Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Top 3 Reasons New Year’s Resolutions Fail and What You Can do about it

With the upcoming new year, millions of people will set New Year’s resolutions, only to soon fail and go back to old habits. Instead of advising people about how to set better goals, I thought it would be better to look at what I think are the top 3 reasons people’s resolutions fail.

A FranklinCovey survey conducted in 2007 showed that 35% of respondents broke their resolutions by the end of January and 77% of respondents admitted to breaking their resolutions some time during the year. This is the first of 3 blog entries. Check back next year (also known as next week) to find out reasons 2 and 3 to ensure these are not the cause of your own downfall.

Reason #1 – Your resolutions are what you think you SHOULD do instead of what you WANT to do

I should start exercising, I should lose weight, I should stop smoking are all examples of what people say to themselves before setting a New Year’s resolution to do just that. The problem is that we are basing our resolutions on other people’s expectations, by what we see in a magazine, or see on television. However, we have no true motivation to achieve these goals.

The Solution:
The only way you will stick with a goal is if it means something significant to you. The first step to overcoming this obstacle is to evaluate why you are setting your particular resolution. Is it because you really want to do it, or because it is what you think you ought to do? In the same 2007 FranklinCovey survey mentioned earlier, 33% of respondents admitted that they were not committed to the resolutions they set.

When setting your resolution, think about committing yourself to one or two goals – no more – that will make you truly happy. Don’t just focus on the goal, but instead focus on why you want to achieve that goal. Instead of saying I want to stop smoking, say to yourself, I am going to stop smoking to improve my health and increase my energy and stamina when playing with my kids. By tapping into the reason or motivation behind the goal, you are more likely to commit yourself to achieving your goal.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How to Optimize Holiday Party Networking Contacts

Most holiday parties have come to a close and although you may
still have some opportunities at the upcoming New Year’s Eve parties, it is
time to plan how you can take full advantage of the new contacts you made
during holiday festivities. Congratulations to you for going out on a limb and
taking the initiative to make new networking connections at these events. However,
now you may be asking yourself what to do next. Here are some tips to help you
optimize these new relationships.

> Follow up with these new contacts as soon as possible.
If you have not yet touched base with your new contact, it is time to reach out
to them. The longer you wait, the more likely you will be forgotten in the
bustle of the holidays.

> Use the upcoming new year as an ice breaker. Send your
new contact a card, email, or voice message with wishes for a Happy New Year
and inquire about the remainder of their holiday since you last saw each other.

> When you make the initial contact, remind them where
and when you met and who introduced you. Use the topic of your conversation –
your shared interests or goals – as a reminder of your conversation. Remind
them of how you can be a resource for them and clearly express what you are looking
for from them as a networking contact.

> Search for the person on social networking sites such
as and This is a way to
reconnect without asking for too much of their time.

> Don’t wear out your welcome before you make an honest
connection. Keep in mind that people are often just returning from work after
an extended absence and they may not be able to get back to you right away. Be
respectful of their time, their schedule, and their other commitments.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Five TED Videos to Inspire Your 2012

2011 was a banner year for internet video, with musicians, commercials, and animals making waves. But the best videos aren't necessarily the most popular, and I have compiled five of my favorite TED videos to inspire and guide your 2012.

Trying something new: Matt Cutts, in his short put powerful TED talk, inspires his audience to try something new for 30 days. The lessons he learned changed his life and will inspire you to change yours. What could you do for 30 days that would positively impact your career?

Reframing regret: Kathryn Schulz begins her talk discussing the biggest regret of her life-her tattoo-and ends up confronting her listeners to think about what they regret and how those "bad choices" are actually a springboard for important life-lessons that guide. What have you been regretting that you should now start celebrating?

Passion: This talk features an app developer...who happens to be 12-years-old. Hear his story and reflect on how you are letting your passions drive you in your life. What are you passionate about, and how are you acting on those passions?

Simplicity: How much stuff do you need? Graham Hill challenges his audience to contemplate the nature of their belongings and their desire to consume, consume, consume. How much happier would you be if you ruled your possessions instead of them ruling you?

What matters: Ric Elias was a passenger on US Airways flight 1549 that crashed into the Hudson River in January 2009. Surviving what in many cases would have been certain death, he reflects on the three things he learned through that experience. What truly matters to you in your life, and how are you living based on those beliefs?

Make 2012 the year of you and your career.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

1. A Must-Listen Interview for Job Hunters

2. New Ways to Make the Most out of a Career Fair

3. How Blogging Can Help Your Career

4. 22 Game-Changing Job-Search Tips from a Recruiter

5. How Twitter Hashtags Can Help You Find a Position

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cover Letters Act As Valuable Communication Tools

Job seekers might ask: Is it really necessary to submit a cover letter with a resume when applying for a job? The answer is yes. A cover letter serves as an introduction between the job seeker and the prospective employer. In it, you introduce yourself, identify the position of interest, and summarize the unique value and expertise you can bring to the organization. Cover letters may also help to explain a unique situation, like a gap in employment or why the job seeker is transitioning to a new industry. When written well, a cover letter should draw the reader into wanting to read the accompanying resume—with the ultimate goal of securing a job interview.


The key elements of a cover letter include a salutation; an introductory paragraph; two body paragraphs highlighting the applicant’s experience, skills, and accomplishments; and a closing paragraph requesting an interview or other follow-up steps. To be completely effective, customize the letter to address the position and company you are applying to.

Cover Letter Templates

The great news for job seekers is that numerous cover letter templates are available to help get you started in writing a targeted message intended to resonate with a particular audience or communicate unique experience. Many custom templates are designed for specific situations, like a first-time job seeker or someone wishing to highlight transferable skills in an attempt to transition occupations. Most templates are typically easy to use, and most are available for free online.

Much as you might be tempted to skip the cover letter, think twice. A cover letter is a great tool for capturing the interest of your audience and selling yourself, while allowing a little bit of your personality to shine through too.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pros and Cons of Discussing War Experience on a Military Transition Resume

U.S. veterans with war experience on their resumes are sometimes having a difficult time finding work. This is a subject that I find upsetting since I am thankful beyond words for our veterans who have been overseas fighting in any of the conflicts our country is involved in. However, there are many people out there who are engaging in passive discrimination when they discover that veterans have war experience.

Whether you disclose your overseas experience is your own choice and I would like to offer what I feel are the positive and negative aspects of listing war experience on a resume.

> The main reason veterans are being discriminated against is due to the fear of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Employers fear that the veteran employee may be suffering from PTSD and will therefore not be an effective candidate.

> Most civilians don’t know about all the screening, testing, and reintegration training that veterans go through before they transition back to their regular life state-side. This lack of knowledge may also be the cause of a bias against hiring war veterans.

> There are some people who are fundamentally opposed to the war effort in which you served. This is usually based on their personal opinions, belief, and political persuasion. Unfortunately, you have no way of knowing whether or not this could be an issue when you send in the resume.

> Being able to demonstrate leadership under the pressure of a battlefield situation is a testament to your management skills.

> In many fields such as law enforcement and intelligence analysis, the real-world experience from war makes you more valuable to an employer.

Whether you decide to discuss your war experience or not, highlight your most relevant military experience and translate your military terminology into understandable terms that civilians understand.

