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Brilliant but Plagued By Insecurities (Is That You?)

“Success in your career transition or job search requires work, practice, commitment, and the ability to get back up, brush yourself off, and move forward having learned from your setbacks.” ~Career Coach Daisy Wright

As I reviewed her resume, I thought of how brilliant she sounded on paper, and when we spoke, it was confirmed. She is indeed a brilliant woman, ready to take her career to the next level, but something was holding her back; she was plagued by insecurities.

Mara reached out to me from British Columbia several weeks ago asking for help to “ace her next interview for a position with the government.” She wanted to transition from a manager to a project management role in Health IT. She said she didn’t have a problem getting interviews, but was not getting offers. “I am plagued with insecurities”, she said.

Mara’s story is not unique. Insecurity sometimes hits when we are facing a career change, speaking up in meetings, or even broaching the subject of a promotion. Many people, like Mara, struggle with interviews. They get pre-interview jitters, sweaty palms and ice cream headaches, better known as brain freezes. Some worry that they might not measure up to their competitors. Others are unable to tell authentic and convincing stories to sway the interviewer.

I explained to Mara that our interactions would involve more than reviewing interview questions. We would begin by first acknowledging that none of us knew exactly what questions were going to be asked, and we won’t attempt to read the interviewer’s mind. When I threw out a couple of test questions to her, I realized she was barely skimming the surface; giving hollow answers instead of diving deep to uncover the value she was creating (and had created) for her employers.

For homework she was asked to conduct a thorough review of the job posting – Job Overview, Accountabalities, Job Requirements and KSA’s (Knowledge, Skills & Abilities). She was to review the competencies associated with the role, as well as go over some sample questions. In reflecting on her experiences, she was to recall success and failure stories. After all, interviewers want to know about some of those projects that didn’t turn out as planned, and what lessons were learned.

After some gruelling conversations and exercises, Mara went for the interview. She was excited when she called. We did a debrief, and I advised her to follow up immediately with a Thank-you note. It was not going to be the standard “Thanks for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon”, but one that would include something significant she learned during the interview. She was to reiterate how she could solve the problem, or what contributions she could make. Her next contact from the interviewer was to ask “When can you start?”

When I work with clients – whether it’s through a career transition, developing job search marketing documents, or interviewing with confidence – I employ a ‘strategy tree’ approach (made popular by Anthony Tjan, CEO of Cue Ball), which addresses: Why (Purpose), What (Value Proposition), Who (Target Company) and How (How to win). A client once remarked that the process felt like a SWOT Analysis: identifying internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats, and it is, because we want to cover as many bases as possible.

A colleague and I were speaking this week and we talked about the coaching that’s involved in the work that we do. Some people believe they are hiring us on a transactional basis, to develop a resume, cover letter, LinkedIn Profile, but it goes way beyond that.

Below is a un-edited letter from Mara detailing what it was like working with me:

“I came to the Wright Career Solution as someone who would get an interview, but not get a job offer. I wondered what was it that I was doing to get so close yet still so far? Why weren’t employers committing to my vision of the role? So, I contacted Daisy through her website, and she got back to me very quickly.

We had a few weeks to get prepared for my interview and true to her word she asked me the questions I had thought I had asked myself enough times. Somehow, she got me to dive deep into the reasons why I was not getting the job offer. I realized through working with Daisy that I have never been well prepared for an interview and I was just finding this out now!!

She coached my language use, how to market myself, how to look at a job description and dissect it to its tiniest parts and build it back together to a riveting story that captivates the audience of my hiring committee.

Thank you Daisy! The Wright Career Solution got my career in the right direction! Everyone should invest in a career coach.

Mara!”

She and I will be working together during her onboarding process to ensure her new move goes smoothly.

While not every client is a ‘Mara’, the reality is that it is not easy to deal with rejections, especially after a number of interviews and not one job offer. It is not easy to focus when the promotion you had in mind did not materialize. And, sometimes it is even more difficult to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel when you are in the doldrums, and conversations become littered with self-limiting declarations such as, “What’s wrong with me…?… It’s probably because of my age… I will never… I should have…”.

In moments like these you need a coach, or someone you trust who can help you through a mindset change, where possibilities exist; where you can jump over barriers and bounce back even when things didn’t go as planned.

If you are ready, willing and able to persevere even when the going gets rough, connect with me for an initial conversation.

PS: In the midst of writing this article, another client – a Professional Engineer – sent this email:

 

Are You All Ideas and No Action?

 

“Ideas have a short shelf life; act on them before the expiration date.” ~John C. Maxwell, Leadership Guru

Consider this: If Steve Jobs hadn’t moved on his idea to develop the Mac computer, Apple would’ve remained a dream, or would it? If Oprah had wallowed herself in self-pity when doors were closing in her face, would she have enjoyed the success she has?

