Thursday, July 31, 2008

Change Can Be Good...Just Start Out Slowly

Career coaching is often about discovering a new approach to an old problem. People look to a coach to provide solutions, but are they willing to do the work that is necessary to stimulate the positive change they're seeking? As a professional coach, I wish I could say that I have all the answers and that I can solve any problem. But what I can say with a very high degree of certainty is that you almost always have viable options when you are facing a challenge and that is often the spark for an "ah...ha" moment.

For those people who are feeling stuck, options can feel like roller blades. For those that feel as though they have been backed into a corner, options are like the magic crayon that allows you to draw a doorway to a sunny new room. When we are feeling lost and uncertain, options become our GPS, with a friendly voice acting as our guide.

But how do we identify our options? In order to recognize the options, you must be open to change and be willing to start doing things a bit differently. Do you remember that old saying about the definition of insanity...doing the same thing time and time again and expecting different results? When you start to look at your challenges a bit differently and then begin to make simple changes in your approach, things start to change. If you know you need to exercise but you hate going to a gym, consider going for a walk in the park. If you're feeling stagnant and want to learn something new, sign up for a class or a workshop. If you're tired of your weekly routine, take a different route to work, go someplace new for lunch, and enjoy a different activity after work. You don't have to wait for the weekend to have a little fun, like a mid week bike ride, a movie or a gallery exhibit.

And how do we identify which option represents the right path? Try some brainstorming, some self assessment, some trial and error, and maybe even the objective help from a coach. When it comes to issues of career development, stress management and work-life balance, I offer clients suggestions and resources that often represent a change from their norms and comfort zone. And I offer feedback as they break through old walls with a renewed plan of attack.

Consider the benefits of working with a career coach. At this point in your life, are you willing to gain a fresh perspective and remain open to positive change? You may discover that the power behind coaching doesn't rest with the coach, it flows from the client who chooses to embrace change and focus his strengths, energy and vision of success.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Creating Momentum in Your Job Search

Attack your job search with a three prong approach. Your time and effort should be dedicated to (1.) search & research, (2.) production, and (3.) follow-up.

Search & Research might involve the use of specialty job boards, meta-search sites, the Careers page of company websites, job boards linked to professional associations, your alumni association(s), and networking (person-to-person + e~networking sites).

Production involves getting your personal marketing materials out the door, in response to job leads. This includes snail mail, email, fax, via job boards & uploads...and activating your network. Your resume needs to focus on strengths, areas of expertise and achievements. Develop templates for a standard cover letter and letter of introduction. And remember that your resume and letters are business documents - so make sure they're focused and concise. During each week of your job search, make a commitment to respond to several qualified job leads.

And don't forget to Follow-Up! This can be the most challenging and frustrating part of the search process. This step forces you to deal with obstacles, barriers, dead-ends, and rejection. But if you're willing to be a bit tenacious, this step will allow you to gauge which leads are getting warmer (and deserve more attention) and which have gone cold. So track your weekly job search activity (use a simple spreadsheet), get tough... and complete those follow-up calls and emails.

Decide how much time you can realistically dedicate to your job search each week. Then follow an organized, three prong approach to finding your next career opportunity.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

How not to become a Job Hopper!

Maybe it's our natural "fight or flight" instinct, or maybe it's impatience being fueled by our "I want it now" society. Frequent decisions to change jobs - changes that don't illustrate growth, advancement or progression - can truly damage your career. Rather than just jumping to the next thing that comes along, or even feeling repelled by your current employer, think and plan before you make your move. I mean really take some time to be honest with yourself about the kind of strengths you offer and the things that are truly important to you in that next better fit opportunity. Too often people will stop planning when they believe they have found the right job, but how are they defining the right job. Well, they got the title they wanted, or the salary they wanted, or the office they wanted, or the company car...or maybe all of these were part of the package. But did they do their homework, research the organization and ask some tough questions during their interviews? Did they learn all they can about the other elements that may make this job the right opportunity?

The other elements of the right opportunity will likely include: the type of tasks and responsibilities you would enjoy, the skills you want to acquire or develop further, the size of the organization, the company's structure and management style, the hours and work schedule, whether you will be working alone or as part of a team, the level of flexibility and autonomy you will have, the opportunities for advancement-travel-tuition reimbursement-professional development, etc., etc., etc. These are the issues that should be addressed during interviews, but too many people forget to ask the questions. If you try your very best to define the elements of that better fit or best fit opportunity in advance - you have a much better chance of truly finding it during your search. And maybe then you won't find yourself job hopping - maybe you'll find yourself progressing into roles that are satisfying, challenging and in sync with where you want to be on your career path.

Finding the right opportunity will take time, effort, self assessment and even patience - but the payoff may be a career position that you enjoy for many years. And employers define commitment in terms of years, not months.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hey Atlanta, Fantastic Info on Work, Job & Career

The July 2008 edition of Atlanta magazine is packed with helpful career information for Atlantans, by Atlantans. Those who love their job, some of the very best places to work in the Atlanta market, and how to love the job you have during this tough economy. Check out the articles in this month's issue at

And here are a few other great sources of information to consider on some of the very best places to work. Maybe your next career opportunity is waiting behind one of these lobby doors!

  1. Fortune magazine:

  2. The 50 Best Small & Medium Companies to Work for in America, published in the July 2008 edition of HR Magazine (from the Society for Human Resource Management):

  3. The 2008 lists from Working Mother magazine:

  4. The Best Places to Work Institute offers the following search engines: