choice to work on the projects you drive.  Every day you’re making decisions about your career.

So what can you do if you don’t like your company, manager or projects?

I’ve been making a 6-figure income working for a Fortune 100 Company for the past 10 years, and also working as a leading Career Coach (yes, I’ve been busy :)) and I’ve learned that creating change is simply a step-by-step process and that even with the small steps can come big rewards –

1.      Know what you want.

What’s pulling you toward your career right now?  What’s pushing you away?

The first step in getting un-stuck is to sort through the logic and emotion of everything going on in your job right now and make a list of what all the positive things are that you’re getting in your job, such as a salary, benefits, doing purposeful work, working for a company you love, working for a manager you respect, being in an environment where you can constantly learn new things, etc.
Now make a list of things you dislike about your job such as little or no career advancement, limited visibility with leaders, feeling unvalued or unappreciated, being under-challenged, etc.

Now, look at both lists.  Are you still feeling that you need a career change? Is there anything you can change on your “dislike” list?  Many times it’s difficult for us to come up with solutions on our own so try brainstorming possibilities with a few people you trust such as a mentor, manager, department managers or colleagues.
What’s in your control that you could change?  How could change it?  Who could help you?

2.      Shake things up internally. 

If you like your job, but just wish one or two things would change – then see if you can make it happen.  There are probably parts of your job that you enjoy, and parts that you don’t.  Identify what those are and then have a heart to heart talk with your manager.

Try saying something like, “I am really enjoying my job, but there are a few things I’d like to see if we could change.”  I once said to one of my managers something like, “I’m really not sure how much value I’m adding to the research project, but if you gave me those 4 hours each week, I would use them to create a new leadership initiative.”  I then went on to explain the new initiative and how it would benefit me, the department and my manager. Ten minutes later he told me to, “Go for it!”

Another time I asked one of my manager’s if he needed any help with the budget and told him that I wanted to learn about managing the department’s finances.  He gave me more financial responsibility and taught me everything I wanted to know!

Other great sources to help you shake things up internally could be your manager’s manager, other department managers and anyone who has, or has had, a responsibility that you would like to have.  Two key things to remember are –

a.      You are the only one who can make a change happen.
b.      You cannot make a change by yourself – you need the support, wisdom and mentorship of others.

3.      If you can’t get what you want internally – go external.

Sometimes our career requires big bold changes.  If you’re unhappy in your job and you can’t get what you want inside your current organization, then it’s time to explore external opportunities.

The first step is to simply start exploring possibilities. Talk to others who are in the industry or job role that interests you.  Ask them what a good day looks like, what a bad day looks like, if they have any special training or education, and how they got their job.  You can learn a lot about different career options simply by talking to others.

After you identify a job role that you are really interested in, the next step is to start exploring job openings.   Let your network know that you are ready to take the next step in your career and ask if they could send you any job leads, referrals or recommendations.

Also, search the job boards on company websites where you want to work.  Be sure to set up Job Agents on Glassdoor.com and Indeed.com so that you’ll receive weekly job openings in your e-mail box.

Whether you make a few small changes in your career or one big bold change, you owe it to yourself to have a career that lets you do meaningful, purposeful work and makes you feel valued, appreciated and energized.  You really do have control over your career – you just have to get in the driver’s seat and make it happen! 🙂

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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.   Right now you can download three FREE CHAPTERS of “The Bounce Back” at http://www.MyBounceBack.com

SMART NETWORKING – How to get more job leads, referrals and recommendations

 

The goal of networking is NOT to start asking about job opportunities the instant you meet someone. The goal of networking is to create a connection or establish a relationship with someone.

As a Career Coach, I’ve noticed that many professionals looking to reinvent their career make the mistake of sending a message to others, ” I need a job.” But 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! 

Below is my simple step-by-step process to help you build a powerful network to get more job leads, referrals and recommendations…

 
  1. Seek out others in the industry or job role where you want to work.

The next time you meet someone who works for a company where you want to work, or in a job role that you’d like to have, keep the conversation focused on that person (it’s not about you! -at least not yet!) Talk about their latest marketing campaign or product launch, or something new or interesting that’s going on inside their company. 

2.  Ask to keep in touch!

Next, you don’t need to have a long, in-depth conversation with each person. Instead, when you feel that the conversation has run its course, simply say, “I’d love to stay in touch – how about if we exchange business cards?”

