Career Change Dilemma – Should you stay or should you go?

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Should you stay in your current job or should you make a career change?

If you’re struggling with whether or not to leave your current job and try something new, then I have 3 questions for you to ask yourself to help you make that decision.

First, What do you need in your career to feel motivated and fulfilled?

In other words, which of your strengths do you want to be using? Which skills and areas of expertise do you want to be recognized and appreciated for?

Is there a specific industry you want to be in? Is there a specific job role you want to be in? These are things you need to think about and figure out. This is the first step in transitioning into a career that’s meaningful and inspiring.

The second question I want you to ask yourself is, What are the ‘gives and gets’ in your current situation?

Take inventory of what you are giving to your current manager or organization. You need to look at yourself from your manager’s perspective. Consider the fact that your employer probably had many candidates applying for your job and they gave it to you! Are you meeting their expectations? Are you delivering what you promised you would in the job interview? Define the value that you provide to the company. Those are the “gives” of your job.

For example, do you have the right knowledge, experience and skills to perform the job successfully (and these days you really need to exceed expectations to be successful in a job.) Are you providing some kind of unique expertise and viewed as the “go to” person for that knowledge or skill? Are your senior leaders and customers thrilled with your work? Are you training and mentoring team members and peers?

Those are all the “gives” of what you’re giving to the organization.

Next, identify the ‘gets’, which are all the benefits you’re receiving from your current employer. For example, a paycheck, health benefits, a retirement account, the opportunity to create or launch a new product? Training or advanced education, Developing a new skill? Pride from working for a prestigious company or with prestigious clients? Telecommuting? Flexible hours? Those are all great “gets.”

Now look at the mix of gives and gets. Are they in balance, or out of sync? If your gives outweigh what you’re getting in return, then you may want to take your career in a different direction, and this exercise will help you see that.

Now, before you disconnect completely from your situation, I encourage you to ask yourself one more question – Is there anything else you can glean from your current situation before you leave?

Are there any projects that could give you deeper knowledge or help you build a new skill? Are there projects that you want to complete before you leave that could boost your resume, and boost your personal brand? Could you strengthen your leadership skills by volunteering to lead a project? Is there a project you could create that could help you grow and flex your professional muscles?

Also, is there anyone at your work who could teach you about a product, technology, or the industry before you leave?

It’s inevitable that at some point, you’ll want to move into a different job role or a different company. And when that time comes, remember that before you jump ship, you should ask yourself these three questions. They’ll help you make a smart decision about your career.

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, like —

  1. A Professional resume writer, or
  2. An interview coach, or
  3. A career coach.

These are professionals who can accelerate your career change and help you get into a new job faster!

Power Networking! Simple Tips to Change your Career Fast

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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 –

  1. A Professional resume writer, or
  2. An interview coach, or
  3. Or a career coach

These are professionals who can accelerate your career change and help you get into a new job faster!

5 Tips to Make a Faster Career Change as a Professional or Executive

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Have you been thinking about making a career change? 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.

Here are my 5 tips to make a faster career change as a professional or executive.

    1. Power up your confidence. Managers hire those who are passionate about their job, and confident they’ll perform it successfully. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, hiring managers won’t either. Let go of any career setbacks. Take pride in all of your strengths, talents and career successes – and go after those jobs that you know you can do well! (Confidence is a must, but arrogance is a showstopper!)

 

    1. Think up, down and sideways. A lot of people get stuck in a rut looking for the same job title as their last job. But you can double your options by looking at smaller and larger companies. The smaller company may have the same job role listed but with a bigger title (like a Director of VP-level), and the larger company may have a smaller title (like a manager or specialist) – but it’s the same major responsibilities.Also, apply for jobs outside of your industry. There are a lot of job roles that you can do in just about any industry. For example, if you’re in a marketing role, or finance role, or sales – they need these types of employees across all industries!

      So start reading trade publications and the Business Journal to learn which industries are hiring, what the hot jobs are, and where you can fit in.

 

    1. Leverage your transferable skills. If you’re finding that there are very few job openings for the kind of job role you want, then expand your scope. You can switch into a different job role by leveraging your transferable skills (those are skills that transfer from job role to job role.) For example, managing clients, managing teams, managing projects – a lot of these skills can transfer into different roles.So start reading job descriptions for a variety of jobs – and determine which roles are a good fit for you! This is a terrific way to get your foot in the door at a new company and make a start fresh in your career!

