Having The Right “Crucial Conversation” In The Workplace

Image by iosphere, via

Image by iosphere, via

I am a big fan of the thinkers at VitalSmarts.

Having met personally with their leadership, I can say that we truly have a similar line of thinking, and I am always excited to hear their opinions on situations and topics.

So when I saw this question in one of their recent newsletters, I was very intrigued:

How do you respond to work colleagues who complain that management never asks our opinion? I agree it’s good to get insight from management on how and why things are the way they are. But my coworkers seem to forget there are some things administration just can’t get everyone’s viewpoint on—because a consensus would never be reached. I feel our administration does keep us in the loop as much as they can, and these childish attitudes from my coworkers are more frustrating and demoralizing than what they’re complaining about.


Done with Complainers

First off, I’m sure most managers wish they had more employees like “Done With Complainers”!

Secondly, I think the way this question was answered is fantastic. I won’t spoil it here, so jump over to their blog and take a look for yourself!


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Tags: VitalSmarts
Posted in Career Change Career Coaching by David Hults. No Comments

Quit a Job You Love? Consider It.

quitting a job you love

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In a workplace world where so many professionals are unhappy, unsure, or unemployed, why would I even bring up the concept of QUITTING a job that someone loves? Isn’t this counter-intuitive?

While it may seem absurd, you have to ask yourself WHY you love your job. Do you love it for the right reasons – reasons that nurture your career and position you for future success? Or do you love it for reasons that aren’t necessarily going to help you long-term – things like comfort in doing the job, security, or simply the people you work with (the power of which should never be underestimated, but likewise should never be the only reason to stay in a job!)?

Here’s a great testimonial from Jana Axline, a woman who loved her job and was on track to move up the ladder, but then decided to quit because she realized it didn’t necessarily align with her long-term vision. She calls out five reasons when it’s time to quit your job, even if you love it:

  1. When the job no longer fits the vision you have for your career.
  2. When you identify a gap in your toolkit that can’t be filled where you are.
  3. When you are no longer growing or your job is so easy you are becoming complacent.
  4. When you and the company no longer have value alignment.
  5. When you’ve outgrown your company.

Jana goes much more in depth on each of these reasons, so I recommend you read her story for more context and insight.

Have you ever considered quitting a job that you love? What has held you back?

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Comparing Resume Writers, Recruiters and Career Coaches

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This is a topic that goes through many job seekers’ minds, more often when their search is taking longer than expected.

It’s a hard topic for me to comment on here, because as a Career Coach I of course am a strong believer in the impact a coach can have on one’s job search! However, there are other job search services you can pay for – like resume writers or recruiters – that may offer different levels of value for what you pay.

Enter this “Ask Matt” feature from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, in which Matt Krumrie gives excellent third party advice on where it’s worth a job seeker investing, and where it’s not.

Regarding recruiters, Krumrie writes:

Put together a list of target companies or positions, update your LinkedIn profile, let everyone in your network know of your search, then update your résumé based on those goals. Do this first before hiring anyone to write your résumé for you — and if you do that, never pay more than $300, says Drew Schmitz, a sales and marketing recruiter and President of Twin Cities-based Blue Octopus LLC ( “There is no ultimate résumé,” says Schmitz, who says the average recruiter or HR professional spends about 30 seconds looking at it. “We read the sentences below your name, your job titles, the dates of employment and your employers’ names. Then we decide to contact you — or put the résumé away never to look at it again.”

On the topic of recruiters, Krumrie says:

As for that recruiter, keep this story in mind: Schmitz had a friend who (against Schmitz’s expert advice) paid a recruiter $2,700 for what turned out to be a résumé, cover letter, interview tips and one interview for a job $25,000 below his expectations. And of course, they never found him a job. “Recruiters like me make money when we place people,” says Schmitz. And that fee is paid by the employer — not the job seeker. “We shouldn’t be charging job seekers and unemployed candidates who desperately need the money.”

