I recently spoke to a prospective career coaching client who told me she did everything right when she decided to change careers a few years ago.
She went through a lengthy process of self-exploration to determine her strengths and weaknesses. She created a vision for life and then questioned how her career could support that. She did her research and conducted informational interviews. She set concrete career goals, made intelligent choices, developed a plan and executed it to perfection.
So she couldn’t understand why things hadn’t worked out.
She did everything she was supposed to do, didn’t she? She didn’t rush into anything. She didn’t let emotions drive her decisions. Where had she gone wrong?
Listening to this client, I felt for her. I could see how this kind of thing would be discouraging. You put all that time and energy and focus into making a decision and then that decision turns out to be wrong? Man, what a drag.
But I’ve seen it before and, sadly, I know I’ll see it again. In my work with my clients, I do everything in my power to prevent this kind of thing from happening. In order to do so, I’ve found that it helps to really understand what causes the problem. So here are just a few of the reasons even well-thought-out career decisions sometimes don’t work out.
1. There’s a point of diminishing returns for information.
We’re all familiar with TMI (too much information) in our personal lives. You know: That friend who tells you all about her bathroom activities…in detail? That’s TMI.
Well, there’s such a thing as TMI in career exploration as well. Sometimes, you can get so heavily invested in gathering data, and doing your research, and collecting the facts; you actually work against yourself. As odd as it sounds, sometimes the more you learn, the less you know.
All that information can suppress your own intuitive wisdom. I call this problem, “Head versus Heart.” Too often, career changers put too much emphasis on the head and not enough on the heart. They think the more information they have, the better their decision-making will be. That’s true up to a point, but after that it becomes incredibly untrue incredibly fast.
How is one supposed to weed through all that stuff? How do you distinguish between important information and unimportant? The more you have the harder it is to know.
Remember that the amount of time you spend thinking about this, mulling over the possibilities, and gathering information means nothing.
As a certified career coach, I’m trained to help my clients conduct guided, purposeful research; use that information intelligently; and offer advice on when it’s time to stop.
2. We see what we WANT to see.
Excitement can blind us. Just ask anyone who ever fell head over heels for someone on a first date only to discover later that the person was a wildly wrong match. Most people in this situation look back and say there were red flags all over the place, but somehow they missed them.
The same thing happens in job interviews and the career exploration process in general. We see an opportunity—a possibility for the happiness we’re seeking—and we get excited about its potential. We want it to work so badly. And suddenly we’re blind to the negatives. We see only the things that confirm our belief that this is the answer to all our career woes. Psychologists call this “confirmation bias” and, if you’re not careful, it can turn your brain into the enemy.
This is yet another reason people seek the support of a career coach. As an unbiased third party, your coach can help shed light on the evidence so you can honestly evaluate the situation from ALL angles.
3. People aren’t all the same (and they aren’t always truthful).
Many career changers rely on others to help them understand what’s involved in a career decision. For example, if you’re thinking about becoming a teacher, perhaps you’ll talk to a teacher about her career satisfaction and what her work is like day to day. Or, if you’re considering taking a job a new company, you’ll likely talk to the hiring manager or the HR person about what it’s like to work there. Maybe you’ll even talk to a friend who worked there in the past.
Unfortunately, these people aren’t you. They’re experiences aren’t necessarily going to be your experiences. They offer a perspective; you have to take that with a grain of salt. Just because Sally loves being a teacher doesn’t mean it’s the right move for you. And just because Johnny despised the company you’re considering doesn’t mean it’s not an ideal place for you.
Even more unfortunate is the fact that you have to be cautious when taking information from someone who has a vested interest (like a recruiter). These people will—intentionally or not—paint a pretty picture for you, even if it’s not necessarily accurate. A very common complaint I hear from my clients is that they accepted a job believing it was one thing but it turned out to be another. You have to do your due diligence in the interview process and be skeptical.
Still, there’s no substitute for actually experiencing something yourself. Until you do, you’ll never really know what it’s like. Understand that others can only share their opinions, their experiences, and their feelings. Your job is to translate those things, pull out concrete information, and develop your own perspective.
4. There are no guarantees.
In the end, there are no guarantees that any decision—no matter how well thought out it is—will ever lead to the expected results. There are inherent, unavoidable risks in any career move. The best you can do is invest the time and energy required to minimize the risk and manage your expectations. Do the work on the front end, but recognize that you can’t predict the future. Just give it your best shot and don’t beat yourself up if and when there are surprises along the way.
Remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson said:
“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”
There are no failures. Every career move—even the ones that don’t work out—will teach you something about who you are and what you want. All will move you closer to your destination, IF you approach them with that point-of-view.
If you’ve heard the term “social resume” floating around recently and wondered what it’s all about, you’re in the right place.
A social resume is not so much an actual thing; rather it’s a variety of things. Essentially the term refers to the use of online tools to gain visibility, position yourself as a leader in your field or subject matter, and, ultimately, to get a leg up in the job market.