 

  1. Create a job search plan. So many people post their resume up on Monster.com, or they register with a headhunter and then sit back and wait for the phone to ring! It doesn’t happen that way! With this tight job market, you need to have a plan that includes:
    1. Your wish list of companies that you want to work for and check out their website every week.
    2. A list of on-line job boards like CareerBuilder.com and Career Journal.com that you check every week. A lot of these job boards have different niches that they serve best (such as a specific job industry, or salary level.) So you want to do some research and google, the job role, industry and location that you want, such as “Radio Sales in Phoenix.” Then, search through the first three or four pages of results and bookmark those job boards that meet your criteria. Those are the job boards that you’ll want to check back with every week for job openings.
    3. LinkedIn.com – joining different industry groups so that you can keep current on hot topics, network with influencers in those groups, and learn about job openings.
    4. 2-3 Networking events that you attend every week. Those could be industry conferences, association meetings, training seminars, and business networking events. These are events you go to meet people in the same industry, or they type of company where you want to work. Statistics show that 70% of jobs are going to people who have referrals within an organization – so networking with other professionals and executives is critical to changing your career. Stay away from job fairs – they tend to target lower end jobs and have too much competition.

     

  2. 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 –
    1. A Professional resume writer, or
    2. An interview coach, or
    3. Or a career coach

    These are professionals who can accelerate your career change and help you get into a new job faster!

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.

PARADE Update: One (Penguin) Step at a Time

PARADE Update: One (Penguin) Step at a Time


When a career change overwhelms you – take penguin steps In our session today, Meaghan shared that she was feeling overwhelmed. Trying to juggle a career change with managing a family, home and “life” was taking its toll on her sanity.

This is common among career changers (which is why I think so many professionals stay in jobs that are unfulfilling and unmotivating.) Reinventing your career is a step-by-step process that takes persistence, endurance and a lot of patience. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, my advice is to step back, breathe and take penguin steps.

In the movie “March of the Penguins” the penguins took tiny baby steps as they shuffled across the frozen ground of Antarctica. Their steps are tiny but with their focus and commitment they successfully reach their final destination over 100 miles away.

Changing careers is also a journey. Sometimes you can run, sometimes you can walk, and sometimes (like when you’re feeling overwhelmed) the only way you move forward is by shuffling along and taking penguin steps.

Meaghan is in a similar situation. She has successfully assessed all of her experience, strengths and successes, and has determined the type of work she wants to be doing in her next career move. Now, she is assessing the job market to determine the industry that most excites her.

However, she shared with me that didn’t get very far with last week’s assignment of checking company websites, on-line job postings, business periodicals and industry magazines to find those industries and companies she’d most like to work in – because she was feeling overwhelmed.

My recommendation was to break down the assignment into smaller bite-sized chunks (think penguin steps.) So we took out a piece of paper and scribbled out four columns which we titled: industry, company, job role and personal contact.

Through a few coaching questions, Meaghan tackled the 1st column which was “industry.” She was able to quickly define two distinct industries that really excited her – education and food sustainability. This was a great start! She was breaking through mental roadblocks and seeing two different industries where she knew she could thrive!

Next, she quickly identified a couple of companies within each of those industries that she’d like to explore career opportunities. Then, we discussed job roles that she would be qualified for within each of those companies and industries. Also, she thought of a few contacts in her personal network that could potentially provide support.

By breaking up the step into smaller tasks, Meaghan was able to break through the clutter and roadblocks in her mind, and move forward in identifying possibilities to a career that would motivate and inspire her!

Thinking back on my own personal career, I made several job changes and I remember feeling overwhelmed just like Meaghan. Mostly, it was due to fear. Fear of change, fear of failure, fear of the unknown. But what pulled me through was knowing that if other professionals could be happy in their career, then I could do, too!

By looking at a career change as a “process” and then breaking up the process into smaller-sized tasks, it allowed me to take bold steps towards a new career – even if some of them were only penguin steps!

Meaghan’s Assignment this Week
In my book, Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand, one of my strategies for transitioning into a meaningful and purposeful career is to define the industry and job role of where you want to be. This becomes part of your career blueprint (i.e. North Star) in helping you transition into an inspiring career.

Meaghan’s assignment this week is to research a variety of industries and companies, and then complete her spreadsheet with a list of those that would excite her, as well as the job role for each industry and company listed that defines how she could potentially bring value to the organization.

By assessing the current job market and identifying job roles that are right for her, Meaghan is getting one step closer to identifying a more meaningful and purposeful career.

PARADE Update: Wanting More Than Just a Job

PARADE Update: Wanting More Than Just a Job


Focus your energy on those jobs you really want!

