Are You TOUGH Enough?

bob-maher-4587-editPersonal accountability, it seems, is something nearly everyone would like to have—and which many of us think we could benefit from working on.  In active job search, it would help a job seeker in identifying and maintaining focus on appropriate tasks and activities that generate success.  And from the more strategic career focus, it will create the confidence to be aware of, and act on, appropriate next steps along one’s career path.

Too many times, we fall victim to distractions from the job search. The trap of sleeping late, watching TV, and playing on the Web can ensnare us. With no one but ourselves to hold us accountable for our job-search goals and plans, time can just slip away. It’s so easy to lose balance between personal needs and wants and our job search.


Thursday, May 16th… Developing YOUR Personal Marketing Plan (PMP)


JigSaw-partnershipThe other end of the spectrum is becoming a “job search-aholic.” For many of us, our identity is tied up tightly in our career, while others need a job right away just to make ends meet. No matter how great the need or desire for a new position, conducting a job search 24/7 non-stop can actually be a detriment to a successful campaign.

It’s about adding good habits to your routine.  What behaviors should you engage in every day for greater grit?   Here’s a handful of the Careerpilot’s suggested habits to get you started.

  1. Set Realistic Boundaries… You can’t be mentally tough if you don’t take responsibility for your own situation. That means being firm about what is and is not acceptable to you instead of letting others influence your behavior and mood in ways that you don’t agree with. The mentally tough, in other words, “refuse to let other people dictate whether they’re going to have a good day or a bad day.” You must identify and rely on your unique internal voice/ compass.
  2. Accept Responsibility… You can’t get better if you don’t admit your short comings and weaknesses… and you can’t learn from mistakes if you refuse to accept responsibility for them. “Rather than make excuses for their mistakes or failures, seek explanations that will help you perform better moving forward.” Be assertive in creating your internal voice/ compass.
  3. Be Realistically Optimistic… When it comes to the right outlook for optimum resilience, it’s all about balance. Blue sky optimism will only lead to disappointment, but knee-jerk negativity will ensure you never even try to reach your full potential. To maintain just the right amount of optimism the mentally tough “strive to re-frame their negativity,” replacing “exaggeratedly negative thoughts with a more realistic internal voice/ compass.”
  4. Monitor Your Emotions… Contrary to popular belief, mental toughness isn’t about suppressing your emotions, it’s about being aware of and honoring them. The truly mentally tough “monitor their emotions throughout the day and recognize how their feelings influence their thoughts and behaviors.” They know sometimes reaching their greatest potential requires them to behave contrary to how they feel.
  5. Practice Self-Compassion… Nor is mental toughness about being your own harshest critic and strictest taskmaster. Instead, those with exceptional resilience speak to themselves with kindness and compassion, not judgmental self-bickering and bargaining. They forgive themselves for mistakes and cheer themselves on as they work toward achieving their goals.
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Building on CareerFIT

JigSaw-partnershipYour work in Achieving CareerFIT led you to the determination of your career objective, exactly what is the best next step for you in your career transition?  It also suggested strongly that you set your straw-man offer criteria to guide you in moving forwardKnowing what your next right employment  is.

This will help focus your actual search. With clarity in your positioning and targeting goals, you can write a great resume to convey “your story.”


NEXT WEEK’s Session: Thursday, April 25th… Developing a GREAT Resume, and other Personal Marketing COLLATERAL MATERIALS


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WRITTEN COLLATERAL…

 A GREAT Resume that positions you clearly as a terrific FIT with your career objectives… and in today’s technologies, a database-friendly, .asci or .txt version;

  1. A correspondence template package that consistently carries your communication strategy, your message… and in today’s technologies, a reformatted, text only version of your resume ready for email needs;
  2. A high impact, personal biography and/or NETWORKING PROFILE that you can lead with in your referral based networking strategies.
  3. A clear and complete LinkedIn Profile, one that is based on your communication strategy and in synch with your other written collaterals.

VERBAL COLLATERAL…

 A well rehearsed “two minute commercial,” your answer to the most asked question during career transition, “Tell me about yourself.”

  1. Several, well though out, “elevator speeches,” examples that support your primary, positioning, key words. These are usually your representative accomplishments under the SUMMARY of your resume. (30 seconds to 1 minute)
  2. A succinct “qualification statement” that you can use as an introduction at networking events. (usually 20 – 30 seconds)
  3. An “exit statement” which explains your availability, to address the second most asked question during career transition.

