ACHIEVER VS. DOER: HOW TO DEVELOP AN ACCOMPLISHMENT DRIVEN RESUME

In today’s highly competitive job market, you really need to demonstrate that you are an achiever rather than just a doer. This means that you need to take your task-driven resume and highlight some accomplishments. Accomplishments can be special projects or contributions in which you improved, increased, decreased, changed, streamlined, or saved (and many more) money, time, process, etc.… And anytime you can add a quantifiable metric to your accomplishment in the form of a %, $, or #, the better.

One of the most common objections I get from my clients when we are working together on revamping their resume is that they just did their job and that they don’t have any accomplishments. So here is an exercise that I do with them to get them in the accomplishment mind frame:

Step One: What are you most proud of

Maybe think about a skill that you demonstrate that is relevant to the job you want to apply for. By starting off thinking about this piece you are able to see your contributions above and beyond just your job. For example, while saying, “I am most proud of the fact that I didn’t kill my boss” might not work an accomplishment, spinning it to show your ability to communicate during a difficult situation will because it highlights a very important skill set.

Step Two: Now we need some action

Let’s break it down. So, you didn’t kill your curmudgeon old boss. Good. Now, think about your actions during that time. Did you adapt your communication style to improve understanding? Did you find ways to soften your boss before meeting with him? Tell me about your action that produced the result.

Step Three: Words make it impactful

Now let’s find an action word to really make it impactful. You want to consider four areas: action verbs, company values, popular skills, or industry keywords. For example:

Action Verbs: Executed, Achieved, Designed, Streamlined

Company Values: Innovative, Communicative, Supportive, Driven

Popular Skills: Managed, Leadership, Ownership, Adaptability

Industry Keywords:  Facilitated, Launched, Demonstrated, Coordinated

Step Four: Let’s wrap it up!

And finally, let’s put it all together: “Demonstrated the ability to communicate during difficult situations by remaining calm and adapting communication style to improve message delivery and understanding.” See what we did there? Each accomplishment should highlight a situation, YOUR action, and the result (even if it is not quantifiable).

Not every job out there has quantifiable metrics or huge company altering contributions, but by applying a little creativity and being a little boastful, you can pack your resume full of accomplishments that show your prospective employer that you are a mover and a shaker and can really go above and beyond in your new job!

Resume writing is tough. It has taken me years of practice, lots of training, and God-given talent to be good at it. If you find yourself struggling to put together something that will make you shine, let’s chat and build you a resume that really shows that you are a super-star!

THE FOUR PHASES OF A CAREER CHANGE

Most anyone in Denver will recognize this infamous mural, “Larimer Girl and Boy”. This is one of my favorite pieces of art in Denver, not only because it is so cool, but because of what it represents – change. See, as you begin to stroll past this mural, you see a girl and as you keep moving past the wall, it transitions into a boy. And if a painting can transition into something else, imagine what you can do!

Change is hard. Most of my life I have resisted change because it felt uncomfortable and was scared of what was on the other side, but life has shown me that change can be a good thing. Change can help us become who we were meant to be. When we think about it in terms of our changing careers, there are 4 main phases.

Phase One

Phase one is recognizing that feeling that something isn’t right. This is that uncomfortable phase where you aren’t really happy with what you are doing, but you might not know why or what to do about it. Don’t run from it, lean into it and explore your feelings. Which leads to phase two.

Phase Two

Phase two is feeling all the feels. You contemplate a change. You are curious, excited, scared, unsure, thrilled and more. You are exploring the feelings of your dissatisfaction, trying to pinpoint what actions to take. Take time to really recognize what you a feeling. Take a long walk, journal, talk to a trusted source, but don’t ignore your feelings. Let those feelings tell you how to take your next step.

Phase Three

Phase three is all about action.  This is where you do your research. Talk to others about it. Pray about it. Visualize it. Whatever it might be, you are full in and finding out what that next step is for you. Take time to talk to people who can strategically help you, that might have been in your shoes or can lead you through this process.

Phase Four

Phase four is when it all comes together. This is where you discover what comes next, you have a plan of action, and are ready for your new direction. You are beginning your transformation into something new and it is exciting!

Change doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Recognize what you are feeling and be smart about it and be ready for what comes on the other side of the wall!

If you are feeling unhappy but not sure what to do about it, send me a message today. Let’s work together to explore those feelings and find the right path for you!

WHAT TOOLS DO YOU NEED IN YOUR JOB SEARCH TOOLBOX?

Growing up, my dad had every tool you could imagine. In our garage, he hung them on pegboards, stacked them up in a giant, rolling toolbox, and neatly aligned them in our outside shed. I was always amazed that he seemed to always have the right tool for the job, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that it is nice to be this prepared, because you never know what challenges might arise, in a house or in life.

In thinking about my papa’s extensive tool collection, I started to think about what tools we use to help us overcome the challenges in life. The proverbial toolbox, if you may. The accumulation of experience, strategies, and methods that can be drawn on in life. Some are well worn, used constantly and some only come out for that special project. In job seeking and career transitions, we have all sorts of tools that we can pull out: online job boards, resumes, social media, etc.…, but which ones can be the most effective? Because we don’t want to use the sledgehammer to crack a nut, now do we?

Here are my top 4 tools that EVERY job seeker should utilize whether they are simply changing jobs or completely changing careers.

Tool #1: Your Brand

Your brand consists of your resume, cover letter, and online profile. Individually, these serve different purposes and together they can represent a strong snapshot of what you are, what you can do, and why you would be a great asset to a company. The tool, if properly maintained and cared for, can yield you outstanding results. The three biggest things to remember about this tool: keep it focused, keep it updated, and keep it out to use all the time!

Tool #2: LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the most powerful tools in our box and is ranked as the #1 source of quality hires and top recruiters are more engaged with LinkedIn than other recruiter tools. So what does that mean for you? Opportunity! LinkedIn allows you not only to find jobs, but to also engage with hiring managers and recruiters from your dream company, demonstrate a level of expertise by sharing articles, posts, and nuggets of information, and allows you to build a network that helps you achieve your goals! Talk about an all-in-one tool!

Tool #3: A GOOD Recruiter or Staffing Agency

I emphasize good on a recruiter and staffing agency because there, unfortunately, are recruiters and agencies that are not worth your time. But a GOOD recruiter or agency can act as your partner and advocate in your job search. A good recruiter will help you achieve your goals by connecting you with people and companies, even if they are not sourcing for that particular position. As you search for some help, be picky. Treat it like dating and find one that fits you, understands your goals, and treats you with respect. Good recruiters are like gold! Treat them like it!

Tool #4: Your Network

Employee referrals are the top source of quality hires. That means that companies are looking to their employees to refer to who they know for open positions. Strategically cultivate a network by interacting with people with your same interests, that work at companies that you are interested in, and that are within your industry/job type. Just remember though, you are BUILDING this network so, show up, be present, and engage with your network. Let them know who you are, what you can do, and why you are awesome!

Just like the real tools in your toolbox, your metaphorical tools need regular maintenance to remain useful. Stay acquainted with them, learn their different functions, and get familiar with them so you can use them most effectively!

