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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Keep Thinking, “I Need a New Job!”

Do you keep telling yourself, “I need a new job!”
Are you thinking it every day?

Do you dream of starting a fresh, new career where people appreciate you? Where you can do the kind of work you enjoy, and be valued for your expertise? Or maybe reinventing yourself into a completely different job or industry where you’re doing something you’ve always dreamed about that’s meaningful and inspiring?

Maybe you’ve been pushing away that dream because it seems impossible, or overwhelming, or maybe because you simply don’t know how to change your career?

But what if you can no longer silence the dream? When that voice keeps coming back to you, louder and stronger, saying “I need a new job!”, and no matter how many times you push it out of your mind it keeps coming back. What do you do then?

The reason so many people stay in unmotivating and unfulfilling jobs is because it’s easy to do. It’s familiar, it takes minimal effort, it’s easy to blank out and be a zombie for 8 hours a day, and there’s comfort in knowing you’re getting the bills paid.

It’s easy because there’s minimal risk and minimal effort. But there’s also minimal reward. Doing drudgery work actually drains you of energy, makes you irritable and lowers your quality of life. However, when you’re energized in your job, then you’re making higher contributions, and therefore, have more opportunities for promotions, advancement and a higher quality of life.

Earlier in my career, I made the mistake of believing that if someone hired me, then that was where I was meant to be. BIG mistake!!  I learned that I need to set the bar higher for myself. I learned that jumping into a new, and sometimes scary career was worth the risk. I also learned how to create more options and how to make better decisions about where I work and who I work for.

Life is way too short to stay in a meaningless job where you’re unfulfilled, unchallenged and under-valued. I’ve had a few of those jobs myself and I remember waking up every morning and dreading going into work. The highlight of my day was having lunch with some of my colleagues. If the highlight of your day is eating lunch – then it’s time for you to make a career change – or at least, start exploring new opportunities!

I’ve reinvented myself four (4) times and each time, I successfully landed in my dream career! For me, I tend to stay in a career 4-5 years, and then through natural curiosity (or A.D.D.? ;)) I tend to re-brand and reinvent myself  into a different job role or industry. Each one of my career changes started out the same way – by allowing myself to dream about career possibilities and then creating an action plan.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT… Allow yourself time to dream. 

Give yourself permission to daydream about career possibilities.  (In fact, this is one of the key assignments I give to my clients which is why I believe they have such a high success rate!) Then, write it down and start talking to others who are in that industry or job role.  Find out what a good day looks like for them, what a bad day looks like, what their biggest challenges are, etc.

The point is for you to find out whether you really want to be in that job one day.  If you do, then the next step is to start taking action. How could you make that transition? Which of your skills are transferrable?  Which companies are hiring for that job role?   

If you get stuck, then reach out for help by talking to mentors or hiring a career coach.  

Once you start taking action, you’ll be well on your way to making your dream career a reality! 🙂

 

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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 few gift ideas this holiday season?  

Check out these great gifts to help someone on your list jump start their new career –

 

  • 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!

 

 

 

Provides personal stories, strategies and lessons learned from myself and 13 other professionals who navigated through career setbacks to come out on top! Available in hardcover and Kindle formats on AMAZON and Barnes & Noble.  

 

 

Which Season is Your Career In?

 

I recently had a client, David, who after 15+ years of employment, advancement and promotions with the same company, found his career at a standstill. 

His manager encouraged him to stay put because opportunities may be on the horizon, but with downsizing and layoffs happening across other departments David saw a bleak future ahead of him and decided to take control of his career and look for a new job. 

Like many people in David’s situation, career changes can be difficult to face.   But career changes are a part of life.  And the quicker you can recognize change and make adjustments in your career, the easier and more successful your career will be.

Just like the weather, careers have seasons.  The springtime is like starting out in a new job.  Everything is fresh, new, and exciting.  The summer is when you hit your stride, you’re confident, making significant contributions, and your job is actually FUN!

During the fall, you’re a seasoned veteran in your comfort zone and an expert in your role.  Strangely, this is also the time when many professionals and executives begin thinking about a career change.  Some become antsy for a new challenge or a bigger step up the corporate ladder to change into a deeper, more meaningful career.

David was in the winter season of his career.  This is the final phase of your job when you realize that change is inevitable, and that you must move on. 

Whether you find yourself being pushed out of the nest due to corporate mergers or downsizing, or you’ve made the decision for change on your own, the quicker you recognize and respond to change, the quicker you can take control and get your career on the RIGHT track.

Most professionals change careers 4-7 times during their lifetime.  For David, it was his 3rd,  and I’m happy to say that he navigated through the storm beautifully.  We created a step-by-step career transition plan and within just a few weeks he was considering job offers from two different companies.

 

If your career is in a fall or winter season, then here is your assignment…

Start exploring all of the opportunities around you. If you’re currently employed, then consider taking on new projects or joining teams that excite you or at minimum, help strengthen a skill and boost your resume. 

Also, beef up your professional network by attending industry conferences, training seminars, and business networking events to talk to other professionals and discover new career opportunities. Learn about the skills and qualifications required to move into those new jobs.

