Whether you’ve voluntarily taken some time off work or involuntarily found yourself unemployed, it’s important to keep your skills sharp while out of the workforce. Whatever the reason you’re not working, every day that passes by where you’re not using your professional skills is a chance for you to fall behind the competition–and that could make it very hard to get back into the workforce when the time comes.
Here’s the good news: Even when you’re not working there are ample opportunities for using your professional skills if you know where to look. In my most recent interview on Good Day Colorado, I address this topic and share 5 tips for staying sharp and connected while out of the workforce. Enjoy the video below!
In case you missed it, I hosted my quarterly free coaching call a little while back. You can listen to the recording using the audio player below or download the MP3 if you’d like. Please note: The sound quality isn’t perfect. I’m in the process of upgrading my technology setup so hopefully, in the future, this won’t be an issue. Thanks for understanding.
During this session we covered so much, including (but not limited to):
How to get attention from prospective employers when you don’t have an “in” at the company.
How to manage someone else’s calendar.
The number one thing you should do to improve your chances of career success.
How to make a good impression in your first month on the job.
AND SO MUCH MORE!!
If you’d like to participate in the next call, please register and submit a question by visiting this page. As usual, if you can’t attend the live session, go ahead and register and submit a question if you have one. You’ll be able to listen to the recorded version at your convenience.
BONUS: You can also listen to previous free calls from the registration page.
It’s that time of year again where love is in the air. I know most people don’t use the word “love” very often when discussing their work, but I think we should change that. So today, in honor of V-day, I’d like to share a few tips to help you fall in love with your job…again.
Why do I say “again”? Well, I’m willing to bet at some point—whether in the distant past or more recently—you actually did love your job. At one time or another, it probably held all kinds of promise and possibility. It felt exciting to get up and go to work. Maybe that feeling didn’t last longer than a day…or even an hour. But you’ve probably felt it before. Here’s how to get that loving feeling back.
Whenever you complete project, overcome a challenge, fix a problem, improve a process, or achieve anything else of any significance in the workplace, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. Go get a massage, treat yourself to a frozen yogurt (with extra toppings!), buy a new sweater, toast yourself at dinner that night, take a long bath while listening to jazz…you get the idea. No need to go extravagant, but do something special to recognize and reward your efforts.
Keep a Kudos Log
The workplace is hectic and, unfortunately, people don’t show their appreciation as often as most of us would like. However, when they do, take note of it. Don’t let those nice compliments and gestures of gratitude just roll off your back. Relish them! Write them down in a journal or notebook, print out “atta-boy” emails, save thank you cards, etc. That way, on those days when you’re feeling like no one notices all that you do (and there WILL be many days like that, my friend!), you can look over your notes and remember that some days things are different.
Shake Up Your Routine
Routines are at once positive and negative. On the one hand, they’re helpful tools for making sure we get everything done. They help create habits and habits make us more efficient. However, routines can also be a source of boredom. When things are always the same, life gets…well…boring. Try shaking things up every once in a while just for a change of pace. It can be something as simple as taking a new route to the office in the morning, or doing your Monday tasks on Wednesday. Maybe you can shift your schedule to arrive and leave an hour later. Just minor shifts can create a whole new perspective.
Take on New Challenges
One of the biggest reasons people fall out of love with a job is that it loses its challenge. If you think about the last time you really felt in love with your work, it was likely somewhere around the beginning. Not necessarily the first month or two—most people feel overwhelmed by all the new stuff—but just after that. Right at that point where you know what you’re doing but things are still mentally stimulating. You’re engaged. You’re focused.
After a while the routine (there it is again!) day-to-day tasks and projects can create complacency, and that can feel downright depressing. As human beings, we want to constantly be growing. We want to feel our skills and capabilities stretching. We want to go to sleep each night knowing we’re just a little bit better off than we were when we woke up. The only way to achieve that is by challenging ourselves.
Take on challenging projects and responsibilities. Volunteer to do things that scare you and push you outside your normal comfort zone. Push yourself to achieve bigger and better things each day. And remember—these opportunities don’t always just fall in your lap. They don’t appear from thin air. Go out and make opportunities for yourself.
Proactively Manage Stress
Let’s be honest: Stress is a happiness killer. It’s hard to love something that stresses you out. And yet, work by its very nature is stressful. If you don’t have a stress management plan, now is the time to create one. Don’t wait until you’re actually under a tremendous amount of stress to do this. (BTW, my Stress Management E-workbook might be a helpful tool for you…)
The big key here is that you have a system in place to help you manage stress even when you’re not experiencing it in the moment—things you do that help keep stress levels manageable day-to-day. I’m talking about things like:
Enjoying a regular exercise routine (hooray for those feel-good mind chemicals!)
Taking regular breaks during the workday (yes, you get things called “breaks” so you can rejuvenate and re-energize!)
Following a reasonable, regular schedule (meaning: you leave the office at the right time…not hours later)
Getting consistent, restful sleep at night (8 hours folks!)
Practicing deep breathing exercises throughout the day, listening music, posting pictures of happy things in your work area, etc.