 

HOW TO OVERCOME JOB SEARCH FAILURES

 

“It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” - Epictetus

Let me tell you about one of my clients, Hannah. Hannah is a bright, 30-something-year-old who has had a lot of bad luck in her career. Even though she is talented and a hard worker, she kept finding herself in jobs that didn’t work out for one reason or another and had to keep starting over. She expressed to me that she had thought that at this point in her life, she would be in a better place and now feels like a total failure.

I told Hannah that while failures, rejections, and disappointments are hard and painful, if you are able to handle them in a productive way, they can be as beneficial to your career as a huge accomplishment.

After we talked for a while, Hannah and I sat down and come up with a plan on what she could do to overcome these failures. Here are a few of the tips:

ACKNOWLEDGE IT

You know the old saying, “The first step is admitting…”. When we acknowledge a situation, we are able to take control of it so it doesn’t control you. Instead of blaming others or external factors, own up to the part you played in it.

DON’T LET IT BREAK YOU

This one is a tough one, even for me. In both personal and professional situations, it can be easy to dwell on the negative while letting the positives just pass right by you. This just makes the bad seem that much worse. Next time, try focusing on the positives. Be proud that you tried!! Just because things might not have gone as you liked, don’t let one mistake, failure, or negative piece of information derail you from your goals.

REVISIT IT WITH A FRESH PERSPECTIVE

When you experience heartache and discouragement, especially over and over again, you can easily want to give up and think that you are destined for lifelong failures. But, after a bit of time, you should be able to come back to it and look at it a way to learn from it. In order to grow and develop, we need challenges and even failures. While it is hard to remember when you are feeling defeated, giving yourself a little time and grace will allow you to look at your situation with a new, fresh perspective.

ACCEPT IT

Accepting your failure doesn’t mean being proud of it, cursing the universe for your “bad luck,” or admitting to yourself that you suck and should give up. Accepting your failure is understanding that this is an obstacle and knowing that you need to figure out how to overcome it.  When you’re able to accept and face these failures head-on, you’ll learn to stop allowing them to prevent you from pursuing your dreams.

MAKE A PLAN

Every successful person in the world has a story about how they failed at one point of their career (hello, can we talk about Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, and even Oprah). Every single one of those successful persons will also tell you that they took that failure, evaluated it, learned from it, and made a plan on how to move forward. There are plenty of things you can proactively do to get your career back on track and taking the time to map out those options will eventually get you to where you want to be.

Hannah is now in a great job with a great company and she is thriving. She was able to take what she was experiencing and turn it around for her benefit. Now, it’s your turn. How are you going to bounce back from your failures? By hiding under the covers or taking charge?

If you are ready to take charge of your career, send me a message today and let’s work together to find a plan that turns your failures into a great success story!

HOW TO IDENTIFY AND WRITE AN ACCOMPLISHMENT

Far too often, I come across a resume that reads like a job description. Responsible for this, responsible for that, managed a team, blah, blah, blah, and nothing tells me what they can actually do. Including achievements in your resume is a great opportunity to show the recruiter or hiring manager that you can get the job done and do it well. Many of my clients fight me on this and say things like, “I just did my job” or “I don’t want to brag too much” in which I say, “BULLS$IT!!”. When searching for a job, you have to have a little ego, be boastful about what you have done, even if it’s “just doing your job”.

So, you are probably thinking, “Dianna, that is all great in theory, but I don’t know what to say!” Well, I am here to help you with that. Here is how you can identify and develop your accomplishments for your resume:

1. Brainstorm a list of ideas. Thinking about your time at your job, what are you most proud of? Have you ever received a positive comment from a boss or colleague? Did you ever have a particularly challenging problem that you had to solve? Make a recommendation to improve anything or even did your job better than the person in the cubicle next to you?

2. Now review this list with a focus on the job that you want to apply for. Pick out examples that demonstrate the abilities the job is asking for. For example, maybe this new job wants you to be able to manage a team. Do you have an example of how you coached and developed your direct report, so they received a promotion?

3. Focus on including action verbs, what you specifically did, and quantifiable results. So instead of simply saying, “Managed a team.” You can say “Directed a team of sales representatives, deploying coaching techniques that developed 5 team members to the point of receiving internal promotions.” See the difference?

Talking about your accomplishments is not egotistical or boastful, it’s necessary. Put yourself in your prospective employer's shoes, would you rather hire someone who just merely does their job or someone who can make a difference?

Do you need a little help in identifying and crafting your list of accomplishments? Let’s make time to chat about what you have done. By hearing your stories and asking you specific questions and, I am able to help you see all the amazing things you have done and help you put it together in a way that employers will love! 

WHAT'S YOUR TYPE?

Everyone has a type. A type of guy or girl they like, a type of style they love, type of music, and even a type of job seeker. We are all unique and come with different strengths, personality traits, and motivations and because of those varying range of traits, a job search cannot be a one-size-fits-all type of approach. By understanding what kind of job seeker you are, you can better understand what approach you should take.

THE PERSISTENT JOB SEEKER

This guy gets a bad rap most of the type. Their approach can appear over-the-top or desperate at times because they are not satisfied by simply applying for a job. They will not rest until they have exhausted every avenue of follow-through with an organization that they are interested in. While their intentions might be innocent, they can annoy some.

If you are this type of job seeker, your persistence is a strong suit showing great qualities of commitment and loyalty, but remember to be respectful of your recruiter and hiring manager's time. You don’t know what is going on with their workload. Follow up once after their stated timelines, but if they are not getting back to you, move on. If they are interested, they will do whatever it takes to get you into their organization.

THE LAZY JOB SEEKER

 On the opposite side, you have your casual job seeker. This guy takes a very lackadaisical approach to finding a job. They are looking for the easy way and doing the minimum amount needed to actually apply for a job. They don’t want to network or spend time promoting themselves. They won’t customize their applications or cover letters because it takes too much time. These can be easily spotted to an employer, as they appear to be disinterested in the whole process. 

If you find yourself not wanting to put your all into the job search, as yourself why. Maybe this career path is not for you and you need to reexamine your priorities. But in the end, your attitude needs to shift!

THE GUNG-HO JOB SEEKER

These guys make finding a job a full-time job. They put a great amount of hard work and dedication in every phase of the process. They are up-to-date on market activity, scoping out possible openings before they are even listed. They are building relationships with hiring managers, recruiters, and other key players in their industry. They go above and beyond in the application phase, almost always following-up by getting in touch with the appropriate people.

While a lot of these activities are the right ones, you might be feeling burned out in your job search. Giving your all is great in a job search, and those activities will lead you to a great job, remember that you should be spending all day, every day looking for a job. Block out maybe 2-3 hours per day to focus on this. That way you are staying fresh and energized to keep going until you find that perfect opportunity!

No matter what kind of job seeker you are, remember that no one way is the perfect way. Keep evaluating your circumstances and results and adapt along the way.

