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Archive for July 2010

Career Management: Defining the Process and Purpose

The term “career management” is a bit abstract for some people. It sounds like this fluffy, indefinable concept that doesn’t really mean a whole lot. In reality, career management is a very significant and specific process that, when done properly, helps to ensure long-term career success.

According to CareerVision.org, it’s sort of like contributing to your own career piggy bank:

Career management uses concepts similar to good financial management. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that a disciplined investment, made on a regular basis, yields a greater return.

In order to get the most out of your career, you have to put some effort into caring for it. Left to its own devices, your career may end up wildly off course. Without a structured career management plan, you’ll quickly find yourself doing what’s easy or convenient or what others want you to do. You may discover that your future goals don’t align with your present-day actions. And, before you know it, your career will be managing you.

1. Career Management is a Lifelong Process

The first point to understand is that career management is not a single event; it’s a part of your career journey. Don’t put it off until you suddenly realize there’s a problem. Just like a car, regular maintenance will help ensure a smooth ride.

2. Career Management is an Active Process

You can’t simply sit back and let others do the work for you. Otherwise, you’ll end up in someone else’s career! You have to be an active, engaged participant.

3. Career Management is a Structured Process

I believe that career management is most beneficial when it is carefully structured. Without structure, most of us would neglect it until an emergency came along. Structure helps keep the process moving at a steady, stable pace regardless of what’s happening.

4. Career Management is about Establishing, Tracking and Correcting:

  • Establish Goals: The real nitty-gritty of career management is in understanding what you’re trying to achieve. This, for many people, can also be the hardest part. Each goal should be broken down into tasks that, once completed, will achieve the goal. A timeline can then be created to map each step along the way.
  • Track Goals: Monitoring progress is a satisfying and useful strategy. Career management involves regularly checking in on established goals and the movement being made. This helps prevent stagnation and ensures career goals are being methodically incorporated into the rest of your life.
  • Course Correct: Career goals will change and grow just as you do. Part of the career management process involves monitoring and adjusting them as needed. Each step along the way will heighten your understanding of what you want and how to get there. The map isn’t set in stone. As you move forward, the career management process will help you identify new paths and new destinations.

Participating in a structured career management process demonstrates the important role that career plays in your life as a whole. For most people, your career can provide you with the means to achieve a great number of other personal goals, like buying a house or starting a family or traveling the world. Work also occupies a huge portion of our time spent on this planet, so managing your career is clearly a worthwhile investment of energy.

Photo Credit: docbaty (Flickr)

The Compartmentalization of Life

The container storeAfter completing nutrition school, I worked for a short time as a weight loss counselor. My clients were about 99 percent female and my job was to help them meet their weight loss goals.

At first, I assumed I would be focusing on menu adjustment, working with the clients to make sure they were getting the right nutritional balance, and monitoring caloric intake and changes in health. But it wasn’t that simple. The true nature of the job was similar to that of a therapist. These women had to overcome some serious mental and behavioral challenges, many of which were more important to their success than the physical nutrition plan they were following.

One of the most common problems I encountered was that my clients had problems at work that were spilling over into their personal lives. I noticed an interesting pattern quite quickly: Most of these women worked in jobs where they were caring for others. They were nurses or teachers or stay-at-home moms. They spent the entire day making sure that other people were safe, and they never took the time to think about themselves. That mentality carried over to their time at home. They were constantly putting the needs of others far, far ahead of their own needs. And often, they were so exhausted at the end of the day that they simply didn’t have the energy to care for themselves. So they over-ate, grabbed convenience food and quickly gave up on exercise.

It became clear to me, in the short period of time I worked as a nutritionist, that life can’t be compartmentalized. Nutrition and health can’t be managed without also addressing career and stress and every other aspect of life that could be impacting success. They’re all working together and influencing one another.

It’s Always YOU

You can’t simply create a “work persona” and a “home persona”. You’re the same person in both places, and what happens in one life impacts the other. There are no barriers. You can’t turn off your work brain the second you leave the office and— no matter what you do—you’re taking your home brain with you to work each day. You can’t simply tell yourself that what you do at work isn’t the “real” you. If there’s a conflict between your work values and your home values, for example, eventually there will be a point at which the two can no longer coexist; one will change the other so they match.

