Friday, December 14, 2012

Can't Or Won't

There is a school of thought that says if you continue doing the same thing again and again and it is not working, try doing something else. This is true in career change too....a recent returning client has been trying for two years to secure employment. At one time, he considered retraining in another field, but put that aside for a variety of reasons. Now he is rethinking his earlier decision.

Earlier, he gave many reasons for not retraining...but the real reason, I believe, is that he could not accept that the skills he has are not in demand. Two years of coming close to a new position, but just missing out every time has now led him to believe that retraining might be the ticket. Is that scary? Sure. Does he want to work? Yes. Therefore, he has his answer, and I hope to continue to stay in touch as he retools and seeks alternate employment.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Burning Bridges-Never a Good Idea

I am presently working with a client who, as a temporary worker, was treated poorly by the employer. He was told he had the "inside track" toward a permanent job, did more than what was required of him in terms of job performance, and then found out through another source that he would not be getting the job. When he asked, the reason given to him as to why the employer was hiring someone else was, in his opinion, shaky at best. Therefore, he left immediately, causing coverage problems for the employer and prompting a scene between him and his immediate supervisor. He was told not to expect a good reference.

While his reasons for leaving immediately were understandable, the way he handled it was poor. Never burn your bridges! At all times, your intent to get leave an employer with good feelings and with a positive reference. My client is now working on securing a positive reference from another source within this temporary job. I hope he will be able to do so.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Are You a Female in the Workforce?

Randstad, the international staffing company recently issued a report detailing results of their ongoing surveys that are part of the Randstad Engagement Index. The latest report talks about women's insights and perspectives on work and how they view the economy's impact on their jobs.

Women say that the top skills needed in the workplace today are "flexibility and adaptability, followed by knowledge of technology and teamwork."

It is obvious that employers need to pay attention to this for both hiring and retention purposes. Women are proving to be academically superior in our schools, have better graduation rates, and should be developed as leaders. It will be the wise employers who will benefit.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Looking Overseas to Find a Job

The Sunday, November 25th edition of The Washington Post carried an interesting article about Americans looking overseas to find jobs. It highlighted several individuals who were unable to find well paying or even any kind of job in their fields here, but found new and very good jobs abroad. The Department of State estimates that 6.3 million Americans right now are studying or working abroad. If you are looking for work, consider this as an option.

Lots of these newly employed Americans are teachers, but the article also follows one couple who are respectively a medical research assistant and a non profit employee and who both found work in Asia, a booming area, per the writer, Emily Matahar. Because of the high number of foreigners moving abroad, the writer also states that most Americans, even without local language skills, easily find the international community and fit right in.

There is no doubt that the job market is still a tough sell for most people. People will pay you for the skills that they want. You may have an easier time finding work aboard, at the same time adding to your resume as well as your bank account, by looking to the other side of the world.

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Monday, November 12, 2012


Never underestimate the power of a video. You've reached out to prospective employers with resumes, your own website, blogs, LinkedIn sites...etc. How about a video?

Videos are easy to create, and you can upload something short highlighting you in action to your own website, if you have one, or to your LinkedIn. It is one more way to communicate and to get your message out. Make sure you spotlight a situation where you are demonstrating your skills, be it in public speaking, training, leading a meeting...whatever. A picture is better than a thousand words. Try it today.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Network, Network, Network!

Recently, I worked with a client who is finishing her master's degree and is concerned about her future employment. She asked me for the one outstanding piece of advise that I could give her...and I told her what I wrote above..."network, network, network".

People hire people, not resumes, or networking cards or LinkedIn profiles. People hire people who they either have worked with before, or who have worked with someone they know and value. That is why smart employers offer cash rewards to employees who bring them hirable candidates. This has always been important, and now more than ever.

Is being invited to networking functions enough? have to go, and work the room. Is being on LinkedIn enough?, you have to use it. Should you wait until you need a job?, networks need tending. Popping up on someone's radar only when you need them is ill advised, and frankly rude.

Networks do not grow overnight, and can easily die if not cared for. So pay some attention to your LinkedIn; take the holiday invitation and respond "yes" and go. Your working life may depend on it.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Are You of "A Certain Age"?

If you are a job seeker of a "certain age", that is, over 50, you are probably aware that especially for you the job market is tough. I write this as a follow-up to my recent "relevancy" post because I had an experience with a potential client of a "certain age" for whom relevancy is a non-starter.

