Posts Tagged ‘Career Coaching’
I would like to share a personal story with you. I remember a couple really lean months after I started my business. My husband and I would sit down at the table and I would start to tick off all the things I had done to market my business properly. “I have done everything right…so, what’s WRONG!?” I would exclaim.
The truth of the matter was, I hadn’t done anything wrong, per se, it just felt like that because I didn’t have the amount of clients that I had expected.
Interestingly enough, in all other ways I had succeeded in meeting all of my business goals and timelines. However, those achievements were overshadowed by the anxiety caused by not having a long line of clients waiting to work with me.
Turns out after about 6 weeks (which felt more like forever), I had plenty of wonderful clients.
You would think as a job search coach I would not fall into this trap! But the point is, when we are going through “the fire” it’s easy to panic and quickly loose perspective.
When you are in a job search it’s not much different. There are highs and lows. Sometimes the phone never stops ringing; sometimes it may feel like all potential employers are purposefully avoiding you. Inevitably one wonders, “What have I done wrong?” No doubt, it can be a confusing time. So here are some tips that provide the job seeker with a very helpful dose of reality.
Tip #1: Expect the peaks and valleys
It’s true. Every job search or career transition has its peaks and valleys. And yes, its uncomfortable.
If you are experiencing a dry spell in your job search you need to look at a few things before you can accurately determine the cause. These include:
Is your resume powerful enough to get you attention? Have you had it professionally written?
Do you have a plan to focus on a particular industry and position? Does that plan include strategies that you are implementing?
Have you investigated the health of the industry you are targeting? Is it in a growth mode or is it shrinking?
Do you know how to tap into the unadvertised job market and, if so, are you been using those strategies consistently and persistently?
Have you given your job search enough time? The average search in a good market can take 2 to 4 months for a mid level professional and 6 to 12 months for a senior executive.
Tip #2 Get realistic about marketing figures
Direct mail campaigns do the heavy lifting for you and I recommend them. They usually yield a 1% to 7% return.
Unadvertised job market strategies can take your positive responses to 20% to 60% in a good market and slightly less in a bad economy. Regardless, pursuing the unadvertised market beats out job boards by a long shot. Job boards are the toughest job market in which to compete. Period.
The bottom line: even still, most companies are not going to respond to you. I am not trying to be negative, but rather to demonstrate that it doesn’t mean your not good enough or not doing something right. Job searching is marketing. Job searching is a numbers game. The solution? Check your search against tip #1 and then increase your numbers.
Tip #3 Don’t Get Down On Yourself
There are loads of things you can do that actually do help emotionally, mentally and physically in a job search. A few of these include:
Use a coach to keep you motivated, make sure you are using the right techniques to leverage yourself in the market and to keep you on track with setting and reaching your goals on a weekly basis.
Work (i.e. job search) and life balance are incredibly vital! Set several hours aside each day to work on your job search and write out what your main activity is for each day. Take the rest of the day off (yes you heard me right!) to rest, relax, to be with your family, to enjoy sports or other activities, work on continuing education read or whatever else you like to do. This will keep you sane and balanced while you are waiting for your efforts to pay off.
Join a church group or a support group. The positive support helps, just trust me on this one.
If you hit a dry spell, remind yourself that its not you and its not personal. Getting depressed and feeling desperate is not the vibe you want to be taking into your upcoming interviews.
Do what you have to do. One executive client I know took a part-time job in a grocery store while he was looking for a full-time executive position. He said it helped him feel like he was still contributing monetarily to his family and just getting out and working part-time kept his head clear.
The wise job seeker and career changer know that dry spells in a job search don’t signal the end of a career as it is known :). They use the time to market even harder.
Remember that every marketing effort is an accomplishment in and of itself and does contribute to action, forward movement and future activity. By looking at the situation realistically, using techniques to boost your activity and keeping your focus on what you want (not what you are afraid of) you will maximize your leverage and move consistently forward to the results you want.
