Category Archives: Job Search

I’m Not Sure What Kind of Work I Want To Do….Part 2

Pam’s story continues (see last post) as she thinks about the work she’d really like to do. She’s on the road now. She just needs to give herself permission to go after what she wants.

The next idea she comes up with is to move into bookkeeping.

“I think I could do that,” she says. Problem is, it feels a lot like medical billing. She’d continue to work at home alone, which was lonely for her. She’d still be working with data, which was boring.

And worst of all, she’d still be tied to a computer all day.

“But I think I’d be good at it. It wouldn’t take a whole lot to move over into bookkeeping. I wouldn’t need a lot of new training for it. And at least it’d be different than billing.”

She pursues this possibility for a couple of months. All the while, her coach keeps asking her:

“If you really had permission to do whatever you want, what would you do?”

Something clicks one day and Pam goes into see her coach, all excited.

“You know, I’d like to go into sales. If I could really do whatever I wanted, that’s what I’d do. I’ve always wanted to do this, actually. It’s just that I never thought I’d be good enough to make a living working on commission.”

At this point, everything starts falling into place. She feels motivated for the first time to write out her goals and objectives. She quickly comes up with a realistic plan.

“I may not have sales experience, but I’m good with people. Actually, I’ve had to do a lot of selling with the billing business.

“Since I know billing inside and out, I could go to work selling billing software. I could start out there and once I’ve been doing it for a year, I can branch out into a different area where I’d make more money.”

Now Pam is excited about her career path. Even though she’s making quite a switch to go from medical billing to sales, she has a clear and workable plan.

There is no doubt that Pam will be able to start a new career in sales. Her belief that she really has permission to do something different is the foundation for this change.

If you haven’t done so yet, give yourself permission to go after what you really want. Even though the economy is in bad shape, do it anyway.

Do it even if you don’t have work experience in your new chosen field. You probably have tons of informal experience.

It may take you a while to make the shift, but knowing that you’re moving in a good direction will keep you going.

Take the risk. Believe what your heart is telling you. You have permission.

I’m Not Sure What Kind of Work I Want to Do….Part 1

Trouble Je/Confusion by audhray
Trouble Je/Confusion, a photo by audhray on Flickr.

How the heck can you move into a new career when you’re not sure what you want to do?

The first and most important step is to start believing that you can do something different. You start believing you have permission to make a change.

Let me give you an example.

Imagine a woman named Pam who’s been a medical biller for the past 18 years. She’s been running her own business for 6 years now. She’s very good at what she does. Problem is, she’s lost interest in doing the work.

For quite some time she tried to get herself to like it again. Finally she decides that it’s not working and starts thinking about doing something different.

That’s when Pam decides to start seeing a career coach. As they talk, she begins to give herself permission to not just think about moving into a new career but to decide that she’s really going to make this change.

However….

“I’ve been doing this for 18 years,” she says. “What else could I do? I don’t know how to do anything else. Nobody is going to hire me to do anything besides billing.”

Pam and her coach talk about what she’d do if she really had permission to do whatever she wanted. The first thing that comes to her mind is web design. She made a website around the time she started losing interest in billing and had a ball doing it.

“But I could never do that,” she says.

“Why not?” her coach wanted to know.

“I don’t have any training. I don’t know anything about it.”

But a few weeks later, an idea hits her out of the blue. She could take a web design class at her local community college and see how she likes it.

The class turns out to be frustrating for her. It’s quite different from making a website with Go Daddy.

But since Pam now has permission from herself to leave medical billing, she starts thinking about Plan B.

In the next post, we’ll talk about what Pam does next.

How Not to Write a LinkedIn Profile

Are you familiar with LinkedIn? If not, you’ll want to find out about this
online professional networking site.

Employers and recruiters routinely use LinkedIn to find good job candidates. A survey done earlier this year showed that 93% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find potential employees.

Some of the things you can do on LinkedIn are:

•Showcase recommendations from people familiar with your work
•Post a resume and other work-related information
•Apply for jobs
•Create a network of your work-related contacts
•Join professional groups
•Demonstrate your expertise

Although LinkedIn is often considered a social networking site, it’s not a place to share casual photos or information about the party you went to the other night.

Unless, that is, you want to alienate potential employers.

Since this is such a powerful tool for sharing information about yourself, it’s good to consider how to write about work skills. Or perhaps how not to write.

LinkedIn recently released the results of a study it did on its 187,000,000 members to create a list of the most overused, tired buzzwords of 2012.

When employers and recruiters see these words on your profile, they can lose interest in you immediately. They could peg you as too lazy or indifferent to think up fresh and meaningful ways to describe yourself.

Go check your LinkedIn profile (and your resume) to make sure it doesn’t contain any of these words. They’re arranged in order of how overused they are:

creative
organizational
effective
motivated
extensive experience
track record
innovative
responsible
analytical
problem solving

If writing doesn’t come easily to you, hire a professional writer to create a profile that shows you in your best light. It’s that important.

Be creative and innovative. You’re responsible for producing an effective and dynamic profile. Be motivated to draw on your extensive communication experience. Use your best analytical problem solving skills to highlight your organizational track record.

On second thought, let’s scratch that last paragraph.

The Right Environments

Imagine you learn of a wonderful job. You want to go after it.

But it happens to be in a windowless office. And you’re someone who needs natural light like you need air and water.

Or the job requires travel. You know you wouldn’t function well with this, but you try to talk yourself into pursuing the job anyway.

Not gonna work.

You may not think to consider your working environment as you plan your career. This involves not just your physical environment but the people and cultural environments of an organization as well.

