Who Are Your Career Influencers?

As you may know, I’m a career coach who is also driving my own personal career. I’ve been fortunate to have some incredible successes while I was in the radio, television, advertising and high tech industries, but I’ve also had my fair share of career setbacks and roadblocks the size of Mt. Everest that I had to blast through.

 

Through it all, I’ve learned that one thing is for certain. Leaving my career in the hands of someone else like a manager, client, or even a company is a career killer!

 

So I changed my mindset and my actions. For the past few years, my mission has been that I drive my own career, and with this new mission came BIG RESULTS. I’ve been more satisfied, more fulfilled, and more successful in my career. Case in point, I was thrilled to receive my latest promotion a few days ago!

 

So over the next several weeks, I’m going to share with you my BIGGEST CAREER STRATEGIES that I personally use to drive my own career, and for this issue, it’s: The nitty gritty of networking strategically.

 

People are the jet fuel behind 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 and knowing how to leverage that support system can skyrocket your career into another dimension.

 

You’ll have more career opportunities and job security when you have a strong professional network in place of what I call – career influencers. These are people inside the company or industry where you work who could potentially advance your career, or open doors to new opportunities.

 

Who’s in your circle? Think about your current professional network. Are you connected with career influencers from each of the following four categories?

  1. Those who can evangelize your talents and successes to others.
  2. Those who currently hold, or have held, a position you want.
  3. Those who could teach you something new.
  4. Those who, just by being associated with them in some way, can strengthen your personal brand.

Think about your current and previous managers, colleagues, and clients. Look for those who could provide guidance, expertise, or information that not only helps you succeed in your current role, but could potentially help you get to where you REALLY want to go.

 

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!

Taking Care of the Big Rocks First

Previously I talked about making the commitment to take care of the big rocks first. If you don’t take care of your big rocks, or big initiatives FIRST, then your day will fill up with a bunch of tiny insignificant tasks. And when that happens, you simply won’t have any time to fit in your biggest priorities, and you’ll be left working on less meaningful projects that leave you feeling bored and unfulfilled.

 

For many people, the question is HOW to take care of the big rocks. Here are a few tips suggestions on how to fill your schedule with your biggest priorities first (your big rocks), so that you’re able to work on more meaningful, exciting, and challenging projects, and take off some of those insignificant and “less filling” projects.

 

Pull out your calendar and start looking ahead to next week. Ask yourself, “What do I need to accomplish in the next 7 days?” Begin by scheduling 1-3 hour chunks of uninterrupted time you need to work on a client presentation, proposal, report, campaign, etc. Then, take a second pass and fill in those smaller yet still important tasks that will take you an hour to complete such as meeting with a customer, making progress on a project, or preparation time for an important meeting. Finally, block off time to complete the smaller initiatives such as doing some on-line research, filling out an expense report, sending out an update memo to your team or senior managers, etc.

 

Now, I’m not suggesting that you just stop showing up for meetings and working on assignments given to you by someone else, but perhaps you can start negotiating your time and projects. Maybe you can say to someone, “I’m sorry that I can’t give you an hour tomorrow, but how about if we meet for 15-minutes, and then if you still need more time we’ll carve out 30-minutes next week.” You’re setting the tone that your time is important and that you have your own set of priorities, but that you’re still a team player.

 

Be protective of your precious time and energy. Negotiate your time so that you can work on those highly valued, highly visible projects that you actually enjoy doing. This doesn’t mean taking on MORE projects and responsibilities while KEEPING the same projects and responsibilities that you already have.

 

Negotiate with managers or clients so that you can get off those lower valued projects, and instead devote your time to projects that allow you to flex your professional muscles, stretch yourself in a new direction, or work on those projects that excite you!

 

You will find that by implementing this simple strategy of owning your schedule, establishing your priorities, and putting your big rocks FIRST, you’ll be more in control of your career, feel more energized, and able to drive your career on the fast track!

 

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!

Take Control of Your Career

If I asked you, “Who is controlling your career?” what would you say? You? Someone else? Nobody?

 

My biggest source of frustration in my own career came about ten years ago, when I’d been laid off because the company I was working for wasn’t doing well financially. I felt that I was at the height of my career, yet the company just laid me off. There wasn’t any notice, just a meeting with my manager, a handshake goodbye, and a check for two weeks pay.