This gentleman owns a business in an industry that is dying. Ten years ago, he changed his business model and it helped somewhat; however, since the beginning of the most recent economic downturn his business has been failing. Right now he thinks he will be closing his doors by the end of this year. During our discussion it was clear to me that he has done little to nothing in the past several years to improve his situation.

Clearly, this gentleman needs identification of personal transferable skills; he needs to understand how to prepare generic and targeted resumes. He needs networking skills in order to locate even a survival job until and quite possibly he locates training in a new field. He also needs to figure out if he can save his present business. When we spoke he gave me a long list of issues including poor economic decisions, lack of education, etc...What I told him is that that was then and this is now. Relevancy rears again. He needs to act, and quickly. This gentleman has probably at least a dozen years left to work before he can think of retiring. He has to determine what he wants, what he can do and then do it. I hope he does. There are no magic answers.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Be Relevant

Do you "get it"? Are you relevant?

In today's job market, you must show transferable skills that someone is willing to pay you for. Do you know what your transferable skills are?

  • Are they current – that is, used within the last 10 years?
  • Do you know the kinds of skills a hiring manager or a recruiter in your field is looking to "buy"?
If you cannot answer "yes" to the two questions above right now, then it is time that you learn to, and learn to quickly, because you are wasting your time if you do not. What skills you developed even just a few years ago, if not relevant and current now, are of no use to you in any job hunt.

Try Google Alerts and and look at job descriptions that come up. If you are not at least a 90% (and more) match then do not bother to apply; even with this, showing added value as well as using your network to come to the attention of the hiring manager is key.

Many clients ask me about functional resumes, very popular with career changers. What I tell them is that today, functional resumes are usually red flags to hiring managers and recruiters. What these folks want to see on a resume is a match and experience with the skills that they are hiring. If you do not have those skills, get to work on getting them by volunteer experience, schooling or certifications. Be relevant. You will be glad that you did.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Getting Ready

Occasionally I come upon clients, or better still, clients come upon me who
realize how important it is to always be looking ahead.  This is no simple feat, because life and career can change so rapidly and frequently that looking ahead sometimes is as clear as mud. This morning I met with such a client who has targeted Sept. of 2013 as when she wants to be working in a new position. She paid attention to what she sees coming, contacted me and is giving herself plenty of time to get ready and launch an effective job search campaign. In this recessionary atmosphere, it is the rare job change candidate for whom the next position comes along quickly. Take time to look ahead...take even more time to prepare and launch. You will be glad that you did.

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

It Can Be Done!

This am, I had a call from the mom of a former client of mine. The client is a 2012 college grad who has just landed her first job. It is not exactly what she wanted, and it looks like it may not last beyond the end of 2012, but she secured it by working her network, she will be making a decent salary, and she has benefits. It also gives her about a 6 month reprieve to look for her next  position and adds to her resume and her network. I sent congratulations to my former client, wishing her well, and praising her on her success. She kept at it, presented herself well and is now employed!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Keeping At It

Do you feel like your job search is now and will be neverending? Do not be discouraged; you are not alone. Now is the time to take even better care of yourself, to volunteer and learn new , keep current and even update transferable skills that you already possess. Are you working your network, online and in person? Remember that resumes do not get people jobs...people do.

Are you actively social, getting out everyday, talking to people, looking to do for them as much or even more than they do for you? Sitting on your couch or even in front of your computer will not get you your next job. Working your present network and building new connections, updating skills and using those skills for the betterment of others...these are the things that will in the long run work. Keep at it.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Is Owning a Small Business For You?

Tough economic times got you down? Many Americans are reacting to unhappy stressful working environments or no working environments at all by opening their own small businesses. Have you considered this option? Here are some considerations before taking the leap!

Are you an entrepreneur? There are several ways to evaluating whether or not you have the personality or drive to run a small business. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. This link can help you determine if you have what it takes. Go to

What kind of small business would you like to own? Evaluate your own professional background and your transferable skills. Then do your market research. Is there a niche to be filled by your business idea?

Evaluate your financial situation. Where will start up funding come from? How will you sustain yourself? It might be better to keep your day job and work on your small business at night and on weekends. Be careful. Have an exit strategy that is ethical. Do not steal customers, employees, etc. Leave as friends. Your present employer may be a source of subcontracting business in the future.

