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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Career Sampling – 5 Ways to Test Drive a New Career

Old School NASCAR- Richard Petty 1992

Image by James Marvin Phelps via Flickr

Everyone has bad days at work, but if your bad day stretches to a hundred bad days(!) then you may want to start thinking about reinventing your career.   

Twice during my own career I found myself in a frustrating and unchallenging job and stayed longer than I should have.   Mostly because I was delusional and thought that if I proved my loyalty and stayed with the company long enough they’d reward me with a “new and improved” job, (did I mention the delusional part?), but also because I was afraid of trying something new, and potentially failing.  

If you’re in a similar situation and the thought of charting into unknown career territory makes you want to curl up under your office cube, then you may want to try what I’m calling ”career sampling” – the art of dipping your toe into a pool of new career opportunities, before diving in head first.

Career sampling is a great way to test drive a new career without investing a lot of time, or risking your paycheck.  Here are five great strategies to help you determine if a new career is right for you… 

  1. Take on an extended assignment. 
    Look across all the departments within your current organization to see if there are any projects or teams that interest you.    Many times managers and project leaders jump at the chance to have someone join their team – even if that person doesn’t have any experience.  This is a great way to test the waters of a new career. 

    Also, are there any external initiatives that inspire you?  Many companies have community programs and special events that you may be able to support.  Finally, talk to your manager, peers and other department managers to see which professional and civic organizations they’re involved in.  Take advantage of opportunities that could help you learn about new industries or job roles.
     

  2. Try freelancing or consulting.  If you’re thinking about owning your own business, try setting up shop first as a freelancer or consultant.  You’ll be able to set your own hours, develop your business plan and gain some experience before investing all of your time, money and energy full time.  It’s also a great way to earn some extra cash! 
     
  3. Work part-time.  A great way to test drive a new job role, company or industry is to start out part time.  Investing a little time up front to take on a part-time position is a much better strategy than investing all your time and realizing you’ve made a bad career choice.If you think you don’t have the right experience, a great attitude and eagerness to learn can help get your foot in the door.   And once you start proving yourself and showing results, a promotion to a full time position could be just around the corner!
     
  4. Volunteer your time. This is the quickest way to gain insight and experience into a new career. As your Career Coach, I encourage you to research company websites, read trade magazines, and attend industry conferencs and business networking events to learn about volunteer opportunities.  Volunteer your time and talents, and in return, learn all you can about that industry, different job roles, and the skills and qualifications of others who have been successful in those job roles that interest you.
     
  5. Join a Professional Organization.  Most cities have organizations such as the American Marketing Association, American Medical Association, Small Business Association, American Society for Engineering Education, etc. which provide excellent education, training and networking opportunities.Consider attending meetings, becoming a member, or stepping up to join their Board of Directors.  Take advantage of every opportunity to learn about various industries and career opportunities.  

If you’re itching to change your career for something more meaningful or inspiring, then try career sampling.  It’s less risky, less stressful, and a smarter way to transition into a career that’s right for you!

 And finally…If you’re ready to make a career change, get some professional help. You’ll have an easier, quicker, less stressful journey ahead of you when you have a partner who can give you the roadmap on how to reach your goal.

Here’s to your success! :)

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REINVENTING YOURSELF: How to change job roles, industries or professional goals…

Our Direction
Image by B Tal via Flickr

Craving a new career?  Tired of being under-valued, under-appreciated and unmotivated?  If so, then maybe you need to take a new direction and reinvent your career.

Reinventing your career successfully simply means repackaging your skills, qualifications and accomplishments so that you can transition into a new job role, company, or industry. Below is my personal career coaching 5-step blueprint for reinventing your career more quickly, easily and maybe even with a higher salary!
In which industry would you like to work? Advertising? Finance? Health Care? When I wanted to stop being a disc jockey, I knew that I wanted to go into television. And after a successful career in television, I then set my sights on getting into Corporate America. I wasn’t sure what kind of job role I wanted (or could get!), but the first step was determining the industry where I wanted to work.

