Why I Became a Career Coach

HRI spend most of the time on this blog writing about career trends, providing commentary and job and workplace news, and providing insight on how YOU can develop YOUR career successfully.

But people often ask about why I do what I do. Here’s the answer.

There was a defining moment in my life when I realized that helping others discover what they love doing was what I in fact loved doing. My father – who spent most of his career hating his job – died of cancer in his retirement year. Looking back at my father’s life, it was clear to me that he had always lived for tomorrow, anticipating retirement when he could really “do what he loved doing.” The tragic irony is that day would never come.

This ignited a new passion in me. Why would anyone choose to go about life with the mindset that “I’ll just get by,” when we spend most of our lives at work and not with family or loved ones? For me, I discovered that as my career moved upward, it also took me further away from what drew me to HR in the first place: helping people develop their own career growth.

The time had come to pursue doing what I love right now, and that meant coaching other people through their career journeys. By doing so, I wouldn’t just help them “find a job” – I’d be able to make a difference in their life.

So in 2002, I set up my own private practice, crafting my own coaching philosophy/methodology: The “activ:8 careers” System.

The 8-step, results-based method worked from the get-go for clients from all kinds of backgrounds. Accountants. CFOs. Engineers. Graphic Designers. Event Planners. Personal Trainers. Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives. Teachers. Real Estate Brokers. I’ve worked with them all – and many, many more.

My clients have consistently taken to the diverse career building processes, and the fact that they didn’t waste time or money in achieving their goals. And knowing this has helped me achieve MY goal!

If you ever have any other questions on my Career Coaching experience, past or how I can help you as a Career Coach, don’t hesitate to reach out.

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The 4 C’s of Workplace Change Management

HR advice when change hits

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I recently ran across a great article for any of us working in HR – “Can You Handle Change” by Lou Markstrom. The ideas and advice are relevant for anyone in any kind of management or director position, too!

It is often up to a few managers and/or HR staffers to  lead changes that will make impact felt across the entire organization. There is so much to think about, plan around and consider both from a practical and emotional standpoint. No matter what the change is, some employees will embrace the change, and some will fight it.

That’s where the advice from the article comes in handy:

The first rule of change management is to plan for managing the people issues involved in the change, long before change is implemented. Once this is understood, there are four key components to a successful change management program: communication, commitment, community, and clarity.

I can tell you from experience both on the HR side and as a Career Coach working with people going through workplace change that these 4 C’s are indeed essential to achieve change management success.

Read the article, and let me know what you think from YOUR experience!


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6 Career Networking Mistakes Women Make

women working, female networking

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When I came across a Huffington Post article titled 6 Networking Mistakes Women Make, I immediately got suspicious.

I wondered how these mistakes would really be different from the ones men make. As a Career Coach, the biggest networking mistakes I see people make are gender neutral.

So, before you make a judgement, look at the following 6 mistakes the article calls out:

  1. Not networking in the first place.
  2. Approach networking half-heartedly because you view networking as cheating.
  3. Concentrating networking within your own company.
  4. Making “friends” rather than connecting.
  5. Asking random people on LinkedIn to connect.
  6. Asking FROM your network before giving TO your network.

Now, are these really that specific to women? The answer is no. These are all issues that both women and men both have when it comes to networking.

HOWEVER, the writer does do a good job of applying these mistakes apply within the context of being a woman. And for that reason, I do recommend women read the article.

But if you’re a man, you will be able to gain from its wisdom as well!


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The Truth About Discrimination in the Workplace

career, advice, counseling, coaching, job search, career currency

My most recent St. Louis Post Dispatch column is about an issue many of us have dealt with. Be it discrimination based on gender, race, religion or any other number of reasons, discrimination is a real issue. But at the same time, it sometimes becomes an excuse. Below is an opening excerpt of the column. You can read the full column here.


Imagine sitting down for a job interview and the first thing you notice is the person interviewing you could have been your granddaughter. A bad sign? That’s yet to be determined.