Your own community may have sources of assistance for you. Have a look.

Friday, April 27, 2012

She Has The Contacts!

A returning client to me with whom I just finished working reported that she has secured a wonderful new opportunity in a new industry. How did she find it? She leveraged her contacts. She kept in touch, added them to her LinkedIn profile, used them as her "board of directors", and in a short while, found a new position. It also helped that she has great skills, which she has not only kept up but added to all the time. So what do we learn from this? In this economy, more than ever, a combination of great, current marketable skills plus an active networking plan can spell success!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Is Staying at Home With Children "Real" Work?

The latest war of words in this year's presidential race spotlights our continuing national debate about whether or not staying home to raise kids is "real" work. I am not going to enter this fray; however, what I am going to say, as a career coach, is that every one of us has the choice to make over whether  to step out of the workforce  and concentrate on raising our children, or stay in the workforce and do both. There are a lot of factors to consider; ours is not a society that makes it easy on the family to do both. The input from a career coach can help you make the decision. It is worth your time and effort.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Are You Still Waiting?

Recently, I saw another client who had worked with me about one year ago to try and identify a new and different career. She was unhappy in what she thought was her present sales career; however, what was really going on was that she was unhappy with her present employer. Once she realized that, she decided to stay and try sculpting her job to better meet her needs...and it did not work.  However, she managed to add  new skills during her extra year on the job, and now she is back again, ready and able to search within her current field, but with the addition of newer and better skills. She is bright, saavy and a go-getter with excellent  skills. She understands the power of both social and in person networking and instead of whining about her problems (her present position will be eliminated by the end of the spring), she is best positioning herself for a fruitful job search, and I will be there to assist her.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Can an Old Skill Become a Marketable Skill?

A client of mine disappeared for a year. Today, he was back. Why did he disappear--he says that he needed a break from jobhunting..but what he was really doing is being proactive in another area of jobhunting....developing his skills. In his case, he took an old, unused- for- a- while skill and started practicing it again, and earned a little money along the way. How did this benefit him? He redeveloped something that he had done early in life, he gained a new network, he added to his nearly empty coffers, and most important of all, he has a new career path. He was proactive, and good or him.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Figuring Out What is Next

My newest client now has her first real fulltime job out of school...but is having concerns about future education already. She knows that she wants to go on to an advanced degree but does not know in what. She realized that she needs several years of work experience before she figures it out, but is already concerned. While I am a big believer in planning ahead, I advise or two years of job experience can change one's perspective greatly. Unless you are sure of what you want to study, and are sure that at the end of spending lots more money and lots more time in school, there will be a good job, concentrate on building your professional background and leave thoughts of further education to the future.

Friday, March 9, 2012

She Has the Skills

A current client of mine just got a job only a few appts into her program with me; she is recently out of her undergraduate education. Why was her search so easy? I would like to say that it was because of my great coaching skills, especially in interviewing preparation but rather it was more likely the fact that she has the specific skills set valued by employers. In her case, as an undergraduate and in part time positions while in school, she learned grant writing skills growing out of her English major; that coupled with a background in volunteerism earned her a position with a local non profit and a very nice salary and benefits package.

What is the lesson here? Have the skills needed by the employer and make a case for it. Match your resume to the job description. Don't know what your skills are, what employers in your area are looking for, how to get the skills? Consult a career coach.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Work Close or Work Smart

Recently I met with a female client, who is a mom and a person who always puts her family first. She is out of work, and her skills set is such that she believes she will have to commute a fair distance in order to find employment. Culturally, her position in her home is that she works, commutes and does everything else as well. Therefore, she was frequently exhausted and does not look forward to resuming that lifestyle again.

I coached her to realize that she can either work close (and that may just not be possible, given her skills set, her home location, and the impact of the economy,) or work outsource whatever she can (yes, even if that means spending money on housecleaning, grocery delivery, etc). I cautioned her about the message that she gives to her spouse and children when she tries to do it all. Telecommuting is not a given, and frequently not available in government connected jobs.

Such is the dilemma in many a modern American family. What is your close or work smart?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Not on LinkedIn?

I recently met with a new client and discovered that she is not on LinkedIn. I must admit..I am amazed. LinkedIn is one very powerful source of information for any job seeker. If you must have one online presence only in your job search, then LinkedIn it is...and the reasons are numerous.