Meaghan had a terrific break-through this week! She was able to identify that even though she met all the requirements in a job posting that her friend had sent to her – it was not a job that she actually wanted. So she made the decision – not to apply. (loud gasp!)

I know what you’re thinking… as a Career Coach, aren’t I supposed to be encouraging Meaghan to apply for jobs? Well, yes, but my role with Meghan (as defined by her) is to help her reinvent her career into a job that she actually enjoys.

I asked her how it made her feel to not apply for a job that she’s highly qualified for, and she said “empowering.” Since she completed Step #1 in my 4-step process, she now has the knowledge and understanding of what she needs in her new career to be fulfilled, challenged and inspired. In other words, Meghan now has her own job requirements! (Sing it, Sister!!)

This is a huge milestone when it comes to reinventing your career because so many times throughout the process we’re faced with a fork in the road. Turn right and you’ll go down the very familiar career path where you’re in a cycle of being in qualified yet unfulfilling and uninspiring jobs. Turn left and you’re faced with unchartered territory of changing industries, job roles or professional goals – which can be new and exciting, yet make even the most experienced professionals feel anxious and afraid.

The fact that Meghan has chosen to reinvent herself in a new career in unchartered territory and feels EMPOWERED is huge!

I remember one of the times I felt most empowered in my own career was when I turned down the opportunity for a 2nd job interview. At the time, I was in between jobs with no other potential offers in sight. I had just come out of a cycle of jobs working for a string of what I considered to be poor managers.

After my 1st job interview with this particular hiring manager, my stomach was in knots, my throat had a big lump in it and I couldn’t sleep. I realized that what was keeping me awake was not the fact that I was out of a job – it was the idea of working for that particular hiring manager. He had the same traits as some of my previous managers and I knew that I’d be frustrated and unhappy working for him. In other words, I didn’t want to leave one sinking ship for another sinking ship – even if that was my only potential offer at the time.

I sent the hiring manager a thank-you but no thank-you note, and then focused all my energy on identifying my own job requirements and finding the right job for me. Two months later, I was in my dream job!

I’m not sure if the universe sends us our right job because we’re clear on what we want, or if the right jobs have always been there and we missed them because our focus was scattered and we didn’t see it. But what I do know for sure is that when me and my clients get a clear focus on defining our job requirements, and then focus all our energy on getting that job – it works!

When you have the commitment and enough money in the bank to be able to explore where your passion is, what your strengths are, what kind of responsibilities excite you, and where all of those intersect with today’s job market – that’s when you’re going to hit gold. Meaghan’s Assignment this Week
The next step for Meaghan is to assess today’s job market and identify which jobs are right for her. She needs to research company websites, on-line job postings, business periodicals, and industry magazines to find job openings that excite her. Now that she’s put a stake in the sand to identify her job requirements, I’m excited to see where that takes her. 🙂

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!

5 Must-Have Tools for your Career Emergency First Aid Kit

Just like with any emergency situation it’s critical to have a plan, an exit strategy, and a toolkit with all the essentials to help you land back on your feet. So to help you bounce back quickly from any career setback, here are five essentials to have in your “career emergency toolkit”.

  1. A professionally critiqued resume. Many times your resume is the “first impression” a hiring manager has of you, so it needs to be spectacular! In order to get noticed in this tough job market, your resume must be in the top 2-percent of all submitted resumes. Does your resume measure up?
  2. An “Interview Prep Kit” including a polished portfolio, briefcase and power suit. Make sure you’re prepared for an interview, by having a hefty sample of your best work available including reports, strategic plans, proposals, campaigns or presentations that you created. This helps validate your successes and what you can do for the next company that hires you.
  3. List of high powered references. Start identifying those who could give you a strong professional recommendation. Go after those managers and executives with the highest title, biggest influence, and work for the most prestigious companies.
  4. A Deep and Wide Professional Network. Don’t wait to start networking – do it now. Send your contacts links to reports, case studies, press releases and websites that you think may interest them. Invite them to business networking events, and introduce them to other movers and shakers. Career influencers (those who could hire you, or introduce you to others who could potentially hire you) are drawn to those who are resourceful and well connected.
  5. Your Plan “B”. What is your back-up plan if you lost your job right now? Could you freelance or start consulting? Would you prefer to work part-time while getting some specialized training or advanced education to help you come back better and stronger? Create a contingency plan to help you land back on your feet quickly should your career take an unexpected turn.

The key is to always be prepared for the worst – always. By having the right tools and plans in your Career Emergency First Aid Kit, you’ll be better equipped to manage through any career setback, as well as come back faster and stronger!

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?