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.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Getting Tough with Your Career

Recently while surfing for the perfect television show to fall asleep to, my wife happened upon a program where a group of single young women are forced to get tough with the reasons why they do not have the mate they so desperately crave. The program caught my attention because of the brash, in-your-face style the host used to get to the heart of what was holding the women back.

The idea of getting tough stuck with me because we often give ourselves a lot of leeway when it comes to careers. We make excuses for ourselves or choices that are safe instead of inspiring. When was the last time you were tough on your career? Assess how your career stacks up in the following areas:

Goals: Your professional goals provide a roadmap to a work life filled with satisfaction and fulfillment, and the momentum that goals create can propel your career to places that it has never been. What kind of goals are you creating for yourself?

Accomplishments: Similar to goals, how do you assess what you have accomplished at work? Have you simply done what is expected of you or what fits in your job description, or have you gone beyond that? What projects or teams have you contributed to, what have been your contributions, and how have those contributions made things better? Assess your accomplishments to determine their worth to your career, and adjust if necessary.

Relationships: In your career you likely have relationships with many people. What is the quality of those relationships, and which ones contribute to your career growth? Perhaps it is time to find a mentor to aid in your career growth.

It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. By getting tough on your career, you can break patterns that simply aren't helpful and focus on areas that are going to get you to a place where you are most productive, satisfied, and fulfilled.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

High 5 Weekly Roundup

Here at The Daily Leap we are debuting a new weekly blog post that will be a roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We'll share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week.

High 5 for the week of October 31st:

1. How to Find Work You Love

2. Why You Should Have a LinkedIn Profile

3. Now Hiring! The Value of Virtual Job Fairs

4. When to Ask about Money?

5. Networking No-nos

Friday, November 4, 2011

New Hires Need to Establish Credibility

Establishing and maintaining credibility in the workplace is extremely important. For new hires, building credibility is one of the first things to focus on when starting a new job. The old saying rings true, “credibility is built over time but can be damaged in no time at all.” Even if you have solid industry experience and a great professional reputation, you still need to build credibility with a new employer and co-workers. More importantly, establishing and maintaining credibility with a new employer will be critical to your short- and long-term success.
Work Hard and Demonstrate Competence
Your new employer will expect you to work hard and put forth your best effort each day. Doing so in the early stages of your employment will help you to quickly earn the attention and respect of those around you. It is important to maintain a strong work ethic and level of professionalism throughout your employment.

Keep Commitments and Deadlines
One of the most harmful things you can do to your credibility is breaking commitments and missing deadlines. Don’t make commitments you cannot keep, even if it means under promising and over delivering. Obviously, situations beyond your control may occasionally prevent you from honoring a commitment. If this happens, evaluate the impact of breaking your commitment, and be proactive in discussing this with the person you’ve committed to.

Be Open to Learning and Sharing Information 
When co-workers see that you are open to learning and sharing opinions and ideas with others, they will be more comfortable working with you. When handled professionally, a willingness to share your knowledge based on past experience will help you to be viewed as a valuable member of the team.

Be Accountable for Your Mistakes
Mistakes happen. The important thing is to be accountable for your mistakes and work hard to resolve them. This will help you to earn the respect of those you work with and even strengthen your credibility.

Post Grad Pitfalls to Avoid

When you're thrust into college life, many people give you advice. Don't party too much, study hard, avoid the Freshman 15, and the list goes on. But not many people will tell you what to avoid when you graduate from college. You're now thrust into the real world and some post grads may have no idea how to handle it.

1. Moving out before you're ready.
You may have lived in the dorms or had an apartment in college, but living on your own after graduation can be very different. You may feel ashamed to move back in with your parents after graduating, but don't let it get you down. Living with your parents can give you time to save your money to pay all the things that moving out entails and help you pay for your student loans and other expenses without worrying about rent or bills.

2. Turning down opportunities. If you're saying no to any opportunity to network, meet new people, or interview for a job, you may be missing out. Just because you're not interested in the job or company that is reaching out to you, doesn't mean that you won't meet people that could help advance your career or put you in contact with a job you may love.

3. Falling for a scam job.
Searching sites like Craigslist can be effective in the job search, but you have to be extra careful not to fall for scams that are often posted on these sites. Watch out for salaries that seem too good to be true, companies wanting you to pay them money first, or anything else that sounds suspicious. If you're truly unsure, double check on the Better Business Bureau.

4. Being lazy. After graduation and finding a full-time job, by all means use your free time to relax and enjoy your time off. But don't be lazy. Try to find internships, classes, or other job-related hobbies to dive into while you job search. Lying on your couch for 12 hours a day then job searching online for one will not help you.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Stage 1 of the 4 Stages of Change and How to Overcome Obstacles.

I recently read an article in a fitness magazine about the stages of change in terms of changing your habits to become healthier. However, as I read the article, I began to think that the same concepts can apply to someone who is looking to change their job or career.

The article talked about Dr. James Prochaska’s Transtheoretical Model of Change tool, conceived in the 1980’s. Over my next four blog posts, I would like to explore the four most critical stages from Dr. Prochaska’s theory of change and translate how I think each one applies to job seekers.