 

My mind was swirling. My world had just been turned upside down. I felt poor.

 

After spending about 3 days in my bath robe sobbing into my bowl of corn flakes (apparently I don’t cook when I’m depressed!), I realized that I couldn’t leave my career (my career!) in the hands of someone else. Like a manager. Or a company.

 

So I began taking more control over my career. I seeked out only those companies that I admired. When I interviewed for a job, I interviewed them. I said things like, “in my next job, I’m looking for a company that…”, and “I’m very goal driven and need to work in a culture…” It wasn’t so much the words I was saying, but a mixture of having career goals, a vision, and assurance that I can do their job that often got me the job offer.

 

If your world has been turned upside down, and you need a little help getting back on your feet – then I’m here to help you.

 

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!

Blueprint to Your New Career

Now is the time to create the blueprint to your new career. Avoid the attitude that you will do it tomorrow, next week, next month, when your bonus arrives, etc. Be aware that “not now” soon becomes never. The good news is, you can start today, follow these steps, and be well on your way to a new and more meaningful career.

 

Step 1. Let go of the scarcity mindset and GET COMPETITIVE – It’s easy in this economy to adopt a scarcity mindset. The scarcity mindset lives in a world with limited opportunities, wealth and even happiness. When it comes to attaining a new career, those with a scarcity mindset feel overwhelmed and often miss opportunities because they think why bother?

 

Successful professionals embrace the opposite. They believe there are always career opportunities available because there are always companies hiring great talent. Companies cannot survive without employing the best and brightest people so they are always on the lookout for high performers. They understand that someone will be hired for an open position so why NOT them?!

 

In today’s economy, it’s not about applying for jobs – it’s about competing for them. Stop listening to the media telling us how bad things are and make an effort to tune out the dire news regarding the economy. Filter out only useful information from the negative media hype that can cause career paralysis.

 

Step 2. Seek Expert Advice – Chart your course with a professional career coach and don’t attempt to “do it yourself.” Would you conduct your own laser surgery, buy a house without a realtor or represent yourself in court without a lawyer? No, you would hire the best professional available to significantly decrease the risk and increase your success.

 

Earlier in my own career I went to a career coach and it was the smartest thing I ever did. Imagine driving to an unfamiliar place without your GPS or other Google map. Yes, you may eventually get there by winging it, but how many wrong turns would you make along the way? It’s the same in your career. Seek expert advice to help create your blueprint for career success.

 

Step 3. Chart Your Course – For many professionals a successful career translates into having a meaningful and purposeful career. So, what do you need to have an inspiring career? First, ask yourself if you’re working for people who value and appreciate your contributions. Then ask yourself the following: do you have career goals? Do you have a strategy in place to meet each of those goals? Does the work you’re doing excite you? Do you have a manager who supports you? Do you have a strong network of mentors and coaches who can teach you, inspire you, and introduce you to others who could potentially hire you?

 

Everyone has bumps in their career. Everyone. A good career blueprint will help you manage your career more easily through the turbulent times and bounce back quicker. That means you are proactive (vs. reactive) in driving your career, you always have career choices available, you know how to leverage your transferable skills so that you can quickly and easily change job roles or industries, and you know how to use available resources to seek out and compete for career opportunities.

 

Don’t let our current economy stall your career. Make up your mind to get into a career where you can thrive with employers who value and appreciate you. Then, follow the three steps: think of competing, not scarcity. Seek expert advice. And create your blueprint to a more meaningful and inspiring career.

 

If you’d like more tips to advance your career, visit our website for career tools, resources, and coaching support.

 

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!

Be in a career that excites and energizes you, and makes you proud

I received an e-mail that made my heart sink. It was from someone I didn’t know who said that his career had sunk so low that he couldn’t even look at himself in the mirror anymore.

 

I could see from his resume that he was a senior high tech developer, had an MBA, and was an adjunct lecturer for a well known university. So how could someone who clearly has such great discipline, training, and skills be at such a low point in his career?

 

I’m sharing this because I don’t want YOU to ever be in this situation. I want you to be in a career that excites and energizes you, and makes you proud.