  1. Define your passion -  If you’re not sure where you want to go then read trade magazines, industry publications and on-line job postings. Visit a bookstore and browse through books and magazines to see what grabs your attention. Allow yourself time to figure out what lights your fire and inspires you!

     2.  Identify your transferable skills -  These are skills that transition from industry to industry, or from job role to job role. Examples include: managing projects, teams, clients or budgets, as well as negotiating contracts, or proposing and implementing ideas that generate money, save money, or help the company be more competitive.

Other transferable skills include personal characteristics such as demonstrating leadership or risk taking, training or mentoring team members, being goal driven, results oriented, a problem solver, or having the ability to influence senior managers. These are ALL great skills to have, and they transfer from industry to industry. All industries and companies value employees with these types of skills and characteristics.

     3. Match your transferable skills to job roles -  Read job descriptions posted on CareerJournal.com, CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com, as well as the classified ads in industry magazines, trade journals, and local newspapers. If you want to work for a specific company then check out their website’s on-line job postings. Learn the skills and qualifications required for various job roles.

Match your transferable skills to those jobs you want to go after. If there’s a gap between the job requirements and the skills you have, then look for ways to gain that experience such as taking on an extended assignment in your current job, freelancing, consulting, or even volunteering.

Also, attend industry conferences, trade shows, business networking events and association meetings. Talk to people who work in the industry to learn about their career path, responsibilities, and advice for how to break into the business.

     4.  Blow up your resume.  The first thing I always did before I transitioned into a new career was blow up my resume. Trying to piece together a resume that highlighted the skills I used to get my last job with the skills I need to land my next job is like trying to weld together Lexus parts on a BMW. It doesn’t work. You need a brand new resume.

Showcase only those jobs, responsibilities and successes that are relevant to the job you want. The hiring manager doesn’t care about every job you’ve ever had. They just want to know, Can you do their job? Get resume help now.

     5.  Attitude is king!  Remember, great jobs don’t just land in your lap. You have to know what you want – take action – and go after it! Your job is out there. You just need to go get it!

When you transition into a new job role or a new company, you need to show the hiring manager that you have confidence in yourself and know that you’ll be successful in the job. When it comes to reinventing your career, it’s not just your talent but your attitude that counts!

 And finally…If you’re ready to make a career change, get some professional help. You’ll have an easier, quicker, less stressful journey ahead of you when you have a partner who can give you the roadmap on how to reach your goal.

Here’s to your success!  :)

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PARADE Update: You Got The Interview! Now What?

PARADE Update: You Got The Interview! Now What?


One hour after Meghan sent her hot-off-the-press professionally updated resume to a hiring manager, he called to see if she could come in for an interview the next day!

Interviewing is intimidating, nerve wracking, and can make you feel like you’re two beats away from a heart attack. But preparing for the interview is much simpler when you realize that there are just five key questions going through your interviewer’s mind.

Here are three of them:

Can you do the job? You need to be able to talk about the skills, knowledge, and training you have that will help you perform the job successfully. My recommendation is that you walk into your next interview with 3-4 “personal career stories” that showcase a career success. Your stories should include: what the goal was, what the challenge was, and what the result was.

What “extras” do you bring? For most job openings, about 90% of the work has been defined but not the remaining 10%. This means you have a terrific opportunity to flaunt any bonus talents that may be of value. For example, if you’re going for a job as a Pubic Relations manager, you may have some experience in marketing or desktop publishing that is not required for the job, but might be valuable to the company.

Where are you a risk? Every new employee is a risk to a company, whether it’s a job requirement that you don’t meet or a skill you don’t have, or the potential that you’re overqualified for the position. I recommend that you beat the interviewer to the punch by stating where you a risk and then reassuring him why it won’t be a problem. If you’re asked what weaknesses you have, respond by bringing up an area that could improvement but quickly add what you are already doing to strengthen that area.