If you do not know what LinkedIn is, or how to get started, take the time to figure it out to consult a career coach who will guide you through it. It is worth the effort.

"Discrimination Against The Long Term Unemployed"

"60 Minutes" recently ran a story about an innovative program underway in CT to fight discrimination against the long term unemployed. As with age discrimination and discrimination by gender, race, etc, this is illegal; however, that does not mean it does not exist and happening all the time.

Is such discrimination avoidable? Sure it is....How? keeping your skills current. Any potential employer is going to ask what you have been doing while you were out of work...and the answer is  volunteering to keep your skills up as well as to learn new skills... taking classes...many free and online...and  attending industry conferences. All of the above also provide networking opportunities...the best way to gain new employment.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Leaving No Stone Unturned

Recently I met with a new client, and discovered to my amazement that she is not familiar with LinkedIn. She has been unemployed for over 6 months and until we began to work together, her networking consisted of talking to a few friends about her skills and on their suggestions sending resumes into the black holes of online job boards. She is also looking in the private section only; her spouse told her that securing a state or federal position takes too long. Had she started a good search 6 months ago in both the federal and private worlds, she might just have secured a good position by now, especially since she has skills that are somewhat in demand. This client has not understood up to now the importance of leaving no stone unturned! The modern job hunt today requires paying attention to any and every possible job source. It takes time, skills an dedication. You work at least 40 hours per week; be prepared to search 40 hours per week.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Latest Bureau of Labor Statistics Report The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently issued the above report and set off a firestorm amongst folks like me about how to use this information when ooaching and counseling clients. After some debate, I concur with anyone who suggests caution. These are projections, nothing more. No one has a crystal ball. Take any projections like these, combine them with what is going on in your working area, and from there. I live and work in Northern Virginia, where we have been protected in a large part by the federal government. That is changing; the federal government continues to shrink; cuts have arrived in DOD spending. Will the private sector in this area pick up the slack? That is the prediction...stay tuned and be aware.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Time Out

Today I scheduled a meeting with a client who literally cannot come to see me unless she an get a Saturday morning appointment, which, luckily, I offer. Otherwise, she would have to invent a "doctor's appointment" in order to take a few hours off. Granted, she could hardly tell her employer that she has an appointment with her career coach, but making an employee, especially in a small business, account for every moment of "time out" when the employer does not hesitate to take as much of the employee's personal time as is deemed "needed to do the job" is hardly fair and hardly right. Yes, we are seeing more and more of this in the present economy, but that does not justify it. So, Mr. or Ms. Small Business Owner, look at your policies, both written and unwritten, and think again about them. Yes, there are those employees who will always violate the "rules"; then again there are also those employees who deserve to be treated as human beings with needs not necessarily covered under any HR policy manual; tending to their physical and mental wellbeing is important and part of every employer's responsibility.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Ability to Sell

Can you sell? According to various reports about the skills very marketable right now in this country, the ability to sell can prove to be the ticket to your next job. There are those who feel that sales is a part of every job right now, and I believe them correct. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, needs continual good customer servioe training, and I also think that everyone needs sales training. In everything that you do professionally, you are selling..not only your product or your service, but also yourself. If your present employer offers any kind of training, but especially customer service and sales training, take advantage of it, whether or not it is usually offered to those in your job. Ask your boss to enroll you. If your employer does not, he/she should be. If you are a business owner, make sure all your employees are trained, and continually trained. That is the ticket to professional success.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Taking It One Step Further

Recently I had an email from a client who worked with me about one year ago. He has been trying to re enter the work force especially in the non profit world. He has had all kinds of interviews and has yet to land a job. He asked me for any further advise. I reminded him that it is not enough to say you want the job; you must show you can do the job and do it better than anyone else. If you are fortunate enough to get an interview situation and just prepared for the old fashioned "they ask the questions and I answer them" interview, you are missing a bet. These days, you have to DEMONSTRATE worth. So...based on your previous research and what you have also gleaned as the issues facing the employer, tell them, or rather show them, what you would do in the first 30, 60 or 90 days. Assess the climate in the room, and if you are comfortable, go for it. Make sure your comments are simple and direct. Remind the interviewers that you are basing your comments on what you know so far; it may not be enough, but based on what you do know, present your case. I recommended that my former client try this technique. I hope to hear good news in the future.