Holiday Job Hunter Tips

The holidays can be a tricky time if you're newly graduated. You may be tempted to slide right into party or relax mode and forget all about job hunting, internships and networking. Please don't give up hope for the holidays! Here are some tips to use the holidays to your advantage to score a great job:

1. If you haven't been able to find a job in your field yet, do take a seasonal job. Working at a retail store may seem like the last thing you want to do right now, but it could lead to some great contacts. If you can find a seasonal job in a field that you may be interested in, take it! You never know where it may lead you.

2. Use holiday parties to network. Suck it up and join your parents or relatives to their holiday parties if they can bring guests. Bring business cards or your contact information and try to talk to everyone. Again, you never know who you may meet or you may find someone who knows someone who can help get you a job. Remember to be pleasant, polite and dress well.

3. Join professional groups that are related to your field. They may be holding holiday parties that will allow you to meet with other professionals in your desired field. Find any opportunities to party and network!

4. The holidays are a great time to remind the people in your network that you're still searching for a job. Sending nice e-cards or emails to wish someone a happy holiday is a nice way to get back in touch with someone if you aren't sure how to reconnect.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What to Consider before Recommending a Friend to Work with you

The holidays make most everyone feel more generous and giving. While it is easy to empathize with a job seeker who asks you for help, you need to remember that when you recommend a friend, colleague, or someone in your network you are putting your own reputation on the line. To avoid the potential for backlash on your own career, consider these areas before offering a personal recommendation for someone to work in your company.

Work History
We often know our friends from a purely social perspective. However, ask yourself what you know about their employment history, previous performance, and work ethic. I have a friend who is one of the nicest people I know. He is kindhearted, generous, and very personable. However, when I sat down and evaluated his employment history, there were a lot of red flags in his past. I may think twice before giving him a personal recommendation.

Unless you have worked with someone previously, it is difficult to know how their personality will manifest itself in a work environment. Try to assess your friend’s goals and work style to determine, in advance, whether or not they would be a fit for the job they are seeking.

Future Working Relationship
Working together has the potential to seriously damage a relationship. What happens to your carefully cultivated professional reputation if your newly hired friend begins telling stories about you as a geeky high school kid? What happens if down the road one of you has to manage the other, or terminate the other person? Before you recommend a friend to work in the same company with you, lay down clearly defined boundaries and rules that clarify your work and personal relationships.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Three Mind-Over-Matter Ways to Influence Your Career

Do you feel that you spend your time productively?

What a loaded question. There are those who 'do' but when they turn around to see what they have done are not happy with the result. There are also those who create lists of tasks to accomplish but find themselves spending time in ways that are not productive.

Is it that our accomplishments are meaningless (as in the first scenario) or that we are lazy (as in the second scenario)? Or do we need to use our mind in different ways?

The ramifications of this on our careers is obvious: there's a camp of job seekers or driven employees who think that producing makes them successful, but they are not mindful about what they produce and how it helps to get them where they want to go. There's also a camp who aspire to accomplish, but end up disappointing themselves with how little they produce.

So what should one do if they are feeling productive but unaccomplished or unmotivated? Follow the advice of these experts to turn time in your favor.

Do Less: Tony Schwartz writes in the Harvard Business Review that to accomplish more in your work or personal life that doing less: taking breaks and disengaging from work. He sits two studies-one by NASA and one by a performance expert researching violinists-that looked at the impact taking breaks has on one's productivity and the results showed a positive correlations between breaks and performance. Whether you are looking for a job or looking to advance in your career, disengaging from work for a small period of time can make you more productive than trying to slog through to get "something" done.

Proactively Schedule 'Thinking Time': Software developer Jacob Gorban advocates not just taking a break from work but devoting that time to thinking. By spending his Monday mornings thinking about his week, working on the "important, not urgent" stuff, and creatively sketching out ideas for future projects and products, he feels more clear about what his week should look like and works toward accomplishing his goals. Schedule intentional thinking time in your week to align yourself with what's important to you and what you want to get done.

Engaging Your Creative Mind: Some people feel that they simply are not creative, but it turns out that engaging your creative mind is a process that anyone can do. By creating an environment where you tap into your creativity, difficult problems are approached and solved from a new perspective and you create the seeds to do some amazing work by breaking down barriers that you have created for yourself.

Utilize these strategies and write in the comments below your successes or your struggles!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

1. Don't Forget Common Sense in Your Job Search
2. Why Patience Kills
3. How to Get the Most out of an Informational Interview
4. Questions to Ask When Networking
5. Should You Consider "Reinventing" Yourself Today for Tomorrow's Jobs?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Promote Study, Work, or Travel Abroad Experience when Job Searching

If you have study or work abroad experience, including volunteer work, or international travel experience that has exposed you to different cultures, people, and situations, you should promote this in your job search. In today’s increasingly global workplace, employers value those who have knowledge or experience with different cultures and backgrounds. For job seekers, this could mean an important competitive edge.

Your experiences in a different country and culture may have enriched you in ways that are desirable to prospective employers. Following are some marketable qualities you may have developed as a result of your travels.

  • Increased sense of cultural awareness and sensitivity to the customs, beliefs, and behaviors of others
  • Expanded knowledge of another geographic area(s) and its economy, government, resources, history, etc.
  • Strengthened communication skills, particularly the context in which messages are communicated and how they are perceived
  • Strengthened second language skills
  • Heightened self-confidence and independence
  • Increased willingness to learn and try new things

If you developed any special skills as a result of your travels, be sure to highlight this in cover letters, resumes, and job interviews. The experience is even better if you can relate it to the job you’re pursuing. For example, does the company you’re interviewing with have operations, customers, or even suppliers in a country where you’ve studied, worked, or travelled? If so, how might your knowledge of that country’s customs, people, or language translate into advantages on the job?

Lastly, whether you’ve had opportunity to experience another country’s culture firsthand or not, it’s important to be respectful of other backgrounds, cultures, and opinions. Consider that cultural diversity—or any type of diversity in the workplace—can promote a broad spectrum of ideas and solutions that can strengthen the overall organization.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Post Grad Problems and Solutions: Parental Pressure

As a post grad, you've had people telling you what to do your whole life. Your teachers, professors, friends, family and especially your parents. Parents are all different and have different styles of parenting. Some students have laid back and supportive parents that just want their children to do what they love. Others have strict and overbearing parents that only want their children to follow their footsteps or go into a certain field. Perhaps you have a mix of the two.

A common post grad problem is often lining up what you want to pursue with what your parents want you to do with your life. How do you let them know that you're now an adult and need to make your own decisions that pertain to the rest of your life?

1. Write them a letter. This may seem odd, but think of it this way: when you give someone a letter, it allows you to get all of your feelings out and revise what you want to say until it sounds perfect. This way they won't be able to interrupt you and you won't get frustrated and start an argument.

2. Offer your goals and ways you are going to achieve them. Selling yourself with a plan you have set in motion will help ease your parent's mind if they are worried about your career path.

3. Find an ally. Find a friend, mentor, professor, boss, etc. that can lead you in the right path and give you positive affirmations and advice. If you don't have your parent's approval, you can find another great person to fill that void.

4. Take a good, hard look at your career and life goals. If your parents are worried about your career path, perhaps they are right in doing so. Determine if they are aren't supportive, just want you to follow their footsteps, or if your goals are potentially unreachable.

Create Your Networking Contacts List

In Tuesday’s blog post, I discussed creating a comprehensive networking strategy in which I mentioned building a networking contact list. I challenge you to make a list of at least 50 networking contacts. When asked to create a list like this, most people automatically say “I don’t possibly know 50 people.” This stems from closing your mind to all the people you have contact with and assuming they can’t possibly help you. I implore you to open your mind.