I am posting this fantastic article from the latest Changing Course Newsletter – more excellent advice from the “Dreamer In Residence” expert, Valerie Young. Learn more about her company here
That was the question someone asked in a recent survey of Changing Course readers. It was the second time in as many months that someone who was getting ready to start a small business talked about being “terrified” of failing. In neither case were we talking about anyone putting their home up as collateral or sinking their life savings into a venture. In fact, the stakes were relatively low. And all too often this sense of terror at the prospect of failing can be paralyzing.
Every entrepreneur experiences failures on the way to success. I am certainly no exception. While I was still in my corporate job, I decided to produce a line of humorous greeting cards on the side. I spent months drawing each card, surveying my friends to see which ones people liked best, and then invested a couple of thousand of dollars getting them printed. They sold pretty well in small gift stores in San Francisco, Boston, New York, Hartford, Connecticut, and Provincetown, Massachusetts. But about a year into it, I realized that it was the wrong business for me.
Did I spend more money than I made? Yes. But I never felt like a failure. To the contrary, I felt proud of myself for giving it my best shot. I learned a ton about the greeting card business which I’ve been able to share with others considering that same path, and I moved on to my next venture with a much clearer picture of what I was looking for in a livelihood.
No one sets out to fail and certainly no one likes it when they do. But terror? There are things worthy of being terrified about like global warming or a car bomb going off in your neighborhood. Giving something your best shot and finding out that it didn’t work, well, I call that “life.”
If you really want to change course to work for yourself, then you absolutely must readjust your emotional response to failure. This means embracing some fundamental truths about failure that have guided successful people since the first caveman’s spear missed that first wooly mammoth and he picked it up to try again.
To get you started, here are six rules about failure, mistake-making and risk-taking that every entrepreneur needs to understand:
Rule 1: You’ll strike out more often then not.
In baseball a .333 batting average is considered outstanding. If you’re not a baseball fan, what this means is that for every 10 pitches, the batter only has to hit the ball three times to be considered exceptional. Even the legendary Babe Ruth “only” batted .342. The point is, you can be at the top of your game and still strike out more often than not. No one bats 1000, so stop expecting yourself to be the exception.
Rule 2: Failures offer valuable lessons – and opportunities.
Believe it or not, there is lots of good news about failure. Henry Ford understood that, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” In engineering, the process of “failure analysis” is based on the recognition that you can learn just as much from studying what went wrong as you can from what went right. It is this understanding that led Thomas Edison to famously remark, “I have not failed. I have successfully discovered 1,200 ideas that don’t work.”
Instead of seeing your flops as evidence of your incompetence, think of them as information you can use to do better next time. Do you need to develop or hone a certain skill? Do you need more practice or a different approach? Do you need to delegate the things you’re not gifted at? What will you do differently next time? What lessons can you glean? The sooner you grasp the learning value following what feels like a setback, the better. The key is to fail forward.
Rule 3: Failure is just a curve in the road.
I know how easy it is to be so discouraged by setbacks that you just give up. But it’s time you start seeing failure for what it is, a curve in the road and not the end of the road. Did you know that Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper job for “lacking ideas”? Or that H. Macy’s store failed seven times before it caught on? Or that Michael Jordan was cut from his junior varsity basketball team? Did they give up? No.
If Abraham Lincoln had taken failure as cause to quit, it would have changed the course of history. In fact he suffered repeated failures on the road to success. After failing as a storekeeper and a farmer, Lincoln decided to run for political office. He failed. Once he finally did get elected to the legislature, he sought the office of speaker and failed. He failed in his first bid for Congress. He failed when he sought the appointment to the United States Land Office. And he failed when he ran for the United States Senate. Despite repeated public failures, Lincoln never saw failure as a reason to give up.
Rule 4: Not taking risks may be the riskiest move of all.