What do you do with your ideas when they pop into your head? Do you just keep them there, or do you write them down then act?

I used to be an ‘idea in my head’ person. I would get loads of ideas, but I would leave them floating in my head for ‘someday’. Many times that ‘someday’ never came. The idea to write my first book No Canadian Experience, Eh? A career success guide for new immigrants, lingered in my head for years (ten years to be precise). I did not put pen to paper until the panic monster struck. I was speaking with a librarian at a networking event when she told me she thought she saw a book in the library with a similar name. When I later checked, it was not the case, but it forced me to spring into action.

I also started reading Henriette Anne Klauser’s book Write It Down, Make It Happen, which was among my unread collection at the time. I gave the project undivided attention especially during the last six months of working on it, and the first edition was published in 2007. Thanks to several colleagues, a second edition was published in 2014.

What I learned from this was to keep a pen and notebook handy on my night table, not only to jot ideas down when they come in the middle of the night, but to take action.

This brief story of inaction is even a bigger one than mine. Two years ago I was coaching a young lady who lives in Florida. She was “tired of working for people” – her exact words, and wanted help in exploring possibilities, including venturing into entrepreneurship. One of the ideas she came up with was to invent a shoe with convertible heels. When she mentioned it, I thought it was a brilliant idea!

We discussed it a number of times: could she patent her idea before anyone else took it; who would she get to make a prototype, could she write down the idea, date-stamp an envelope and mail it to herself, etc. At the time we weren’t sure if an idea could be patented or if the ‘poor man copyright’ still worked. We agreed her next step was to conduct research on patents.

 

 

Fast forward to last week when I came across this Mashable article in my Twitter Feed. I sent the link to the young lady, as well as a link to Mime et Moi, the website of the company making the shoes. She responded, “OMG! They stole my idea. I really need to be more of a go-getter and stop sitting on my ideas.”

So far, I haven’t seen anything on the company’s website to suggest they were making convertible heels up to two or three years ago. But, the young lady in question didn’t act on her brilliant idea, and now someone else has brought her idea to life. These shoes are being sold on the company’s website for an average of 190 Euro per pair (US$220 or CDN $278).

One never knows if, and how her idea would’ve turned out for her, but I would label it a ‘missed opportunity’ from the perspective that she did not take any further action on it. She has since transitioned to a new position with a different company; is enjoying the role, but still has plans to pursue entrepreneurship. (I have her permission to share her story without mentioning her name) because she wants others to know about her “missed opportunity and what can happen when one has ideas, but fail to act,” she said.)

No Entrepreneurial Aspirations? What if…?

So what if you do not have any entrepreneurial aspirations or no desire to invent anything? What if we bring this same analogy to your career transition or job search? Have you been toying with the idea of hiring a career coach to help you get unstuck, or thinking of getting your resume prepared, but something is preventing you from taking action. Have you considered what it is costing you when you don’t act? There is an opportunity cost to inaction. Assuming the young lady above had followed through with her idea, just think of how many pairs of shoes she could’ve been selling at US$220 per pair? (I am sure someone is thinking that if it were meant to be…).

What if you are unemployed and your goal is to find a job with a salary of say, $70,000 per year? Do you know that every week that you are unemployed is costing you about $1,346, or $269 per day for a 5-day work week. This is based on the assumption that the length of an average job search is 40 weeks. Are you getting ideas that you should change your search strategy and reach out to people inside and outside your network, but you keep putting it off for someday? That’s inaction, and there is a cost associated with it.

What if you are employed, but a promotion is on your goal list, or you would like to apply for a job outside of the company? What are you doing about it? Your indecision could be costing you. To calculate how much your inaction (or indecision) would cost you per week or per day, deduct your current salary from the one you would want in your new role. Is the amount of dollars enough to drive you to action?

Many of us miss out on opportunities because we have ideas, but fail to act. Or, we engage in low priority activities that give the appearance we are doing something, but we are just spinning our wheels. If you ever have an idea, big or small, act on it. If you are thinking of a career transition, or need to brush up on your interview skills or revamp your resume to meet the September hiring rush, don’t wait until September. By then the panic monster will start nipping at your heels.

Are you full of ideas, but failing to act? Think of the opportunity cost of not doing anything.

 

Learn from the Most Brilliant Minds in Coaching at No Cost

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Are you interested in learning directly from some of our industry’s top thought-leaders and the most successful coaches in the world – at no cost?

WBECS – the world’s biggest online summit for Business and Executive coaches – offers more than 50 absolutely pitch-free online classes at their Pre-Summit this June! At this digital event you’ll learn directly from the most brilliant minds in the profession, you get to join a global community of thriving coaches and dramatically uplevel the quality of your coaching provision.

I’ve been participating in the Summit for the last 3 years and I’ve personally gained tremendous value from the wisdom, knowledge and powerful content provided.