 

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ENCOUNTER PREJUDICE DURING YOUR SEARCH

Prejudice. This is a tough one for me. Recently, I had a prospective client say, “you come off as young and youth usually means lack of experience.” It stung. This person didn’t even give me the benefit of the doubt that I was experienced and just assumed that I wasn’t good enough because of my age. I thought about this person all day, ranging from anger to hurt to wanting to tell him off. But what I struggle more with is the fact that these snap judgments are made constantly – in our daily work lives, our job search, and our businesses. We are not judged for our qualifications, but for our appearance, our ages, our weight, how long we’ve been out of work or in the industry we are in and even the way we talk or what we choose to wear is judged.

The sad reality is that we cannot control these prejudices against us, so what CAN we control?  As I think back on that situation and how I was feeling, I realized there are three things that I learned that can help you in your job search

What I learned: I can control my attitude. I get to choose whether or not I let someone make me miserable. Instead of feeling hurt and angry, I could have chosen positivity. Keeping a positive attitude would have allowed me to move on faster from that situation.

How it can help you: When you are faced with prejudice in your job search, try not to take it personally. Recognize that it is just a small bump in your path and move forward!

What I learned: I can choose how I will react. Instead of getting upset and cursing his name, I could have politely addressed the situation with him. Sometimes, people are unaware of the hurtful nature of their words and drawing attention to them will provide a great learning opportunity.

How it can help you: If you are comfortable, confront the prejudiced person, being polite and assertive. Try and talk to the person privately and see what happens and if that doesn’t work, talk to a supervisor. This might not get you the job, but it will alert the company to a serious internal problem.

What I learned: I should have reached out to my support system. I have been able to cultivate a great group of people that support me in my business. People who will listen to me, let me express my frustration, and, if appropriate, provide advice. Instead of fuming and feeling hurt, I should have sought out their support.

How it can help you: Job hunting is exhausting, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s even worse if you are facing prejudice while you are doing it. Build a group of people that can support you during this time, friends, family members, other job seekers, or even a professional coach can help.

The biggest thing to remember is to not share those prejudices. Remember how awesome you are and look at yourself through your own eyes, not theirs.

5 Tips to Finding a New Job in A New City

Do you have to move before finding a job in a new city? This is a very valid question and whether you are moving for a better opportunity, family obligations, or just a plain old fresh start, the truth is that you don’t need to move first. Here are a few tactics to help you land that job prior to the U-Haul pulling up in your driveway.

Research the new city that you want to be in.

Ask yourself key questions such as; What’s my industry like in this city? What’s the probability that I can get a good job? What’s the cost of living index, and will my likely salary be able to manage it? Will I have to downgrade my current lifestyle because the new city won’t let my dollars stretch as far? Research areas to live in, hotspots to visit, culture, and whatever else is important to you and your lifestyle. The more information you have, the better off you will be.

Leverage your current networking and begin building one in your new city.

 See who you know in there. Friends, family, past colleagues, alumni connections. Can they introduce you to anyone else? Try to connect with others in the city that might have a common connect and ENGAGE with them. Simply adding a connection is not enough.  

Make it clear that you are relocation in your cover letter.

A prospective company might give preference to a local candidate because they won’t have to fork out the big bucks on relocation costs. Be sure to address this clearly in your cover letter to ensure you are still being considered. There are three ways to do this: The start of the cover letter, “My family and I are moving to Denver in April…”. At the end of the letter, “I am currently in the process of moving to Denver and have the resources in place that would allow me to relocate immediately upon hiring.” A general statement, “I am willing to travel and relocation for your service.”

Join Groups (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc…) in your new city.

Look for groups that are in your industry, line of work, or even hobby. This will allow you to engage with like-minded people in your new city, chat with them about their companies, areas to live in, and even hotspots that you should try.  Not only are you building new friendships in your city, but these are the people that might refer you into your new job.  

Target 3-5 companies that you would like to work for in your new city.

 Make a list of 3-5 ideal companies that you would like to work at and get as much information as you can about them and their hiring process. Check out places like Glassdoor, Yelp, and Indeed to see customer and employee reviews. Follow them and interact with them on social media. Reach out to company recruiters or hiring managers through a direct message and introduce yourself. Let them know that you will be in town and ask if they have 10 minutes for you to drop by and learn about their work and company.

It’s undeniably harder to find a job when you are not local, but not impossible. Even under the best circumstances, a job search takes time and perseverance. Manage your expectations during this process and keep your head up and soon enough, you’ll be packing that U-Haul!

 

IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN

Far too often, I have a person come to me, months into their job search feeling deflated and rejected. They come with the attitude that what they want is never going to happen. As we begin to talk and I discover more about their situation, I typically find that they are taking a very passive approach to their job search. They might have a general idea on what they want to do, but as we talk about their job search, they have 10+ different job titles that they are searching for. They tend to have a generic, either outdated or over-designed resume. They don’t network, they are not using LinkedIn, and what they are doing is spending their time on online job boards, clicking to apply. And unfortunately, taking this strategy probably means that is never going to happen.

I’m not going to lie, there are success stories out there of people who take this sort of approach and find a job, but I’m here to tell you that there is a better way! One where you are in control and taking positive actions to get to where you want to be! There are 5 main areas in which you should be specific and proactive in:

YOUR LINE OF WORK

Most people say that they want to stay “open” in their job search and not limit themselves to just one job. I get it. And you shouldn’t limit yourself BUT you should have clarity on what your ideal job is.

Why is this important? Specificity is going to be your best friend. Why? Because the more focused you are on the exact thing you want, the more likely you are to bring it into your life. For example, if you are pursuing the field of marketing, drill that down. Are you interested in doing a little bit of everything? Or is there a specific area like branding, SEO, or social media that you want to focus on? By being specific you will not only have a MUCH more effective job search, but you are also ensuring that you are going to get into a job that fits you and your interests rather than just another marketing job.

YOUR INDUSTRY AND/OR TYPE OF COMPANY

I say this ALL the time with my clients (and honestly, they are probably sick of it!):

You might love WHAT you do, but if you don’t love WHERE you do it, you are not going to be happy and satisfied.

Ask questions that will help you determine what the kind of environment is that you will thrive in. For example:

  • What size of company do I want to work for?

  • Is the mission of the company important to you?

  • What about the products or services they are offering?

  • What growth and learning opportunities will you have?

  • What kind of boss would you work best under?

These are just a few questions, but focusing in on the important details will help find that company that you absolutely love and what to grow in!

YOUR BRAND

I know, I know. You have heard this a million times from me, but as long as I am doing this, I am going to keep on saying that a targeted brand is a MUCH MORE effective brand. Your brand should be specific to your line of work (see the importance of point #1) and you should be customizing this for every job that you apply for. I get it, applications take a long time to complete, but if you are being specific in your job search, you won’t have to customize as much!! See how that works?

Five easy ways to add focus to your brand:

  1. Update your resume title

  2. Have your key skills/areas of expertise match up with the job that you are applying for.

  3. Customize your cover letter to show how your values align with the company values

  4. Identify the three most important qualities of the position and highlight how your skills match that in your cover letter.