Having your collaterals prepared and rehearsed prior to active personal marketing is central to your success and builds confidence.

Execution

Consistency in the delivery of your message is what creates memory… and frequency of your message helps you get there… strive for top-of-mind awareness where it relates to your candidacy.

Your personal marketing COMMUNICATION STRATEGY, your story, must be built around keywords and phrases that best describe your unique value proposition. These words come from your concerted self-assessment process. The challenge is matching the words that best describe your next right employment with the words that best describe a potential new employer’s needs.

A communication strategy that does not achieve that is doomed to otherwise controllable difficulties—and, worst…failure. So, understand that getting recruited involves two distinct elements…

  • Being screened for meeting a JOB’s requirements… a subjective process created by the potential employers of the marketplace. They set the bar HIGH, defined by functional experience, skill set, and knowledge standards so they don’t have to interview every JOB applicant.
  • Being selected by the hiring authority… another subjective process which now involves their assessment of a job-seeker’s FIT with their needs, including personality, work habits, and other ‘cultural’ standards. They cannot hire all qualified candidates. They must choose.

A job-seeker, then, can give themselves choices when they choose to embrace the OTHER Job Market. They improve their probability of success by nearly eliminating the pre-mature screening and rejection process.

Instead, the SMART job-seeker chooses to build relationships with potential employers first, researching attractive trends and targeted organizations in order to maximize probability of success, avoiding the HR-driven screening process to identify appropriate opportunities for securing their next right employment.

Input OVERLOAD

roadsign-banner2Many people talk about “information overload” and “decision fatigue” when it comes to how to conduct your job search, or write your resume, or develop your LinkedIn Profile…or answer those challenging interview questions.  THE Careerpilot  believes there’s another side to the coin… Receiving options is actually motivational and liberating, with the right mindset.  Asking for someone else’s advice isn’t about getting the right answer out of them. Rather, it’s about adding perspective to your view so you can choose the right answer for youSo, how can you ensure another ‘second opinion’ doesn’t cloud your judgement?


NEXT WEEK’s Session, Thursday, April 18th… Achieving CareerFIT: Understanding why Step #1, ASSESSMENT, leads to setting your career objectives, job search offer criteria, and determination of communication strategies.


bob-maher-4587-editFirst and foremost, understand that your ‘core personality,’ defined by your unique strengths, skills, interests, preferences, and values (Step#1: ASSESSMENT), drives your “gut feel” on matters of choice.  TRUST that!

In THE Careerpilot’s 12-Step M.A.P. for career transition, Steps #1 and #2 are in place for one simple reason: If you don’t have a grip on what you want to do next in your career, work toward giving yourself that grip!  Your core personality should be represented in your offer criteria BEFORE development of your Personal Marketing collateral materials, like your resume!

If you cannot connect your motivated skills and strengths to supportive and confirming episodes from your actual experience, you should be utilizing your first wave of implementing your Personal Marketing Plan (Step#9) to identify and resolve this vital issue.  Lean on your A-List connections (people you already know)…

Only then will it become effective to proceed with Step#3 in the development and practice of your collective communication strategies (keywords) in the design of your collateral materials, both verbal and written.

Remember: Perfect practice makes PERFECT!

 And that brings us to Step#4, once you are satisfied with a market-ready resume, share it with your references, coaching them to be in sync with your communication strategies.  Your references should know you well, better than any other editorial resource available to you.

WAVE TWO: Networking IN To A Company of Interest

JigSaw-partnershipWhat is the most critical skill to one’s  CAREER success – yet also the most elusive? Time management? Discipline?  Professionalism?  Reliability?  Yes, these are all desired personal traits and work habits, but rarely SEARCHED for.

How about the more functionally significant skills, like Strategic thinking? Decision making? Business acumen or intuitive ability to forecast and budget effectively?


This week’s Session, Thursday, February 14th… Turning Opportunities Into INTERVIEWS: Networking IN to a targeted organization


bob-maher-4587-editNo. While these are all important, they pale in comparison to communication skills, BOTH personal and professional: Attentive listening, asking relevant questions, showing empathy, and knowing how to handle difficult communications are the most critical to career success.  They are vital to building healthy relationships, exchanging ideas, sharing feelings, gaining buy-in, setting clear expectations, and working collaboratively.

The lack of these skills is at the root of most conflicts, employee performance issues, failed projects, and lost opportunities…JOBS????

You can be a subject matter expert, but if you can’t communicate your ideas, your ideas are of little value. You can have a great value proposition, branding, for the future, but if you can’t get people to buy into it, your vision doesn’t matter. You can be a masterful manager, but if you can’t reassure or empathize with your clients, they will seek help elsewhere.