You can get all the information including the speaker line up, time tables and how to register for the complimentary WBECS Pre-Summit sessions by clicking the link below:

>>> Click here to register for WBECS 2017 Annual World Business & Executive Coaching Summit.

I am confident that you will find sessions relevant to you and I highly recommend that you register now before they reach capacity.  I guarantee this event is worth your time.

PS: You will also get to join a global community of thriving coaches and co-create the WBECS event as part of focused Round Tables and exclusive Implementation Mastery Sessions. WBECS has upgraded the event even more this year, so whether you’ve attended before or not, I highly recommend that you join the free Pre-Summit now before the most popular sessions reach capacity.

Here is the registration link for you again:  Annual World Business & Executive Coaching Summit.

 

How to Spring Clean Your Career in One Day!

If a job opportunity falls in your lap today, would you be prepared for it? A woman left me a message this past Monday: “I would like a professional resume, and need it done by Friday, so I can’t really waste too much time here.” Wow! I said to myself. Some people seem to conduct their job search by the seat of their pants. They spend more time planning for their vacation than they do on their job search or career. Think of it: they research the places they want to go; determine a budget, and book the date, but when it comes to the job search, or a career transition, they don’t give it the same priority. They have a casual approach to the very job that would help them pay for the vacation.

“It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.” said Whitney Young Jr. It is not too late to spring clean your career and be ready for your next opportunity. Here are some tips:

Conduct an Inventory of Your Skill-sets

The moment some people think of job search, they equate it to a resume. “I just saw an job posting, and I need a resume right away.” Although the resume is very important, it is not the first thing one should think of when it comes to the job search. Think of what you would and would not want in your next role. Take an inventory of your values, interests, skills, knowledge and personal qualities:

  • Values – what is important to you? Integrity, status, accomplishments?
  • Interests – what do you enjoy doing?
  • Abilities/skills – what you are good at?
  • Knowledge – what you know: your “intellectual capital”.
  • Personality – your attitude, what you are passionate about, what motivates you.

This assessment helps you plan what type of job or career you wish to pursue.

Dust Off the Old Resume

Creating a professional resume is not something to be done in a hurry as alluded to above, so never leave this very important task for the last minute. Review your journal (hopefully you have been keeping one) where you recorded your achievements, the projects you worked on, and the role(s) you played. Check your email for recognition messages from people you have interacted with. Pull out your performance appraisals and review the positive feedback. These all tell your story, and should be appropriately incorporated in your resume.

Prepare to be the Closer (Not the Loser), at the Interview

Some people are afraid of interviews the way others are afraid of public speaking, but that’s not you! You are ready with memorable stories of your successes (and failures). Yes, what have you learned from those failures? Research, not only the company, but its competitors; not only their website, but annual reports and industry reports. Prepare a mini presentation or proposal identifying the company’s pain points. You can bet your competitors won’t be thinking that far ahead. Even if you don’t get a chance to present it, you can have it as a ‘leave-behind’. (A year ago, I took my own advice, created a mini presentation when I interviewed for a Committee position, and was selected).

Craft Your Salary Negotiation Story

Afraid to have the money talk? Unable to answer the “What’s your salary expectation” question? Salary discussions can be scary. Some candidates are scared they might mention a dollar amount, or say “yes” too quickly and lose out on an opportunity. Do not wait until an offer is apparent before you craft your negotiation story. Conduct your research and enter the negotiation conversation well-prepared and confident.

Build Your Online Brand (and that includes a Personal Website)

Many people wince when they hear they need to build their online brand. Some believe only executives should do so; others start thinking they are going to overexpose themselves. There is some truth to that, but in the digital world we live in, coupled with a very competitive job market, it makes sense to explore the online world when seeking to stand out. A LinkedIn Profile is great, but what happens if LinkedIn disappears? Someone referred to that situation as “having your house built on a rented property”. As a backup plan, think of building your own personal website that you own and control.

Put a Job Search Strategy in Place

You need a proactive and carefully orchestrated job search plan that will bring results. Not one that have you looking for a job once you become unemployed, or when you are at your wits end. This ‘on-the-fly’ job search approach does not work and will, more often than not, end in frustration. It’s better to take the time to conduct a targetted search with a limited number of companies you would want to work for, than uploading your resume to any and every company for any job, and hope to be contacted.

Learn Effective Networking Strategies

The moment some people hear the word ‘networking’, they conjure up images of people with name tags and business cards running around in a meeting room. They then tell themselves “That’s not for me…I am too shy…people might think I am forcing myself on them.” Some of that may be true, but if orchestrated well, networking is not as difficult as it’s made out to be. According to Executive Search guru, David Perry, “For those of us who are terminally shy the Internet has made it possible to network from our computer keyboard and avoid those awkward mixers. So start your networking online, but be respectful, and don’t go begging for a job at the first opportunity. Build the relationship first.