For a complete discussion of all five question, see my best-selling eBook, “Interviewing Smart: Insider Secrets to Getting the Job

PARADE Update: Creating a Rock Star Resume

PARADE Update: Creating a Rock Star Resume


Meghan found a terrific job opening at a socially conscience company where she can leverage her marketing expertise and culinary background.

As I talked about in my book, “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand,” this is what I know for sure: When you are able to articulate the kinds of responsibilities, the management style and company culture where you want to work in your next career – the universe has a way of sending you those opportunities.

And now the universe is churning out opportunities for Meghan! The next step is for us to create a rock star resume.

Here are my top three tips for creating a resume to help you get noticed, get hired and even get a higher salary!

Showcase key words. Key words are those skills in the job postings that are listed as the “job requirements.” Look closely at the job description and use a highlighter to mark all of the requirements listed. Then, take all of those requirements that you meet and showcase those “key words” towards the top of your resume underneath the “Objective” section. Label this section “Key Strengths” and list those requirements that you meet in bullet format.

Emphasize results. This is the single biggest difference in making your resume stand out from your competition. Don’t talk about responsibilities. That’s boring. Instead, talk about what you have achieved for an organization, or what you’ve helped the organization achieve. For example, don’t just say that you managed a team of 9 people in the sales department. Instead, say that you led a sales team that generated $250,000 a year for the past three years. Quantify each of your career highlights in terms of dollars, numbers or percentages.

Show leadership and teamwork. Hiring managers look for candidates who are strong contributors and strong leaders (or at least demonstrate leadership potential.) Talk about projects or teams that you’ve led – and what the results were. If you haven’t led any projects or teams in your professional life, then highlight any leadership experience you’ve had in professional organizations, sports leagues, church activities or community events.

Meghan’s Assignment this Week:
I gave Meghan one of my exclusive resume templates to showcase her marketing and events-management skills. She will be busy this week converting her resume from being “responsibilities” to “results” focused. That means she’ll be meeting with past managers and business associates to learn the real results of her previous marketing campaigns and big projects. Ideally, she’ll want her resume to state that her marketing campaigns helped gain a certain number of new customers, or that the projects she worked on helped generate new revenue, saved the company money, or created more market share for the organization.
Her homework assignment is not easy, but it will be the icing on the cake to help Meghan’s resume stand out from her competition and land that fabulous job.

Career Reinvention: 5-Step Action Plan for Changing Job Roles, Industries or Professional Goals

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There are times in everyone’s career that you feel like running away and starting all over again, and I’m here to say that you can do it!

I’ve successfully reinvented my own career four times including being in radio, television, professional sports, high tech, and now a successful entrepreneur and business owner.

Now one of the things I get asked most often is, “Can I reinvent my career without taking a step down in salary?” Every time I’ve reinvented my career, I’ve received between 20 to 45% increase in my salary. So you can move into a NEW career AND INCREASE your salary.

So let me share with you my five step action plan for reinventing your career AND getting a salary increase…

  1. Find your passion. What gets you excited? What gets you jazzed? The first step in reinventing your career is to identifying where you want to go. In which industry would you like to work? Advertising? Finance? Health Care? When I wanted to stop being a disc jockey, I knew that I wanted to go into television. And after a successful career in television, I then set my sights on getting into Corporate America. I wasn’t sure what kind of job role I wanted (or could get!), but the first step was determining the industry where I wanted to work.

    If you’re not sure where you want to go then start reading trade magazines, industry publications, on-line job sites, even classified ads in your local newspaper. The key is to figure out what lights your fire and inspires you.

  2. Identify your transferable skills. These are skills that transition from industry to industry or from job role to job role. Examples include: managing projects, teams, clients or budgets, as well as negotiating contracts, or proposing and implementing ideas that generate money, save money, or help the company be more competitive.

    Other transferable skills include personal characteristics such as demonstrating leadership or risk taking, training or mentoring team members, being goal driven, results oriented, a problem solver, or having the ability to influence senior managers. These are great skills to have, and they transfer from industry to industry. All kinds of industries and companies value employees with these types of skills and characteristics.