If you’re feeling ‘stuck’ and not sure where you want to go or how to get there, invest in a few personal career coaching sessions with a qualified career coach.   

The point is to take control of your career.  Identify which season you’re in and if it’s time for a change – then get on with it.  Do the work necessary to get through the storm and you’ll find that your career (and your life) welcome a fresh new start.

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Need a few gift ideas this holiday season?  

 

Check out these great gifts to help someone on your list jump start their new career –

 

  • My brand new “Six Week, Six Step Career Change Program” is having amazing success with professionals and executives who want a new career!  You can read some of the testimonials on the web page.  This is 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!
     
  • My special “Career Change Boot Camp Program” –  is the most popular gift this holiday season, and 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!
     
  • My newly published book, “THE BOUNCE BACK – personal stories of bouncing back higher and faster after a layoff, re-org or career setback”  provides personal stories, strategies and lessons learned from myself and 13 other professionals who navigated through career setbacks to come out on top! Available in hardcover and Kindle formats on AMAZON and Barnes & Noble.  
     
  • Book, “CAREER SMART – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand” – on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books!  Available in hardcover, Kindle and audio on AMAZON and Barnes & Noble.  

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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

How to Get Hired after a Layoff

Having trouble getting your career back on track after a layoff?  

A few years ago, I woke up one morning after being laid off and realized that I had to start taking more control of my career by becoming more proactive and less reactive. Through a journey of trial and errors, I learned a lot about how to build my personal brand after a layoff, customize my resume and tell my story to hiring managers.  

I went on to work for 3 Fortune 500 companies, and had a 6-figure salary and status I never would have dreamed of.  In my new book, “The Bounce Back – personal stories of bouncing back higher and faster after a layoff, re-org or career setback” I reveal the success strategies from myself and 13 other professionals and executives who bounced back after a setback.  Below are a few of the strategies from the book about how to get hired after a layoff –

1. Telling your story to hiring managers.

The best approach is to always say something positive about your previous position. Talk about how it was either a great company, or how much you enjoyed your role and responsibilities. Make sure that you always have something positive to say about the experience, that you truly believe it and that you are genuine when you talk about it.
Also, if the lay-off had been due to company down-sizing, follow up by saying something like, “Unfortunately, the company went through tough economic times and my position was (cut, outsourced, or whatever.) If the lay-off was due to lack of performance, like the time I was hired at an Advertising Agency where I was expected to do the job of two people, then you can say something like, “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.”

2. Customize your resume.

You’ll need to customize your resume for every job you go after. Create a new section on your resume called, Freelance, Consulting and Short-term Positions, and put any of your short term job stints into this section. This way, you’re able to show that you’ve had long term employment with 3-4 companies, plus a few other gigs!

Whenever a potential employer asks you about any of the positions in that category, you can say something like, “I worked there for a few months and really enjoyed it! I learned such and such“, or “I contributed by doing this or that.” Make sure that what you say is always positive, and focused on what you learned or how you contributed.

Also, be sure to focus on results. Instead of writing about responsibilities, you’ll need to write about results you achieved or goals you had met or exceeded. Substantiate everything you write by adding dollars, numbers or percentages. This will show potential employers that you’ve had a history, or pattern of achieving quantifiable results.

3. Securing job leads, referrals and recommendations.

Today, the majority of new employees got their new job because they knew someone inside the company who could give them a positive referral.  This means you’ll need to set aside any feelings of  insecurity, and reach out to connect with your network.   I always called up past employers, managers and customers to catch up with them and let them know that I was ready for the next chapter in my career. I got out in the world and networked and socialized. It helped me build my confidence, practice telling my story and helped me learn about career opportunities.

You can prepare for interviews by practicing your story out loud, and be sure to talk about what you’ve learned and how you added value to other organizations. Ask thoughtful questions to the hiring manager. Be confident in your strengths and abilities. Show that you’re grateful and appreciative for the opportunities you’ve had in your career.

Networking can happen at any time. One of my clients entered a golf tournament and got paired up with a VP of a large retail corporation. They both shared stories about their golf game and career. After the 18th hole, my client handed the VP his business card and said, “If anything opens up in your organization, let me know. I’d love to join your team.” Four weeks later the VP hired him.

With the right story, resume and attitude you can get hired again. Decide how you’re going to tell your career story and tell it in the most positive way possible. Practice saying it out loud so that you sound confident, believable and genuinely authentic during your interviews and networking opportunities.

Your new career is out there waiting for you… you just need to go get it!   🙂
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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 my 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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Agonizing over whether to leave your current job?

Being in a passion-less job is a career killer. 

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…

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

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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.   For a limited time, grab (3) THREE FREE CHAPTERS of “The Bounce Back” at http://www.MyBounceBack.com

Step up, find your voice and learn how to tell your “career story” with confidence!

 

 

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”…

  1. 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.

I had a TV interview last week and the reporter asked about my book. I froze up.  I got nervous, said “umm” and garbled out a few sentence.  Man oh man, I wish I could have a do-over.  