The above advice is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are ever looking for an accountability partner to assist you, I would be pleased to be that person. In fact, if you are in the Greater Toronto Area, you could benefit from a Career Empowerment workshop I am hosting on June 3, 2017, at the Corporate Event Centre in Mississauga. Click here for details: Spring Your Career in One Day!

 

25 Quotes from Women That Will Inspire You to “Be Bold For Change”

Happy International Women’s Day 2017!

Today the world celebrates International Women’s Day – a day dedicated to celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

I would like to wish all the women in my circle a Happy International Women’s Day. You are awesome! Keep doing your good works. It’s not how much you do, it’s the impact you are making.

This year’s theme is “Be Bold for Change”. What bold action can you take today to support women’s advancement?  This year, I have decided to mentor one woman and help her reach her goals. Visit International Women’s Day for some ideas.

A tribute to my lovely, bold daughter for putting together these quotes to create in this infographic. She, too, is awesome!!!

International Women's Day Quotes_2016

How to Participate in the Gig Economy (Even as an Executive)

There’s a lot of buzz words in the job search world these days – the gig economy, contract gigs,  ‘permalancers’, talent exchange, talent economy, interim gigs, and my newly-coined version ‘gig economist’. At the heart of these concepts is one meaning – Freelancing. Once reserved for artists, editors, musicians, graphic and website designers, freelancing is becoming more mainstream and is being embraced by professionals and executives across a wide range of industries and backgrounds.

A recent LinkedIn blog post How the Freelance Generation is Redefining Professional Norms, the writer states, “The world of work is changing — you can see it in the numbers. Freelancers who made up a mere 6% of the workforce in 1989 are expected to represent 43% of the workforce by 2020.”

The world of work is indeed changing, and it sounds exciting. Those who long for work-life balance and flexible schedules can become gig economists. In fact, in the midst of writing this article (coincidence or not), this former Divisional Vice President contacted me for services. During our conversation she brought up the topic of interim jobs, suggesting that she is willing to consider such opportunities. “I am at a point where I want to continue working even if it’s not at the salary and title I am used to.”  That led us to talk about this trend of contract work.

Choice or Happenstance

One of my clients was laid off just before summer last year. He wasn’t in a rush for a new job but found one sooner than expected. This was a six-month contract. We discussed the pros and cons and he decided to take the job as it was with a well-established company with  great potential. (The contract has since been extended).

Whether by choice or happenstance, some job seekers are faced with the dilemma of unemployment or contract gigs. Some have been laid off (through no fault of their own), and are actively searching for full time jobs. Others are looking for a career change. But there is one group – serial contractors or ‘permalancers’, who are deliberately choosing to move from one gig to another when they want.

The quest for work-life balance, the departure from a set work schedule, and the evolution of technology have all impacted how work gets done. In an interview with Michael Carter, co-founder of Kahuso, an online marketplace that connects accomplished executives and professionals with companies for full-time, contract, advisory and board opportunities, I asked him about the demographic shift that is taking place within the job marketplace.

As a freelance executive and a multi-time entrepreneur, Michael understands the importance of having access to the right people at the right time. Michael and his co-founders also realized there was a disconnect between companies in need of executive talent and accomplished executives who have core skills they have developed over the years and would like to parlay into passion projects.

For senior executives, this shift towards the gig economy represents an incredible opportunity to enjoy a better way of working – one that combines interesting and lucrative work with the ability to control work flow, schedules and projects by creating arrangements outside of the traditional full time role.

There are those who still aspire to work, not because they have to, but because they want to continue to be engaged in value-based work, and have the flexibility and balance they seek. Kahuso fills this void, having created an executive cloud for companies to access. They work exclusively with executive-level talent by matching expertise with opportunity. This arrangement brings tremendous job satisfaction to executives while lowering costs and commitment for companies.

Another platform that’s worthy of consideration for interim work, if you are based in the United States, is Pricewaterhouse Coopers’ PwC’s Talent Exchange program. According to Pablo Medina from their US Advisory division, this Talent Exchange “is a marketplace that connects top independent talent with opportunities on PwC projects. By removing the middle-man, the Talent Exchange provides greater access and transparency to independent professionals, while building relationships that help PwC continue to deliver for its clients.” It is available to US-based talent who have the skills and experience needed by the firm’s Advisory practice.

Who really benefits from the gig economy?

Companies benefit from lower costs and just-in-time hiring. When there is an in-house shortage of skills, they know where to access a reservoir of talent. Freelancers or gig economists benefit from having a flexible work schedule or access to interim assignments. A Fast Company article How the Gig Economy Will Change in 2017, discusses the trend.

Even HR departments are beginning to think differently these days and are taking steps towards this new and emerging talent economy. Lisa Taylor, Founder & President of Challenge Factory, said in a virtual conference hosted by Career Professionals of Canada that, “HR is shifting from how work gets done to who does the work. They hire the talent they need when they need it.”