  3. Matching your transferable skills to job roles. Read job descriptions posted on CareerJournal.com, CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com, as well as the classified ads in industry magazines, trade journals, and local newspapers. If you want to work for a specific company then check out their website’s on-line job postings. Learn the skills and qualifications required for various job roles.

    Match your transferable skills to those jobs you want to go after. If there’s a gap between the required skills and the skills that you currently have, then look for ways to gain that experience such as taking on an extended assignment in your current job, freelancing, consulting, or even volunteering.

    Also, attend industry conferences, trade shows, business networking events and association meetings. Talk to people who work in the industry to learn about their career path, responsibilities, and advice for how to break into the business.

  4. Blow up your resume. The first thing I always did before I transitioned into a new career was blow up my resume. Trying to piece together a resume that highlighted the skills I used to get my last job with the skills I need to land my next job is like trying to weld together Lexus parts on a BMW. It doesn’t work. You need a brand new resume.

    Showcase only those jobs, responsibilities and successes that relate to the job you want. The hiring manager doesn’t care about every job you’ve ever had. They just want to know if you can do their job. You may also want to get a professional resume critique to help you customize your resume and identify your transferable skills.

  5. Attitude is the key ingredient! I’ve found that getting a new job really boils down to two things: confidence and passion. I’ve never walked into an interview having met all of the job requirements. In fact, for the television interview, I lacked the two biggest requirements which were a minimum of two years experience in television, and a tape to show my TV work.

    To compensate, I focused on my transferable skills which were being highly creative and a solid copywriter. That got my foot in the door for the interview. But to get the job offer and beat out the other 4 job candidates, I was passionate about the company and the job! I also told the hiring manager that I absolutely knew that I could do the job!

There’s a kind of quiet confidence that we all have down deep inside. A confidence that comes from knowing what we’re capable of doing. When you transition into a new job role or a new company, you need to show the hiring manager that you have confidence in yourself and know that you’ll be successful in the job. When it comes to reinventing your career, it’s not just your talent but your attitude that counts!

Interview Tips for Recent Grads

If you’re a recent college graduate (or even if you’re not), check out my most recent interview on NBC Phoenix Channel 12 with tips to set yourself apart from the other applicants and help you land that first job – even if you don’t have “experience”.

Double your Career Opportunities by Thinking Up, Down and Sideways!

Many people get hung-up on job titles when job hunting. Instead of focusing on the title of the job, focus on the responsibilities. Here are a few quick tips to help point you in the right direction.

  • View jobs with smaller titles when considering a LARGER company.
  • View jobs with bigger titles when considering a SMALLER company.
  • Expand your career options by considering different industries.

New Year, New Career!

NOW is the time to take charge of your career! What career goals do you want to accomplish this year? Do you want to change companies, change job roles within your current company, ask for a raise or land that promotion? Maybe you are just looking to expand your sphere of influence. Figuring out WHAT you want to accomplish is the first step in making it happen!

 

What are some of your career goals for 2010?

Networking the RIGHT Way to Further Your Career

People can hire you, promote you, inspire you, teach you, and introduce you to potential employers or clients. Whoever said business isn’t personal must have been someone who sits in their cube all day. Surrounding yourself with the “right” people – career influencers – and knowing how to leverage that support system (networking) can skyrocket your career into another dimension.

 

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

 

The message you want to send is NOT, “I’m someone who’s looking for 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!

 

So 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.

 

Next, try to get their business card by simply saying, “I’d love to stay in touch – how about if we exchange business cards?” 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, or a cool website that relates to their business.

 

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. 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.

 

If you’re looking for a new job, then go ahead and drop a hint that you’re looking for “other opportunities.” And believe me, when you use this simple step-by-step formula, if they 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!

 

You can get all of my great career strategies to reinvent your career in my upcoming Career Change Bootcamp. Right now I’m sharing a special holiday savings of 25-percent off when you sign up before December 31st!