3.  Send the message that you’re knowledgeable and resourceful!

Follow up by sending a piece of information you think they might be interested in such as an article, or the results of a new study, a link to a cool website that relates to their business, or an announcement about an upcoming conference or networking event. You want to send the message that you’re someone who is well connected, resourceful and that you are someone that they want in their network! :)

4.  Mention a few of your contributions and successes!

Once the door is open, then talk about some projects or teams that you’ve worked on that have been successful. One thing that works really well for me, is offering to share tips, insight or lessons I learned about the project. l I find that by doing this, people who appreciate these successes will naturally gravitate towards me. And it provides the foundation for a long-term relationship.

5.  After you’ve established a relationship, then drop the hint!

If you’re looking for a new job, then go ahead and drop a hint that you’re looking for “other opportunities.”  

Believe me, when you use this simple step-by-step formula, if your connections know of any opportunities they’re going to let you know!

One final thought, I strongly believe that no matter where you are in your career, we’re always in a position to help out others. Is there someone else you can support by introducing her to a potential employer, or giving a recommendation, or inviting to a networking event? Sometimes we get caught up in focusing just on ourselves, but remember that when we help out others along the way – the universe gives back to us more than we ever dreamed possible.  :)

Bottom line: you need a powerful network if you want to have a powerful career. 

So start making connections and nurturing your professional relationships. You’ll find that once you have a strong team of career influencers on your side, doors to new opportunities will open and career will soar!  

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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.   Right now you can download three FREE CHAPTERS of “The Bounce Back” at http://www.MyBounceBack.com

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Stop Going With the Flow in Your Career

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One year from now, do you want to be doing the exact same kind of work you're doing today?

If not, then there are a few things you need to START doing, and a few things to STOP doing…

  1. Stop going with the flow.

    Stop working on mundane projects you can do in your sleep. Part of the reason you’re feeling under-utilized and under-valued is because you’re under-challenged. We weren’t meant to take a job and then stay there forever. We’re meant to stretch, develop, grow, bounce. Look for ways to step up and flex your professional muscles. When you stop learning and growing, your career will stall.

  2. Stop taking setbacks personally.

    Everyone experiences career setbacks. Everyone! If you’ve been a victim of a layoff, a demotion, a project that failed or didn’t get accepted then get over it! Hanging on to feelings of rejection, embarrassment or anger isn’t helping you. You only think other people care about your setback, but seriously, they’ve moved on and you need to, too. It’s not the setback itself that is holding you back, but how you’re internalizing it.

  3. Stop being “small.”

    If you think that being humble and shy will help you be successful, think again. When somebody offers you a big juicy project or a spot on a high profile team – grab it! Saying things like, “Oh, I don’t know if I’d be the best choice for that,” or, “I don’t know if I have the right experience to do that” will keep you sitting on the bench. You’ve got to step up, be bold and put yourself out there (especially if the new opportunity scares you!) Yes, finding new opportunities means taking risks – big bold risks that you won’t be able to take if you’re playing it small.

And here are a few things you'll need to start doing…

  1.  Start talking about what you want to do.

    Start describing the types of responsibilities and the kinds of projects and teams you want to work on. If you don’t have a crystal clear vision, then at least start talking about the type of work you enjoy doing. By simply having these conversations with your manager, colleagues, and those in your network can lead to new career paths and opportunities.

  2. Start claiming your space.

    Put your expertise out there by showing others you have something to say through presentations, articles, coaching others and speaking up in meetings. Don’t be a shrinking violet, but instead, have confidence, be bold and voice your technical opinion. So what if someone may not agree with you – that just makes it a more interesting conversation. Successful executives and professionals constantly put themselves “out there” – that’s why they’re successful. Don’t shy away or back up, but instead step up, speak out and claim your space at the table.

  3. Start charting your course.

    Go find people working in different industries and job roles. Ask them about their responsibilities, education, training, challenges and career paths. Get connected to those who inspire you. Give yourself permission and time to explore all possibilities. That doesn’t mean that you have to accept every opportunity that comes your way, but you at least owe it to yourself to learn what else is out there so that you can get ready for your next career move.

Successful professionals aren't successful because they let things “happen.”  Instead, they make things happen in their career.  They figure out what they want, take some risks, stretch, grow, fall down, learn and bounce.  Don't let someone else take the wheel on your career path.  Step up and make things happen.  It's your career and your year! 🙂

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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

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New Year, New Career!

Want 3 simple tips to help you make a faster and easier career change…?

As a leading Career Coach, I’m seeing that many professionals make the mistake of posting their resume on a job board, or handing their resume to a recruiter, and then just sitting back and waiting for the phone to ring. In today’s tough job market, you need to be much more proactive and strategic to make a career change. My clients have had great success doubling their opportunities and cutting their job search time in half by following my three simple job hunting rules…

  1. Think Up, Down and Sideways.

The biggest mistake job hunting professionals make is looking for a position with the exact same title they had in their last job. Instead, consider looking at smaller companies and going one-level up, as well as larger companies and going one-level down.