While the gig economy enables companies to hire talent on an ‘as needed’ basis without incurring additional costs, the downside for job seekers is a decline in traditional full time jobs.

How Job Candidates from all Levels Can Participate in the Gig Economy

Anyone can participate in the gig economy. Results of a 2016 survey by Upwork, a leader in freelance talents, and the Freelancers Union, shows that  that 35% of the total U.S. workforce are choosing to freelance. While this survey was focused on the US market, globalization and access to technology have allowed millions of people worldwide to successfully engage in freelance work.

Platforms such as Upwork (formerly oDesk), People per hour, Fiverr, are online marketplaces where people can ‘hire out’ their talents. I have personally hired talent from Upwork and Fiverr at one point or another. These platforms allow employers, companies or entrepreneurs to post work they need done, and freelancers bid on that work.

Companies want to know how and where they can access talent without owning it. If you are unemployed, recently laid off, or looking for a flexible work schedule, review the following tips:

  • Explore alternative work arrangements while waiting for your ideal job, whether you are an executive, manager or entry-level employee. Magic can happen when talent meets opportunity.
  • Leverage your talent! Hire out your talent on some of the platforms mentioned above or explore others. You will acquire new skills as you move from project to project. You will be building your portfolio, adding to your resume, and making yourself more marketable.
  • Stop feeling embarrassed about your short-term work assignments. Recruiters and employers understand the current job market, and are not that uptight about individuals involved in this kind of ‘job hopping’, especially those who have had a track record of steady employment.
  • Treat your interim assignments as if they were permanent. Look out for tasks that need to be done and do them. Your interim assignment can become a permanent one.
  • Autograph your work with excellence. Some companies use the short-term stint as a test before hiring full-time. If you can demonstrate initiative and fit, you could be the one offered the full-time opportunity.

Are you ready to take the big leap to become a gig economist? If not, what’s holding you back?

Share your thoughts here.

Resources:

Four Steps to Turn Your Contract Gig into a Full Time Job Offer

How to Tell If You Should Hire a Freelance or Full-Time Employee

85+ Freelance Marketplaces

 

She is in Pain and Fighting a Hard Battle

This is an unusual story. It deviates from the career and job search articles I normally write, but life happens. It will cause you to pause and reflect on some of what could be going on in the lives of some of the people around us.

I had just dropped my husband off at the train station for a trip into Toronto. On my return I stopped at the grocery store for one item. I didn’t need a flyer, but it’s customary for me to pick one up as I am entering the store. The flyer stand was empty, but I saw one tucked far inside a shopping cart, requiring me to put in the quarter to retrieve it. I went straight to pick up the item I needed, but it was sold out. You are now wondering where I am going with all this detail, but bear with me.

Since I didn’t find what I went for, I decided to flip through the pages of the flyer anyway to see what else I could purchase. As I got to the back page I saw this handwritten message:

“God brought me into this world as everyone else. What’s my mistake in it? How am I supposed to be blamed for this? I have kids. I want to live for them; watch them grow into good human beings. I am really sorry if God made a mistake by bringing me into this world. What’s my mistake where no one loves me!!

My existence doesn’t affect[s] anyone!!

Life is like an extra baggage!! Fed up of it since last 12 years. I want to be loved by someone. Don’t I deserve to be loved!!

What’s the point of living!!

My In-laws hate[s] me!!

My husband hates me!!

I hate myself!! I hate myself!!”

Holy! My head started spinning as I re-read the note. I paid for the items and left. As I entered my vehicle, I thought of the pain that that woman was (and is) going through, wondered where she was at that moment, and said a prayer for her. This popular quote: “Be Kind; Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle”, kept going through my mind. Wouldn’t a kind word or a shoulder to cry on have eased her pain that day?

We interact with people every day: at work, on the train, in the mall, at the grocery store, and at home. Some have smiles on their faces; others don’t, yet we are not always aware of what’s going on in their lives.

As a career coach, I collaborate with people facing career and job search challenges, whether it is a resume that isn’t communicating value; difficulty landing a job after several interviews; lack of career progression in the organization, or someone who is stuck, confused and, yes, fed up.

I have also had individuals contacting me for job search services, but early into the conversation we both discover they are dealing with issues that need to be resolved before we proceed. While not often, there have been cases where the issues are far outside my professional competence. In such cases I would refer the individual to a therapist or mental health professional trained to handle such matters.

In instances where the problem is not as extreme, we will work on them. Sometimes it’s a self-esteem issue because they feel they are not good enough. One woman actually told me she felt she was suffering from Imposter Syndrome. At other times, someone’s confidence has been shaken because they are not nailing the interview and keeps missing out on job opportunities. These individuals begin to second guess themselves:

  • “Why me?”
  • “Why did my last assignment end within three months, instead of the six they had promised?”
  • “Why am I not getting the jobs even after so many interviews? Could it be they didn’t like me, or was I not a good fit?”
  • “How come I was acting in the position for more than a year, and they hired someone else?”