 

If your career is making you feel unmotivated, and undervalued, then make a commitment to yourself to change jobs. Yes, change is scary, but sometimes the thought of NOT changing and staying in your job long term can be even more terrifying.

 

Take the first step in making a career change by building a strong support system around you. Talk to others who inspire, motivate you, or can teach you how to get into the job you really want. Find mentors and a career coach who can give you tools and resources to help you make a career change quickly and easily. (Even Tiger Woods has three (3) professional coaches helping him advance his career.)

 

Life’s too short to stay in a career that disappoints you. Get determined to work for an organization that values and appreciates all that you have to offer. Not only will you have a more enriching career, but you’ll have a more enriching life. And you’ll actually enjoy looking at your beautiful self in the mirror.

You only have ONE SHOT at making a great first impression

Interviewing is intimidating, nerve wracking, and can make you feel like you’re two heartbeats away from having a heart attack. You only have ONE SHOT at making a great first impression so what can you say that will push you up to the TOP SPOT and get you the job offer?

 

Preparing your answers for an interview is so much simpler when you know what the interviewer really wants to know about you. There are key questions going through your interviewer’s mind and once you understand those questions, you can be more prepared, more confident and feel less anxiety during the interview process. So let’s take a look at what your Interviewer REALLY wants to know about you:

 

* Can you do the job? Do you have the skills, knowledge, and training to successfully perform the job? These questions are usually very black and white. Either you have what it takes to succeed in the position or not. Have you analyzed the job description and fully understand the job requirements? Do you really have what it takes to succeed in this position? If yes, then be prepared to answer specific questions about your qualifications. And if you don’t, then wouldn’t you rather know now in the interview than have the stress of being stuck in a new job where you can’t meet the expectations?

 

You should have pre-selected “personal career stories” that highlight your professional successes. Practice saying out loud what your skills, strengths and areas of expertise are. Your answers should be specific and focus on results and accomplishments.

 

* What “extras” do you bring? For most job openings, about 90% of the work has been defined. In other words, a hiring manager knows about 90% of the work that the new employee will be responsible for, but not the remaining 10%. That is because they want to know, “What can you (the new employee) ADD to the position?”

 

What specialized skills or areas of expertise do you have that can ADD VALUE to the company? For example, if you’re going for a job as a Public 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. This “extra” skill may position you as the TOP candidate for the job.

 

Before you go into a job interview, think about the additional skills and talents that you can bring to the position. Be sure to work these skills into the conversation, but only after you have discussed those skills and qualifications that are REQUIRED for the job.

 

Interview coaching can help hone your interview skills.

What have you done lately to drive your career forward?

As your career coach, I need to ask you “What have you done lately to drive your career forward?”

 

Great jobs don’t just land in your lap. You need to know what you want and then go after it!

 

Have you identified a job role that leverages your passions and strengths? Have you had your resume professionally critiqued and customized to meet the requirements of your dream job? Have you been setting up informational interviews to learn more about different job roles and industries?

 

So much of having a successful career change depends on your ability to interview well. You may spend months aggressively going after job opportunities – but it all comes down to the last 60-minutes of interviewing that determines the fate of your career.

 

Want help to make you stand out from your competition? Learn how to showcase your strengths, transferable skills, leadership abilities, accomplishments, and manage perceptions in your next interview in “Interviewing Smart: Insider Secrets to Getting the Job” Guide.

Itching to Leave Your Job? Try Career Sampling.

In previous posts I’ve discussed job sampling as a way to test drive a new career with little risk. Here are a few more ideas on how you can “try out” a new career.

  • Volunteer your time. This is the quickest way to gain insight and experience into a new career.

    Research company websites, read trade magazines, and attend industry conferences 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.

  • 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 leave your job for something more meaningful or invigorating, then try career sampling. It’s less risky, less stressful, and a smarter way to transition into a career that’s right for you!

How to Sample a New Career

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

  • 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.

  • 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!

Why Should You Try Career Sampling?

Everyone has bad days at work, but if your bad day stretches to a hundred bad days(!) then you may want to start shaking things up a bit.

 

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 career sampling – the art of dipping your toe into a pool of new career opportunities, before diving in head first.

 

One idea on how to try career sampling is work part-time. It’s a great way to test drive transitioning in 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!