Additionally, many companies don’t require you to have industry experience, only expertise in a specific job function, so you can also double your opportunities by applying for jobs in a variety of industries.

For example, if you’ve been working in advertising agencies, then be sure to target organizations that have in-house advertising, marketing, or communications departments. Or, if you’ve been in sales, finance, engineering, or administration in a certain industry (such as health care, high tech, or construction), start applying for those same jobs in other industries.

Finally, it’s not mandatory for you to meet 100-percent of the requirements in a job description before you apply. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 75-percent of the skills and experience required, and express in your cover letter and interviews that you’re a quick learner, flexible, and passionate about the position and the company. Your resume will get you an interview. Your attitude and confidence will get you the job.

2.  Create a strategic job search plan.

It’s easier to catch fish when you know where the fish are, and it’s easier to get hired when you know which companies are hiring. Find out where your potential employers are by reading job boards (CareerJournal.com, theLadders.com, etc.), as well as industry publications, business journals, and company websites. You’ll be able to learn which industries are hiring, which companies are hiring and what the hot jobs are!

Company websites.
Create a list of companies where you would like to work. Visit their website weekly for on-line job postings, and announcements for departments expanding.

On-line job boards.
Some job search sites are notorious for listing outdated jobs, or jobs with no contact information. Why waste your time? Instead, make a list of job search sites that offer high quality jobs. Conduct a search on Google or Yahoo for the job role and the city you want (example: marketing director, Portland). Review all the sites listed on the top three or four pages, and bookmark only those sites that list promising job opportunities.

You’ll find that each site varies in the quality of positions listed (lower-level to senior-level, as well as salary ranges), plus the type of industries, or vertical sectors, listed. Some sites may also do a better job than others updating their lists, or publicizing openings in your city. Focus your attention only on those sites.

Once you’ve created a list of your targeted companies and favorite job boards, make a commitment to review those sites weekly.

3. Work your NetWORK.

The #1 way job candidates are getting hired in today’s market is by getting a referral within the organization. That means, you need to make it a priority to get connected, and stay connected, to people who could hire you, or introduce you to others who could potentially hire you.

Get re-connected with past employers, customers, and colleagues. Meet new contacts by attending industry conferences, trade shows, business networking events, and association meetings that target the industry (high tech, health care, etc.), or the job role (marketing, finance, management, etc.) you want. Try to attend a couple of events each month.

Also, you never want to give the impression that you’re hungry for a job. Instead, you want to be seen as someone who’s resourceful, knowledgeable, and has a wide network. Send out personalized notes and e-mails with information that you think would interest them such as links to reports, case studies, press releases, videos or websites. Invite them to business networking events, and introduce them to other movers and shakers in your network. Influencers are drawn to those who are resourceful.

The goal is to create a pull relationship with your network so that they are drawn towards you (not running away from you!)

When you’re searching for a new job, remember to stay focused on what you want, stay positive, and believe in yourself. It takes persistence and patience – but you WILL find those companies who jump at the opportunity to hire you!! 

Your Assignment… Create your “job search strategy.”

Expand your career opportunities by researching job openings across various industries advertised on company websites and job boards (such as Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com). Read a variety of job descriptions to determine if you have the right mix of skills, experience and expertise. If you match at least 75% of the job requirements – then apply! (Nobody meets 100% of the job qualifications except the person who just left that job! )

After you find a job you want to apply for, then customize your resume to meet the job description and ask your network for recommendations and referrals.

By following these three (3) strategies you’ll be well on your way to a new career!

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Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist, international speaker and best-selling author of “The Bounce Back” and Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand. “ Get more tips and strategies on how you can bounce back from a layoff, re-org, bad manager or other career threatening setback in Sherri’s new book, “The Bounce Back” now available on AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE. You can download three FREE chapters of THE BOUNCE BACK at http://www.MyBounceBack.com

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Need a little help with your career change?  

Check out some of my resources to help you reinvent and re-brand yourself…

  • Brand new “Six Week, Six Step Career Change Program” 

    Designed for professionals and executives who want a new career.  The perfect gift for someone who needs help getting hired into a new career, and includes the “Career Change Boot Camp” 2-CD program, the e-book “Interviewing Smart – Insider Secrets to Getting the Job“, professional, customizable and proven resume templates, and “The Salary Compensation Guide” to help you negotiate the best deal for you!

 

  •  “Career Change Boot Camp Program

    The most popular gift this holiday season is  a complete do-it-yourself self study program that includes step-by-step strategies, tools and resources to help you change careers quickly and easily.  Includes 2 CD’s, eWorkbook and transcripts so you can get started immediately!