Making A Career Do-Over In 2017

I’m tired of hearing “Do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” That is such baloney! Even if you happen to enjoy your work, no one loves their job all the time – no one. But, you can get closer to your ideal job with each step you take. I specialize in career and job transitions and have been coaching clients, students, friends and family for a long time.  I can tell you with certainty, not pursuing a new direction is not about the economy, the lack of opportunity, not having the right credentials, or not being in the right place at the right time. These are factors but are not the core issues. In real life it’s about change.

So, how do you feel about change? Because change, whether adapting to it or making it happen, is a pre-requisite for career success. Why? Because it is inevitable, constant, sometimes predictable, and oftentimes, you can actually plan for it. And adapting to change has the built-in benefit of getting better at it with time: the sooner you get more comfortable with making a change, the easier your life transitions become. It’s the old “if/then” theory from CompSci class at work. So, where do you begin?

You begin where you are right now, today, and you start with these three questions:

  1. Do you consider your job to be mediocre?
  2. Do you show up every day just so you can pay the bills?
  3. Would you do something different if you had the chance?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then 2017 can be your year! (“If/then” theory at work here.)  Because truth be told, (and I will only tell you truths), you are the only, and I repeat, only driver of your career bus! Only you will choose how you’re going to approach/handle/manage every job, every career aspiration, every career choice, every period of unemployment or every career opportunity you accept or choose not to accept. And you will have numerous opportunities to make these kinds of decisions throughout your working life. Why? Because change is constant―and the logic is the same, for us, for the companies that employ us, and for entrepreneurs who are self-employed.

Three things to start doing in January if you want to make a job or career change in 2017:

  1. Stop “getting ready” to make a change and act. Register for that class, learn that computer program, get that license.
  2. Focus on your destination, start researching what you should know about the job or career you aspire to. Read some books, talk with people already doing the work you want to do, visit places that employ these people. And finally …
  3. If you don’t know what your next stop looks like, or if you don’t have a clue how to transition the skills you’ve already have in to a new and different career, then talk to someone who does, someone who is trained and certified to help someone just like yourself.

When it’s all said and done, it really isn’t a “do-over” after all—it’s simply a continuation of the career story you already started and are still writing.

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What Introverts Can Teach Us About Job Search by Cheryl Milmoe, CARW, ACRW

Don’t mistake an introvert’s quiet nature for shyness. They enjoy, and need, time alone to energize their minds and fuel their creativity. Sharp interviewers know that it’s just a matter of asking the right questions to get an introvert talking about what they do. They don’t speak just to keep conversations going but will readily contribute when they have something meaningful to say. They recognize the importance of the interview and know that you never get a second chance to make a first impression so they spend a good deal of time preparing so they can share, in a conversational way, why they’re good at what they do- a tremendous advantage when looking for work.

Introverts are intellectually persistent. They invest significant time honing their craft and absolutely love what they do. Take Steve Wosniack for example. Drawn to computers at an early age, he was rarely bored when alone and spent considerable time thinking about how he could make computers come to life. Once he partnered with the extrovert Steve Jobs, another creative thinker, Apple was born.

Introverts love researching topics that interest them. They can spend hours finding out what’s important about a company or a job that interests them. By the time they get to the interview, there isn’t much about the company they haven’t explored and might even have a few questions to ask the interviewer about the position. Because of this preparation, they can speak freely and convincingly about how they may have handled a similar situation in the past and will eagerly share promising solutions to the hiring manager’s latest challenge.

They seek out mentors. Introverts are inspired by people they can learn from. When I was with Salomon Brothers, we would flock to the auditorium to hear our largest shareholder, the introvert Warren Buffet, share his views on how our company was doing. He cautioned us to heed the warning signs of the market and to resist the urges that get companies into trouble. In all of his presentations, he was teaching us to listen, observe, and evaluate before taking action.