These are real life battles and a lot of baggage for some people to carry. How can we help? Or, how about you? Do you see yourself in any of the above scenarios? Are you feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Are you having thoughts like the woman who wrote that note? If the latter, seek professional help, starting with your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), if there is one. If not, find someone you can talk to, or search for local organizations that offer counselling support.

By this I hope you now understand why this article did not focus on the job search or resume writing, and why I went into details at the beginning. There was probably a reason I went to great lengths to get the flyer even though I didn’t need it. I could’ve walked straight in the grocery store, picked up the item and left. But, probably it was to give me something else to write about outside my usual career topics. I don’t know.

Life happens outside of our jobs and careers. Sometimes we need to pause from our own busyness, or a focus on self, and become aware of what could be happening to people around us, and even those we don’t know.

That woman who told her story on that supermarket flyer was crying out and sharing her pain. She could be a family member, a coworker, a neighbour, or friend. We don’t know. What we do know is that we need to help carry one another’s burdens. Sometimes it’s as simple as a short conversation, a listening ear, zipping our lips before a hurtful word escapes, or taking the time to be kind. Kindness doesn’t cost anything.

A lot of anxiety and stress happens at the workplace. Considering many people spend many hours of each day in that space, it would be a great place to start being empathetic. The next time you are tempted to criticize someone, turn that criticism into kindness. Just think that this person could be having an ‘iceberg’ moment; a lot more going on beneath the surface. If a coworker snaps at you, invite them for coffee and listen, even in silence, or let them guide the conversation. If you are a manager and feel the urge to call out a staff member because they didn’t meet your expectation, turn the moment into a coachable one. Ask them a few questions and listen attentively to their responses:

  1. What is your dream?
  2. What motivates you?
  3. What would make your role in this department/company more fulfilling?
  4. Do you think you are currently performing up to your potential? Why or why not?
  5. What does success mean for you? What would a successful life look and feel like?
  6. If you could have anything in the world what would it be?
  7. What do you want the rest of your life to be about?
  8. Are you feeling overwhelmed? How do you release stress?
  9. What do you do to look after yourself on a regular basis?
  10. How do you enjoy yourself?

You might not have to ask or get an answer to all the questions, but that’s not the point. You shifted gears and took the time to make a difference in that person’s life.

On a scale of 1-10, life is not a perfect circle. There are ups and downs. If you are at a point where you want to take stock of your life or career, why not sit with a notepad in a quiet place and take a look at your life to determine what could be contributing to or impeding your progress or overall happiness? Find out what’s working in your family, job, career, friendships, finance, health, etc. and what’s not working. Rank them on a scale of 1-10. If they are low in most areas, it’s time to reach out for help from a trusted friend or a coach.

If you would like a free copy of an assessment tool – Brighten Up Your Life – which will indicate what a happy, satisfying life might look like for you in several areas, send me an email at daisy[at]thewrightcareer.com, and I will gladly make it available to you. (This tool will only work if you are committed to using it.)

In the meantime, take care of yourself and be kind to everyone you meet. They might just be fighting a very hard battle.

Need a quick chat about your career or job search? Give me a call pronto!

How to Get the Job You Want

“Only those who can see the invisible can accomplish the impossible!” – Patrick Snow

Lisa was the subject of my earlier post. What I didn’t mention is the depth of our conversation. She had dropped by to give me an update on her year of personal development. In late 2015, she took a sabbatical from ‘being in the dumps’ and decided that 2016 was going to be her ‘Personal Development’ year.

She had taken time off years ago for child-minding reasons, and was ready to get back into the workforce, but finding opportunities commensurate with her background and experience was proving difficult.

At the beginning of 2016, she harnessed all the resources she could get: DVDs, books, face-to-face meetings, teleconferences, webinars, and, of course, joined my Let’s GROW Project. We also continued our coaching check-ins, which started three years ago.

A day before stopping by, she had sent a Whatsapp message that said, “I got the job!” The job is with a well-known organization with offices around the globe, and she was thrilled. What intrigued me most about her approach were the unusual steps she took to get the job.

Nearing the end of her first interview, she was asked if she had any questions. She said, “I asked one of the questions you usually recommend: If I were the successful candidate, what would you like to see me accomplish within my first 30 days?” This time she chose 90 days.

By the look on their faces, the panel was probably not expecting that question, but after a few awkward moments, they responded. She made some notes, went home, and developed a 3-page list of her 90-day goals, which she sent to the panellists. She was invited for a second interview where the majority of the time was spent discussing her goal list. She felt very confident after leaving the office that day.