You should make this list and maintain regular contact with the people on your list, whether you are actively job searching or happily employed. Should the unfortunate unemployment situation present itself to you, the better prepared you are, the faster you can start networking to achieve results. Here are some ideas to help you build your list.

Friends and Family
This is the obvious place to start. However, keep in mind that most people’s friends and family may not know exactly what you do and they certainly don’t know what makes you good at your job. Don’t be shy about telling them.

Past Co-workers and Supervisors
Chances are, these people are still in the same or a similar industry. These people know your skills, work ethic, and personality and may be a very effective place to start networking.

Vendors and Business Contacts
As above, these people see you at work at know your skills. They also probably work with similar companies and can be an excellent source of “insider information” on job openings.

Sports and Recreational Activities
If you are involved in any activities, your classmates or teammates know you well. However, they probably don’t know what you do for a living.

Whether it is your school or your children’s school, this is a great way to meet a variety of people across diverse career fields.

Doctor / Dentist
Imagine how many people your doctor and dentist come into contact with every week. They talk to their patients and get to know them and they are the perfect networking conduit for you.

People You Come into Contact with Every Day
Hairstylists, retail salespeople, mechanics, and bank tellers are among the people you interact with. Don’t be shy, tell them what you do for a living and make connections through their diverse network of customer contacts.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Networking Strategically – 3 Steps to More Effective Networking

You have most likely heard of the importance of networking in the job search process. The numbers of varying surveys range from 40% to 85%, but the message is clear, a high percentage of job seekers are obtaining their jobs through networking efforts.

Networking is really nothing more than talking to someone about what you have to offer a company and what you need. However, like anything, the more strategically you approach networking, the more success you will acheive. Here is a 3-step process that will help you optimize your networking efforts.

Step 1 – Assess Yourself to Develop a Focus
It is very difficult to sell a product about which you know nothing. Make no mistakes, the job search process is an exercise in sales and marketing. Therefore, before you can effectively network to promote yourself, you must first get to know what you have to offer. Define your skills, identify your values, clarify the role you see yourself taking in a company, and decide the type of work environment you prefer.

Step 2 – Define your Networking Strategy
Take some time to make a list of your networking contacts. When you open your mind and don’t discount anyone as being unable to help you, the possibilities are truly endless. In addition to the people you know or come into contact with, consider a few other possibilities for networking such as informational interviewing, job shadowing, and internships. Check back on Thursday for some tips and ideas regarding who you can add to your networking contacts list.

Step 3 – Create your Self Introduction
A self introduction – also called an elevator speech or 30-second commercial – is your way of quickly and concisely summing up your background and experience, how you can help an organization, the definition of your target employer, and what assistance you are looking for. This earlier blog post goes more in-depth on how to create a self-introduction. You must at least memorize your key “talking points” so that when you find a networking opportunity – no matter where you are – you can intelligently and persuasively talk about your unique selling points.

Monday, December 12, 2011

7 Diverse Apps to Help You in Your Job Search

Welcome to the age of the app. Since 2009, the software tailored for smartphone and tablet use has come at us full-force, changing entertainment, productivity, and other areas of our lifestyle. Tech-savvy job seekers have utilized apps as another method to market themselves, browse job listings, or prepare for interviews. Get acquainted with the apps below to add more weaponry to your job-search arsenal.

*Note: Most of the apps below are available through the Apple App Store or the Android Market. Prices may vary.

LinkedIn: One of the more popular apps around, the LinkedIn app allows you to update your LinkedIn profile, search others' profiles, and search for positions while on the go.

Twitter: Job-seekers are turning to Twitter to find employment by following the Twitter feeds of the companies they are most interested in (many of these companies have job-specific accounts in addition to their normal corporate ones) and to stay in touch with recruiters and network with others. For those who are simply looking for jobs,'s search aggregation technology puts jobs from many sources (newspapers, specialized-job search sites, large career-based websites like Monster, etc) in one convenient location. Its app maintains its reputation for simple design and depth of postings.

Craigster: Many career fields (such as writing and graphic design) heavily rely on Craigslist to post positions, and Craigster creates a user-friendly interface to browse positions.

Pocket Resume: A creative app that allows you to design, display, and send your resume to others.

Great Career: This career-maintenance app, created by Stephen Covey of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People fame, helps job seekers get connected with their values, contributions, and relationships to not job find a job but to create a career that is rewarding and fulfilling for them.

Evernote: While not technically a job-search app, Evernote is an award-winning app that helps you stay organized by allowing you to create text, audio, and photo notes while providing many options for note organization and syncing.

Stay on the cutting edge of your job search apps that will make you a more savvy job searcher.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

1. Why You Need a Photo on Your LinkedIn Profile
2. How To Rock An Informational Interview
3. Get a Job in December
4. Developing Executive Presence
5. Improving Communication Skills for Job Search Success

Friday, December 9, 2011

Determining Your Career Path after High School

If your high school graduation is right around the corner, or even a year or two away, you may be feeling unsure, and even overwhelmed, about choosing your future career path. These feelings are normal. The important thing is to become familiar with the options available. The following list may help.
  • Pursuing a 4-year or 2-year college degree program
  • Enrolling in a trade or vocational program
  • Joining the military, perhaps for a career or in exchange for college tuition assistance
  • Securing a full-time job after high school for the long term or to save money for college
  • Traveling abroad to gain cultural experience or work with an international volunteer organization

Whatever path you choose, before you decide, be sure to invest time exploring your interests, aptitude, and strengths, and the career options that align with these. Following is just a sampling of activities that can help you make an informed decision about “What next?”:
  • Dismiss stereotypes regarding occupations; keep an open mind to possible career paths.
  • Recognize and leverage the abundant career information and resources available through your school, the library, the Internet, etc.
  • Talk to counselors as well as parents, teachers, and other trusted adults.
  • Take aptitude, interest, and personality tests to help identify careers you’re well suited for. Many are free and available through your school’s career center.
  • Research careers, related educational and/or training requirements, projected job growth, job descriptions and tasks, salaries, etc.
  • Look into post-secondary schools and programs based on your career interests. Consider their academic reputation, suitability for your field of interest, cost, location, culture, etc.

After doing your homework, your options and career direction may be much clearer. Then it’s time to create a plan and start working toward it. Put yourself on a future path to success.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why Did you Leave your Last Job? The Do’s and Don’ts of Answering this Interview Question.

This is a common interview question that has the potential to have a negative affect on your interview. Even if you are currently employed, your interviewer may ask you about your motivation for seeking a new position. Often, employers ask this question to try and define your motivation. However, more often than not, they are fishing to see if you will reveal your “dirt” or will speak negatively about a former employer so that they can gauge what kind of an employee you will be.

As with all interview questions, the key to answering this question is to be prepared. Here are some tips to help you be ready to take the focus off the past and shine on your future in your next interview.

Don’t ever talk negatively about a former employer, no matter how much you think you were in the right. When you talk down a previous company or boss, it automatically leads the interviewer to think you are a difficult, problem employee.

Do show the interviewer that you have researched their company and have a solid reason that you want to work for them. Demonstrate your knowledge of and enthusiasm for the company with an answer such as, “The opportunity to work for the aerospace industry’s leading propulsion engineering company on the new P229 engine was an opportunity that I had to pursue.”