Understand the Impact…And Manage It

Instead of trying to better separate work from home and create more distinct compartments for your life, the more appropriate course of action is to recognize the inevitable blend that occurs and find ways to work with it. Often, you’ll discover that a problem in one area of your life is the result of problems in another. Just like most of my weight loss clients realized they were experiencing work stress that was negatively impacting their personal health routines.

The solution is to manage both your personal life and your professional life with a holistic point-of-view. Make sure your goals are aligned and that the steps you are taking in one area aren’t having a negative impact on another. Find ways to integrate the areas of your life to make sure they are all supporting the same goal—your success.

Photo Credit: cbgrfx123 (Flickr)

Are You a Job Hopper? 3 Reasons Why You Can’t Stick It Out

Are you a job hopper?If you’re a serial job hopper, don’t worry: I’m not here to pick on you. This article isn’t about placing blame; it’s about exploring motivation. You see, I’ve worked with a lot of people who want desperately to find that perfect job—a job that holds their interest and makes them feel truly excited to go to work each day. Yet, these same people find themselves bouncing from job to job, unable to make a long-term commitment. Job hoppers often have good intentions so it becomes frustrating when they just can’t find a job worth holding on to.

If the description above rings true for you, there could be several things going on. By understanding what could be causing your situation, you may be able to resolve it. So take a look at the three most common reasons I’ve discovered for being a serial job hopper, and see if any describe you.

1. Self-Discovery

Younger professionals especially may be going through a journey of self-discovery, bouncing from job to job as a way of exploring their options. When you don’t have a lot of experience, it’s hard to know what you’ll enjoy. Right after college for example, many people spend a few years in a state of transition. Job hopping during this period of time is nothing to worry about; it’s quite normal. Sometimes, the only way to know what you want in your career is to try a variety of things to determine what you don’t want.

2. Job Search Mistakes

Those who are more experienced and still find themselves job hopping may want to evaluate their job search process. Many people end up in a vicious cycle: They fail to use an appropriate level of discretion in their job search and they simply accept the first job that offers them a decent paycheck. Then, because they weren’t cautious enough on the front end, they end up in a role that pays the bills but doesn’t satisfy them on any deeper level. So, very quickly, they find themselves back in the job market. They let themselves get consumed with anxiety and worry, feeling the need for that paycheck, and they end up accepting yet another job that simply offers the salary needed, instead of taking their time and putting in the effort to find the RIGHT job.

This can be resolved quite easily by simply conducting a proactive job search. I’ve actually spent years creating a well-defined system that helps job seekers make intelligent, long-term decisions to find employment that makes job hopping a thing of the past. If you’d like more information on this, send me an email.

3. Personality Mismatch

At some point—usually about a year into employment—the reality of the workplace catches up to you. No matter how exciting and interesting the job appeared on day one, it eventually becomes just another job.  It happens to everyone, even rocks stars and astronauts. If they’re willing to pay you to do the job, it probably won’t always be a day at the park. Some people have creative personalities that struggle deeply with routine. They are more likely to feel antsy to the point of serious despair. However, instead of really analyzing what’s going on and creating a strategy for managing it, many people simply bounce on to the next job, hoping that something will change. Sadly, it never does.

If this description sounds like you, don’t worry: you’re not doomed to a life of job hopping. You have options that will help you work with your personality instead of fighting against it. If you want to find a career that will satisfy you long-term, it IS possible. But you’ll need to do a little work. Career Management Consulting (also called Career Strategy Coaching) is an ideal match for people in this situation. If you have questions, drop me an email.

Job hopping isn’t necessarily a “bad” thing, but most people don’t enjoy it. When you bounce from job to job, you’re usually looking for something—a feeling of fulfillment that’s missing. Plus, job hopping is hard! It’s stressful to look for a job and, even once you’re in, you still have that rough period of learning the ropes. In my experience, finding a long-term career that truly nourishes you is the ultimate goal for most people—and I truly believe it’s possible for everyone.