Look For the Good
I firmly believe that you find what you look for (a lesson I got from my infinitely optimistic mother). If you’re focused on everything bad about work, that’s all you’ll see. Likewise, if you’re focused on the good, you’ll see more of it everywhere you turn.
So seek out the good. Find the small things that delight you about your work—a favorite customer, a favorite task, a favorite co-worker who makes you laugh. Simple pleasures make life worth living and a job worth doing.
Remember: What you project into the world is reflected back at you…so smile, be friendly, share a joke, talk about the good stuff that exists all around you.
And before you know it, you’ll be swooning like a love struck teenager every time you walk into work!
Considering a new job? A new career? Wondering if you should take that promotion or explore opportunities at other companies? Whatever career decision you’re facing, you certainly want to be smart about it. That’s where I come in! In my most recent interview on Fox 31 Denver’s Good Day Colorado, I shared specific steps to help ensure your next career decision is a good one. While there are no guarantees, following these tips will increase the likelihood that you can look back and feel confident that you approached the decision in a thoughtful, methodical way and reached the best outcome possible.
Looking for more in-depth career advancement advice? Check out the Career Academy, my membership program for career-minded professionals featuring monthly professional development webinars. Learn more here.
By now, most of you probably know that LinkedIn is the gold standard for online professional networking. Regardless of your opinion of social networking in general, LinkedIn is a site you simply can’t afford to overlook. A basic account is free, though in order to really get the most out of it, you’ll need to invest a little time and energy into the process.
To help you, I’m starting a blog series wherein I’ll address some of the most commonly asked questions on how to utilize the various features LinkedIn offers.
Today’s article discusses the differences between endorsements and recommendations and which one is “better” for your needs.
Simply put, both the endorsement and recommendation features on LinkedIn provide opportunities to gather “social proof” regarding who you are and what you do. They allow other people to vouch for your skills and experience, thus increasing your credibility for those who don’t already know, like and trust you.
While they work in entirely different ways, both are important parts of creating a compelling profile. In my opinion, recommendations are slightly MORE important, but harder to get (you’ll see why in a minute).
When creating your profile on LinkedIn, you have the option to create a list of skills that define your expertise. For example, in my profile I have the following:
These currently show up as my “top” skills because I have the most endorsements for these. Additional skills I’ve listed show up below that list. These ones have fewer endorsements but are still relevant to my profile. To help illustrate, here’s a picture of this portion of my profile:
This list of skills helps recruiters and prospective employers find you. Think of them as search terms. They also provide a quick glance overview of your abilities when someone new lands on your profile.
Anyone in your network can “endorse” any of your listed skills simply by clicking a button.
Many times, when you log on to LinkedIn, you’ll get a notification that someone has endorsed your skills, or it will ask you endorse the skills of someone in your network. It’s as easy as pushing a button that says “endorse”.
You can also endorse others by simply navigating to the person’s profile. At the top of the page, a message will pop up that says, “Does so-and-so have these skills and expertise?” And again, it’s as easy as pushing a button.
The ease with which this can be done is both good and bad.
It’s good because you can end up with a nice hefty number of endorsements. Yay for social proof!!
It’s bad because it’s so easy, often these endorsements don’t mean much. I know many people who have endorsed me for skills they have never directly experienced from me. In my opinion, an endorsement SHOULD mean you have directly experienced this person using this skill. However, in practice, that’s not what happens.
I believe most people are beginning to sense the lack of real meaning in endorsements so perhaps in the future LinkedIn will change how this is done. For now, you’ll likely collect them quite easily and they’ll make your profile look nice.
Recommendations on LinkedIn are quite different and, in my opinion, much more meaningful.
A recommendation is a written statement from someone in your network endorsing you and your abilities—like a reference letter but shorter.
In order to receive recommendations, you (generally) need to request them. While people can elect to voluntarily write one for you (what a nice surprise!), it helps to ask directly.
In another article in this series, I’ll address the specifics regarding what to include in your request and who to ask. For now, here are the technical steps to ask for a recommendation:
Go to your profile
Click the drop down arrow next to the “edit” button
Select “ask to be recommended”
Follow the 3 steps listed on the recommendation request screen
A recommendation takes more time and effort on the part of the person endorsing you. It’s not as easy as just clicking a button; they actually need to write about their experience with you as a professional. That’s what makes recommendations so powerful.
Here’s a screenshot of two of mine:
Recommendations add a powerful punch to your profile. It’s like a big billboard saying, “Hey! This person is great and I’m willing to put my own reputation on the line to support them!” A recommendation is a demonstration of trust—and it helps build trust in others.
From now on, consider requesting a LinkedIn recommendation in addition to (or instead of) a reference letter from former bosses, etc.
In short, you want to have both endorsements and recommendations in your LinkedIn profile. Endorsements are easier to get, but recommendations are more meaningful. Both are used to build your credibility. After all, you can claim to have expertise in anything. Only after others confirm your claim does it really become believable.
Do you have a question about LinkedIn? Email me and I’ll be happy to address it in an upcoming article.
Are we connected on LinkedIn? If not, please request a connection and let me know you’re a part of the Eat Your Career community. Here’s my profile.