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Resume Writing Strategies That Haven’t Changed

It’s International Women’s Day…So What?

International Women’s Day 2019

Normally, I would have a blog post ready to deploy on International Women’s Day, but busyness caught up with me this week, so I am late to the party. As the saying goes, “Better late than never”!

Now, the title of this post could’ve turned you off. Could’ve had you thinking that I am trivializing the Day. Not at all.

It is International Women’s Day all over the world, so what? What’s the difference with the other 364 days? For 24 hours we will be wishing each other Happy International Women’s Day, but will it be business as usual tomorrow, probably lowering our heads, drooping our shoulders and being sorry for ourselves? I don’t think so. We are better than this!

If it’s the former, let’s change that, starting with the narrative in our own heads. The stories we tell ourselves to keep us down instead of allowing us to flourish: “I can’t; I am going to fail; I am not good enough.”

With that out of the way, let me begin by wishing all the women in my circle, and by extension, all women around the world a Happy International Women’s Day. You are awesome! Keep doing your good works, whether it’s quietly behind the scenes, or in the limelight. It’s not what or how much you do, it’s the impact you are making in the lives of others. Let that sink in!

Having said that, allow me to give all of us a pep talk, because we are more than enough, we can, and we will, and we are not going to fail. Not if we support each other. Not if we amplify each other’s voices; not if we commit to being ‘brag buddies’ for each other.

The Past is Gone, Embrace What’s Coming

Don’t be defined by your past; learn the lessons and move on. It doesn’t make sense to continue staring at the closed door when windows of opportunities are passing you by.

Don’t Fall for the Little Four-Letter Word “QUIT”

When it gets difficult, and you feel like giving up, rest, but don’t ever quit. Be tenacious; don’t back away. A Quitter never wins!

You Can and You Will

Surround yourself with other women who are on a positive pathway, and ditch those who seek to hold you back; those who see limitations; those who dare to tell you that you can’t.

Be You! All the Others Are Already Taken

You are unique! You were not made to be who or what somebody else wants you to be. You were made to be you. If you’re ever going to become all you can be, you must refuse to be defined by others.

Shameless Plug

Don’t be ashamed to toot your own horn. If you don’t, no one will know you are coming. You don’t need anyone’s permission to root for yourself. And while you’re at it, root for the other women around you, too.

Don’t Allow Anyone to Write Your Story

Some people will try to minimize you and your accomplishments. Don’t allow it! Gather every ounce of confidence you can muster and speak up for yourself. Claim your space!

Make Space at the Table for One More…

Some of us keep success to ourselves on the premise that there’s not enough room at the table; that the ladder does not have more space. We need to support each other. Let’s stop bashing and backbiting one another. Don’t pledge support, then complain or criticize when another woman pulls up a chair to sit at the table. There’s always one more space for one of us. Let’s be welcoming.

Collaborate, not Compete

Let’s work together and become better allies to, and for each other. Let’s adopt the Ubuntu mindset that says “I am Because We Are.”

Get Rid of Imposter Syndrome Mentality

Every time the beast of imposter syndrome takes a grip on you, whisper the mantra “Why not me?”

Think about “This time next year…”

March 8th may be International Women’s Day, but there are still another 364 days for us to blossom, and grow. Ask yourself right now, “This time next year, where will I be?”

Think about that!

Happy International Women’s Day!

12 Productivity Hacks for Very Busy People (Coaches, Job Seekers & Entrepreneurs)

Photo by Tomas Yates on Unsplash

“Don’t be Busy. Be Productive!”

That’s a line I read recently, and it caused me to stop and think. Sometimes we deceive ourselves in thinking that being productive is tantamount to being busy, or vice versa.

In fact, when we think of productivity, we tend to focus on volume: how many boxes of widgets passed through the conveyor belt, for example.

What if we start thinking of productivity as making better use of our time?As a career coach, and almost a Jill-of-all-trades in my business, it’s important that I find tools that, not only help me become more productive, but tools I can share with clients to help them do the same.

Recently, I attended and presented at CANNEXUS, Canada’s largest career development conference. While my presentation was initially billed as 19+ Productivity Hacks Career Practitioners Should Know (the number 19 reflecting the year – 2019 – as well as the conference’s hashtag – #Cannexus19), I ended up sharing more than 30 productivity tools.

