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…
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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!
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
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!
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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As a 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 strategic in making a career change. My career coaching clients have had great success including doubling their opportunities and cutting their 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.
Since many companies don’t require you to have industry experience, only expertise in a specific job function, you can double your opportunities by applying for jobs in different industries.
For example, if you’ve been working in advertising agencies, then also include businesses 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.
Also, it’s not mandatory that you meet 100-percent of the requirements in the job description. Attitude and confidence are also key factors! 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.
2. Create a strategic job search plan.
You want to fish where the fish are, so find out where your potential employers 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 where 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: software engineer, 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 top job search sites, make a commitment to review those sites weekly.
3. Work your NetWORK.
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 week.
Finally, never 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 links to reports, case studies, press releases, videos, and websites that you think may interest them. Invite them to business networking events, and introduce them to other movers and shakers. 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 in 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!!
Personal Branding is a hot topic these days, and I have 5 ways you can create a powerful personal brand and leverage it to get into the career you really want…
Step #1. Understand your value.
Having a powerful personal brand means that you consistently deliver what you say you’re going to deliver. In other words, it’s the skills, experience, and value that you provide to your employer or clients. Whether it’s bringing in new streams of revenue, managing highly valued projects, developing creative marketing campaigns, or whatever, your career is fueled by the value that you consistently deliver to employers.
Your value is a unique blend of your strengths, professional accomplishments, and personal characteristics (such as being a good leader, risk taker, problem solver, strategic thinker, etc.). All of these things combined make up your “value package” which makes you truly unique from a crowd of colleagues, business associates, and even job applicants.
Step #2. Get into a career where you can thrive (and not just survive!)
Being in a passionless job is a career killer! If you’re walking around dull and listless (like the Clairol Herbal Essence girl before she shampoos her hair), then others are sure to see you that way. It’s impossible to have a powerful personal brand if you’re just going through the motions at work. You need to be in a career that challenges you, flexes your professional muscles, and excites you!
You want to be working on projects that excite you and teams that energize you! Start gravitating towards those projects and assignments where you can thrive. Or, if you’re in between jobs right now, then you want to focus on talking about those kinds of projects and accomplishments that you worked on in your networking and on your resume.
Step #3 Send the “right” messages.
Everything you do and say sends messages to your manager, senior managers, clients, peers, and potential employers. Your words, actions, presentations, reports, work deliverables, all shape the perceptions others have about you and the value you provide.
So you should take every opportunity to send a very clear message that you are a hiqh quality and results-driven contributor. Talk about the successes of your projects and teams, and the benefit they’re providing to the company. Talk about the obstacles that your team overcame, and the key lessons that you learned.
This is how employers and potential employers can view you as an asset to their company.
Step #4 Act as if your are on a stage.
Think about how you want others to perceive you. Do you want to be recognized as being smart? Strategic? Having specific expertise? A great leader? Whatever it is, you should be striving to send that message loud and clear.
Every day you have opportunities to shape and manage your personal brand. In every presentation that you give, in every meeting you attend, in all your conversations with other professionals – think of yourself as being on a stage. It’s your opportunity to shape and manage the way others are perceiving you.
Step #5 Network strategically.
If you want bigger promotions, better clients, and a richer, more meaningful career you need to work with people who value and appreciate you. So focus on creating a strong support system of what I call, career influencers. These are people who can hire you, promote you, inspire you, teach you, and open doors to new opportunities. Nurture your relationships with these people, and ask about their career path and strategies for blasting through career challenges. Seek out people who can give you the roadmap, guidance, and inspiration to help you advance your career.
Powerful personal brands don’t happen overnight. It takes time, focus, and commitment, but the payoff is huuuuuge. Imagine a world where you wake up every morning excited about your career!
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If you have you been thinking about making a career change, networking should be in your Career Change Toolbox. But, what’s the “right” way to network?
Here are my tips for Power Networking to make a faster career change as a professional or executive.
The next time you find yourself in a room with someone you’d like to meet, look around to see if there’s someone else around your know who could introduce the two of you. Then, keep the conversation focused on them. (It’s not about you! At least not yet, anyway!) So, ask them about their latest marketing campaign or product launch, or comment on something new or interesting that’s going on inside their company.
Next, try to get their business card by simply saying, I’d love to stay in touch – how about if we exchange business cards? Then, follow up by sending a piece of information that you think they may be of interest to your new contact such as an article, or the results of a new study, or a cool website that relates to their business.
The perception you want to create is not, Hey, I’m someone who’s looking for a job. But instead, that you’re a successful professional who’s resourceful, well connected, and who has some similar interests as they do. You want them to see that you as someone that THEY should get to know!
Offer to introduce them to someone in your network who could help them solve a business challenge, or help them save costs on a project, or who is a mover and shaker in the industry. You want them to see you as a resource – someone who could potentially help THEM in THEIR career!
Then, after you’ve exchanged e-mails, then talk about some projects or teams that you’re working on that are successful. One thing that works really well for me is I offer to share tips or lessons learned. I find that by doing this, people who value and appreciate your talents will naturally gravitate towards you.
So after you’ve established a relationship, go ahead and drop a hint that you’re looking for your next career opportunity. And believe me, if they know of any 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? It’s sometimes easy to focus 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.
The bottom line is that if you want to drive your career up to the next level, you need to make networking a priority. And once you’ve practiced a couple of the strategies, your career will start moving forward in the direction you want to go!
If you’re stuck – get professional help! You never want your career to be sitting on shelf longer than it has to – it means thousands of dollars every month in missed income that you should be making! So if you’re not getting results, then invest in some professional advice wherever you need it -
These are professionals who can accelerate your career change and help you get into a new job faster!