Don’t give the impression that you are hard to please. When you give answers such as ‘I was not being challenged’, ‘I was being underutilized’, or ‘I was bored’ make you sound like someone who may also leave their company as soon as the going gets tough.

Do stay positive. Talk about what you really liked at your former employer and express that you can’t wait to be involved in that area with this new employer. Explain in the interview that you discovered you really enjoy and excel at a skill that you know you can expand upon in the new job. Working as part of a team, helping people, working independently, and managing projects are all examples of what you use in this answer.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Learn to Disconnect from Work for the Holidays

I love being a freelancer at this point in my life. The flexible schedule, the different projects constantly changing from different companies and the ability to work at home in my pajamas are all pluses. One of the only downsides is that while my schedule is flexible, it also has the ability to force me to work constantly. I've learned that if you don't set boundaries, as a freelancer you could be working all day and night and even weekends if you have enough work. Unfortunately, sometimes I get asked to do assignments right away at 8 p.m. at night.

This could be the case for anyone who works a job where their boss has their email addresses and phone numbers and contacts them day or night. Some people take work home with them. This can be a slippery slope that leads to extreme stress that could even lead to illness. Especially around the holidays, when you have holiday to-do lists, presents to shop for, and parties to host. How do you let yourself take a break if you've become a workaholic?

1. Set hours for your work time whether you're a freelancer or a regular 9-5 worker. Stop responding to emails at 6 p.m., for example, unless it seems to be an emergency. You may have to talk to your boss about what an emergency entails. Something may seem like it could wait until the morning, but they consider it a priority task.

2. If your boss gives you grief over not being available 24/7, explain that you need time away from work to enjoy your life. If you do not get this time, you will be too stressed and will not be able to give your best work.

3. Take time off for the holidays. Even if you're a new post grad and don't have vacation days yet, take a few days off without pay if you have to. This may seem like a waste, but it will help keep you sane. Enjoy the holidays and spend time with family and friends to recharge for the new year.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Preparing Strategically for Behavioral Interviews

The behavioral interview is based on the premise that you can predict an employee’s future performance in a job based upon their history facing similar situation. This type of interview is focused solely on your experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities as they relate to the job for which you are interviewing.

Questions that start with “tell me about a time when,” “how would you handle it if,” and “describe a situation where,” are examples of behavioral questions. When an employer asks a behavioral question, they expect an example or a story that focuses on the skill or ability in question. Vague answers with no concrete examples will not do in this type of interview.

How You Should Answer Behavioral Questions
You may have heard of the PAR formula; this is an acronym for the formula that you can use to answer behavior-based questions. When telling a story, you want to have a beginning, middle, and an end to the tale.

• The P stands for the problem you solved or task you took on. In other words, you need to set the stage for the story. Provide a brief description of the situation you were faced with.
• The A stands for the action you took to solve the problem. This is where you tell the interviewer what you did, as well as who and what were involved.
• The R stands for the result of the situation. Discuss the outcome of the situation, talk about the end result, focus on your success, and expand on what you learned from the experience.

How You Can Prepare for Behavioral Questions
• Before going on an interview, you must prepare yourself in order to be successful. Start by researching the company and the job to determine the skills that will be most valuable. Based on your research, define the five most important skills that you possess and write a PAR story that proves your hands-on experience using that skill.

• Whenever it is possible, quantify the results you achieved with numbers, dollars, and percentages to provide a scope of what you have done. Numbers help the employer to quantify the value you can bring to their company.

• Be prepared to talk about negative examples. For example, be prepared to discuss how you handle failure, what you do when things don’t go as planned, and how you overcome obstacles. Use negative examples to show that you can overcome adversity, that you can learn from your mistakes, and that you are aware of your shortcomings and are able to improve yourself.

Monday, December 5, 2011

New Employees May Need to “Onboard” Themselves

“Onboarding” is a term many companies use to describe the process of integrating new employees. It goes beyond the basics of “employee orientation,” which often refers to helping new employees sign up for benefits, set up computer access, meet a few key people, etc. Onboarding is broader than orientation and designed to help new employees gain a deeper understanding of the company, its culture, and how the employee’s role fits into the organization. The ultimate goal of onboarding is to help the new employee achieve productivity as soon as possible. Where orientation typically lasts a few days, onboarding is a process that extends several weeks or even months.

Many employees—perhaps even you—have experienced the “sink or swim” approach that results from the absence of an onboarding process to help foster success. Next time you start a new job where an employer isn’t proactive about onboarding you, take the initiative yourself.

Here are some steps you can follow to help onboard yourself:
  • Ask for tools and resources necessary to do your job.
  • Within the first few days of starting your job, schedule a meeting with your manager to set short-term and annual goals, as well as expectations for your role.
  • When possible, review pertinent materials before you start, especially those that will help ramp you up on company initiatives, client business strategies, goals, or projects.
  • Request meetings with internal subject matter experts early in your employment so that you can obtain background information on topics relevant to your role. Often, your manager or another department representative can arrange this in advance of your start date.
  • Ask who will be training you. At the very least, ask to have access to someone who can help acclimate you and answer questions related to your role.
  • Go out of your way to introduce yourself, promote conversation, and forge relationships in the early months of your employment, particularly if you can gain further insight into the company, key players, and your role.

Expectations: Not Just for New Hires

How would you define 'success' in your current position? Now, reflect upon your that what your supervisor would say?

Are you sure?

Job roles and responsibilities are not as black and white as one might think and the work world is complicated by divergent, conflicting, and unknown expectations. Some positions call for results to be met, period. Others call for results to be met but by a certain method. Where does your work fall within this spectrum, and what have you done to align your behaviors and output with what is being asked of you?

Like a relationship between you and a significant other, the relationship between you and your employer should be a dynamic of open communication and as free as possible from assumptions. To ensure that you are in alignment with expectations, partake in some self assessment by answering the following questions below:

How do I see my current work contributing to department priorities?

What metrics am I using to measure my success, and how does my work compare to those metrics?

How do my work methods support the teams that I interact with?

What upcoming problems or opportunities do I need to be prepared for?

These four questions are the beginning of a conversation between you and your supervisor to ensure that you are not just performing to standards but that you know what the standards are. In a meeting with your supervisor, modify the questions slightly to ask them to him/her. Share your responses and see how well both of yours correspond with each others. It could be that you are on track, but it could also be that you need to make adjustments. Regardless, you will be rewarded by demonstrating your proactivity and initiative.

Take the guesswork out of your performance and help drive expectations of you to feel better about the work you produce and what you contribute to your organization.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

1. Networking: Friends Lost But Not Forgotten

2. Value: What the Employer Really Wants to See in a Resume

3. How to Keep up the Job Hunt During the Holidays

4. Are you killing your forward momentum?

5. Three Ways to Overcome Career Anxiety

Friday, December 2, 2011

Do you Have Any Questions for Me? Don’t Miss This Interview Opportunity.

When an interview is drawing to a close, the interviewer often says “I don’t have any more questions, but do you have any questions for me?” All too often, interviewees do not take advantage of this golden opportunity to take back a bit of control in the interview. Here are some tips that will help you make the most of this opportunity the next time you are faced with the situation.

• Always ask questions when given the chance. When you do not ask questions in the interview you appear either disinterested or unprepared.

• Often hiring managers do not want to offer a job to someone they do not know whether or not will accept. Use this question session to clearly communicate that you are interested.