While I did not use all 30, many are tools I use fairly often. For example, the Way Back Machine is one I often use when I need to see what was on my website, say 4 years ago. It is so good that now and again I make a small donation so it will continue running.

One attendee at my session at the conference sent an email that said, “My director is overjoyed with your slides!  He used the Way Back Machine, and found information on our archives that was lost for 20 years and no one could recover it!  All of Senior Management is now using the Way Back Machine and it’s all thanks to you! 

In this article, I am sharing 12 of those hacks for anyone who wants to increase their productivity, or at least, check them out. (Most are free, and some have an option to upgrade).

Way Back Machine

As mentioned above, if you are looking for the contents of a website that no longer exists, or whose information has changed, save time by using Way Back Machine. It contains 20+ years of web history.

Unroll.me

Have too many email subscriptions? Use Unroll.me to unsubscribe from those you no longer want to receive.

Coschedule Analyzer

Need an irresistible Blog Headline? Coschedule Headline Analyzer is your friend. Type your text and click Analyze. It will evaluate and give a score. Any Headline with a score of 70+ (or is coloured green), is considered good.

Get Pocket

Get Pocket is another must-have. Save articles, videos and stories from any publication, page or app to read later.

Do Nothing for 2 Minutes

Have you been on online, or on your devices for too long? Need a short break from your routine? Take a 2-minute break with Do Nothing for 2 Minutes. You cannot cheat with this one. If you touch your laptop or device, it asks you to start over!

Flipboard

Flipboard is a news-reading App that gathers articles and delivers them to your device(s) as Smart Magazines.

Rescue Time

Want to track how long you spend online? RescueTime runs in the background on your computer / laptop. It tracks, and gives an accurate picture of the time you spend on applications and websites.

10 Times

10Times is a must-have! Want to look for events, conferences, tradeshows or meetups happening near to you? Download this App using your email, LinkedIn, Google or Facebook account.

24.me

24.me acts as a Personal Assistant that helps people boost their productivity. It handles one’s Calendar, To-Do List, Notes, etc.

Toodledo

Toodledo is slightly different from 24.me in that it tracks your habits, create structured outlines, collaborates with coworkers and family on projects, and will sync across all your devices.

Sharethrough

Sharethrough is similar to CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer. It offers a Quality Score as well as suggestions to increase your headline’s impact.

Google Keep

Google Keep lets you create notes and to-do lists that sync across your computer and phone or tablet. Computerworld has a good article on this App. Remember it’s Google; therefore if privacy is an issue, do your due diligence.

So there you are. Twelve time-saving tools, and there are more where these came from.

Have You Chosen Your WOTY Yet?

Courtesy Pixabay

Well, what if I made up the acronym, but it seems WOTY, aka Word-of-the-Year, is quite the craze these days. Some people are choosing to have a Word-of-the-Year instead of making lofty resolutions. Yesterday, I read a LinkedIn post by Melinda Gates (see link below), where she discussed the reasons she chooses a Word-of-the-Year instead of making resolutions, and Wow! did I resonate with that? I have found that have just one word keeps me focused.

I started this practice in 2016, when my WOTY was BELIEVE. In 2017, it was TRUST, and in 2018, it was COURAGE. Not only did COURAGE serve me well during the year, but in February, one month after I had chosen the word, I was looking through photographs of children needing sponsorships through World Vision, and my eyes locked on to this little boy. When I began reading his bio, I discovered his name was/is COURAGE! Without hesitation I selected him, and now I have a human reminder of my 2018 WOTY.

With COURAGE, I stepped out of my comfort zone, and attempted and accomplished many things in 2018. While most of what I attempted worked out, some didn’t, but rather than feeling disappointed and disillusioned, I learned to find a YES hidden in the NO’s.

This year I won’t have a WOTY. Instead, I have chosen a theme: #WhyNotMe. This will not be just about me, but will be all-inclusive. As I work with clients this year, I will challenge them to ask themselves the question “Why Not Me?” when faced with doubts and fears about their capabilities. They should ask themselves “Why Not Me?” every time they are preparing for a job interview, going for that promotion that always seems elusive, capturing their value when developing their resumes, or when they are thinking of starting the side hustle they have put off for so long. Ask that question E.V.E.R.Y.T.I.M.E!

I want to challenge them to step up to the plate when that pesky little inner voice keeps telling them to step down; when the naysayers in their network keep telling them in words and deeds that they are not good enough. When they start second-guessing themselves, they should ask “Why Not Me?”