The wide array of easy-to-use online tools available at minimal or no cost can give any job seeker access to a much bigger audience than ever possible in the past. While these tools aren’t a replacement for the traditional resume, they can be a helpful addition to the job search process.
Here are a few things you should know for tapping into the power of the social resume.
1. Own Your Name
Over 90% of employers screen for prospective employees online to see what comes up. You want your information and information within your control to land at the top of the search results. Obviously this can be difficult if you have a very common name and you’re a little late to the Internet game.
Everyone should consider purchasing your own name domain (meaning FirstNameLastName.com). It’s a cheap investment—typically about $10—that pays off big time. If your name is already taken, add some words that help brand you and identify your profession or location (for example: JoeSmithWriter.com or JoeSmithDenver.com). Internet real estate is precious and it goes fast so don’t wait to do this.
Sites like Facebook and LinkedIn also show up in search results so make sure you use your real name on your profiles—and be sure everything you post is suitable for prospective employers to see. More about this is a minute…
2. Create an Online Portfolio
Once you have your domain name, don’t leave it empty. This is a prefect place to house your professional portfolio. Put up samples of your work, your resume, and even a video if you’d like to help you make a personal connection with your website visitors.
If you’re a newbie, there are several easy, low-cost platforms that walk you through the process of creating a website step-by-step. You don’t have to be a tech geek to figure it out. Wherever you buy your domain name will likely offer a simple tool for setting things up. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A few basic pages are all you need.
3. Start a Blog
Blogs got a bad reputation a while ago. People thought all bloggers lived in their parents’ basements and were writing about what they had for breakfast. These days, the status has changed quite a bit thanks to high-quality blogs that offer insight and education on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to home schooling to politics and more.
Blogging offers a number of benefits. Here are just a few:
Writing about your area of expertise helps establish you as an authority and thought leader in your field. You can show off your up-to-date knowledge of industry trends and share lessons gained from your experience in the field.
It demonstrates your writing skills, which employers love to see!
As far as hobbies go, this is one that shows a variety of appealing skills for prospective employers. Blogging successfully involves consistency and discipline, understanding the latest technology, and at least a certain level of creative capability. A robust, well-done blog can be very impressive.
Blogging attracts people to you. Every blog post you write creates a new “doorway” through which people may find you in a web search.
4. Use Social Media
Twitter and Facebook are typically thought of as websites for “personal” use. But you can certainly use them to help promote yourself as a professional too. You can post links to help drive people to your online professional portfolio or your blog. Share information and advice that, again, positions you as an authority in your field. Perhaps even solicit the friends in your network for leads on employment opportunities or valuable connections.
LinkedIn is really the gold standard for online professional networking though. Make sure your profile is up-to-date, accurate and complete. Connect with former colleagues, friends, mentors, leaders in your field, companies you’d like to work for, and more. Be sure to utilize all the special features and capabilities it offers, like groups, endorsements and recommendations.
Finally, remember that about 70% of employers say they’ve rejected job candidates because of what they saw on social media so be careful about what you post. Ignore privacy settings—they change so often and have so many loopholes, you should always assume anything you put online is available for public consumption. Filter every status update by asking yourself this question: “If I knew my future employer would see this, would I still post it?”
Everything prospective employers see or read about you online contributes to their perceptions of your personal brand. These social resume tools will help you connect with more people very quickly, but make certain you’re presenting yourself in the most productive manner for achieving your professional goals.
Whether you’re actively searching for a new job or just thinking about doing it in the near future, don’t miss this free webinar: Job Search Success Secrets.
You just got the phone call. They liked you a lot. The interview went well. But they’ve decided to go in another direction.
You’re disappointed and confused. You were perfect for this job. You have everything they’re looking for and more. How could any candidate be a better fit?
Instead of getting all worked up about it, take this as an opportunity for growth. Here are a few tips that may help:
1. Remember it’s for the best. The people making this decision know what they’re looking for much more than you do. Whether you see it or not, they don’t believe you’re a match. Trust that they know the role and their organization well enough to gauge the fit. It’s better that you know now. Wouldn’t it be awful to start a new job only to quickly learn that it’s not for you? The decision-makers are trying their hardest to make sure it’s the right thing for everyone involved, and they’ve likely saved you a lot of trouble. Now you can move on and find something that better suits your skills and personality.
If you’re used to going into an office from 9 in the morning until 6 in the evening, and you suddenly find yourself between jobs, you’ve got a whole new set of distractions to contend with! How do you stay focused on your job search and keep your spirits up? I address this question specifically in my recent interview on Fox 31 Denver’s Good Day Colorado. Watch the video below and see for yourself.
Looking to move onward and upward? Yes, it’s possible–even in THIS economy! Check out my most recent segment from Fox 31′s Good Morning Colorado below where I share 4 tips that will make the process of changing careers much easier to manage. Remember, it can be stressful and overwhelming, but it can also be very worthwhile. If you’re ready to start the process, consider working one-on-one with a career coach. I’d love to help!
Written by Chrissy Scivicque, September 17th, 2012 | No Comments »