Then comes what he has to say about Career Coaches (obviously I don’t disagree):

However, you may want to invest in the services of a career coach. Why? Career coaches can help you clarify a career objective, prepare for the job search, help practice for interviews, create an online presence, teach networking skills, overcome barriers encountered in the job search and even help manage the emotional component of job transition.

Have you ever worked with a Resume Writer, Recruiter or Career Coach? What was your experience?

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A Great Resource For Your New Career Search

onetI often work with Career Coaching clients who have worked years (sometimes even decades) in a certain position, but want to shift into a new career – they’re just not exactly sure what that career should be.

The question then becomes, what kind of job matches your talents and passions? And beyond that it gets even trickier – what skills and experience do you have from your previous career that apply or give you unique value as you pursue this new career?

This is something I specialize in with my clients. But there are online tools I recommend and utilize in doing so, one of which is O*NET Online, which offers various tools for career exploration and job analysis. I’ve used O*NET Online for a while now, and I’m pleased with it’s functionality.

This article does a great job of breaking O*NET Online down better, and I’ve copied a section from the article with very specific insight into how it works below. Let me know how it works for you!


At, click on “Find Occupations.” There are many options here, but take one of the jobs you listed while brainstorming and enter it under “Keyword or O*NET-SOC Code.”

For example, you can enter “astronaut.” The next screen will show all related occupations listed by relevance. Once you click on a title, you will have a wealth of information including tasks, tools used in this job, abilities, education requirements, work styles, work values and wage information. Something may spark your interest from the related occupations, and you can click on any of those titles and instantly get specific details about those careers.

You can always go back to the “Find Occupations” page and search by career clusters, industries or job zones, too. The second way to explore careers is to search for occupations that align with your current experience, knowledge and education. On the main page,, click on “Advanced Search.” Under “Tools & Technology,” if you have experience working with machines, equipment, tools, or software, you can enter that information here. For example, if you worked with aircraft engines before, you can enter “aircraft engines” and see all the categories and occupations that match your search. If you click on an occupation, you will get lots of valuable information.

From the “Advanced Search” page, you can also select the “Skills Search” option. This will allow you to customize a list of the skills you have acquired in six general categories, and the system will match your skills list with occupations requiring those same skills.

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7 Job Search Mistakes Older Job Seekers Make, But Can Control

job search, job seeker, boomer, mistake, older professional

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In today’s market, older professionals  – for purposes of context, let’s just say those in their 50s and 60s – tend to face different challenges than younger job seekers.

Retirement looms. Presumptions are sometimes made about being “behind the times.” Salaries have built up over time that may be more than companies expect to pay.

But here’s the thing – while these challenges can be hurdles, often the biggest road block in an older professional’s job search is oneself. Whether it’s mentally positioning yourself for failure or simply not embracing new technologies, there are things the older job seeker can 100% control that attribute to them not getting the job.

I recently came across an article that calls out 7 such “mistakes” older job seekers make that lead to undesired results. The article does a great job of going into depth on each mistake, but here’s a glimpse:

  1. Taking too long to start your job search.
  2. Relying on outdated job search techniques.
  3. Misunderstanding transferable skills.
  4. Using one resume for every opportunity.
  5. Using age as a reason to keep you stuck.
  6. Listening to fear and anxiety.
  7. Using the “R” word (“retirement”) when searching.

Even from a quick look at these 7 mistakes you can tell that they are controllable! Read the article for more insight, or reach out to me to dig even deeper into this unique older-in-life job search scenario.


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Is The Grass Really Greener For Your Career?

St. Louis Post Dispatch career column

My latest career-based column for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch just went live, and it’s about a topic that I encounter all the time as a Career Coach.

We seem to have a chronic condition in today’s culture where professionals ALWAYS think the grass is greener somewhere else. Below is an excerpt from the column, which you can read in full here. Let me know what you think!


How do you know if your career is headed in the right direction?