If you would like to get a taste of what my #WhyNotMe Movement looks like, join me, and the other women who have already registered for the event. It will be held at the Peel Art Gallery Museum & Archives (PAMA) in the heart of downtown Brampton on January 12th. In case you didn’t know, since 2010, the second Saturday of January has been designated National Vision Board Day.

Not only will you be meeting me (if you haven’t already), but you will also meet three phenomenal speakers: – Alicia, Shelly and Taranum – who were a part of my Vision 2018 event last January, and who kindly agreed from then, that they would join me on this journey this year.

If you are ready to own your worth and express your worthiness in your career, life or business;

If you are ready for growth and change, or you know someone who does;

Share this link #WhyNotMe Dream Factory with them.

Here’s what they can expect:

  • Have access to a number of tools and resources that will help them re-shape their dreams, overcome obstacles, and get on a path to achieving their goals.
  • Link arms with a supportive group of smart, committed women who are ready to realize their dreams in 2019.
  • Get opportunities to network, get support, and give support.
  • Meet their next group of friends and colleagues to hold them accountable as they progress through the year.
  • And, Surprise! Surprise! Every attendee will receive a very SPECIAL GIFT, that will last a lifetime, guaranteed!

Ready to join the women who have already registered for the event? Register here >> #WhyNotMe Dream Factory. Not for you this time around, kindly share the link as others have done.

Links:

Melinda Gates WOTY

National Vision Board Day

I Am Raising My Fees…

…because the last time I had a raise was in 2013. But, that’s not the only reason. A lot has happened since.

In addition to being a Certified Career Management Coach, I have since earned the CELDC (Certified Executive Leadership Development Coach), as well as the CCDP (Certified Career Development Practitioner) designations. Not to speak of my Certified Resume Strategist designation.

In short, I have learned and grown professionally by investing hundreds of hours thousands of dollars in myself.

It is true that certification validates the work I do, but client success also count. When I collaborate with clients who want to change careers, advance to better and higher-paying jobs and increase their earning potential, and they achieve their goals, or they gain clarity on how to move their career forward, then their success becomes mine.

I have also realized that valuing myself and the work that I do, doesn’t take anything away from anyone else.

A gentleman contacted me for services recently. After I explained how my process works, he asked, “Any possibility to reduce the fee?” I asked him if he had plans when he goes for the interview to ask that they reduce his salary. He paused, then said he didn’t.

Much like job seekers who are hesitant to ask for a raise or negotiate a higher salary, some career coaches and practitioners do not feel comfortable raising their fees either.

Many of us think we will lose out on clients when that happens, and that may be true. But, there is an upside. It frees us up to embrace the value-minded client who is willing to invest time and money into him or herself.

My colleague Dorothy Vernon-Brown said in a recent newsletter that she was listening to 2015 Entrepreneur of the Year, Bassem Ghali the other day, when he said “As much as we want to sell to everyone and make them happy, we can’t. We have to filter out those who can’t afford our product or service and stick to those who can.”

That might sound harsh to the ears, but I agree with the statement. We cannot serve everyone who comes knocking. What I usually do is to recommend specific individuals, depending on the potential client’s needs, or suggest they reach out to others in my career community who might be a better fit.

One measurement of my success (and I confess I don’t succeed every single time), is the fact that I am making a contribution and helping my clients grow, and their testimonials speak for themselves. On November 17, I received an email from an executive I worked with six or so years ago. He said:

“The last time you assisted me with my resume, I was told it was the best they had ever seen.

It is once again that time for me to seek another opportunity.

I have expanded my knowledge base, designations, and experience.

When can we meet?”

Yes, he has expanded his knowledge, earned designations, added more experience, and now he is ready for a new opportunity, and a raise.

A woman in Edmonton who I coached a year ago, wrote me on November 29, to say “You helped me with getting the project management role with the government.

I am writing with some good news and a request. Good news is, I have been on my role for over a year and I have enjoyed it immensely. I was even  scouted by one of the directors to work on a different role on a temporary basis with the possibility of a permanent, more intense role. 

So here I am four months in, and now the possibility to apply  to the job full-time has presented itself to me and my new boss has encouraged me to apply for the opportunity. 

As the role is a highly competitive one, I am seeking your help again.”

I am proud of the work I do, and am equally proud of the clients who I have worked with, and who have gained some level of success.