You might have a skill set/experience to sell, but if you can’t articulate a compelling value proposition, you won’t find many takers. Your ability to communicate determines your success at work or home.

How do you rate your current communication’s skills?  And, more importantly, how do you improve them to enhance job search or career transition SUCCESS?

A famous coach, of Green Bay Packer fame, spoke frankly when he said, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” Mr. Lombardi’s intent was CLEAR. He wanted his players to concentrate on PRACTICE, drilling on the “little things”, the basics, so that they became instinct during the heat of real life.

Such is productive mindset during any career transition, specifically related to your ability to relate your well positioned “story” to others, answer questions effectively, conduct productive negotiations, and, fine tune your personal marketing skills.

THE BASICS

So what are those basics that will allow you to effectively network to identify appropriate opportunities, and then secure the requisite INTERVIEWS in order to “close the deal?”

  1. “Tell me about yourself.”  Practice your two minute drill every chance you get…. it’s the fundamental building material of your communication strategy–your verbal personal marketing collaterals!
  2. Practice your exit and qualification statements… most all potential employers and networking contacts will want to know your current situation and why you are available.
  3. Practice answering both common and tough questions… including pre-offer negotiation tactics. The most asked question during career transition is, “Tell me about yourself.” Appropriate use of your two-minute drill and related verbal strategies, your “verbal collaterals,” is a key ingredient to personal marketing…
  • A verbal resume… A tightly focused, upbeat telling of “your story” told in a high impact two minute format. With practice, can be easily personalized to your listener.
  • An “elevator pitch”… A succinct summary of your qualifications for a specifically positioned function or opportunity. With practice, can become quite spontaneous.
  • A qualification statement that can be used in introducing yourself

Let’s not forget a couple of additional ‘collaterals’ that will help you round out your ability to ‘get the word out’ and serve as evidence of your qualifications.

  1. Brag bytes… Wordcraft various collections of words, phrases and sentences to capture memorable moments or accomplishments–the best you have to offer. “…saved 80% cost-perhire…” Used in MSWord, ‘Quick Parts’ can be quite efficient when building high impact correspondence as well.
  2. Personal Portfolio… Your collection of certificates, examples of work, reference letters, etc that can bring life and interest (not to mention PROOF) to your story.

The Ghost of Holidaze Past

happynewyearsmalltolargeThe holidays are a fun time to share gifts, visit with friends and family, take a break from work, and, let’s hope, relax. The trouble is that they are over fairly quickly. And once those days are over, people return to their regular routines, which now seem dull, or worse, depressing.

The biggest difficulty in getting back to the disciplined grind of job search is seeing the rewards and joy in what we do every day.


This Week’s Session, Thursday, January 10th:  Achieving CareerFIT,  an exploration of the assessment process


chalk1The contrast between ‘happy holidaze’ and ‘disciplined job search’ can be dehabilitating if we think about it that way. People underestimate how exhausting even happy holidays are and how much rest we need to recover… The holiday hangover is real… Don’t expect to be 100% productive on your first day back at it.

Once people get some rest over the weekend after the first week back, the fatigue should ease up significantly. Be aware of the signs that you may be overworked or over-stressed. These include uncharacteristically negative thoughts and feelings, as well as not finding time for or no longer looking forward to things you used to enjoy.

Burnout is a serious issue and can lead to severe depression and even suicidal ideation if left unaddressed. Some of the physical symptoms include heart palpitations, gastrointestinal issues, and excessive weight loss or gain. But you don’t have to experience any of these.

Back in school, we used to refer to the time between Christmas break and St. Patrick’s Day as ‘the dark ages.’  On ‘the job search calendar,’ this is actually the most productive time of the year.

With some effort and a few tricks, you can make it through this stressful transition period right after the holidays and prevent it from dragging out.

1. Think of time as an investment

We spend so much time getting ready for the holidays and then they are over in just a week, which can be disappointing. The best way to deal with that feeling is to think about the holiday preparation as an investment:  The time you spend decorating, buying gifts, and making plans is really an investment in creating a special experience for you and yours that will continue to pay dividends long after the holidays are over. Like all investments, sometimes it doesn’t pay off in the way we hoped, but we can rest in the knowledge that we invested ourselves in something personally meaningful.

