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!
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that most job descriptions are reused and recycled over and over again, year after year, meaning they are ever more outdated to the core of what is expected from each employee today—not to mention the future.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So you see, it’s not only that job descriptions are outdated to a fault with potential hires, they are potentially damaging to the organization’s progress itself!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?
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!
A friend recently sent me a Forbes article title, Introverts: There’s Nothing Wrong With You.
First things first: Why does an article like this need to be written? Are introverts way more sensitive than others? Do they have a disposition that is bad professionally? No! But introverts do face certain kinds of obstacles professionally that extroverts may not.
For example, networking is an inherently social thing that introverts have to work harder at (for more insight into this exact scenario, check out my previous blog post, Can Introverts Be Good Networkers?) Introverts may also have less confidence speaking their minds in front of others.
So how do introverts jump these initial hurdles to ultimately be a success in the workplace? Like so many other things, it’s primarily mental. By getting your mind in a positive, confident place, you position yourself to overcome stigmas that come with being an introvert and prepare to reach your goals.
The Forbes article I mentioned earlier specifically calls out three things an introvert MUST mentally believe:
Read the article for more insight, and share in the comments how being and/or working with an introvert has impacted your career!
As a Career Coach, I work a lot with Baby Boomers who are in the later stages of their careers, often looking for a new position in their late 50s or 60s.
One of the things that is almost always an issue is making sure they are positioned as a relevant, modern job candidate – and one of the ways to do just that is through one’s resume.
I’ve written before about how the resume is one of the last things that will actually get you the job, but more so something that will screen you out. And one of the main things that could screen you out is presenting information that is no longer relevant in the marketplace – or by continuing to subscribe to old school resume “essentials” like including your home address or still putting your “aol.com” email address in your header.
There are definitely little things that will raise a red flag in the eyes/minds of HR and hiring decision makers, suggesting you may be “too old” for the job.
I recently came across an article titled “5 Things On Your Resume That Make You Sound Too Old” that nails exactly the kinds of things I’m talking about. The article does a very nice job of giving you tangible examples of the things that could keep you from getting an interview.
But the resume is just the beginning. What is it about your entire job search strategy and/or personal brand that is outdated? This is where a Career Coach or mentor comes in, helping you look objectively at how you position yourself on paper, online and in person.
If you want to know more about how someone can help, feel free to reach out directly any time.
Whenever someone tells me they are beginning a new job search, I always make an analogy to fishing:
Before a fisherman ever gets in the boat, he prepares by asking himself a few questions. What kind of fish am I trying to catch? Do I have the right bait? The right hook?
A wise career seeker asks the same questions – and the first should indeed be what job you’re trying to land – the “fish” in the metaphor. Once you establish that, you can then identify what kind of “bait” and “hook” you need.
Here’s the thing, though – you don’t just want to say “IT analyst” or “accountant” like you would “trout” or “bass.” To really begin your job fishing trip successfully, you should identify three things:
Do this, and you’ll be able to craft a statement that gives you job seeking purpose. I’ll give you an example statement from Richard Bolles’ The Job Hunter’s Survival Guide that sums up all three:
“I’m going to be an account manager in the advertising industry in either NYC or Chicago.”
If you’d like to learn more about this job search topic, check out my book, From Fish Story To Success Story.
My most recent St. Louis Post-Dispatch Career Column discusses an issue too few professionals understand – how to choose your words wisely in a crucial workplace conversation. Below is an excerpt from the column. You can read the whole thing here.
I’ll cut to the chase: I believe the art of effective communication has been lost in the workplace — and I’m not alone.
ACCOR research recently showed 86% of managers think they are good communicators, but only 17% of employees said their managers communicate effectively. Another stat uncovered only 14% of people rated managers in their organization as “good” or “very good” at communicating.
So what should workplace managers do in order to turn these stats in the right direction? What do you do if there is a workplace conversation breakdown that impacts you and your career? What will you do in order to navigate your way back into effective, productive communication with your coworkers?
The answer to these questions starts with having a real conversation with the person whom communication is difficult. I have a four-pronged approach to ensuring there are no breakdowns in THAT conversation. Some of this thinking is inspired by Vital Smarts, a company known for providing excellent training in managing “Crucial Conversations” — conversations that help manage conflict in the workplace. I have partnered with them, applying their methodologies with some of my Career Coaching clients, and have seen impactful results.
Read the rest of this column here.
Ah, the resume: the one written document that everyone fears will either make or break their chances for the job they want.
The truth everyone should know is your resume rarely gets you selected – it more often screens you out because you don’t have the right amount of years of experience, etc.
Yes, everyone needs a resume. But the focus must be on how you position yourself in this document. If your resume is done well, it will highlight what sets you apart, thus becoming a good tool to use when networking.
My Career Coaching clients and I work together on identifying and positioning their points-of-difference and experience on their resume. We make sure that every word, statement and message is clear and significant. We are not concerned about listing EVERY skill set in the resume, because it doesn’t position the applicant as focused.
We also leverage their skills in other documents to better describe their true value and why they will bring success wherever they go.
One of these documents is a special report that, in my experience, often outperforms resumes and other supporting documents in reaching a client’s target market. When completed, this special report will serve as a tool to position you not only as a candidate – but as a valuable contributor from the get-go.