As I pondered my decision to raise my fees, I thought that if I were working in the corporate world, I would’ve received several salary increases since 2013.

Therefore, for the reasons stated above, I know I deserve a raise, and will be implementing my new fees in the New Year.

I am always ready and willing to work with anyone who is committed to investing in their future.

Life and Work Getting You Down? Call a Career Coach

Concept image of a lost and confused signpost against a blue cloudy sky.

You can’t reach the top of your game all by yourself. Just as sporting champions benefit from the wisdom and guidance of their coaches, so can you in your working career.

~ Robert Half Career Coaching Guide

Once upon a time coaching was exclusive to business executives, actors, athletes, professional speakers, and entertainers. These experts hire coaches to help them assess their strengths and weaknesses, keep them motivated and support them as they work toward fulfilling their goals and dreams. You might not fall into any of those categories, but that does not mean you couldn’t benefit from coaching. If you are experiencing any or all of the following symptoms you might want to consider a career coach:

  • You are standing at a crossroads in your career and need help identifying the right direction
  • You are dissatisfied with your job, but not sure what to do next
  • You Lack confidence and have been passed over for promotions or other job opportunities
  • You are not getting interviews, and when you do, you are not moving on to the next stage

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a woman who has been in a career rut for a few years. Her career includes working in marketing and advertising with some well-known brands in Toronto. She also had a stint in television. Now she is ‘stuck’. At the end of our exploratory conversation, I asked her, “So, how can I help you? She said, “Ugh, I thought you would tell me.” I explained to her that coaching isn’t about telling someone what to do – it’s asking the right question to help the person gain clarity and come up with his or her own answers.

At the end of the conversation, I thought about this common misconception that people have about career coaching. A career coach cannot look into a crystal ball and tell a client what to do. It’s a collaborative process. The client explains the challenge they face, and where they might need the most help. The coach listens, prods, listens some more, advises, provides resources and keeps the client accountable.

Of course, it’s not easy to get out of a rut. Sometimes the journey starts off on the right foot but at some point the wheel falls off. Life gets in the way sometimes, but most times it’s because of a lack of action; a firm commitment to doing the homework (assessments, assignments, quizzes), and participate fully in the process. At some point they  abandon the process and give up. Giving up shouldn’t be an option if one really desires to get out of a rut.

Author and Marketing expert Bill Connolly wrote an article in Entrepreneur titled Stop Planning Your Career and Take Action. In it he summarizes the story of Dr. Susan O’Malley, a cosmetic doctor and personal development expert who specializes in helping people transform their own obstacles into victory:

  • College-dropout who worked as a secretary
  • At age 39 she became a doctor. (The day she started medical school she was six months pregnant and single.)
  • Became an entrepreneur at age 50
  • At 63 she became a first-time author writing her book, Tough Cookies Don’t Crumble: Turn Set-Backs into Success

Dr. O’Malley did not waver, complain or give up when she was forced  into a middle age change. “She dove head first into her new path, realizing that ‘now’ was far better than ‘never’, said Connolly. She advises anyone in similar positions as she was to start with small risks and work your way up.

“Everybody is afraid at one time or another. Fear prevents us from taking risks and stepping outside our comfort zone. All the stars will never be aligned perfectly and sometimes you have to make a decision with what you have.”

Anyone who realizes they are in a rut (career or otherwise), and wants a change, should take  action. Don’t leave such an important decision to happenstance. Once the decision is made, keep calm and carry on. Giving up should never be an option.

If you are feeling demoralized; if you find yourself at a plateau, and if you lack confidence, you might want to consider career coaching. A career coach can boost your confidence and give you a competitive edge.

 

What You Need to Know About Job References – Part III

yes-238381_1280_DaisyWright

This is the final of the three-part series on Job References. The first part of this article looks at how to handle negative references, and the latter part contains a list of 18 questions that job references could be asked by potential employers.

How to Handle Negative Job References

Most employers know that people are not perfect and that work relationships sour. However, if something had happened at any of your jobs that could potentially put you in a bad light, you should be ready, if asked, to explain the highs and lows in each of those positions. This is not the time to badmouth the boss, ex-boss or anyone else. If the relationship was not all that great, say so, but frame it in a way that’s open and honest. Here is a suggestion:

“I am not sure what George at The Widget Company would say about me at this point since he wasn’t too happy when I resigned. After three years in the department, I was bypassed for a promotion and asked to train the new hire. I decided it was time to explore other opportunities and so I left for the position with ABC Company. That position represented not only a hike in salary, but the responsibilities were exactly what I was looking for. As you can see, I excelled in that role and was promoted within 12 months of joining the company.”