  5. Optimize your LinkedIn Profile to demonstrate that you are an expert in that field

YOUR STRATEGY

This might be the most important stage to be proactive in! I cannot stress this point enough: YOU HAVE TO BE PROACTIVE IN YOUR JOB SEARCH! This means:

  • You are actively targeting your ideal employer

  • You are networking both online and offline on a REGULAR basis

  • You are constantly evaluating your strategy and adjusting to ensure you are the most effective

  • You are leveraging your network BEFORE you apply for a job online

  • You are showing off your knowledge and expertise in your field

  • You are talking about your job search – sharing wins and challenges and letting people know where you want to be

YOUR SKILLS

Let me ask you this, would you wait until you had the job to learn an important skill? Probably not. So, why are you waiting to learn the skills needed for a successful job search? The three most important skills a job seeker can have are:

  1. Networking. This is a skill and requires practice, especially if you are on the shyer or the more introverted side.

  2. Interviewing. This is your opportunity to impress! Build your skills in this area to feel confident as you are walking in for your ideal job.

  3. Negotiating. Companies expect you to negotiate. There are some companies out there that see the worth of a talented person and present them a stellar offer, however, that is not the norm. Typically, an employer will low ball an offer about 10-20% with the expectation that you will negotiate. Do you have the skills to successfully do that?

Sure, there are some lucky ones out there that can easily find a job without much effort, but for the rest of us, it is hard. Your job search will require work, effort, patience, and perseverance. But I will promise you this, if you do the right things, be strategic, and never give up, it IS GOING TO HAPPEN.  

Are you ready to take a proactive approach to your job search to make sure that you will achieve what you want? Schedule your FREE 30-minute consultation with me today here: https://calendly.com/signatureonthecity/30-minute-consultation

 

NETWORKING VS ATS OPTIMIZED RESUME

If you were to log on to Etsy.com right now and search resume templates, you will find over 8,000 results! Scrolling through all of these selections, you are going to find some visually interesting, pretty resumes. But what which one do you pick? Hint… none of them.

There are two main types of resume templates out there. The pretty ones, that we call networking resumes and ones that are more content-driven structured to be optimized for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).

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What is a Networking Resume and why would I need one?

A networking resume is usually only one page, might have your picture included, lots of color and graphics, and only summarizes your experience. While this document should not take the place of your ATS-optimized resume, it can be a great tool to be used for networking meetings, leave-behinds at interviews, or to hand out when your full-length resume might be awkward.  

How do I know if my resume is ATS-Optimized?

There are 5 rules to creating an ATS-Optimized resume.

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Rule #1: Never overlap information in multiple columns (i.e. skills in one and professional experience another). This can confuse the system and cause your information not to upload properly.

Rule #2: Avoid pictures and other graphics. They will only be deleted once uploaded.

Rule #3: Always include a key skills or areas of expertise section at the TOP of your resume in the summary section. This is your prime real-estate. Not only is this section needed to increase your rating, it is important for recruiters and hiring managers to immediately see your relevant skills.

Rule #4: Don’t get creative with your section headings. While it might seem fun to name your “Professional Experience” section as “What I’ve Done”, the system won’t understand and will leave off that section for scoring.

Rule #5. Always test your resume. An easy way to double check that your resume will upload properly is to save it as a text file (.txt). You will see what gets messed up and needs to be fixed.

Just remember the most important rule to resume templates, scan-ability then readability. You can still create a visually interesting resume that is ATS-Optimized.

Need help ensuring your resume is ATS-Optimized? Send it to my email at signatureonthecity@gmail.com with the subject line ‘Is my resume ATS Optimized?’ for a free resume review!

 

REFLECT AND RECALIBRATE

Earlier on in my business, I was working with a business coach and one of the most valuable things that he taught me was the need to reflect back over the past year. The point of this is not to look back, but to see where you came from, the strides that you made, the challenges that you overcame, and the failures that you faced. So often, we only focus on what we don’t currently have that we are blind to the great things that we have accomplished. So, with understanding where you came from, you are better able to see where you need to recalibrate to know where you need to go.

I love to tackle this project the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  I still am shocked that the year has passed by, but excited about what the new year has to bring, both personally and professionally. Below is the process that I go through for my professional reflection (I’ll leave the personal up to you). To complete this, I make sure that I am in a quiet space and approach each question with honesty and specificity. I personally use a journal all year long and at the back of the journal do my reflection, so I can always look back on it. However, you can use whatever feels most comfortable for you.

Step 1: Always start with your WHY

  • Over the course of the next year, where do you want to be professionally and why? 5 years? 10 years?

  • When you achieve this, how will you feel? How will your life be different?

Step 2: Looking back

  • Last year, today, where were you at?

  • Over the course of the last year, what I am most proud of?

  • What are three things that you did to get you closer to your goal?

  • What challenges did you face? Did you overcome them?

  • What didn’t work this past year and why? What did you/are you going to do to change that?

  • After this last year, where are you at today?

Step 3: Recalibrate      

  • Are you on track to meet your goal? Why or why not?

  • What are the things that you need to start doing? Do differently? Or stop doing?

  • Are you doing everything it takes to get to where you want to be? (Be honest) If not, why not?

Step 4: Make a plan

  • What are three things that you are going to do (daily, weekly, monthly, etc..) to get you closer to your goal?

  • How will you measure your success? And how often will you “check-in” with yourself?

  • Is there anyone that can offer you unbiased support & accountability? (i.e. friend, family member, support group, coach, etc…)

This is your life, so stop letting it just “happen” to you and take control! Make 2019 be your year and have it be everything that you want it to be! If you need help creating a plan to take charge, let me know, I would be delighted to help you find that career that is full of passion and purpose.

FINDING IKIGAI (AKA YOUR PASSION AND PURPOSE)

One of the top questions I get asked is, “How do I find my passion and purpose?”.  Many times, we ask this question because we feel burnt out, or are experiencing a mid-life crisis, or maybe just experiencing a particular bad patch at work. Regardless of what is spurring you to ask this question, it is a very important one because as humans, we need more than just a good salary and progression up the corporate ladder to feel fulfilled, we need a sense of purpose.

There are many ways to find your passion and purpose. In my coaching practice, I deploy traditional methods of using tried and true assessments combined with a variety of visualization exercises, clarification of values, and a lot of self-reflection. I have found success in defining what you want in order to achieve it and recently, I have been exploring the concept of Ikigai (pronounced A-KEY-GAY-I) to deepen this practice. Ikigai is a Japanese word that roughly translates to “a reason for being” or in simpler terms, the things that make your life worthwhile and makes you want to get up in the morning!

 Let me explain to make more sense. Ikigai starts with four categories:

1.       Things you love to do

2.       Things you are good at

3.       Things you can get paid for

4.       Things the world needs.

Then where each of these categories intersect, you find added layers. Still with me? Let me break it down more:

  • Where things you love and things that you are good at intersect, you find passion. When you have a lack of passion, you are typically spending too much time on things that you are either not good at or things you don’t really care about.

  • Where what you are good at meets what you can get paid doing, you are finding your profession. Which, unfortunately, isn’t always fulfilling.