2. Don’t expect perfection

It’s important to have compassion for yourself and others about the transition back and not expect perfection.  You may want to disclose too many personal stories, giving out a lot more than just professional information.  If you want to keep things more professional, express empathy, and gently redirect your networking dialog to work related matters.

3. Know it’s unnatural to simply switch off from the “happiness of the season”

In a way, it is unnatural for people to completely compartmentalize their lives when they walk in or out of the disciplined structure of productive and efficient job search activity. While appropriate boundaries are important, it is unhealthy to stuff thoughts and emotions down or deny them just because the clock says it is time; finding that balance can be a real challenge for some.

Realistically, it takes a couple of weeks to really get back into a regular routine… People spend the last 30 to 90 days of the year winding down and letting go of all their good habits… It’s going to take time to re-establish healthy behaviors and get back on track.

4. Use technology with purpose

It’s not about permanently switching off your computer or television and throwing out your smartphone. Absolutes may not be the answer.  Instead, it can be helpful to think about how you choose to use social media and other available technologies… what purpose you want it to serve for you.  Is it serving that purpose?

If not — and especially if it takes more away from you then you get out of it — it might be time to be more intentional about media consumption and only use it for the purpose you want.

5. Give yourself a ramp-up period

“Maybe use a couple of days to figure out your new goals and professional expectations for this year,” Taylor said. “Let yourself slowly (but steadily) get back into your routine.” You can burn out if you try to jump back in too quickly, so take one task at a time and set a rhythm for yourself, she added.

6. Stay away from unmotivated people

They can be contagious… If you’re around folks who haven’t gotten back into the swing of things, it’s easier to follow suit. They may actively be telling you that ‘there’s always tomorrow’ or ‘just start on a Monday,’ or it may just be something you feel is easier when no one else around you is moving forward. Avoid these people for a while, if you can.

Network and develop your network with employed people.

7. Go on short walks

After the holidays, our minds might wander and we might be thinking about places we’d rather be or things we’d rather be doing than staying engaged in SMART jo search activities. By spending just five minutes quietly focusing on your breath, you can bring a sense of calmness and clarity to your day and increase attention to your work-at-hand.

8. Exercise

THE CareerPilot recommends regular exercise — and especially outdoor exercise if the weather permits…  It helps regulate levels of cortisol, the “stress” hormone, and adrenaline. It can be very effective at getting our bodies and moods regulated again for countless reasons.  If you haven’t had a regular practice…START ONE!

9. Be mindful of the good times ahead

Remembering the good memories from the holidays, while also being mindful of the good times in the coming weeks, months, and in the new year can be helpful in beating the post-holiday blues. Being stuck in the past makes a person less open to and appreciative of the next big thing that may come along.

Physically active people are also more productive and motivated in all areas of their lives.  You can get more energy, and the same chemicals released from an antidepressant medication, when you’re working out.

10. Practice gratitude

Practicing gratitude is very helpful but not in a hit-and-run way… It is more helpful if a person spends some time reflecting on why he or she is grateful and how it is meaningful.  Spending time regularly practicing gratitude rewires the brain by gradually shifting what we pay attention to and are aware of.

You get bonus points if you express your gratitude in depth to another person and build it into your home or job search dialog.

ADVICE OVERLOAD vs. “LISTENING TO YOUR MARKETPLACE”

roadsign-banner2Many people talk about “information overload” and “decision fatigue” when it comes to how to conduct your job search, or write your resume, or develop your LinkedIn Profile…or answer those challenging interview questions.  THE Careerpilot  believes there’s another side to the coin… Receiving options is actually motivational and liberating, with the right mindset.  Asking for someone else’s advice isn’t about getting the right answer out of them. Rather, it’s about adding perspective to your view so you can choose the right answer for you.

So, how can you ensure another ‘second opinion’ doesn’t cloud your judgement?


NEXT Session: Thursday, November 8th @8:45 AM… Closing The Deal I: Interview STRATEGIES, including MoneySpeak and PRE-Offer negotiation.


chalk1First and foremost, understand that your ‘core personality,’ defined by your unique strengths, skills, interests, preferences, and values (Step#1: ASSESSMENT), drives your “gut feel” on matters of choice.  TRUST that!

In THE Careerpilot’s 12-Step M.A.P. for career transition, Steps #1 and #2 are in place for one simple reason: If you don’t have a grip on what you want to do next in your career, work toward giving yourself that grip!  Your core personality should be represented in your offer criteria BEFORE development of your Personal Marketing collateral materials, like your resume!