If you are willing to be transparent and authentic, and discuss the situation candidly while focusing on lessons learned, you could end up being a better reference for yourself than anyone else could.

Questions Your References May be Asked

In an article in the Globe and Mail, a job seeker asked, Why are references even required in this day and age when information about a candidate’s job history and accomplishments can be found online…?” Great question, but as mentioned in the earlier series, it is very costly to make the wrong hire. Therefore, employers look for honest answers, not only during the interview but when they contact your job references. Make sure your references are prepared in advance.

The following questions represent a sample of what your references may be asked. While there are no guarantees, knowing what these questions are ahead of time will put you in a better position to advise your references on what they may be asked:

  1. Can you verify candidates date of employment, title, dates and role?
  2. Is the candidate eligible for rehire? Why or Why Not?
  3. Did the candidate go above and beyond what was required?
  4. What are their strong points? Areas for improvement?
  5. Is there anything else you can add about the candidate, or that I should consider before we hire?
  6. What was she like to work with?
  7. How did she handle conflict?
  8. To what extent was she perceived to be a team player?
  9. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the candidate?
  10. Describe the candidate’s day-to-day responsibilities on the job
  11. What kind of situation would you not hesitate to put the candidate in? What kind of situation would give you pause?
  12. Provide an example of how the candidate raises the bar for herself and for those around her.
  13. If you could create the perfect work environment for the candidate, what would it look like?
  14. What kind of development plan was communicated to the candidate and how did he respond?
  15. How would you describe his interpersonal skills?
  16. What would you say motivated her most?
  17. Why did the candidate leave?
  18. Could the candidate have stayed if he had wanted to?

While your job references will not be asked all of the above questions, it is important that you, the job candidate, familiarize yourself with them and share them with your job references. The answers they give could be what stands between you landing the job or being bypassed.

A final thought on references: When asking someone to act as a reference, pay attention to their response. If they were slow to respond, or appeared lukewarm, this could be a warning sign. Select someone else. It’s better to have someone who is enthusiastic about speaking on your behalf than someone whose lack of enthusiasm could land you at the bottom of the list for consideration.

25 Random Quotes from Women That Will Inspire You

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

PS: I thank my daughter for putting these quotes to create this infographic. She, too, is awesome!!!

International Women's Day Quotes_2016

 

You Are the CEO of Your Career: Take Charge!

CEO or chief executive officer text on black block

As the New Year looms, some people are rethinking their career strategy. Competition, layoffs and uncertainty are forcing them to assess themselves to see how they can take charge of their careers.

A chief operating officer of a financial company and a director at one of the Big Four consulting firms contacted me recently. They were looking for guidance as they plan for the year ahead. The director has already started to lay out her 3 to 5-year plan. She is planning to pursue an EMBA, and has her eyes on a very senior position. Although she has a mentor whom she meets with once per month, she is also looking for a sponsor to help her advance. At the time, I thought to myself: how many people really map out a 3 to 5-year plan in such an unpredictable job market?

The initiative taken by these two individuals is not new. Some people do this, particularly at the start of a new year. But, there are others who invest more time and money on vacation plans than they do on their careers. If your goal in 2016 is to take charge and become the CEO of your career, consider the following:

#1 TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR CAREER

“There is one person that has responsibility for your career, and that is YOU.” ~ Carla Harris, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley (@CarlaannHarris)

There are many people who believe that their HR departments or their bosses are the ones responsible for their career progression. Not anymore. Your career trajectory is your responsibility. That’s the reason you must begin to see yourself as a take-charge CEO, and map out a career strategy.

#2 TREAT YOUR CAREER AS A BUSINESS

“Manage your career as if it were a start-up business because traditional job security is a thing of the past.” ~Reid Hoffman, Cofounder of LinkedIn and coauthor of the book, The Start-Up of You. (@ReidHoffman)

Even though you may be an employee, in order for you to compete in the freelance economy, you need to think and act like an entrepreneur. Get out of your comfort zone and take risks. Invest your time (and money if necessary), to get your ‘business’ off the ground. Think in terms of the value you could create for your employer. What new skills could you learn that would make you more marketable? Start thinking that you are in the business of marketing and selling product YOU!