  • Then you have what the world needs intersecting with things you get paid for, this is vocation. This is where you are getting paid for a greater purpose – usually thing is where you are making more of an impact in your job. Working for a nonprofit is a great example of this.

  • Lastly, you intersect the things you love with the things the world needs and you have mission. Mission is where you spend time on a cause that is close to your heart. Volunteering is a great example of this.

Phew! Is your head spinning yet? While all of these categories have positive and negative attributes, they all have a purpose and one is not better than the other. Our ultimate goal, however, is to find a career where all four of these come together. This is that rare, hard to find spot called Ikigai or our “sense of purpose” and encompasses a situation where you can get paid to solve the worlds needs in an environment that you love and that you can use your talents at.

So, back to the ultimate question, how do you find your passion and purpose? In order to answer this, you are going to need to do a bit of work.  Take time to reflect on the four main categories and create a list – and make sure you are being truly honest with yourself. This requires a lot of soul-searching and introspection to work. Once you have identified your Ikigai, you can apply it to a mindful job search.

Defining and being confident in your values, passions, and strengths will give you greater clarity and focus in your job search and help you find a place where you can not only can make an impact and love what you do while using your talents, but get paid to do it!

Are you ready to find your Ikigai and start living a life of passion and purpose? Message me today and let’s chat!

OPTIMIZE YOUR LINKEDIN EXPERIENCE

Over the years, I’ve seen LinkedIn grow from another social media site to one of the largest online marketplaces for job seekers. As a career coach, I can’t stress enough about how important it is to be on LinkedIn. And not just have a page, but as an active, engaged user.

As of December 2018, DMR reported that 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet candidates. Over 20,000 companies are on LinkedIn. And there are over 15 million active jobs listed. So, are you leveraging the power of LinkedIn to get to where you want to be? Yes or no, read on to learn how to optimize your LinkedIn experience!

Tip 1: Photos Matter

Your profile is meant to do something that your resume is not, connect. You have the opportunity to instill some personality into your profile. Two of the easiest ways to do this is your headshot photo and your background image.

Your headshot photo should be a recent photo, professional, and should be showcasing your face. You don’t need to hire some fancy photographer, just grab a friend, your phone, dress like you would for an interview, find an interesting background (brick, colored wall, the outdoors), and have fun! Get photos that are from your waist up so when they are cropped in the headshot bubble, it will incorporate your face and shoulders.

The background image on your profile is prime real estate. This is an opportunity to strengthen your brand, show who you are, what you do, and that you care. Find a photo that you connect with. If you don’t have one already taken, use sites like Pexels.com or Pixabay.com that offer great, free stock images. Just remember to keep it simple and not too busy and make sure it really does represent who you are!

Tip 2: Highlight Your Talent

Your headline or tag-line will default to your current (or last) job title. Why do you not want to keep it this way? Updating your tagline is a great way to use keywords and descriptors that help hiring managers and recruiters find you. You can optimize your headline to showcase what you do (or what you want to do in case of career transitions), your specialty, and what you are looking for.

Here’s an example:

Default: Marketing Director for XYZ Agency

Optimized: Strategic Marketing Leader| Brand Champion | Seeking a new opportunity with an innovative and growing organization.

Tip 3: Keywords, Keywords, Keywords

Just like your resume going through an ATS system, recruiters and hiring managers can search profiles by key words and skills. To ensure that you are being picked from the bunch, you want to incorporate keywords that relate directly towards the job you want in your profile.

There are two sections on your profile to incorporate these words. In your summary, you can create a paragraph that lists out your areas of expertise. I would recommend keeping it very focused on job-specific skills and don’t overdo it. Keep your list to no more than 15. Then in your skills section, you can add up to 50 skills. Pin your top three that directly relate to your search on top and then add in the other 47. But, be careful. LinkedIn does provide recommendations as you are adding in skills. It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole and just start adding like crazy. Be strategic and focus on the most important and relevant skills to your job search.

Tip 4: Showcase your work

LinkedIn has a great option to allow you to add media to your summary and to your professional experience. Taking advantage of this option allows recruiters and hiring managers to really see what you can do. Add your resume in your summary and if you have one, a link to your online portfolio. Add presentations, flyers, logo design and more to your professional experience to support your accomplishments.

Don’t overdo it though. I recommend adding 1-2 pieces of media to each job. And be sure to keep it relevant and professional (and make sure you have permission to share it).

Tip 5: Engage

Simply updating your profile and walking away is not going to get you anywhere. Just like most other social media sites, there is a trick. The more you are active and engaging on the site, the more you are going to get seen. Join up to 100 groups and engage by posting, sharing, commenting and liking what is going on. One of my favorite ways to engage on LinkedIn is to share your opinion on the industry and trends. Share what you know and demonstrate that you are that true expert that your resume says you are. Share articles, write articles, comment on other posts, and most of all, be respectful. You can disagree with someone’s opinion without being a jerk. If in doubt, just remember the golden rule, only write what you would want written on yours!

A big part in your job search success is leveraging the power of LinkedIn. Keep your profile complete and updated while engaging in the right activities will increase the opportunity of your profile being seen and the opportunity of connecting with the people that will lead you to that right job!

Want to learn more about how to optimize your LinkedIn experience? Contact me today at signatureonthecity@gmail.com for a free consultation!

MAKE IT HAPPEN

The job search is hard. It is filled with disappointment and frustration, which makes it difficult to stay motivated and positive as you send out countless applications with crickets chirping in the background.

A few days ago, I told you about one of my past clients, Daniel. Daniel and I worked together about six months ago. He had an extensive marketing career under his belt and had the talent to move into a leadership position with ease. But Daniel struggled in his approach to finding a job. Through our program, I coached him on the importance of having a targeted search – to really be clear on where he wanted to be. We built him a stunning brand that highlighted his skills and accomplishments and developed an action plan to help him get there. Based on his previous experience, his funny personality, and his obvious talent, I was sure that he would be scooped up in a heartbeat.

But guess what? It didn’t happen even though Daniel did everything right. Even though he targeted his applications, customized his words, and leveraged his network, the silence was deafening. He had an interview here, a phone call there, but nothing that really came to fruition.  In one of my check-ins with Daniel, I could tell he was feeling deflated, frustrated, and doubting his talent.

About midway through his search, I gave some advice to him to help him persevere. I told him that just when you think nothing is going to happen, something does. The job search has a certain element of luck, and sometimes it is about the “right time, right place” phenomenon. Following your dreams is not easy, and it will take time, but not to give up. The right job was out there, he just had to persevere through the tough times to get there.

Daniel and I also worked on a few action items to help him navigate the job search wilderness.

Take some time off. Like anything that is hard and that you do constantly, you can experience burnout. It doesn’t have to be this huge vacation, just a few days away from the search, to relax, recharge, and reassess.

Reassess your strategy. What could you be doing more or different? Daniel and I identified that he could increase his engagement on social media, particularly LinkedIn.

Find POSITIVE support and encouragement. Why do I emphasize positive? Because misery loves company. What you need (and Daniel needed) were people that provided support and encouragement. An opportunity to express your frustration and listen, but to remind you that you are awesome, and your opportunity will come.