So much of changing course comes down to being able to shift your thinking about what “risk” really means. It worked for Janice Bennett. Whenever people begin with “What if…” right before saying “…it doesn’t work?” Janice would always finish their question with, “…what if it does?” “Now,” says Janice, “is the time for me to [ask myself] not only what could happen to me if I didn’t make the change, but what could happen to me if I DO? Wow, those possibilities are endless. As morbid as it may sound, at my funeral, I want it to be full, to be standing room only, to be overflowing, to know that I made a difference in people’s lives, and I touched them somehow.”
Just two weeks after Janice shared her big “aha” at the Changing Course Blog, she took her own advice. She took the plunge and signed up for the Outside of the Job Box Career Expert and Small Business Success Idea Consultant Course. I have no doubt that in the process of realizing “endless possibilities” for herself, that Janice’s ability to turn fear into excitement will indeed make a difference in the lives of everyone she touches.
Whenever you try anything new there will always the risk of failure. At the same time, not taking risks is often the riskiest move of all. The reason Michael Jordon says he made so many baskets is because he was willing to take so many shots, explaining, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Rule 5: It’s not your failures that count, but how you handle them.
Imagine making a major mistake with 1 billion people watching. That’s what Miss USA Crystle Stewart did when she fell during the 2008 Miss Universe pageant. She handled the fiasco by putting on a radiant smile, picking herself up and clapping her hands over her head as if to say, “Let’s have a round of applause.” This was not the first time Stewart had to pick herself up after a failure. It had taken her five tries before being crowned Miss Texas. As you think about launching that entrepreneurial dream, remind yourself that it’s not your failures that count, but how you handle them.
Rule 6: Choose what kind of failures you want to have.
In his commencement address at Macalister College, radio show host and author Garrison Keillor encouraged his audience to “have interesting failures.” Let those words sink in for a moment. Have interesting failures. Not only do you have a choice about how you handle failure, you also have a huge say in what kind of failures to have.
From time to time you’re going to miss the mark. So why just be a failure at parallel parking or balancing your checkbook when you can come in third at the National Jigsaw Puzzle Championships, only write one children’s book, or make it only half way up Mount Everest? The fact that you never fail is proof of only one thing – you never tried.
Every day you get to choose settling over reaching, inaction over action, continuing to live your life the way it is over the life you could have. It really is your choice. As Billie Jean King once said, “Be bold. If you’re going to make an error, make a doozey, and don’t be afraid to hit the ball.”
Rule 7: Make your fear work for you.
It’s one thing to quietly promise yourself that you’re going to push past your fears and finally act on those long buried dreams. It’s quite another thing to announce to the world your intention to write your first chapter, hold your own seminar, figure out how to sell your jewelry, learn a new craft, or whatever it is you’ve been “terrified” of doing. It’s quite another to announce it to the world.
Yet making a public commitment is one of the best ways to ensure that you’ll actually follow through, because now you’ve built in that all important accountability. After all, suddenly other people are watching and waiting. Sure the naysayers are watching and waiting for any setback so they can say, “I told you so.” But if you make a point to tell the “right” people I guarantee they’ll be cheering you on. And guess what? When other people see you taking steps, they’ll be inspired to act too.
That’s because action is contagious! Which is why I’m asking all of the members of the Changing Course Club to add their goals to a “Changing Course in 2009 Pledge list.” It’s a new section of the Club Forum where members get to stand up and publicly state their goal and one action they’ll take to get there and the date they pledge to take that action. And, if they choose, Club Members can sign up to be in a small Tele-Study Group or Dream Team to help one another stay on track. (Not a member? Learn more at ChangingCourse.com/changingcourseclub.htm)
With the New Year comes the opportunity to start anew… to make new choices. Which will you choose – fear or action?
Add Your Two Cents
About the Author
“Turning Interests Into Income” expert, Valerie Young, abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at ChangingCourse.com offering resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited in Kiplinger’s, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Woman’s Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and iVillage.com. An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, Valerie has spoken on the topic of How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Harvard, and American Women in Radio and Television.
To read more articles about how to work at what you love without a job go here.