#3 BUILD YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE

More and more HR professionals are turning to the internet to seek out information about candidates, including social media profiles, personal websites and blogs. ~ The Undercover Recruiter (@Undercoverrec)

Social media is an equal opportunity platform, and does not require a PhD to participate. This means anyone can use it to engage in conversations, demonstrate expertise, build credibility and gain visibility. Don’t be left out, especially as online interactions are becoming as meaningful as in real life. Keep in mind that hiring managers and recruiters frequently peruse LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools, to find candidates. It makes sense for you to develop and maintain a robust online presence to make sure you are discovered during these searches.

#4 PREPARE TO ADVANCE ON THE JOB

“Early in my career, I believed that career advancement was based solely on having a strong work ethic and solid performance results. While I still believe that there is no substitute for hard work and strong performance, what I learned over time is that being successful is also highly influenced through the learning that takes place and the exposure to new perspectives gained through mentoring relationships and building your networks.” Arie Ball, Vice President of Sourcing and Talent Acquisition at Sodexo, USA, and contributor to my book Tell Stories, Get Hired. (@Arie_Ball)

Years ago, it was assumed that longevity and hard work meant one would automatically climb the corporate ladder. The world has changed, and the career ladder is no longer a straight line. Sometimes a lateral move, or a step or two down could be steps in the right direction. It could also mean a chance to learn new skills, gain new perspectives change career focus, and become the CEO of your career.

#5 FIND A MENTOR AND A SPONSOR

“Both mentors and sponsors are important in maximizing career growth…Not only will sponsors and mentors believe in your potential when you are doubting yourself, but they will champion your successes, to open doors for your next big career move.” ~ Louise Pentland, Senior Executive & General Council at PayPal (@PayPal)

Why do you need both a mentor and a sponsor? A mentor gives advice, and can be someone inside or outside your company. A sponsor is someone internal to your organization who puts his or her career on the line for you. He or she can vouch for your work, and more importantly, has a seat at the decision-making table, so they can speak up passionately on your behalf. They can put a word in on why you should get the promotion or that next plum assignment.

“Sponsors are well-connected to the organization, and the industry, and have insider knowledge about opportunities (and threats). They are very much out in the open. They are visible supporters and champions of your career”, said Christine Brown-Quinn, author of Step Aside Super Woman: Career & Family is for Any Woman, and contributor to my book, Tell Stories Get Hired. (@FemaleCapital). Therefore, if you are interested in career progression, especially to the more senior levels, it’s career sponsorship that’s going to make that defining difference.

#6 NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK

“The key to all successful networking for job search is to build relationships first, ask for assistance second and offer to be of assistance always.” ~Unknown

You cannot avoid networking, no matter how distasteful the word sounds, so reject all its negative labeling. Networking is a series of connected relationships built up over time. It’s making personal connections, not bombarding people with your business card or elevator pitch. It’s getting to know people well enough before you begin asking for favours. Networking is about sharing: sharing of ideas and resources without expecting reciprocity. To become a better networker, get into the habit of scheduling specific time on your calendar to connect with people in your network.

#7 ENGAGE AND NURTURE PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIPS

“Dig your well before you are thirsty.” Harvey MacKay, Author & Leadership Guru. (@HarveyMacKay)

Since it is human nature to gravitate towards people we know, like and trust, you should regularly engage and nurture the professional relationships you have developed. Don’t wait until you are in a rut to connect with them. In fact, it’s not beneficial to contact your network only when you are in need of help. Keep in touch with them frequently, and always ask questions such as, “How can I help you? Who can I introduce to you?” When you nurture your network, you will be on top of their minds for opportunities.

#8 INVESTIGATE OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE

“Consider volunteering one hour each week to a cause that pulls at your heart strings. Make a habit of volunteering and you will make a world of difference.” Christopher Kai, author of Big Game Hunting: Networking with Billionaires, Executives and Celebrities. (@UnleashtheKai)

Many people frown when they hear about volunteering. They believe that because they are not being paid, it is useless work. But, volunteering is one way to take charge of your career. It strengthens your leadership and interpersonal skills. It gives you an opportunity to meet new people, take on high profile assignments, and in general, do excellent work. These days, many corporations encourage volunteerism among their employees. This is beneficial on two fronts. First, the employee is participating in a worthy cause, and second, the company is demonstrating good corporate citizenship.