In the weeks following this conversation, Daniel approached his job search with a renewed excitement. The few days off made him feel recharged and as he began increasing his engagement on LinkedIn, he found that he really enjoyed writing articles and debating industry topics with his peers. He really looked forward to showing off his expertise in the field each day.

Through those posts and conversations, Daniel was able to connect with a hiring manager at a local company. The manager had been following him and reading his posts and in one post conversation that he observed, really became impressed with Daniels’ thought process and approach to the field. This hiring manager reached out to Daniel to tell him about a leadership position that was coming up with his company. Needless-to-say, Daniel got the job.

Daniels’ story should be a lesson to everyone. It’s a story of determination, of action, and of patience. Timing in the job search is a fickle fellow, demonstrating that it doesn’t always line up with our best laid-out plans, causing frustration and self-doubt. The key is to persevere – even if it requires you to take a step back to relax, recharge, and reassess. So, remember to keep your head up, stay positive, and make it happen!  

If you need some help to create a plan to find that dream job, contact me today. Taking the first step towards your future is hard, but it is definitely worthwhile!

 

HOW TO USE YOUR CAREER STORY TO CONQUER YOUR DREAMS

From the time we are just babies, we are told stories. These stories might be a fantasy, with fantastical creatures and romantic concepts or they might be historical facts or memories from our family, living on by the passing down of each story. Storytelling is a part of all of us – it is human nature as we are emotional creatures that use stories to connects - to link us to the past and provide a glimpse into our future. It shapes our existence. By telling stories about things that have happened to us, we are able to connect to that emotion which helps us digest the information.

Each of us has a story to tell. Your story consists of your childhood, memories, college years, romances, heartbreak and, you probably guessed it, your career.  Your career story will play a critical part in your job search, it will come up in interviews, networking, in your resume and brand, and most importantly in what you decide to do with your life.  Because of this, you not only have to have the courage to tell your true story, but share it in a way that engages others and helps you create the life you want.

"Love your whole story even if it hasn't been the perfect fairy tale." Melanie Moushigian Koulouris

How to use your story to impact…

What you do

When you are asked, ‘What do you do?’ do you grimace at having to tell the truth of what you actually do? Is there something else that you wish you were doing that you could tell them? This should be your first clue! If your story isn’t leading you to where you are happy, then change it! Think about what you want to say when someone asks you that question – Is it singing on stage? Running your own business? Working for a nonprofit that aligns with your values? Whatever it may be, share it! Start talking about it because that is the first step towards getting it.

Your Brand

In the world where your resume might only get a 5-15 second glance from a hiring manager, how do you build something that stands out while remaining professional? Storytelling! While you are not going to be able to give your full career story, you can weave it into your brand. Start with your summary and key skills section. Incorporate more of you in this section. Continue to build your story through your work history and accomplishments. This is your narrative, use it!

You also have your supporting documents to your brand. While your resume is more formal and has less wiggle room, use your cover letter and LinkedIn profile to really craft your story. Think about why you are doing what you do. What is that thing that is lighting the fire in your belly that gets you excited to work? Did you take a unique turn in your career? Whatever it may be, tell a story about it! When you tell these stories, you are going to evoke emotion and that can lead to connection and connections lead to interviews.

Interviews

Interviews are one of the best places to use storytelling. You were brought in because of the facts on your resume. You met their requirements, passed their scans, and now they are bringing you in because they want to know you. Don’t bore them by regurgitating your resume. They have it in front of them. Tell them a story.

Let’s use, in my opinion, the most important questions during an interview, Tell me about yourself. When I was a hiring manager, interviewing candidate after candidate, this question would often make or break the interview. Ones that simple quoted their resume, ‘I graduate from here, then started working here…. Blah, blah, blah, made me tune them out. I wanted to get to know them. The human behind the resume! Now the ones that told me a story, engaged me, really made me excited to continue to talk to them.

Here is how I craft a story to this question: Start with a little piece of personal information to break the ice and try to make a connection. Then I tell the story of why I love what I do and how I’ve incorporated it into my career. Then I end it with why the position I am interviewing for fits into that. For example, here is mine:

I am proud to say that I am a Denver native. When I was in college, I wanted to be a physical therapist, but when I had to face the dreaded cadaver in my Autonomy and Physiology class… panic arose, and I know that this was not the career for me! I switched my major and was taking general business classes when I applied for a job at a local bank. The HR rep that helped me through this process was so kind and helpful that it really sparked my passion for helping people find their professional way. I’ve been able to incorporate that in each of my jobs and fine tune my skills and am so excited to continue match up talented people with your organization.

Whatever question you are asked, just remember that there is a story behind it. Crafting these answers in this format will engage your interviewing and really show off your personality and show them that you are exactly what they are looking for!

Networking

Most people hate networking. I get it. Awkward conversations with strangers when you rather be at home binge watching Stranger Things on Netflix. But networking is that secret ingredient to finding that dream job. Learning how to apply storytelling to the networking process will completely change your networking game. It will help you relax and see that how powerful storytelling will lead to better connections.

Most people struggle with networking because they never know what to say when asked, what do they do. You don’t want to just boring and simply say what you do, so describe your work as a story. Who are you, what do you do (or would like to be doing), and what you are looking for (or who do you serve if you are not looking). Think about this who, what, what combo and consider the words that you are using. Are you using a bunch of industry jargon or are you sounding like a friend? Do your words alienate the listener, or are you drawing them in? Be sure to adjust the words in your story that you can be engaging and interesting.

So often humans shy away from their stories. You only tell others what you think they want to hear. But that’s not being authentic. If you take pride in your stories and learn how to tell them in a way that we feel comfortable, you can use the stories to conquer anything you put your mind to!

 

WHEN REJECTION HURTS, WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

We all have all experienced rejection in some way. The guy or girl you like turning you down or that art project that you worked so hard on gets a bad review or even that time you aced that job interview and were already planning your first day outfit in your head to only get a cruel thanks but no thanks email. Rejection stings and it can tank your confidence.

When you experience multiple rejections, this disappointment can quickly spiral into a full-blown pity party. There have been countless times that I have seen a client get stuck on a “no”, beating themselves up and categorizing themselves as a failure and I must remind them that it’s okay to feel disappointed but not to let a rejection hold you back from any future chance at success. That wasn’t the right thing for you, and something better is waiting!

“A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.”

Bo Bennett

Dealing with job rejection can be tough, especially when you deal with multiple rejections in a short period of time. So, how can you survive the disappointment and use it to prosper and succeed?

While rejection will never get easier the older you get, here are a few ways to help you deal with rejection a little better.

Don’t take it personally

It’s easy to take a job rejection as a personal attack on you. So often, you get that no thanks rejection and you begin to concoct stories of how the hiring manager was out to get you, that they made a conscious vote against you. The reality is this, hiring is hard. As an employer, you need to make a decision based on who you believe is the best fit for the role, combining skills, experience, and personality. While you might have been loved by the hiring manager, there is a great likelihood that there was simply another candidate that resonated more strongly with the hiring manager.