Small Business Coach Sandy Martini has a GREAT blog post here which details her list of things she is “letting go of” in 2009. She “warns” her list isn’t for the faint of heart. Here are the highlights:
- Vendors who don’t meet the terms of our agreement (they’ve been fired)
- Clients who want everything and yet implement nothing (yes, I’ve let a few go)
- Biz owners who fail to recognize the importance of building relationships and being authentic (we can tell when you’re being inauthentic, REALLY!)
- Companies who don’t know the meaning of customer service or who retain employees who don’t believe in it (I’m boycotting)
- Negative Nellies (I wish them well and would gleefully welcome them back into my life if they could display some optimism)
- Voicemail messages with no contact info, no real message (just “call me”) and no good time to return the call (do everyone a favor, leave a detailed message with your phone or email so we can actually get back to you)
- Ditto incoming faxes with no return contact info (DUH!)
- Sales letters which promise the world and don’t even deliver a county (we’re back to being authentic)
- “No shows” who schedule a call and don’t call or reschedule (this one shows absolutely no respect for the person being called)
I love Sandy’s list. I have a similar one. The longer I am in business for myself the more I learn that there is no one to BLAME but myself because I am the Captain of this ship – in charge and fully responsible of all the rules, boundaries and relationships.
And speaking from experieince what and who I “let in” does get to me, for better or for worse. So I opt for “the better” so my clients always get me at my best.
So, what are you letting go of for 2009?
I was just reading a fabulous blog post at Hello My Name Is Scott titled 25 questions to invite someone to talk about what they love.
All I can say is wow!
Attention all professionals whose #1 question is “I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up” – this blog post is for you!
Its written for those networking or working to bolster client relationships – BUT, this is a beautiful tapestry of questions…I think it’s completely applicable for people wanting to clarify what they really love to do.
Personally I am going to print out this list, venture outside to find someplace pretty and inspiring and answer these questions myself. What a great tool! Here are the 25:
1. If you could do just one thing all day long and get paid well for doing it, what would you do?
2. If you could only give one speech, for one hour, for one million people, what ONE WORD would that speech be about?
3. If you could only have one section of the bookstore to visit, which section would it be?
4. If you could only subscribe to ONE publication for the rest of your life, what would it be?
5. If you could only work 2 days a week, what would you do?
6. If you could only work 2 hours a week, what would you do?
7. If you could take a sabbatical for one year, where would you go and what would you do?
8. If you didn’t have to work, what would you do all day long?
9. If you were the last human on Earth, what would you still do every day?
10. What activity always makes you lose track of time?
11. What activity gives you the most energy?
12. What brings you to life?
13. What could you talk about forever?
14. What things are you able to do, without even trying?
15. What do you like to do, just for the fun of it?
16. What do you love to do that (you can’t believe) people actually pay you money to do?
17. What do you love to talk about?
18. What do you most enjoy making?
19. What have you always found to be easy?
20. What is the one thing that people couldn’t pay you NOT to do?
21. What pictures or wallet items do you ALWAYS show to people?
22. What questions do you look forward to be asked?
23. When you don’t know what to do, what do you find yourself doing to find your way?
24. Why do you admire the people you admire?
25. You, yourself, are at your best when you’re acting HOW?
- – -
There is a pattern I see with my clients. It goes somthing like this:
Once I have helped my clients map out their career focus and goals, I send them a resume draft.
I can almost feel the shockwaves coming back when they say things like:
I can’t believe this is me!
Can I really do this?
I didn’t realize how much I had accomplished.
Are you sure I should go after such a large title/big company/big salary?
And of course, the majority of my clients DO go on to accomplish their career goals! But my point is this:
It takes more than just a fantastic resume to land your dream job.
It takes you actually believing you can do it!
We all like to dream. And dreaming is “safe” isn’t it? Committing to moving forward and making your dream a reality also means stepping out of the safe zone.
And when stepping out of the safety zone, it’s very easy to start playing small.