Her first request is the age-old “Tell me about yourself … ”. So you begin to tell her about your experience in a non-profit religious organization and the value you offer. It’s brought up that your organization is known for supporting gay rights, and you can’t quite read the interviewer’s face to understand her reaction.

Then comes the inevitable question, “What’s your salary expectation?” Your current salary happens to be at the top of their salary range for this job. Again, her response is hard to read. After the interview, as you leave, you walk by the employee cafeteria and see very few women and almost no diverse ethnic minorities sitting at the tables.

Your thought leaving the interview? “I don’t have a chance!”

I often hear job seekers say the reason they didn’t get the job is discrimination. They explain their perceived discrimination issue — age, religious affiliation, race or sex/sexual orientation. Many even cry discrimination because their salary requirement is at the high end of what the organization is willing to consider. (Some of these issues are protected by law, others not)

Maybe you have experienced one or more of these discriminations. I had a Career Coaching client who actually went through this exact situation! What did they learn from the experience? Three things — and keep reading to see the surprising end of the story…


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Job Interview Questions YOU Should Ask The Interviewer

job interview advice

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Something I always tell my Career Coaching clients who are walking into a job interview is that they must remember they are interviewing the company just as the company is interviewing them.

You don’t want to work somewhere that doesn’t fit YOUR needs and desires. Therefore, it’s YOUR responsibility to come in with questions that will help you understand if the position is right for you or not.

This Seattle Times article does a great job of further diving into why/how you should interview the person interviewing you. They give some fantastic example questions, such as:


About the hiring manager:

  • How would you describe your leadership style?
  • What do you like the most and the least about working here?

About the position:

  • Is this a newly created position, or was there someone previously in it?
  • What are the most common attributes of the employees who are the most successful in this position?

About the department:

  • What’s the average tenure for department employees?
  • What are the top priorities you’re trying to accomplish in this department?

About the company:

  • How would you describe the company culture?
  • What do you see as the company’s biggest opportunities?

Have you found yourself interviewing the person interviewing you? What other questions did you ask that made an impact in your potential to work there?

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Is This The Future of The “Employee”?

The below graphic is part of the book The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization by Jacob Morgan, in which Morgan suggests “work as we know it is dead.”

Too bold a claim? Perhaps. But what exactly about his insight in this vision of the future employee would you disagree with? HR managers out there, I’m especially looking at you here!

Check out the book and let me know what YOU think.

employee future, HR news

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Advice on Job Search and Career Rejection

career advice, job search tips, failure, disappointment

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Many of us are excited to head into Labor Day weekend for the extra day off we can spend with family and friends.

But what about those of us who WISH we had a job to be having a day off from?

This is exactly the case for many job seekers who are yet to come up with the job they want. This weekend may just remind them of their lack of job search success to date.

It’s easy to get down when the job search isn’t going the way you hoped it would. But it’s essential that you stay positive. You can’t let the disappointment get the best of you.

Now, yes, that’s easier said than done. But there are ways to pick yourself back up. Take the 4 tips in this article, for example. I won’t spoil them for you here, but they are tangible, actionable ways to deal with rejection in a positive manner.

Just remember that what you are going through is temporary. There will be an answer. And there are resources to help you get there.

If this is something you’d like to talk with me about personally, reach out anytime.

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Is a Job in Non-Profits Right For You?

non profit job opportunities

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One of the most interesting “industries” to emerge in the past several years is that of non-profits.

Now, first things first – if you think a non-profits job is the same as a volunteer position, think again. While non-profits aren’t centered around the almighty individual buck (which I find refreshing!), you can have a very successful, fulfilling career in this industry. Just ask the people working for non-profits started by the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet – non-profits that have been so successful at funding their causes that they earned the title of philanthrocapitalists!

This article already does a great job of breaking down who should consider a job in non-profits and why. Specifically, it calls out five kinds of people who should consider a job in this area:

1. You can’t be sure which career will suit you, so after graduation, you’re postponing graduate school.

2. You’re staggering under your student-loan burden and at the rate you’re paying, you’re looking at 20 to 25 years of indenture.