If you cannot connect your motivated skills and strengths to supportive and confirming episodes from your actual experience, you should be utilizing your first wave of implementing your Personal Marketing Plan (Step#9) to identify and resolve this vital issue.

Only then will it become effective to proceed with Step#3 in the development and practice of your collective communication strategies (keywords) in the design of your collateral materials, both verbal and written.  Remember: Perfect practice makes PERFECT!

And that brings us to Step#4, once you are satisfied with a market-ready resume, share it with your references, coaching them to be in sync with your communication strategies.  Your references should know you well, better than any other editorial resource available to you.  Consider these two things before reaching out:

  1. ALWAYS respect the time management of the person you’re interacting with
  2. Instead of seeking JOB help… consider a very different acronym: AIR… you should be seeking Advice, Information, and/or a R

When asked, your contact may throw ideas out there for the kind of job you should have, the kind of path you should take, the kind of responsibilities you should own, or the kinds of decisions you should make. You can let it overwhelm you, or you can pick and choose what you want to factor in, and let everything else fall to the wayside…

This is an over-simplification, but it’s truly that simple. Once you see others’ advice as something you can take rather than something you have to take, the pressures off, and you can make decisions that align with your values.

This also frees you up to make the more challenging decisions based on cumulative feedback that you have heard and listened to from the job market…  how to conduct your job search, or write your resume, or develop your LinkedIn Profile…or answer those challenging interview questions. The more collective ‘advice and information,’ the better!

Remember, too, that the traditional marketplace’s over-reliance and obsession with keywords is what drives your dynamic need for feedback on your resume.  Besides, you should be constantly tweaking your market-ready resume to stay in sync with actual job descriptions and other opportunities.

Learn to embrace the OTHER job market!

IDENTIFYING OPPORTUNITIES…And Turning Them into INTERVIEWS

Compass-seaLIf you are not absolutely clear about what you want as that NEXT STEP in your career, envision an ideal position that will value you for the main characteristics and experiences you want to be hired for.

Since you need to be concise and clear when developing your Personal Marketing collateral materials (resume, BIO, verbal communication, and your LinkedIn profile),  it’s important to figure out what you best offer in your next position, so you know exactly what skills and experiences to highlight.

Make FIT happen!


NEXT Session:  Thursday, November 1st…Turning Opportunities Into INTERVIEWS: A HOW-TO look at turning research and target organization networking into INTERVIEWS!


Ready+aim+fireRESEARCH: Analyze Your Target Industry

Once you know what you want to do, your next step is identifying where you want to be—think industry, city, and companies. Then, research your industry and key trends affecting it now: Read relevant industry news articles, research companies, and analyze job descriptions you’re interested in.

SELF-Assessment: Find Your Fit and Focus on CAREER Objectives

With your knowledge of your target industry, it’s time to figure out how you fit in (or want to). Identify, describe, and refine your key selling points with your end goal in mind. Then, craft them into 4-6 bullets, shooting for statements that are vivid and that clearly illustrate what you bring to the table over anyone else.

Ask Yourself

  • What is the intersection of your ‘value proposition’ and what your target industry, or specific Company, needs?
  • What are your most impactful areas of experience, knowledge, or skill?
  • What critical problems are you well suited to solve?

Pay Attention to the Nitty Gritty

As you begin to think about the type of career transition you want to make, what IS the next appropriate employment for you… start out by documenting what you already know to be true about your professional self.

  1. Give specific attention to what you spend the most time doing, those functional details of your work that have the greatest impact on your employer’s success, and, especially, what are you uniquely providing that gives value to your role?
  2. Take notes about when you’re feeling particularly unmotivated or unenthused about your job. Write down the tasks that bring you down as well as those that get you excited.
  3. It may seem like a tedious exercise, but if you stick with it, patterns will start to emerge. And it’s in teasing out these patterns that’ll help you build a picture of the role that’s right for you.

Schedule  Informational “Interviews” With Key Contacts

In addition to being introspective, it’s also important to get out there and start becoming your own best CAREER Coach, learning about satisfying next steps, the career moves you’re interested in.   And what better resource than the very people already in, or connected with, those you seek?

As an active job seeker, especially in the first few months of a job search, networking your way to one informational interview per week is essential to your campaign’s success.  This may sound like a lot, but initially quantity is more important than quality as you want to get a sense of a wide variety of roles in different industries based on the results of your introspection.

The more people you speak with, the more you’ll be exposed to fields you might wish to pursue. With that said, you don’t want the person on the receiving end to feel that way—so always make sure to come prepared and send a thank you.