Stage 1 – Precontemplation
In this stage, you are not quite ready to make a move. You may wish for change but have no plans to make a change in the immediate future. For people who are stuck in this phase, it often takes a significant life event to motivate them to change their thinking. The birth of a child, the death of a family member, or even a lay-off at work may be the only thing that can motivate you to move forward. However, thinking about making a change has its benefits, as it prepares you to open yourself to new opportunities.

The biggest obstacle at this stage is the belief that the change will require too much effort or work and will cause unbearable discomfort. People often underestimate the benefits of change and overestimate the costs.

Strategy to Overcome and Move Forward:
Write down all the benefits that you would receive from making a change. Before you can move to the next stage of change, you must recognize that the benefits of change will be worth your efforts. Focus on the positive aspects of what you will receive as a result in making a career or job change.

Another obstacle in the precontemplation phase is fear from previous failures. These fears often cause us to place limits on what we believe we deserve or are capable of.

Strategy to Overcome and Move Forward:
Evaluate your previous failures and try to define what caused those failures. Was it lack of preparation for an interview, a work situation out of your control, or did you sabotage your own success? Work on improving your sense of self-worth and increasing your confidence before you embark on the next stage of change.

Navigating the Salary Discussion as a Newbie

Lately, I've come across the question many post grads face when entering the working world: what compensation are you looking to obtain?
For most jobs, they ask you what you'd like to make on your application or in your interview. For others, such as those doing freelance work like myself, companies ask what you charge for your services. This can be a very tricky subject. What do you say to get the job? You don't want to sell yourself short or offer a low amount when they were thinking of paying you much higher. Yet you also don't want to suggest a number out of the company's reach or a number that is too high for the job you're looking to get in this tough economy.
Here are some tips on navigating the salary discussion:
1. Do your research. Research the current salary and rates for the job you want and the job field you're getting into. Come prepared to give a range that you feel confident with.
2. Keep a few things in mind. Does this job include health benefits, vacation days, and other benefits? If so, you may find you're willing to take a lower salary if it involves getting great benefits. Also find out if there are opportunities for raises. Most post grads start at a base salary but if you work hard you'll eventually be able to make much more.
3. Try to the get potential employer to give you a number first. When asked what my rate is, I often ask them first what they generally pay similar employees or what number they were thinking of before I offer a range of numbers.
4. Depending on the job, keep other things in mind. If you're looking to get into freelance or contract work, you may want to raise the rate you were thinking because you will have to pay your own taxes, health benefits, etc. You can mention this to a potential employer if they think the rate is too high.
5. Other questions to keep in mind when discussing compensation:
* What are the duties and responsibilities assigned to this position?
* How does your organization structure its pay system, personnel policies, and promotion as well as dispense rewards?
* Is performance important for compensation increases and promotions or is seniority the key factor?
* What is the salary range for this position?
* How much would someone with my qualifications and experience receive in this position?
Discussing salary when looking for jobs is always a nerve-wracking and tricky subject, but if you do your research and act confident you can get the pay you deserve!
*Got some information (the other questions to keep in mind) from:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

3 Strategies for Dealing with a Difficult Boss.

In a blog post last week, I discussed some strategies for dealing with a difficult co-worker. However, what do you do if that intolerable person just happens to be your supervisor? Most of us can recall our worst boss. They may have been demanding, pushy, rude, a micromanager, or outright abusive. In today’s tough job market, many people may be more inclined to stick out the situation, no matter how bad their boss may be. Here are some strategies to help you deal with a difficult boss.

Don’t give your boss ammunition
I used to work in a three-person office that included me, my bossd and my counterpart. My boss often took out her frustrations on my co-worker, but I was usually spared her ire. It wasn’t that she liked me better or that I was a better worker. It was simple; I knew her pet peeves and I worked hard to avoid pushing those triggers.

The first step in dealing with a difficult boss is to take an honest and thorough assessment of your behavior, actions, and performance. Have you been professional, mature, and considerate in all your dealings at work? Are you giving your best possible performance at work? Try ignoring personal distractions, keep your head down, and focus on doing your job to the best of your ability and see if that changes the situation.

Don’t react with emotion
No matter how harsh the criticism, reacting with emotion will escalate the issue. Often times, difficult people are trying to bait you to react emotionally which makes you a target for additional attacks. Don’t react, just acknowledge the comment and move on. This strips away the power behind the verbal attack without creating additional conflict.

Use their criticism as a topic of discussion, not a source of confrontation. Never try to confront or discuss an issue when you are upset. Take some time to evaluate and revisit the issue when you have calmed down.

Learn to manage your manager
The best way to avoid criticism from a boss is to take a proactive approach. Get to know their likes and dislikes. Avoid miscommunication by clarifying their expectations of you and your performance. This clarity helps avoid future criticism.

Take a step back and try to define the cause for the problem. Try to find out how your boss likes the work to get done, how your boss prefers to receive information, and clearly define their priorities. Don’t try to guess, be professional and ask your boss to clarify all these things for you.