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! 😉

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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.   Sherri’s gift to you is (3) THREE FREE CHAPTERS of “The Bounce Back” at http://www.MyBounceBack.com

Don’t Waste Your Time Networking – Instead Build Relationships

Career Coaching 360 Coaches

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 –

  1. 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. 🙂

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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

Is Changing Your Career Worth the Risk?

Everyone has a few bad days and a certain level of frustration in their career, but when is too much too much?

The answer is when it starts consuming you.  When the voice inside your head tells you 20 times a day, “I need a new job!”

I had been working as a Marketing Manager at a Fortune 100 company for two years when the voice started consuming me. First it started telling me, then demanding, and then screaming at me at the top of its lungs, “I need a new job!”  The trouble was that I loved my job role and responsibilities.  The work was challenging, meaningful and just plain fun!  So what was the problem? My manager.  He was a putz.

Secretly in my mind I had nicknamed him Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh.  I tried to block him out and just focus on doing my work but he slowly, methodically began completely sucking the life out of me.  So after two years, 24 loooong months, with the voice pounding in my head getting louder and louder, I reluctantly came to the realization that I needed to change jobs.

But changing jobs is hard.  Incredibly hard.  Every time I thought about switching careers my heart started pounding faster and my forehead started sweating. I was faced with all kinds of fear including fear of change, fear of failure, fear of self-doubt, fear of rejection, fear of the unknown, etc.  I kept thinking, Should I stay in my job where it’s safe and be miserable, or change my career and potentially fail? What if I can’t get another job? What if my new manager is worse than my current manager?

After doing some deep soul searching, and downing about 5 gallons of Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream, I decided that life is way too short to work for someone who doesn’t appreciate and value me.  And so I began my job search looking for internal jobs.  Within 8 weeks I was interviewed for two job openings and during those interviews I asked questions about the manager’s management style, how they kept their teams motivated, and what were some of their teams’ successes that they were most proud of.  Yes, I actually interviewed the hiring managers.

One of the managers said that his strength was “nurturing his team members to bring out their best.” As he said those words my heart started pounding faster.  I knew I liked this guy.  He offered me the job and it turned out to be one of the best career moves I ever made.  My new manager helped me strengthen my leadership skills, learn new technical skills, and gave me a promotion with a 30% raise.

Is it worth the risk?

I would have never found my new manager if I hand't jumped ship and taken the risk for something better. Yes, there’s risk in any job change. But in today's struggling economy, isn’t there also risk if you stay in a job? Who’s to say you’ll still be employed in your same job tomorrow? Organizations are going bankrupt, companies are downsizing and executives seem to be in a continuous loop of job rotations like they’re playing musical chairs.

Bottom line: if you feel like you’re stuck in a bad job with questionable job security – then why stay? 

Ask yourself – Why does the risk of staying in a frustrating job outweigh the risk of trying for something better…?

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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 my new book, “The Bounce Back” now available on AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE.  You can download the three FREE chapters of THE BOUNCE BACK at http://www.MyBounceBack.com

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Are you living a “small” career?

 

 

Nothing is worse than living in a small world in your career.  Doing boring work where you feel under-utilized, under-challenged and under-valued in your job.

I’ve found myself there a couple of times during my own career and I’ve learned that you if you truly want to have a career that excites you, then you have to step up, take ownership and look for ways to expand your skillset, your scope and your leadership abilities.

 

That’s what I admire about Vid Vidysagara’s story.

In my new book, The Bounce Back, he reveals how his career had once flatlined as a Project Manager and how he took control to move into a management position with more visibility, influence and leadership responsibilities.

Here’s an excerpt from Vid’s story…

“I was in a rut. I was a project manager working for a technology company, and had 6 years of successful performance reviews. But I was working long days and felt pigeonholed as an expert in a particular area with no opportunity for growth.

Then, one day I noticed that a project owned by a senior leader urgently needed resources. This project had been shunned by many others, due to the tough goal set and the unattractive nature of hard work required. Despite being overstretched, I volunteered. I just wanted the chance of doing something different and working with a senior leader of the company.

Although my day now was stretched even longer, I found that this volunteer opportunity brought some excitement and differentiation to my otherwise boring routine. By definition, a “project” has a start and end date, so I knew the situation would be temporary and was determined to make the best of my investment. A few months into the project, there were some personnel changes that were made and I was given a terrific opportunity to become the project leader.

After the project was successfully completed, I volunteered for several more high profile projects. By increasing my visibility, network and reputation with Sr. leaders, I have been given numerous opportunities to branch out into other challenging areas and grow in my career in management.”

Vid goes on to say how he believes that there are always opportunities around (even though at first they may not look very attractive), and that he has gone on to mentor several employees on how to look for opportunities to help them build their credibility and influence, develop a new skill, or even help secure employment.

I love Vid’s story because it’s a wonderful example of how he stepped up and made things happen. Rarely, if ever, do plumb jobs and assignments land in your lap. You have to go after them! You have to look for volunteer assignments where you can stretch and flex your professional muscles. It’s okay to get into a career rut. It’s just not okay to stay in one. 🙂

Are you living small in  your career right now…?

 

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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 my new book, “The Bounce Back” now available on AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE.  You can download the three FREE chapters of THE BOUNCE BACK at http://www.MyBounceBack.com