3. You’re in mid-career when you find yourself wondering if this is all there is.

4. You enjoy the community that gathers around a cause or creative field – political issues, art and music, higher education – but don’t want to become a front-line practitioner.

5. You have reached the Third Age, as Europeans have named it – the Age that comes between Middle and Old – but you have enough energy, mental and/or otherwise, to be restless.

Have you ever had a job in the non-profit sector? What was your experience?


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A Shocking Statistic About Employed Professionals

job search, professionals, employed job search, HR advice

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Let’s cut to the chase. Per this Forbes article, 86% of job seekers who are already employed are looking for work outside their current occupations.

Why? The study suggests that as the economy picks up, more and more people are reigniting the search for their “dream job.” They aren’t willing to settle for the job they are in – and many times, the industry they are in. Just see these deeper stats:

  • 60% of those studied are looking outside their current occupation without considering jobs in their current fields at all.
  • About 28% of employed job hunters are actively trying to find work in a different state, according to a separate Indeed.com study.
  • Just over one-quarter may not sound like a lot, but it’s more than twice as many compared to what it was in 2012 and 2013, when what economists call “realized mobility”—people moving to take jobs—stood at a post-World-War-Two low of just 12%.

So what should this tell you as a professional? That if you aren’t satisfied with your current job, you’re not alone. Don’t settle. Get out there and pursue your passion, or you’ll be standing on the sidelines when everyone else becomes the star of the game.

What should it tell you if you’re an HR professional or hiring decision maker? That your current staff is likely looking to make a move! How will you prove to them they can reach their “dream job” right where they are? What added value can YOU give them?


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Job Hunting Costs You Can and Cannot Deduct From Taxes

job hunting tax breaks

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It may seem like an odd time to bring this topic up, but if you’re in a job search NOW, you may not remember exactly what you paid for LATER.

That’s why I recommend you document your expenses as you go with a job search. Believe me, come tax season, you’ll thank yourself.

Now, exactly what can and can’t you deduct? There’s a good article that top-lines the process here. Here is an excerpt from the article calling out some of the ones you should be most aware of:

A new job on your current career path: Deductible. If you’re looking for a new position in your current line of work or field, you may be able to deduct search expenses — even if you don’t get or accept the job. But if you’re switching occupations, those costs aren’t deductible.

- A first job: Not deductible. Sorry, recent high-school and college graduates: The costs for finding that first job aren’t deductible. Nor can you write off expenses if you’re looking for work in a new occupation or if you’re starting back on the career path after an extended break, though the Internal Revenue Service in Publication 529 doesn’t define how long is too long.

- Resumé costs: Deductible. Expenses that you incur to prepare and mail a resumé are deductible. This tax break might be less valuable than it once was, since so many resumés now are sent via e-mail, reducing standard mailing expenses. Fees you pay for job-placement services generally are deductible, too.

- Travel costs: Deductible. Unreimbursed travel costs generally are deductible, even if you don’t get or accept the job. But to deduct costs, the trip must be undertaken mainly for the purpose of looking for a new position. That said, a portion of the costs still might be deductible, even if a job search wasn’t the primary objective. The amount of time you spend in another locale for personal reasons, as opposed to looking for work, is a key factor in determining how much and which expenses can be written off.

- Reimbursed costs: Not deductible. The above discussion assumes you pay for these various job-search costs on your own. If a prospective employer buys your airline tickets or pays for your hotel, you can’t also claim those costs. Double dipping isn’t allowed. Only unreimbursed expenses paid from your own pocket are deductible. A more-complete discussion of job-search costs can be found in IRS Publication 529.

- A word on deductions. Even if you qualify to write off job-search expenses, doing so might not be practical. You would need to itemize deductions, which roughly two-thirds of taxpayers don’t do — they take the standard deduction instead. Job-search expenses are categorized as a miscellaneous deduction, and you can deduct only those expenses to the extent they exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income. In other words, the IRS allows deductions, but only after you absorb several hundred or a few thousand dollars from your own pocket, depending on the circumstances.

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