The above points will help you on your journey of becoming the CEO of your career. Are you ready?

Related posts:

Reflections, Resolutions, Goal-Setting & Action

Ditch Your Resolutions, Set Smart Goals

Layoffs – Not all Doom and Gloom: 7 Tips to Cushion the Blow

Layoffs_Again

As I listened to the message, the woman’s tone was one of panic and confusion. “I have just been laid off after 20 years at the same job. I received a severance package, but I am in my mid fifties and will need to continue working. I never took any additional training all these years, and don’t have a clue how to conduct a job search. Can you help me?”

Several questions starting with “Why…, What… and How…?”, raced through my mind, but I banished them very quickly, because it wasn’t the time to be self-righteous. She was in a serious crisis, and needed a listening ear.

Conversely, I was recently contacted by two senior management professionals, one was a referral from a client, and the other found me online. In both cases, changes are taking place in their respective companies, and they have an inkling that layoffs are imminent. Although both believe there could be internal opportunities, they are not taking any chances. They are being proactive and are making plans for what may or may not happen. After all, it’s better to hope for the best, but for the worst.

Layoffs happen quite frequently, and no one ever gets used to it. Falling oil prices have led to massive layoffs in the Canadian energy industry. Rogers Communications recently eliminated several hundred middle management positions as part of its revitalization plan. And recently, Microsoft announced it would be laying off 7,800 of its employees from its phone division. This is enough for any employee or job seeker to be terrified.

The truth is, downsizing, rightsizing, restructuring, or whatever other name it is called, is a way of life in today’s economy. When it’s time to restructure, years of service and loyalty will not guarantee anyone a position in a revitalized organization.

But, it’s not all doom and gloom. If by some misfortune you are laid off, there are several strategies you can use to cushion the blow and minimize its impact:

  1. Give yourself permission to be angry. Don’t bottle up your feelings. Anger, as long as it’s not misplaced, could have a healing effect. However, do not vent at work or with coworkers or your boss. Such behaviour could be construed as negative and unprofessional; could damage relationships, and thwart your chances of getting a good reference. Find a safe place where you can let off the steam.
  2. Get support. Find a trustworthy person who will listen to you, and give you some good advice. Stay away from anyone who is inclined to help you bash the company or your boss as this is counter-productive.  There might also be free and fee-based resources within your community you could explore to see if they can help you find a new career path.
  3. Engage in self-care. This is an opportunity for you to put yourself first. This is not the time to beat upon yourself and question your ability or self-worth. Take that long-awaited vacation to clear your head and develop strategies to help you bounce back. Use this time to redirect your energy into something productive. Get some exercise, or just relax.
  4. Spotlight your assets. Turn this negative experience into something positive. Begin by spotlighting your assets. What are you good at? What have you accomplished? What awards, recognitions and comments have you received from your supervisor, coworkers and customers? Write out an inventory of your transferable skills that could benefit another employer. All of these are your assets – documented evidence that validate your capabilities – and will help you when you are ready to craft your résumé.
  5. Review your résumé and online profiles. A one-size-fits-all résumé will not work in today’s competitive job environment, neither will an incomplete LinkedIn Profile. The résumé needs to be strategic, and oozing with value. This takes time as you will need to assess all of your skills, attributes and achievements, and determine how to showcase them in a way that differentiates you from your competitors. Your online profiles are also essential pieces of your marketing.
  6. Remember this phrase: “This too shall pass”. What you are feeling now is real, but it won’t last forever. Sometimes a layoff is just the prescription you need to propel you to action. Ask yourself some soul-searching questions: “Is it time for me to retool, brush up on my skills or go back to school to gain additional skills? Do I have what it takes to start a business? What do I really enjoy doing, and should I be exploring this as a career option?”
  7. Maintain a positive attitude. The road to a successful job search, especially in such a competitive job market, is paved with disappointments and frustrations, but don’t give up. Tap into your network; join a support group like a job-finding club, engage in social media groups and networking activities that will put you in touch with people who can offer assistance. Be cautious when introduced to other people’s networks, as you don’t want to begin asking ‘strangers’ for help before they get to know you, and vice versa.

These seven tips are not all-inclusive, neither are they meant to trivialize the emotional impact, but they are steps in the right direction to help you deal with a layoff.

Related links:

Plan Ahead Before the Layoff Axe Falls (first published on Job-Hunt.org)

Got Laid Off? So What?

Microsoft Layoffs