• Prepare your questions in advance and write them down. This will be one less thing you need to commit to memory.

• Research the company thoroughly and use your questions to demonstrate your knowledge and preparedness. For example, you may ask “I see that the ABC Company is your biggest competitor. I know they recently launched a new version of the software you both license. What is your strategy to counterbalance this new release?”

• Show interest in the interviewer by asking them what they like about the company, asking about their career path within the company and how they view the company culture. Use their answers to make your assessment of the company climate and whether or not it is a match for you.

• Identify and address any concerns they may have by asking, “Do you see any areas or qualifications where I may be lacking for this position?” This will allow you to overcome their objections and provide additional information about your skills and experience that may not have come up during the interview.

• All questions should relate to the company or the job. Never ask about salary, benefits or time off.

• A few examples of appropriate questions:
* Can you describe a typical day for someone in this position?
* What is the top priority of the person who accepts this job?
* What are the day-to-day expectations and responsibilities of this job?
* What do you think is the greatest threat/opportunity facing the organization in the near future?
* Why did you come to work here? What keeps you here?
* When will you be making your decision, and how will I be notified?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How to Deal When Work and Holiday Stress Combine

The holidays are stressful enough without jobs or job hunting. When you were younger and even in college, you had breaks around the holidays. Exams are finished and you can focus on holiday gifting, celebrations, your holiday to-do list, and simply relaxing and having fun! But as a post grad, when you're searching for a job or managed to land one, things can be very different. Here are some tips on getting through the holidays with ease whether you're still searching for your dream job or landed one.

How to be stress free if you're job hunting:

1. It can be tempting to take the holidays off. You figure, who is hiring right before Christmas anyway? You just want to have this final time to relax, recharge, and get all of your holiday shopping done without distractions. Don't give up just because it is the holidays. Keep plugging along and you may find a great job that will be the perfect gift.

2. Deal with all the family questioning with ease. It may be tough if you haven't landed a job in your field or at all yet and your family is bogging you down with questions or even accusations. To stop from getting aggravated, just tell them that you're currently doing your best and looking for a job and you will update them when you have an interview or job. If they keep bugging you, politely say you don't wish to talk about it anymore and change the subject to one of their hobbies or something they're doing.

How to juggle job tasks and holiday obligations:

1. Now that you've gotten a job, you don't have as much time off as you would if you were still a student. You have responsibilities and your own stress at work. Throw in all the holiday obligations and it may make your head spin! So make the most of your weekends. It is tempting to sleep in and do nothing all day, but if you cross off a little of your holiday to-do list on Saturdays and Sundays it will make things easier.

2. If you're busy at home and at work, use your lunch hour to get some holiday tasks done. This may not be an ideal time to get things done but it can definitely help you feel accomplished and less stressed at home.

3. Be honest with yourself. If you are becoming too overwhelmed and getting sick from too much stress, take a day off. Sometimes all you need is a day at home to get things done and then rest and not have to worry about work for one day. Also, determine which holiday parties or tasks you can say 'no' to this year that will help you stress less.

Have a happy and stress free holiday!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

To Post or Not to Post. Should you Post your Resume Online?

There are definitely two opposite opinions on the subject on whether or not you should post your resume on online job boards. Instead of offering you an opinion, I would like to present you with the pros and cons and let you make your own decision based on the facts.

No matter what you decide about posting your resume online, make sure that it is only one way that you go about looking for a job. This type of passive, wait and see approach to job hunting will only prolong the process. Make sure you are networking, searching for active open jobs, and researching companies in your industry as well as waiting for recruiters to find your posted resume.

Pros of Online Posting
• Some recruiters are of the mindset that instead of posting their jobs and receiving hundreds of resumes that they have to sift through, they would rather conduct a targeted search on a resume database. Recruiters do a key word search on resume databases to find potential candidates.

• Posting your resume online makes it easier for you to apply to jobs when you find one in which you are interested on the job board where your resume is posted. This can save you time in applying to open jobs and will also enable you to respond quicker to job postings.

• Industry-specific boards such as for IT jobs and for hospitality jobs are the best bet for posting your resume online. You lessen your chance of spammers and scammers on these types of sites.

Cons of Online Posting
• As soon as you post your resume online, you will get a ton of spam. I helped a gentleman who specialized in accounting and was not very tech savvy post his resume online last year. Within minutes he had 6 emails offering him interviews. Unfortunately, they were either to open his own insurance agency or participate in multi-level marketing companies. If you post your resume online your email account will get spammed.

• It used to be that in order to access resumes on a job board you had to have an employer account with that board. That is no longer always the case. Today, all it takes is a credit card to access resume databases. Beware that you are opening yourself up to identity theft when you post your resume online. Never post your social security number, date of birth, or driver’s license number. You may also consider using a P.O. box or just listing your city and state in the address section of the resume.

• I often say there is no such thing as a generic effective resume. In order to do its job right, a resume must be targeted to a specific, industry, job, and company. How can you hope to achieve this when you are posting your generic resume online?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rambling Can Spoil Your Job Interview Success

Are you easily unnerved in job interviews? As a result, do you find yourself rambling when responding to interview questions?

Be careful. Rambling may leave the impression that you are unorganized, unprepared, and long-winded—none of which are perceived as desirable traits in a business environment. It doesn’t matter that you have the right qualifications and experience. If a case of nerves leaves you rambling, you may not be invited back for a second interview, not to mention the job offer.

Take constructive measures to ensure that you are perceived as professional and articulate in the interview. For example, be concise, stay on topic, and provide practical and relevant responses when answering interview questions. Before answering, consider the position you are applying for. Your goal is to connect the lines between the job’s requirements and your experience, accomplishments, and skills.

After you’ve answered a question, stop talking. Otherwise, you may find yourself adding information that actually distracts and diminishes your stronger, key points. Here’s a rule of thumb: If the information is fluff, eliminate it.

Be sure to listen to the entire question so you can answer appropriately. It is common to start formulating your answer early, which can cause you to miss an important part of the question. Being attentive and thoughtful demonstrates valuable listening skills. Additionally, pay attention to the interviewer’s body language; if the person seems no longer engaged in the conversation it may be you’ve lost his/her attention.

Lastly, practice. Before interviewing, identify your strengths, practice responding to common interview questions, and articulate three or four examples of appropriate work accomplishments. Sometimes it helps to write down your responses and then go back through and edit your answers to be even more concise and relevant.

Remember, constructive preparation will resonate in your interviews and likely help move you closer to landing a job you desire.

How to NOT Throw Out Work Relationships Like Thanksgiving's Leftovers

One of the most impactful books I have read is Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written in 1936, it's a classic in interpersonal relations and has helped millions of people develop stronger relationships at home and at work. Work is of particular interest here not simply because this is a career blog: the power of our relationships plays a significant role in our ability to perform well, professional reputation, and success. If you feel that your work relationships need, well, work, follow some of the principles that Mr. Carnegie espouses to freshen them up:

Don't criticize, condemn, or complain: Three big ones, right off the bat. It's human nature to do all of these things...but do we truly think about the damage we do to others or to ourselves when we do them? When we approach others with a modicum of kindness and let that kindness permeate itself through our behaviors we will find that our ability to deliver feedback-even the negative kind-is met with respect and thanks.