Don’t put all your eggs (and hopes) in one basket

I see this mistake quite a lot – you found a job that you love, and you are sure that it is yours, so you stop your job hunt. Then… you get the bad news. Your dream job went to someone else. Depression, regret, and stress start to take over. Be smart and avoid this pattern by realizing that there are a million different reasons why you might have not gotten the job so, always, always, always be pursuing multiple opportunities (even if you don’t want to)!

Don’t play the blame game

When the rejection sting sets in, it’s easy to blame everyone else when things don’t work out the way you want. It’s human nature to make ourselves the victims of a situation in which we were hurt. So, we begin to say, ‘it’s their fault they didn’t see my value’ or ‘they didn’t even take the time to get to know me’.

Next time, try to reflect and recognize the role you played in the situation. Ask yourself if you really were as prepared as you should have been? Was this job really the right role for you? Could you have asked better questions? And more. Sometimes there is nothing more you could have done and sometimes you need to accept responsibility for something that might have contributed to your being passed over.

Focus on your strengths and attributes

You are smart, talented, and would be a great asset to any organization, so why are you focusing on the negative that is out of your control? Focus on you! On how many great skills and abilities you possess. Try to do daily affirmations of 5 things that you really love about yourself or develop a list of all of your positive traits. Both of these exercises will help remind you that you are great, and that job simply wasn’t the right one for you.

Stay positive

One of the best ways to deal with rejection is to keep a positive attitude and mindset. Find ways to incorporate rewarding behaviors into your daily life. Practice self-care which can range from meeting with friends, attending exercise classes, getting a massage, or doing something that you love. By incorporating these healthy activities, it will help maintain a positive outlook even when faced with disappointment.

 There’s no denying that rejection is painful, but remember that you aren’t alone – the fact is that only one person out of hundreds of applicants will get the job and you are not the only one feeling the sting of rejection. Stay focused, turn it into a learning opportunity, and in time you will find that right position and the right company and be the last person standing!

Five Tips to Help You Through Your Next Networking Event

Networking. If you just shuddered at the word and the thought of it starts twisting your stomach, you are not alone. I am sure that I am not the only one that has signed up for an event with the best intentions of going and then as the day dragged on, developed dramatic plot twists to keep from going. Any excuse is better than having to forge awkward small talk with strangers, right? Wrong.

“Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, marketing your uniqueness, marketing what you stand for.”  Christine Comaford-Lynch

As awful as networking can be, it is one of those things that are EXTREMELY beneficial to your career. In a growing city like Denver, along with many other cities, it’s going to be all about who you know and less about what you know. Let’s face it, it is SO much easier to get a job when you know someone and it’s going to pretty darn tough to know anyone when you are hiding at home under your blankets.

So, go find an outfit that makes you feel fantastic, dust off those business cards, and follow these five tips to turn that next networking event into a productive, successful night out.

Preparation is the key

There are two things that I always do to prepare for a networking event. Research and practice. First, I research who will be at the event, making a list of a few people who I would like to meet that are with companies that I am interested in or are really interested in what they represent.

Next, I sit in front of a mirror (embarrassing, but it works) and practice what I am going to say. Practice what your pitch is, what questions you might ask, and how to ask for the connection. The more you do this, the easier it will make it.

Set yourself up for success

The beauty about networking is that it can be done anywhere. Online, offline, large cocktail hours, small learning situations, and more! Vanessa Van Edwards developed a book, Captivate, where she suggests making a list of potential networking environments. While the options are endless, examples can be a coffee shop, a bar, or a lunch and learn. Split up your list into three columns: survive, neutral, and thrive and say yes to the ones that are neutral or you thrive in. I always like to challenge others to get out of your comfort zone but still set yourself up for success in the beginning.

Remember that you are not alone

Out of the 100 or more people at the event, probably about 99 of them hates networking just like you. It’s okay to be nervous and sometimes it makes it easier to embrace the awkwardness. Crack a joke about the event to break the ice. Once the other person realizes that this is tough for you too, it will make the conversation a little easier.  

If you are really feeling stressed out about going it alone, bring a friend that can help you be successful. Establish expectations up front, walk in together, grab a drink, and then divide and conquer. Having them as a home base will add comfort, but be sure not to use them as a crutch and not meet anyone new!

Prepare some rescue topics

Have a few topics of conversation to pull out in case you find yourself struggling to make conversations. I love to talk to people about the last book they read, or an interesting current event (try to stay away from religion and politics) that can liven up a dying conversation.

Know when to say goodbye

We’ve all been there. The conversation has died, and you are standing there in silence, sipping your drink and offering the polite awkward smile. This is time to move on! Easy ways to end a conversation is saying things like, “I think I am going to take another lap around the room” or “I am going to get another glass of wine” or my go-to is “It was so great meeting you, I think I want to continue meeting a few more people before the night is over but I would love to connect with you online if you have a card”. Whatever you feel comfortable with but don’t waste your evening in a stale conversation!

The more you practice networking, the easier it will get. I’m not saying that you will love it, but you will because to make some really cool connections and see the benefit of those relationships blossoming in no time. Don’t forget to nurture your new relationships. Just adding them on LinkedIn and forgetting about them is not okay. Take time to get to know your new connection and maybe, just maybe, they can lead you to your dream job!

“Pulling a good network together takes effort, sincerity and time.” Alan Collins

THE HAPPINESS FACTOR

 Let me ask you something. It’s Monday morning and you are coming off an awesome weekend. You had the opportunity to spend time with friends, got everything you needed to do done, and you are feeling rested and recharged… are you happy to go to work at that moment? There are no more excuses; no saying that you are tired or wish you had more time to get things done so, are you happy?

Happiness is not found - it’s created.

Let me tell you a story about a client I just recently started working with. His name is Kevin and he is in the design profession and a few years ago secured a really coveted position at a local firm. He’s working with some top name companies and generally likes what he does. But day after day, Kevin left feeling a little less happy with his decision to work there. He doesn’t hate his job, but had nagging questions in the back of his head like, “Is this as good as it is going to get?” and “When will this job make me feel happy?”.

To help get to the root of the problem, I asked him the following questions:

Who do you surround yourself with each day?

There is an old saying that you are the company you keep. Find people who genuinely are happy and positive about life that will encourage and inspire you and ditch those negative nelly’s that gossip and bring you down. Soon enough, you see your happiness factor rising.

Do you have a social circle at work?

Do you have a best friend at work? This question is on every engagement survey out there. Why? Because liking and enjoying your coworkers is the key to a happy, positive work environment. Get to know them, ask them questions, and tell them about yourself. By putting in this effort, you are going to find people to provide you support, encouragement, and simple friendship!  

Do you get to do something you love every day?

Let’s be real here, we are adults and there are plenty of things that we don’t want to do in our jobs every day. That is life. But, there is also that thing – that thing that makes you smile, and you can’t wait to do. If you don’t know it is, find it and make sure that you do it every day! Trust me when I say that having that little nugget that you look forward to will make the mundane stuff so much more tolerable!

Are you proactive in your own growth & development?