I have seen a few highly accomplished and highly talented professionals play small with their careers and wind up right where that road takes them…. which is not very far from where they are.
You have heard “change can be scary.” I would add that “committing to be successful can be scary.” Just knowing that the road to the success you wish to achieve can be scary can help to gain a foothold on emotional responses you may have to actually seeing yourself in a different light.
And by understanding these reactions are normal – you can allow yourself to feel those feelings without letting them stonewall your plans. By accepting that “wow – this really is me”, you give yourself permission to take the next step in moving forward with your career!
Looking back I have probably coached and written resumes for over 400 executives in all kinds of industries. Here are a few things I have learned along the way that I hope you will benefit from.
1. Many professionals worry about things that never happen
Most clients I have worked with, shared with me numerous worries they thought would hold them back including: their age, too little or too much salary, the economy, a shrinking industry, too many jobs in the last 10 years and being fired or laid off, just to name a few. I am happy to report that these same executives went to on achieve (and in many cases exceed) their career goals.
How did they do it? Usually through a combination of the following: First through education that the reality of their concerns was often overemphasized to the point of being counterproductive. Second, obstacles were minimized or eradicated through a well planned marketing strategy. And third, through an expertly crafted resume which showcased their strengths that was in sync with their goals.
2. Many professionals believe they can’t successfully change industries
I love to hear the excitement in my client’s voices when they are shown that successfully changing industries is more about their plan, their resume, their networking approach and the coaching they receive than their experience!
3. Most professionals feel they interview very well – when they don’t
“Just help me land the interviews and I will do the rest.” I have heard that dozens of times from seasoned professionals that made one simple error. They mistook their amazing charisma and people skills for great interview skills. Believe me, there is a big difference. I have seen first hand how just answering one question the “wrong way” quickly leads to a lost candidacy.
4. Most professionals can’t write an interest-generating resume
There are multiple reasons for this such as the following: industry jargon used
(a resume needs to be written for people in at least 5 different departments), not being able to write objectively, not being able to craft their resume from
a marketing perspective and too often writing what they have done and not what has happened as a result.
5. Most professionals didn’t know how much career coaching and marketing would help them – until they got it.
I can relate to this one especially. I didn’t realize how much a business coach would help me until I hired one. It’s normal to feel this way but if you have ever played sports and had an excellent coach, or studied under a dynamic teacher then you have already experienced the value that a true professional can bring, and the many ways they can help you to reach your full potential.
I hope if you have identified with any of these points, it will help you to quickly and easily take action to shore up areas for improvement. I promise this will result in a much more enjoyable and fruitful job search for you!
Wondering if you should hire a career coach? How about a “virtual career coach?” These are coaches that are trained to help you “virtually” – meaning you don’t have to get in a car or hop on a plane for them to help you! Here are seven benefits you stand to gain from hiring one:
Benefit One: Virtual Consulting WORKS!
You receive coaching via phone and information either through e mail or hard mail. Resumes, career assessment tests and custom coaching guidance is easily delivered through these mediums.
Benefit Two: It’s Super Easy and Convenient
You simply cannot beat having instant resources and support delivered to you– in the comfort of your home or office!
Benefit Three: It Saves You Time
Get the information – right when you need it!
Benefit Four: It’s Flexible
You gain your coaches expert advice, motivation, tools and resources consistently – no matter where you are or where you relocate to! No need to find another career coach you can trust if you move!
Benefit Five: It’s Affordable:
Most executives gain distinct career advantages in the form of meeting their professional goals including salary goals and securing key positions as a direct result of the help they gained through a modest investment in themselves (i.e. hiring a career coach, resume writer or marketer) Working “virtually” yields a tremendous value and immediate help. Additionally, career services are often tax deductible – though you will want to check with your CPA on this!
Benefit Six: Nationwide and Industry Expertise
Most “virtual” coaches have loads of experience virtually in all areas of the Nation and in a multiplicity of industries.
Benefit Seven: It’s GREEN!