Give honest and sincere appreciation: When was the last time that you directed sincere appreciation toward someone at work, the kind that doesn't seem obligatory or an afterthought? Set a goal for yourself to give sincere appreciation ten times for every one time that you criticize. And when you give that appreciation, follow this formula: 1.) sincerely thank them for what they did; 2.) tell them specifically what you are thanking them for; and 3.) tell them how what they did positively impacted business results.

Get curious: This isn't directly a Carnegie principle, but one I think that he would appreciate. When we put ourselves in a place of curiosity around others-being in wonder instead of being at odds with them-we are able to better control our mood and our actions. Stay curious and interested in others and your behavior-and other's attitude about you-will change.

Thanksgiving leftovers can sit in your refrigerator and get stinky or they can be used to create some wonderful post-holiday dishes. Keep your work relationships from going bad by following these suggestions from a place of integrity and sincerity. Your work will be a feast of opportunities and success.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What do Job Seekers Have to be Thankful for?

It is official; the holiday season is upon us. I know from personal family experience that it is tough to be thankful and positive when you are unemployed, especially when you are unemployed during the holiday season. In honor of Thanksgiving, I wanted to talk to about the positive aspects of the job search process and what you can be thankful for today as you sit down to your Thanksgiving meal.

The job search process has changed so much. Networking has become more important than ever. I looked at multiple surveys of how people found their jobs and the percentages of people who found their job through networking vary from 64% to 83%. No matter the number, you can see the majority of people are using networking to their advantage.

Be thankful that you have this opportunity to get out from in front of the computer, interact with live human beings instead of the internet, and make connections that expedite the hiring process. Don’t make networking harder than it needs to be. Simply talk to people about your skills and the benefits you can offer a company and clearly communicate how they can help you.

Social Media
I have to admit, I resisted the social media movement. Who has time to update statuses, create profiles, and manage their connections? As a job seeker, you need to find the time. Be thankful that you have these online networks where you can post your profile, showcase your personality, highlight your communication style, and make connections with people you may never have met before social media played such a large role in the job search process.

Think of social media as one more tool in your toolbox that you can use to land the job. However, just like all tools, you must use them properly to get the best possible results from them.

A Great Resume
As a professional resume writer, I may be biased. However, no matter how often people state the resume is “dead,” most every job search situation still calls for a resume. Standing alone, a resume can’t get you a job. However, a bad resume can prevent you from landing a job faster than most anything else.

Be thankful that there are so many resources available to you to help you assess your skills, define the benefits you can offer an employer, and effectively market the brand of YOU in your resume. Take the time to refine your resume until it clearly states the benefits you can bring an employer.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Should You Give Your Boss a Present This Holiday?

As a post grad, you are entering your first job after graduation and may not always know the do’s and don'ts of the office. With the holidays quickly approaching, the question begs: do you buy your boss a present? Consider these options this year.

1. Does your office or workplace do a group gift for the boss? Ask around and find out what the etiquette normally is each year. Does everyone chip in cash and someone buys something from everyone? Is everyone on their own to buy gifts? Or does the boss tell everyone not to get them anything? Finding out what has happened in the past will be your biggest clue on what to do.

2. If everyone is on their own to buy a gift, be discreet. Some people may not buy a gift, but I would when you're a newbie. Leave the gift on the boss's desk and don't make a big deal out of it because that may rub your co-workers the wrong way.

3. So now, what to get? Don't just give cash. Know your boss has a certain hobby? For example, if they love golf... buy some nice golf balls. Keep the gifts simple and kind and relatively inexpensive. Food gifts are always appropriate, too. Just make sure you know of any foods your boss dislikes or food allergies s/he may have.

4. Finally, if you have no idea what to get and the office isn't doing a group gift, consider starting the tradition. Ask around and see if anyone would like to join you in a gift and brainstorm together to pick out the perfect one.

Holiday Job Hunting – Should You Take the Season Off?

If you are currently out of work or looking for a new job, you may be feeling apprehensive about the coming holidays because you are worried that the job market is about to shut down. Many job seekers take the holiday season off due to the commonly held belief that the holidays are a bad time to obtain a job. Don’t fall prey to this myth, be one of those job hunters that capitalize on all the benefits that this time of year offer.

The holiday season puts people in a generous and giving mood. People are generally in good spirits, and may be more willing than ever to help you in your quest for the perfect job. Due to vacations and special events, many managers have had their schedules cleared up and are more available to meet with you. The key is to keep your schedule open and flexible to work around their available times.

The best opportunities that arise during the holiday season are the extra opportunities for socializing. These holiday parties offer you an opportunity to meet new people and get back in touch with old contacts. Use these holiday social gatherings as opportunities to network. Remember, although you may have job-hunting on your mind, everyone else is there to relax and unwind. Be casual, be willing to ask for help, and don’t be afraid to tell people about your employment situation. .

Always carry pre-printed business cards with your contact information and a brief description of your key skills or area of specialty. Use inexpensive methods of obtaining business cards such as or create your own using templates available from any office supply store.

You may find that the number of advertised positions is lower than other times of the year, but this may still be to your benefit. Many job-seekers stop their job hunt this time of year; therefore your competition for the position will be much lower. This also means that the positions that are listed are an even higher priority to those companies. The bottom line is that companies hire because they have a need, not because of the time of year.

Historically, January is the highest hiring month. Often times, a company’s fiscal calendar corresponds to the calendar year. New budgets mean new money to spend. Many additional positions have been approved for the coming year and that means the company or their recruiters will be working hard to set up interviews during the last month of the year in preparation for January.

Last, but definitely not least - stay positive and avoid the holiday blues. Don’t focus on the reasons that you are in the situation that you are facing today, focus on the positive opportunities that await you. Don’t focus on the fact that you don’t have money to buy presents, look at the great opportunity to make your gifts or just give a card with some of your heartfelt feelings inside. Take time to enjoy yourself, to enjoy your loved ones, and don’t miss out on the special fun of the holiday season.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Four Groups to Thank to Enhance your Success

Creating an attitude of gratitude isn't hokey, contrived nonsense. Research into appreciation has shown it to help improve one's sleep and positively influence behavior. Since the season of giving thanks is upon us, consider reaching out with gratitude and appreciation to these groups to make a positive impact on your career.

Mentors: No one succeeds by themselves, and you are no exception. Think about those who have helped propel you to where you are today-whether it was a college professor, former supervisor, or a friend-and send them a note or an email or a gift to thank them for the help that they have given you.

Interviewers: It's expected that you would send a thank you note to an interviewer after an interview, but what about after a job rejection? Though you are most likely experiencing disappointment and frustration, change your outlook by sending another note to thank the interviewer for the opportunity and wishing the selected candidate success in the future. Doing so will highlight your graciousness as a candidate and could lead to future opportunities with that organization.

Your network: When looking for a position you should obviously attend networking events. Send a quick email to thank those who you chatted with for their time, offering any assistance that they may need or-if none is needed-let them know that you are interested in staying in touch.

Your community: There are many ways that you can give thanks to your community. First, you can volunteer at an organization that is in need of assistance and could best utilize your skills. Another way would be to teach a class through your local community education. The interactions you will have and the good-will you create will be a much-needed boost for you while serving those other than yourself.

Make the choice to give thanks to others this season and help yourself in the process.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

1.  Five Career Strategies for a Tough Market

2.  Working Abroad Can Give Career a Boost

3.  The 10 Risks and Rewards of a Lateral Career Move

4.  How to Set Yourself Up for Success Early in Your Career

5.  Are American Career Woman Going Dutch?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Take Advantage of Association Membership Benefits

So, you have taken the first step by joining a professional association serving your industry or profession. Like many others, you may think you don’t have time to add one more thing to your schedule—like attending association meetings, volunteering on committees, or participating in networking events. But, have you fully considered the advantages that accompany these activities? In fact, now might be the perfect time to tap into all your membership has to offer.