It’s a question I am asked by Career Coaching clients all the time, usually in the context of someone who thinks the grass is (or would be) greener at another organization.

But believe me, it’s not always greener. Sometimes we mistake routine, comfort or temporary frustration at our current job as unfixable, then create a perception in our minds that “it is so much better” somewhere else. I see it all the time — people job-hopping from place to place, but encountering the same frustrations.

I think this is a trend we see across our culture right now — always looking for that next big thing, not recognizing what is positive about the present, but rather looking for future opportunities. You even see it in how we are always checking our phones and devouring social media to see what others are doing.

The point is this: While I definitely believe in keeping your eyes on the goal/destination in your career, it can be dangerous to your development if you are constantly being distracted by “what else might be out there.”

The question then becomes, how do you know if you already have a good thing going — or is your “grass is greener” mentality justified? I have identified three career conditions that indicate you should stay focused on the career you presently have, and live fully in the moment.

Read the rest of the column here.

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Career ReportEvery month I publish an e-newsletter called the CAREEReport that breaks down the latest job news, trends, networking news and success stories from those who have recently faced career challenges.

This past month’s newsletter was all about career scares in honor of Halloween. From terrifying job stats for executives, to freelancers’ biggest fears ,to the scary truth about discrimination in the workplace, we cover a lot of topics that don’t have to be as frightening as they seem on the surface.

Check out this past month’s content here, and subscribe to future newsletters here.

And of course – have a HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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A Needed Change in HR Job Description Approach

job description, HR, hiring, job offer, job position

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As a current Career Coach and former HR professional, I have seen it from both sides of the desk – while the professional world changes at a rapid pace every single day, the way we approach job descriptions is behind the times.

Too often I see clients who are concerned their skills don’t fit “what the job description says”, even though the value they bring is perfect for the position. While the best potential candidates are moving with the times, the jobs in which they are considering applying for are stuck in the past.

This situation was perfectly articulated in this recent Forbes article:

Consider this.  The typical job description contains six to nine bullet points of job responsibilities and assigned tasks that relate to a particular role, and to a level on the organization chart. And, consider the fact that most job descriptions are reused and recycled over and over again, year after year, meaning they are ever more outdated to the core of what is expected from each employee today—not to mention the future.

Does a job description truly restrain a person from positively handling change?

It’s surprising how unintentionally “sticky” roles and job descriptions become. They define who we are, and tell us who we’re not. The box, or level, on the org chart creates unusually powerful walls around us—the way we think and behave. Over time, our roles and titles and job descriptions become a surprisingly big part of our identity. In fact, once a person’s role becomes synonymous with their identity, unintentional boundaries form that can severely limit innovation and erect barriers to change.

So you see, it’s not only that job descriptions are outdated to a fault with potential hires, they are potentially damaging to the organization’s progress itself!

I’m curious what you HR professionals out there think. What are you doing to make sure this doesn’t happen to YOUR organization?

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Unwarranted Job Firings – A Cautionary Tale

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Very few people go their entire career without some kind of job transition. Hopefully it comes in the form of choosing to leave your current position for a new opportunity.

But unfortunately for many, the decision is made for them in the form of a layoff – or sometimes a firing.

Now, almost anyone who has ever been fired has “their side of the story.” But the truth is that people get unfairly fired all the time. Situations arise that lead to misinterpretations and/or misunderstandings that can prove fatal for employment – and often how you handle those situations (coupled with how you’ve handled yourself in the workplace prior to this situation arising) is what determines whether you get the benefit of the doubt – or the axe.

Writer Jeff Haden’s cautionary tale about this very topic was recently published on LinkedIn, and you can read it here. He tells his story in great detail, which I think is important because every situation like this has so many angles to it. He transparently admits where he could have done things differently to help the situation.

I recommend you read it, and consider how his learning might apply to your job and career.

How about you? Have you ever been unfairly fired? What were your takeaways from the experience? Share it in the comments!

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