Scheduling time to think. This is a prerequisite in the introvert’s prudent planning process. They recognize networking and interviewing as rungs on the ladder to success, so they prepare. They have organized their thoughts in advance whether it’s a walk at lunch time, a quick stop into a nearby park, or alone time in the cafeteria. They are reflective by nature and are known to take a moment to process what they are being asked before replying to an interviewer’s question. Because of this meditative posture they come across as more prepared, are more likely to stay on topic, and are more thorough in their answers. These are all strong, impressive and winning behaviors in any interviewer’s mind.

Check any social media platform to see how our culture pays homage to assertive people and their behaviors. Would you be surprised to know that extroverts love having the stage and have a flair for the dramatic? Donald Trump, Muhammad Ali, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, even Margaret Thatcher all fall under the extrovert banner. Extroverts are the socializers at meetings and the first to volunteer for projects.

Introverts are typically more subdued, some might even say quiet. Abraham Lincoln, Bill Gates, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mark Zuckerberg and Albert Einstein seek/sought solitude to cultivate their creativity. Their mannerisms are reserved, they state things directly and simply, their speech is even and modulated. These traits enable them to communicate clearly, concisely and genuinely― all winning attributes when looking for work.

Great TED talk on Introverts by Susan Cain

Are you one of the job seekers taking the summer off from actively looking for work? You are not alone. People say “My resume is posted on several job boards and the recruiters I work with know I’m still looking. I’ll get an email if anything comes up.”
This approach may seem logical while you’re hangin’ at the beach or visiting friends at their summer rentals. But in the careers business, this is what we call a “passive job search” that yields little to no benefit. Once the children return to school and vacation time is over, the “chill” in the air becomes all too apparent.

Without a sense of urgency, options dwindle―you have entered a state of diminishing returns. Here’s something to think about while getting ready for the BBQ, your kids soccer game, or the beach club.

Many people you will see at these events are employed, often with companies you have the talent, skills and experience they need. While helping to flip some burgers, start a conversation: “So, how’s it going Joe?” “On vacation this week?” ”That’s great” ― “You’re with xxx, right?”― “I saw on LinkedIn that they acquired XYZ company.” “How are things going since the merger?” You know, I specialize in the work that they do.” “Do you know someone I could send my resume to?” “Great—OK to use your name?” “Good, I’ll let you know how it goes-thanks. “BTW, do you want yours rare or well done?”

Statistics show that resumes referred in from current employees are read and seriously considered almost 100% of the time. This is why networking works―companies get applicants who have already passed muster with one of their own and know that no one is going to risk their professional reputation by putting someone forward who might reflect badly on them.

Ca-ching! The company gets a quality candidate, the employee gets a big thank you, maybe even a monetary incentive, and the networker gets noticed and maybe hired. Something to think about while you’re putting on the sunblock.

Changin’ It Up

Not sure why it took me so long, but finally, after many revisions, design changes, and numerous conversations with Loretta King of Liking Marketing, my shiny new website is up and running.  The “old” site did a great job for a long time and brought many new clients to Cardinal Expert Resumes.  But the past six years changed how Americans manage their careers.

The job market changed, social media took center stage, and how we work and why we work took a dramatic turn when the economy hit the wall in 2008.  In addition to coping with the economic uncertainty we live with today, job seekers had to re-think how to get noticed—get interviewed— and get hired.

Two examples of what’s new:

How people look for jobs.

THEN: Check out company websites, call a recruiter, search Monster, CareerBuilder, and then check Monster and CareerBuilder again … every day.

NOW: Job searches are multi-pronged: ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) source candidates. LinkedIn is huge. This is a tremendous resource for recruiters; they account for 50% of LinkedIn’s revenues. Job seekers can attract attention with strategically written profiles that doesn’t mimic their resumes, they can customize their searches, and make contacts within their targeted companies.

How people get hired.

THEN: Identify a job that interests you. Submit an application. Get an interview and possibly an offer.

NOW: Network into the company using social media, identify the hiring managers.  Follow your targeted companies on LinkedIn to stay on top of what’s happening there. Are they solid financially? Making acquisitions? Expanding into new markets? Laying off?

Let me know what you would like to hear about. There will be more to come now that I’m back in the blogging business!

Thanks for visiting.

Thought for today:

“I’d rather attempt something great and fail then to attempt nothing and succeed.”  Robert H. Schuller