Expand Your Network to Include Key Industry Professionals

Participating in your professional association can grow your network and put you in contact with key industry professionals–leaders you might not have access to otherwise. Making this happen typically requires some effort on your part. For example, you may have an opportunity to introduce yourself to an industry keynote speaker at an association event, breaking the ice with a positive comment about the speech. Another idea: volunteer on a committee that interests you and establish relationships with committee members. This is a great way to learn, firsthand, who wields industry influence.

Many industry associations have formal mentor programs, but if they don’t, why not start one? Mentor programs are a great way to learn and develop relationships that can produce invaluable professional contacts. Later, these contacts can lead to job opportunities in both the open market and the “hidden job market.” Many professional associations also have members-only job boards for posting resumes and searching for jobs.

Access to Rich Industry Information

Professional and industry associations can be great sources for industry news, trends, and events. Associations typically share information with members through association websites, newsletters or magazines, and directories. Check out their websites for articles, case studies, podcasts, discussion boards, members’ business contact information, and information about upcoming conferences or workshops.

Power in Numbers

Association members share many common professional interests. When it comes to industry interests that are bigger in scope, such as legislation, accreditation, or industry standards, it can be very beneficial to be part of a larger industry association. It’s one way to ensure your opinions will be heard and to effect actions that may result in industry-wide change.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Four Main Differences between Federal Resumes and Private Sector Resumes

According to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board’s 7/2007 Issues of Merit, in September 2006, 40% of permanent full-time federal employees were 50 years of age or older and about 60% of the federal government’s white collar employees were due to be eligible for retirement in the upcoming 10 years. There is no doubt that there are, and will continue to be, opportunities for employment with the federal government.

However many opportunities there may be, the federal employment process can be intimidating because it so different from the private sector. Here are some of the key differences between federal resumes and the standard resume format.

The standard private sector resume is generally no longer than 2 pages, and is often a single-page document. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a typical federal resume is usually 4 to 7 pages long. I have even seen 12 to 15 page documents for some agencies. This is a direct result of the next difference, the amount of detail that is required in the federal resume.

In a standard resume, your focus is to be concise, focused, and get straight to the point. Alternatively, the federal resume requires much more detail for each position. Your federal resume must clearly communicate your experience utilizing the required knowledge, skills, and abilities for each position.

Required Content
The list of required content on a federal resume is far too long to detail here. For example, each job you have listed on your resume must contain the following information: job title, company name, location city, state, and zip, your hours worked per week, salary (annual or hourly), starting and ending month and year, supervisor name and contact phone number, permission to contact the supervisor, and of course, your accomplishments, details, and key works that demonstrate the required skills.

Lack of Formatting
When writing a standard resume, we often use formatting to make the resume more attractive to the eye and lead the reader through the entire document. However, the federal resume does not use standard formatting such as bullet points, italics, and borders.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How to Survive a Post-Grad Crisis (After You Get the Job)

Recently, a friend graduated, got an internship, and then quickly got a great job in her field. Luckiest girl ever, right? That didn't stop her from having a crisis. What do you do when you get the job, you've got the paycheck, but you still freak out about your life?

Her main worry was that she was stuck doing this job for 8-9 hours a day, stuck in traffic for a few hours, and in bed by 9 p.m. Where is the fun? Did she really want to do the same thing over and over and over? She was making it sound like a nightmare straight out of "Groundhog Day". If you're plagued by the same thoughts as a post grad, here's what you can do about it.

First of all, relax. Take a look at your job once you settle into it. The first few weeks and even few months of a new job can be tricky and scary, even if you love the job. You won't always have the best co-workers, clients, etc. A few months into it, evaluate. Are you feeling more confident? Do you love the job? We will all have bad days, but you should have more good days than bad.

Make time for fun. All work and no play will make your life a drag! Enjoy your weekends and turn off your work emails. Forget about work and take those days to recharge and let loose a little bit. Every once in a while, swap the extra sleep for some friend or family time on a weeknight.

Remember that at most jobs, even though you do the same thing every day, it won't be the same. You will have new co-workers someday, new patients or clients, different problems to solve, and new projects.

Finally, allow yourself to freak out every once in a while. We need to vent, cry, scream sometimes to get over it, move on, and get happy. Best of luck to everyone in their prospective jobs and job searches!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stage 4 of the 4 Stages of Change and How to Overcome Obstacles.

This is the fourth and final installment of my four-part blog series based on Dr. James Prochaska’s Transtheoretical Model of Change and my observations about how it applies to job seekers. Dr. Prochaska states that each time someone who is contemplating a change moves from one stage to the next, their chances or being successful in the long term double.

Stage 4 – Action
This is the stage where most people think they need to begin to really affect a change. Although this stage is the important part of where we actually start doing things, don’t forget the importance of the earlier stages of planning, preparation, and contemplation.

In this stage you are beyond thinking about and planning your change and you actually start taking some important steps toward change. As a job seeker, this may be the stage where you start your education to change careers, start preparing a resume that focuses on your transferable skills, or even begin the job search process.

Insisting on perfection as opposed to progress or having unrealistic expectations about how fast you will see tangible results.

Strategy to Overcome and Move Forward:
You must change your thinking to realize that change is an ongoing process of action, not the pursuit of perfection. Reward yourself for small successes and focus on your actions instead of outcomes. If you have gone through the three earlier stages, you should have a good action plan with clearly prioritized key activities. Whenever you stumble, return to your plan. You may need to modify or evolve your plan and your goals as you learn more about the new career, job, or company that you are targeting.

Slipping into old behavior patterns (or going back to your safe, familiar career or job) due to stress or habit.

Strategy to Overcome and Move Forward:
A strong support network is important. It can strengthen your commitment, offer you increased accountability, and enable you to receive outside recognition for your small successes. Before embarking on the action stage, proactively identify the potential obstacles you may face and have a plan for how you can overcome them. See your obstacles as learning experiences and celebrate when you are able to overcome them without returning to your old habits or the safety of your old career.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Three Steps to Step out of Victimization

If you’re a morning person and you live with someone who isn’t, life-at times-can be an exercise in patience. And it was for me recently when, yet again, we were late to a yoga class. This time I was especially annoyed because, as I feared would happen every time before, class was full. So much for establishing a focused connection with my body or improving my dismal flexibility. With my bottom lip out I trudged toward the elliptical machine, fuming over the circumstances that led to me missing class. I irritably and obsessively mulled over my wife’s unreliability. And then, in a flash, it hit me:

I was being a victim.

Being a victim is a common yet futile state to be in. You fail to see your role in your problems, surrender your power, and stay in a perspective of negativity. Victimization can be especially dangerous in the career realm because it creates an attitude of helplessness, entitlement, and hopelessness. You can fight entitlement in your career in these three ways:

Take responsibility: When you take responsibility you see how you have influenced your situation-good or bad. In my situation, I blamed my wife for being late without considering what I had done. Didn’t I agree to go to class with her? Didn’t I know that she wasn’t a morning person. Didn’t I expect to be late? Thus, who was really responsible for my misery? Me. Whether your career is not going in the direction you want it to go, you dislike your work environment, you don’t feel that you are being challenged enough at work, or whatever reason you are feeling dissatisfied, approach it from a place of responsibility and note all of the ways that you are contributing to your misery.