On her return home, she sent a thank-you note, but took the process one step further. She took out a family photograph, gathered her ‘sensory images’ (I call them ‘inspirational stones’), that were labeled Faith, Hope, Believe, and Success. She then bought a small Lucky Bamboo plant and arranged all the items as if they were on her desk at the company’s office.

 

 

Each day she would visualize herself at the desk, working, speaking with her new boss and coworkers, smiling and answering the phone. She said she didn’t have time to think about her competitors – the other people who had been interviewed for the job. She just focused on seeing herself in the role. Two weeks later she received the call that the job was hers.

If you are a skeptic you may scoff at all this. You are probably wondering what role, if any, the ‘lucky bamboo’ and the inspirational stones played in Lisa’s success. That’s not the point. Whether one is a student of Law of Attraction (whatever you focus on you attract), or one sees the value of prayer, or setting intentions, it is true that one’s focus determines one’s reality. Or, as I reminded some ladies in a recent Career Workshop, “Ideas or thoughts become things.”

Not only did Lisa visualize and surround herself with the sensory images, but she did the work that was required! She prepared for the interviews, maintained a positive ‘can-do’ mindset, took the time to research the needs of the company and set goals to support the company. Action was key! Her year of personal development paid off, and on January 9, this highly-qualified professional will start a new phase of her life.

As she said, “My Personal Development immersion over the year has not only helped me professionally, but helped me improve personal and professional relationships, improved my mental health, and my overall feeling of well-being and, most importantly, given me a strong belief that I have control over my future.”

There goes a client who did not leave her professional development to chance. She decided what her reality should look like, applied laser-beam focus to it, and with sustained action, she achieved one of her goals.

With only a few hours into the New Year, are you ready to visualize your own reality? The late Jim Rohn said, “If you don’t like where you are, change it. You are not a tree!”

Want to share your thoughts?

Stop the Procrastination! Do It NOW!

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It’s amazing what coaches can learn from their clients. That’s the reason I refer to coaching as ‘a collaboration’.

Lisa dropped by during the Christmas Holidays with a lovely Poinsettia (never saw that type before), and to give me an update on her year of personal development. We have been working together for the past three years, but mostly on an ad hoc basis over the past year or so. In fact, she was one of the first persons to join the Let’s GROW Project.

Our conversation was primarily about the tools and resources she had harnessed and been using during the year to get to where she is now.

As the conversation went on, she took out a wad of cards on which she had written affirmations that she uses throughout her day. Since I am a believer in prayer, in affirmations, law of attraction (whatever the label), I wasn’t surprised when she took out her stack.

Of all the cards she showed me, the one that got my attention was “Do it NOW!” There it was in bold print, sticking out like a sore thumb, pointing directly at me, the procrastinator.

As much as I hate to admit it, I do procrastinate. If it’s not a reluctance to getting my administrative tasks done, it’s some personal stuff, like folding laundry. Here’s an example of a time when I procrastinated. Although the idea to write my first book, No Canadian Experience, Eh? was percolating in my head for a while, it took me 10 years to finally bring it to life. It was all IDEA, but no ACTION!

When I saw Lisa’s “Do it NOW” in black and white, it resonated with me. As soon as she left, I decided to put the words into action. I looked at the two baskets of recently laundered clothes and told myself to “Do it NOW!” Before the end of the night, all laundry was nicely folded and put away. What an achievement! I sent Lisa a message the following morning to tell her what I had learned from her that evening.

Now, that act might appear quite small, or probably silly. After all, at some point or the other, the laundry had to be put away, but consider this on a bigger scale, or make it personal. What if it is something that you know MUST be done, but you keep procrastinating? What if it’s something you are afraid to do but you fear rejection? What if you decide to ‘Do it NOW’?

The New Year is but a few hours away. As mentioned earlier, I am not one for resolutions, so am not going to ask you to make any. In fact, if you have been a newsletter subscriber for a long time, you know I don’t encourage anyone to make resolutions. I suggest they set goals. This year, I won’t even ask anyone to set goals. The focus will be on TAKING ACTION; ‘doing it NOW’, whatever the ‘IT’ is.

What if your ‘IT’ is to:

  • Find a new job?
  • Reach out to someone in a company at which you would like to work?
  • Get a promotion?
  • Start a business?
  • Do a TED Talk?
  • Write a book. (Don’t take 10 years)?
  • Start your own Charity?
  • Experiment with freelance work if you haven’t found your ideal job yet?
  • Contact a celebrity, or someone influential for an informational interview?
  • Hire a coach (or someone you trust) to keep you accountable?
  • Travel, Sing, Act…?

Whatever your ‘IT’ is,  “Do it NOW!” Don’t put it off for another year.  Allow the phrase “Do it NOW!” to sink in until it forces you to ACT. I guarantee you will feel empowered just by taking that one small action.

Remember, “Inaction creates nothing. Action creates success.” – Stephen Richards

 

Watch for Part II:  The Case Study.