Photo Credit: Woodleywonderworks (Flickr)

Nibbles and Yum-Yums: July 23, 2010

This post is a part of the weekly series in which I share my favorite Internet finds from the past week. Enjoy!

First off, let’s address this week’s picture. Normally in this weekly series, I feature a photo of some kind of candy. Today, however, I’m sharing a little eye candy. Yes, that’s me, dancing with my favorite comedian, actor and all-around-cool-guy Hal Sparks. If you don’t know who Hal is, shame on you! I forgive you though because I know that everyone has a favorite someone in the world who makes them freak out like a teenage girl. Who is your someone? It’s only fair that you share with me now that I’ve shared mine with you….Now, on to business.

What Motivates You?
My aunt sent me a link to this really great video of a speech by Daniel Pink, author of the book Drive. It’s all about what motives us and it really is a great compliment to the information provided in my free mini-workbook. Check out both and let me know if you agree or disagree with our thoughts on motivation in the workplace.

This week, I was a guest posting fool. I had three wonderful articles (in my humble opinion) that appeared on three amazing blogs (their amazingness is an undisputable fact). Check them out!

And lastly, I’d like to give a shout out to a great friend of mine who is doing something really cool that you simply must check out. It’s not career-related but, you know what, we all have different sides of our personality so something tells me at least a few of you will jump on this. Now, I’m no fashionista, but I like serious discounts on fabulous clothes like any fabulous woman would. If you do too, check out:

I can always trust that Christina will only share the very best stuff and will always get her hands on a HUGE coupon for her visitors. That’s why I *heart* these sites. Stop by and shop your little heart out, my friends.

Happy Friday ya’ll!

Bad Career Advice: It’s Not WHAT You Know, It’s WHO You Know

Speed NetworkingThis is post is part of my Bad Career Advice series in which I expose outdated, clichéd, and counterproductive advice for exactly what it is.

This is perhaps one of the most frequently repeated pieces of bad career advice that exists. So, if it’s now what you know and it’s all who you know, why bother learning anything at all? Instead of attending classes while at college, we might as well focus all of our energy on the parties (clearly, some of us do that already…). But, if what you know doesn’t really matter, why do people make such a big deal about getting a college degree? Why go through the hassle of building a resume? Why not simply send a copy of your address book to prospective employers?

Why It Doesn’t Work

Clearly, I’m being a little facetious…but the problem with this kind of advice is that it places an unfair burden on your network. It supposes that your friends and family will be willing and able to open more doors for you than your own expertise. The truth is, what you know and who you know BOTH matter. Neither one works as well without the other; you have to leverage what you know and who you know to create opportunities for yourself.

The people in your network certainly want to help you grow professionally but not at their own expense. Even the most altruistic person will still want to protect his or her own interests. So you have to bring the goods. What you know matters. If you don’t have the ability to do the job, your friends and family can’t in good conscience advocate for you. By doing so, they’d put their own reputation on the line. If you don’t know enough to do the job and do it well on your own, your network can’t make opportunities appear for you.

Having the ability and having the network are just the beginning. The other critical component is knowing how to effectively leverage both of these things.

Leveraging Your Network

Just because you have a large and powerful network, doesn’t mean you can sit back, relax and let the opportunities flow. You have to do your part—reach out to people, ask for favors and return favors, be specific when you ask for things, know what you want your friend to do for you and the end result you’re looking for.

Leveraging Your Knowledge

Knowledge alone doesn’t do anyone any good. You need to create demonstrable proof of your abilities. Get out into the world and use your skills. If you’re not using your full potential in your current professional role, you need to find another way to do so. Join a professional organization and volunteer for a committee or run for a position on the board. Start a side business and put your skills to work that way. Don’t let what you know remain hidden. The more you show your abilities, the more opportunities will present themselves.

So don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the favors others can do for you are more important than your own abilities. You have everything you need to be successful, with or without your network. Yes, having people who are willing to help you grow professionally certainly makes a difference. But they have to be willing. Don’t ask your network to create opportunities that you can’t appropriately take advantage of due to lack of knowledge.

Photo Credit: Richard-G (Flickr)

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