Empower yourself: Once you take responsibility, you can take it upon yourself to make changes. What are you going to start doing and what are you going to stop doing? Who do you need to talk to about it? What are you able to do and what aren’t you able to do. If there’s something you don’t know, who can you talk to that will know? Get clear and specific about your options and the steps necessary to change.

Cultivate optimism: I once heard a quote to the effect of “you shouldn’t worry about things you can change, because you can change them. You also shouldn’t worry about things you can’t change, because you can’t change them. What else is there?” You can’t make permanent change if you aren’t in an optimistic space. Focus on the positives that will come out of your decision, or-if you decide to do nothing-focus on the positives that come from that decision since you made it from a place of empowerment.

My wife and I are fine, of course, but I learned a powerful lesson in the futility of being a victim. Let responsibility, empowerment, and optimism guide you to better choices and a better livelihood.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wow Your Way to the Job

Tips for standing out when applying for jobs:

The most important thing when applying for jobs is to be visible. You might ask, what do you mean, being visible? I'm here and applying, aren't I? Most jobs offer applications online or ask you to email in your resume. How are you supposed to stand out from the millions when sending in a resume just like everyone else?

Call the place you'd like to work and ask if you can stop in that day and apply in person or talk to someone about the job. They may act as if they are too busy, tell you to apply online, or make up an excuse why you shouldn't come in to their workplace. Ask if you could buy them lunch and talk about the job, offer a few times when you could come in, and really try to sell yourself. Chances are they will cave and want to meet with you and be impressed with your moxie.

On a similar note, just walk in to places you want to work and ask to speak with a manager. Dress professionally and bring a resume, cover letter, and work samples with you. Showing up in person instead of being another resume in their inbox will make you stand out and will let them see the fantastic person you are.

If you still need to apply to jobs via email, make your own online porfolio website you can send to potential employers. There are plenty of websites out there that make it easy and free to create your own. You can add your picture (only professional looking shots...none of you partying!), your resume, work samples, videos, and much more. This is a great tool in sharing your personality and experience when you have to meet someone via the Internet.

What are your tricks to being more visible to potential employers?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

1. The 9 Attitudes of Leadership

2. How Writing Guest Blog Posts Can Boost Your Career

3. How to Job Hunt with a Strike Against You

4. The 10 College Majors with the Lowest Unemployment Rates

5. Career Management: Top 10 Career Limiting Moves

Friday, November 11, 2011

Do an Industry Deep Dive before You Jump

After you’ve researched the basics of an industry and concluded the industry still has an allure, it might be time for an industry immersion. Before you start down a particular educational path or a full-on job search focused on what you think is your industry of interest, dig deeper to determine if that industry is truly a good fit. Following are a few suggestions for investigating beyond the basics of projected growth, required qualifications, and transferable job skills to get a better picture of the industry.

Read Up
Almost every industry has trade magazines, newsletters, and other publications that capture the news, trends, and topics current within that industry. Read more than one or two for a span of time—at least a few months—to get an accurate, current picture of what is happening within the industry.

Identify Companies within the Industry
Evaluate the composition of the companies within the industry; for example, is the industry dominated by a few large corporations or several small companies—or even start-ups? Next, identify which companies currently lead the industry and do some homework on these companies, their products, and their leaders.

Take Your Search Online
Search for industry-related online blogs, forums, and chat rooms to learn what people within the industry are discussing. When you’re comfortable, consider contributing to the discussion or asking informed questions. Identify leading industry executives and find out if these leaders or others in the industry are using Twitter to discuss important topics. If so, consider becoming a Twitter “Follower” of these key industry figures.

Think Outside the Box
These suggestions are just the beginning; think outside the box to discover additional ways you can educate yourself about an industry that interests you. Do you have someone in your network who is in the industry? Would he/she consider taking you as a guest to an industry association meeting, conference, or other event?

The important thing is to immerse yourself before you decide to pursue a particular industry.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Stage 3 of the 4 Stages of Change and How to Overcome Obstacles.

This is the third installment featuring how Dr. James Prochaska’s Transtheoretical Model of Change tool applies to those people who are looking to make a change in their job or career. We all know that permanent, long-lasting changes rarely happen overnight. Most changes take time and effort and they tend to be an evolutionary process.

Stage 3 - Preparation
In my two earlier blog posts about the precontemplation and contemplation stages, I talked about job seekers or career changers who lack motivation or lack confidence. However, when someone is in the preparation stage of change, they are decisive, confident, and ready for action. At this stage, they have decided that the pros far outweigh the cons of change and they have begun to make small steps toward change.

Ironically, the greatest obstacle in this stage of change is underestimating the amount of preparation that is needed and plowing forward to the action stage without the necessary skills, knowledge, or tools.

Strategy to Overcome and Move Forward:
In order to avoid getting stuck in this stage or failing to be successful due to a lack of preparation, the best strategy is to take the time and make the effort to prepare. Do your research of the career field, get a realistic view of the company you want to target, and ensure you have all the tools necessary. For example, you can’t make expect to make a career change by using the same resume you used in your previous career – this would be the perfect example of an inadequate tool.

Fear or pride can get in the way of admitting you need help and reaching out to ask for assistance.

Strategy to Overcome and Move Forward:
Rally the support of your friends and family. They will not only be your cheering section, they can also serve to hold you accountable to your goals! Once again, reach out to a coach, mentor, counselor, or professional advisor if you feel that will improve your potential success.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Stage 2 of the 4 Stages of Change and How to Overcome Obstacles.

In an earlier blog post I addressed the first stage of change that was based on Dr. James Prochaska’s Transtheoretical Model of Change tool. One of the key elements of Prochaska’s model is that it flies in the face of the “just do it” mentality of jumping in with both feet to change. The “just do it” mentality causes us to jump right past the preparation stages. However, according to this model, that preparation and contemplation is exactly what we need to ensure we don’t jump into action, only to fail before our changes are sustainable.

If you are considering changing your career, or just your job, these stages may help you figure out where you are, and more importantly how to overcome your obstacles.

Stage 2 – Contemplation
Unlike the people who are in precontemplation that I talked about last week, if you are in the contemplation stage you have decided that the pros and cons of change are relatively equal. In this stage, you are seriously considering change, but you are either not quite ready to act or don’t know how to get started. In this stage you are beginning to obtain the confidence you will need to make a change in your job or career, but you are still in the imagining, envisioning, and discovery process.

The biggest obstacle in this stage is a lack of motivation or sense of urgency. Fear of change can often be the cause for this obstacle.

Strategy to Overcome and Move Forward:
In order for a change to be effective, and permanent, you must be excited about the positive potential of the change. Try to identify your key motivators for making a change. Seek out people who have made similar changes and learn from their stories of success. Identify, evaluate, and accept your fears. This will help you to allay those fears of leaving behind the familiar before embarking on the next stage of change.

People may get stuck in the contemplation stage if they feel as though they are not prepared for the changes they are seeking. You may lack some of the necessary skills, knowledge, or information to move forward.

Strategy to Overcome and Move Forward:
Make the effort to learn new skills, seek new information, and gain additional knowledge. Search for information, supportive resources, new perspectives, or skill-building activities. Seek the advice or assistance of a mentor, coach, or counselor if you feel it will help you make it to the next stage.