This is by far the top complaint that I receive from people. They want to quit their jobs because they don’t feel like they are growing or being challenged. But, when you ask them what they are doing to help that situation, they shrug and say nothing. You are in charge of your own personal and professional growth, not anyone else. If you want to be learning and be challenged, develop a plan and ask for help. No one can do it but you!

Do you feel as if you are receiving enough support and feedback about your job?

This is a big one for me personally. While I am resourceful and can find creative solutions, I like knowing that my company is supporting me. This also includes feedback. If you are being honest with yourself, you know how you are doing. But, it feels good to have that affirmation, especially if you feel positive about your performance. Receiving good feedback is a struggle in our workforce, so what can you do? Simple. Ask for it. Once again, you are the only one responsible for your growth and development. If you need something, take charge!

In evaluating these questions, Kevin was able to realize that his needs were not aligning with the current job which was impacting his happiness factor. We developed a plan for him to address what was off, so he could create the happiness he was seeking.  

Happiness is 100% in your control. You are the only one to determine what makes you happy, even when your circumstances are not ideal.

When you are feeling that ping of unhappiness in your career, it's so important that you take a step back and look at what is causing it. Have you fallen in with the negative crowd? You know, the ones that complain about how awful everything is and their misery loves your company. Or maybe you feel isolated and alone, keeping your head down and working hard but not really socializing with any of your coworkers. Perhaps you love what you get to do, but not feeling challenged, respected, or recognized. There are a million things that can impact your happiness and only you can control it. You can make the choice to do something about it or not.

If all else fails and you are not able to create happiness in your current work, maybe it is time to reevaluate. Whether it be your employer, your job, or your entire career, you don’t want to spend your life being unhappy.

Find a way to make yourself smile!

If you are not feeling happy but not sure what to do next, let’s chat. Just like Kevin, we can help you identify what is causing it and build you a plan to create some happiness back in your career!

Photo Credit: IG @ ktnewms

SO, YOU JUST LOST YOUR JOB... NOW WHAT?

Many of us have been here. Standing outside your office doors with a box of stuff in your hands. The reason might be a little different, you might have just been laid off, or fired, or maybe you just had enough and quit in a blaze of glory, but nevertheless, you find yourself jobless. You get home, maybe pull out a pint of ice cream or pour yourself a drink and then… your survival instincts kick in. You begin to panic, asking yourself repeatedly, “What am I going to do?”. You rush to your computer, quickly update your resume and hop onto the job boards, applying for any and every available job there is to make yourself feel better and more in control. How do I know?  I’ve been there! I know how scary that feeling is and how the panicked rush of doing something makes you feel, but trust me when I say that there is a much better way to handle this huge life event.

Stop whatever you are doing and take a moment!

Losing your job is traumatic and you are going to experience a range of a thousand emotions. Before you let those emotions rule your actions, push the pause button. The best advice that I ever received was shortly after I left a job that I loved for many years. My friend told me to embrace the whole range of my feelings, to grieve, cry, feel excited, whatever it might be, but to recognize them, deal with them, and then move on and focus on the future. Bottling them up is not going to be healthy and will impact your next move. Owning how you feel and dealing with them is going to allow whatever you do next to not be influenced by those negative emotions.  

If you continue to find yourself struggling, feeling alone, and not moving forward, try finding a group or talking to a professional to help you get those negative emotions in check. There is no shame in asking for a little help. Sometimes we all get stuck and just need that extra hand to move on.

Evaluate your current situation (a.k.a. get your finances in check and create a budget)!

Truth be told, I am the WORST at managing finances. I am the type of person that rather bury my head in the sand than face the reality of what is in my bank account. (Thank goodness for my accountant who will watch this for me!) But the reality is, knowing exactly where you are at, is going to give you some control and power back.

Scared or not, it is critical that you stop and look at your finances and determine if you need to make some adjustments. Look at things like if you have a nest egg, a severance package, or if you need to start earning money ASAP. Look over your monthly expenses and determine what you need to do to move forward.

If you need to start working ASAP, consider finding work that will still allow you to focus on finding the RIGHT job, rather than another soul sucking experience that provides a paycheck. This can include gig work such as driving for UBER or Lyft, taking on contract or temp work with a local agency, or gathering up some things that you can sell. In the end, taking on some short-term work can not only help pay the rent, but it can give you the time to focus on what’s next.

Think about what you want your next career move to be

Even though this time off work might not have been wanted, it is a great opportunity to figure out what is next and how to get that RIGHT job with the RIGHT company. Take time to evaluate what you loved about your last position and want you didn’t. Think about what you want to get out of your next role. Do you want to stay in a similar line of work or do you want to explore another career option?

Not sure what to do next? Has your confidence been shaken? Reach out to a career coach. They can help you evaluate your transferable skills, brainstorm career options, and help you market your skills and experience in a way that gets noticed. The key thing here is to plan that next move strategically, so you don’t end up in a similar situation again.

Invest in yourself

I know this seems counterintuitive since you might not have regular income coming in, but sometimes that old cliché is right, “It takes money to make money”. Focus on what you can do to improve yourself during this time.

Brush up on your skills or learn new ones by visiting your local community college or going online to Udemy or Skillshare. Not only can enrolling in a class can make you more marketable, boost your self-esteem, and keep you busy, but employers admire candidates that take care of themselves and continue to learn and grow even in the most difficult situations.

Let’s be real, losing your job sucks. There is no way around it. My hope for you is though, that after the initial shock wears off, you can see this as an opportunity for something better. Making a simple shift in your mindset from fear to optimism will help renew your outlook and allow you to embark on your job search excited and looking forward to the future.

HOW SELF PROMOTION CAN HELP YOU SUCCEED

When was the last time you promoted yourself? Whether it be for a raise, bigger project, or even a new job. Did you stop yourself because you were scared? Missed out on that opportunity because you didn’t want to be seen as bragging? Let me be real with you for a moment, in today’s highly competitive world, self-promotion is not a bad thing, it is a career survival skill. Your success depends on your ability to properly promote yourself and show employers your real value.

But how do you express your value in a way that impresses without coming off as you are bragging or being obnoxious? Here are three tips how:

Know your strengths and make them visible! What are your talents? Are you great at building relationships? Then volunteer at the company event where you can shine. Exceptional at writing and creating engaging copy? Ask to contribute your company’s blog or newsletter and WOW them with your words. Anywhere you can show off your talents is going to be a great thing!

Own your accomplishment! Women, especially, tend to downplay compliments. I was guilty of this too, and used the line, “oh, it was no big deal” one too many times! But I learned how to say, “Thank you” and be proud of what I accomplished and so can you!

Highlight your accomplishments with facts and stories, not opinions. It's simple, facts are facts, they are objective and more compelling. By sticking to the facts, it is less likely to be perceived as bragging and thus easier to talk about. Or, if you are anything like me, you are a storyteller. So, share a story of something that happened that paints you in a positive light. Do what feels comfortable for you, but do something!

Self-promoting will take practice, but remember this: keeping your head down and working hard is a great quality but it's not going to get you noticed. If you want something, you are going to have to advocate for yourself. No one else is going to do it!