Being the Most Qualified Does Not Guarantee You the Job!

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Have you ever left an interview feeling you nailed it quite well that you would be offered the job? You wait for days (or weeks) only to hear you didn’t. I am sure you have, and it’s not a nice feeling.

The US elections are over. One candidate got hired; the other got fired, and for those of us who follow politics, we are wondering what happened. That conversation was what dominated the group coaching class with the women in my Let’s GROW Project today. One woman commented that the most qualified person did not get the job. I chimed in that 46.9% of eligible voters did not vote. Another spoke of places where people do not have the opportunity to vote. The discussion provided a segue into why being the most qualified candidate does not necessarily guarantee you the job.

Here is how the group drew an analogy with the results of the US elections and a job interview. Two candidates were shortlisted for the position and were going to be interviewed by a panel of the American public. One had a very impressive resume. She had 30+ years of experience in politics as First Lady of a state; First Lady of the United States, Senator and Secretary of State. She also had testimonials and references from high profile colleagues and celebrities. All that would easily make her a shoe-in for the job.

The other candidate didn’t have any of that. He touted himself as a businessman, and an outsider to the Washington establishment. Despite publicly passing incendiary remarks, and refusing to follow protocol, it did not stop him from getting the job. How did that happen? Answers to that question will vary, depending on which side of the political fence one is on. However, from a job search perspective we could examine the role that personal branding, messaging and the halo effect might have played:

Personal Branding and Messaging

One candidate branded herself as the one with the experience, a steady hand and an even keel temperament. She cited her many success stories and had proof that backed them up. Many on the interview panel (the electorate) believed her. In fact, she won the popular vote, but because of how the Electoral College works, she did not get the job. What went wrong? Was it her brand? Did people buy into the narrative that she was untrustworthy? What about her messaging? Was it clear to her audience that she understood their pain?

The other candidate branded himself as the outsider; the businessman who could turn around Washington. He pointed to his business successes and his ability to ‘swing deals’. Although that is debatable, it was enough to convince a good part of the electorate that he was the best person for the job. He showed himself as an astute marketer, ripping right into the heart of their core beliefs – that the status quo needed a shake up; that the other candidate was a part of the establishment and was going to offer more of the same. His messaging was effective enough where his negatives didn’t matter to his constituents.

The Halo Effect

The halo effect, as described in Wikipedia, “is a cognitive bias in which an observer’s overall impression of a person, company, brand, or product influences the observer’s feelings and thoughts about that entity’s character or properties.” This means, many on the interview panel could have been influenced positively or negatively by their perception of each candidate. If that were the case, their minds were already made up. Regardless of what the candidates said from thereon, they latched on to their first impression of each candidate.

  1. Not too many of us aspire to be a head of state, but we are very often invited to interviews. In preparing for an interview, what could we learn from the results of the US elections?
  2. A resume might not be enough. An impressive resume, LinkedIn Profile (with its many testimonials), and high profile celebrity references might not be enough to get hired. Go beyond those, and think of what additional value you have to offer. Determine if your 30+ years of experience is an asset or a liability, and will it help or hurt your chances?
  3. Branding is not just for companies. It is common these days to speak about one’s ‘personal brand’. This is a blend of people’s perception of you and how you see yourself. Are they congruent, or, do people characterize you as someone different from who you really are? One way to find out is to complete a 360 assessment. These are easily available from a variety of sources, including the 360 Reach Branding Assessment.
  4. Authenticity is a key part of your branding. Be yourself. Highlight the skills, knowledge and strengths that make you unique. Showcase yourself in a way that feels natural to you, yet capture the attention of the hiring manager. You need to ensure that your brand is received positively by the people thinking of hiring you.
  5. First impression matters. You should strive to make a good first impression. Extend your research beyond that of the company and to the people who will be a part of the interview panel. Don’t know who they are? Find out, then conduct a Google search. What you discover could serve as a conversation opener and rapport builder instead of having to discuss the weather.
  6. Messaging is important. Your message should be tailored to the needs of the employer. You need to articulate your success stories in a way that convinces the employer you understand their needs, know where their pain points are, and that you “can fix it”(according to one of the election candidates).
  7. Monitor your social media footprints. Most employers conduct a search on candidates before inviting them to an interview. Make sure you do the same. Do a Google search on yourself to see if there are any negative or unsavoury mentions about you, and clear them up as quickly as you can.

It hurts when you were not hired for the job you were sure you would get. You know in your heart that you have the right qualifications, skills and experience. You did all that you could do, but the decision making was not under your control. Don’t beat upon yourself too much and never stop believing in you and your capabilities. “Take a deep breath, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again”, said Frank Sinatra. This might not be easy. It could take days for you to come to terms with what happened, but life goes on and so should you.

What other tips would you offer to someone who is feeling dejected because of a lost job opportunity?