Think now about what kind of environment you need to be happiest in your work. Here are some questions for you to think and write about:

Environmental Factors

  • Would you be happiest working outdoors? Indoors? How much natural light do you need?
  • Would you like to work from home?
  • Do you want to work in one building or get out and about?
  • Would you like to settle in at a desk or move around a lot?

People Factors

  • Would working with a lot of people make you happy, or with a few? Do you want to work alone?
  • Do you want to constantly be interacting with new people or mostly work around people you know?
  • Do you want to work with children? Teens? Adults? Seniors?
  • Would you work best independently or as part of a team?

Organizational Culture Factors

  • Would you like to work for a non-profit? For a business? For yourself?
  • Do you want your co-workers to be an important part of your social life?
  • Would you work best for an organization that places a high value on family and personal commitments?
  • Would you thrive in a high-stakes environment that requires a deep commitment of your time and energy?

As you work with these questions, pay attention to your non-negotiables. Your answers may lead you to consider new possibilities or take some ideas off your list.

Just be true to yourself.

Unemployment, the Economy, and Work You Love

HOPE by DieselDemon
HOPE, a photo by DieselDemon on Flickr.

With 7.9% unemployment nationally in early November, this is a tough time to be looking for work you love.

Even during the best economic times, the search for your vocation challenges you emotionally. It requires you to mend holes in your self-confidence. You have to keep stirring up energy when you’re tired and want to relax.

But if you’ve lost your job you may need to take whatever work you can find. You’re scared. You come to feel that you must settle and will not be able to move into your true career after all.

So let’s clarify something: claiming your career usually happens in stages.

Do you believe that people jump from no work or boring work to something ideal? Let go of this belief and the pressure it puts on you. Instead, keep clarifying what you want. The clearer you are, the more you’re able to look for a job with at least some of the things you want.

Once you’re in that job, see if you can build on the parts you like to create something that’s closer to your best fit. You’ll find tasks that you not only do well but also make you shine because of how much you enjoy them. Take every opportunity to practice these skills.

Think about what your organization needs and then demonstrate how your talents can solve its problems and increase its productivity. Jobs can be surprisingly flexible. Point out to your boss how you can help the company more by moving into what you love to do. You’ll probably be able do so.

Each step you take to improve that survival job makes you realize that you really can create the career you want. Each step gives you valuable experience. Each step shows you that you’re really not at the mercy of outside events. Even in this economy you can still have work you love.

The Job Interview: When Your Last Job Done You Wrong

P47A by Symic
P47A, a photo by Symic on Flickr.

Now we’re going to talk about a most important rule for job interviews: never ever criticize your former employer.

I don’t care if the organization lurched around like a ship of doom with no rudder. I don’t care if your boss teased small caged animals.

Never let me hear that you’ve badmouthed an employer.

This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people slip into this when they’re feeling nervous. Especially if you were let go, you want people to think that the other party was to blame, not you.

You may well have had to quit to keep your sanity, your health or your integrity, and you hate to think that a job interviewer would see you as a flake.

You can get around whatever happened in your last job and come out looking like a mature person if you speak respectfully about your former employer. Talk about how you came to realize that you and the organization were not a good fit. Talk about how you’ll be a better employee now because of what you learned from the experience. Just be careful not to say too much.

Your interviewer is not stupid; he or she will read between the lines. They know that organizational weirdness happens a lot.

They’ll also be impressed by your composure and know that if they give you a job, you won’t go around someday telling everybody that you work for a bunch of losers.

If you did play a big part in the conflict between yourself and your former employer, you need to figure out what happened and take responsibility for changing. We usually have some role in a relationship that ends badly. Figure out where and why your behavior was less than optimal. You’ll then be able to authentically speak in a balanced way about why you left or were let go.

Kvetch about your former employer with your friends, unless they’re already sick of hearing about it. Then let it go. Walk into the job interview fresh, feeling optimistic about the potential for good things to happen. And if I see that former boss of yours, I’ll blow a raspberry at ‘em and let them see how it feels.

Comments, please: How have you gotten past a bad experience with an employer?

The Job Interview: A Relationship

You might feel anything between mild jitters to flat out dread as you anticipate a job interview. You may wonder if you’ll sound stupid, if you’ll stutter, if the interviewer will approve of you as a human being.

But a job interview isn’t an evaluation. It’s a relationship.

Both of you need something. You are there to negotiate whether it sounds like your valuable skills and energy will help them accomplish something that’s important to them.

You are peers. They wouldn’t be talking to you if they weren’t impressed.

“But will I live up to expectations?” That’s the wrong question. What’s more important for you to ask is: How can I add something positive to this person’s day?

Pay attention to the emotional climate as the two of you talk. If you’re intrigued, that’s a good sign. Do you like this person? Or not so much? Do you feel some excitement? Does the interviewer seem to feel some excitement? Or, is something not quite right?

You really don’t want to give them the wrong person for the job. That would serve no one. Do that and you’ll find yourself stuck in a situation that drains your energy. You could be off doing something that suits you, and doing it well. Instead, you’d have to do work you’re not cut out for. That would wear down your confidence and you’d start to feel that you really don’t have too much to offer. At the inevitable next job interview you’d feel even more insecure.

You also wouldn’t be giving them what they deserve.

You will have a relationship with the person interviewing you, maybe brief, maybe long term. This meeting of two people is what is important, not trying to package and sell yourself.

Take this opportunity to extend good will to this other person, not so that they’ll like you and give you a job but because they deserve it. You deserve the good feeling you’ll get by giving them the little gift of wishing them well.

Please comment!