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What’s the Matter With Older Workers 45+?

You might be tempted to ask, “What’s the matter with older workers, 45+?”, and the answer will depend on who you ask. We don’t really need a survey to tell us what we already know – that many older workers are sidelined for job opportunities because of their age. And the excuses by hiring managers are many: They are too set in their ways; hesitant to learn new technologies, and difficulty fitting in with a multigenerational workforce. Not all of that is true!

The non-profit organization Generation commissioned a global survey to provide an in-depth view of individuals aged 45–60 who are seeking or working in entry-level and intermediate roles. In an interview on a McKinsey podcast titled, The Economic Impact of Ageism, Mona Mourshed, founding CEO of Generation offered some key insights from the survey. 

  • Midcareer workers 45+ and older who looking for entry-level to intermediate positions are struggling!
  • Older mid-career workers make up the bulk of the long-term unemployed in many countries and they face growing barriers to finding good jobs. Average length of time to find a job for 45+ individuals in Canada and USA is 27 weeks.
  • Midcareer individuals across the world are finding it harder to get jobs—despite rising calls to address inequality and advance social justice.
  • People age 45+ face persistent and rising pressure in the global job market. They are unemployed for much longer and their age is one of the greatest barriers to their finding a job.
  • Those from underrepresented communities face even greater barriers. They engage in 53 percent more interviews in order to get a job offer.
  • Hiring managers have a strong perception bias against 45+. They believe that members of this age cohort have poor skills and low adaptability. They strongly favour job candidates aged 35-44 over 45+ individuals. They believe that this younger age group outperforms the 45+ cohort in every area of evaluation – application readiness, experience and ‘fit’. According to hiring managers, this age group has well-prepared documents and portfolios, offer good referrals and do well in interviews.
  • Hiring managers cite three top concerns regarding age 45+ job candidates: their reluctance to try new technologies, inability to learn new skills, and difficulty working with coworkers of a different generation.
  • Although hiring managers may express bias against 45+ individuals, those same employers acknowledge that once they hire people over 45, those same workers (87 percent), perform on the job just as well as or even better than their peers who are a decade younger.
  • Employers value reputable training and credentialing. Individuals 45+ who have successfully switched careers regard training as being important to securing their new jobs. By contrast, 45+ individuals whose job prospects would most benefit from training, are often especially hesitant to undertake training.
  • Of those who switched careers, 74 percent say attending training helped them to secure their new position.
  • Hiring managers are calling for higher levels of education, behavioural skills, tech skills, and technical or job-specific skills, and they are more often requiring work experience for entry-level positions.
  • Tech roles lead the increase in job requirements.
  • Candidates face more job-screening methods than they did one to two years ago, including background checks, skills and personality tests, group panel interviews, candidate presentations and drug tests.
  • The 45+ who need the training the most to get a job are the most hesitant to pursue it.
  • The 45+ who have successfully switched professions believe that training has been central to their ability to do so, and employers agree.
  • National statistics (Canada, Singapore, Spain and the United States) show that 45+ and 50+ individuals have consistently made up 40-70 percent of the long-term unemployment since 2015.

How Can Hiring Managers Rectify Interview Inequities?

Based on the survey, employers and hiring managers have a lot of work to do. They should address interview inequities and treat it as a top priority. Even when they do hire 45+ individuals. Their biases tend to survive despite their experience to the contrary.

“Like attracts like” is often said. Of the hiring managers in the survey, 39 percent were 35-44 (while 33 percent were 18-34 and 28 percent were 45+).

Some 45+ also share the blame; it’s not just hiring managers.  are not the only ones to be

Recommendations from the Survey:

As the survey states, no single action will solve the challenges uncovered by our survey. Deep-seated societal issues and attitudes lie at the heart of age-based biases, and they will take time to address.

National governments and global multilaterals can publish short-and long-term unemployment statistics with narrower age brackets.

More often than not, global data sets assembled by multilateral organizations combine a wide span of ages into a single bracket—typically 25–74 or 25–54—on which they report short- and long-term employment and unemployment outcomes. This sprawling aggregation of data results obscures the unique issues faced by the age 45+ population, making their plight much harder to track.

Practitioners and policymakers can link training programs directly to employment opportunities, and provide stipends, to support 45+ individuals who are hesitant to train.

Midcareer switchers overwhelmingly say that training enabled them to shift to a new career trajectory. But for the segment of the 45+ population who are hesitant to undertake training, employers should take into account the time and money that they probably cannot afford.

Employers can change hiring practices to get a clearer view of potential 45+ candidate talent.

Shift from a traditional resume-centered interview to an interview process that enables 45+ candidates to show their skills through demonstration-based exercises.

Pay attention to the “Like attracts like” factor. Of the hiring managers in the survey, 39 percent were 35-44 (while 33 percent were 18-34 and 28 percent were 45+).

Employers can rethink current approaches to make it easier to fill new and revamped roles with existing 45+ employees, instead of relying solely on new hires.

Success in reskilling 45+ employees will demand deeper reflection and concerted action by employers to overcome age-based biases within their own organization.

While there is enough blame to go around, some 45+ workers need to become proactive and embrace training as the new rule of the job search road, especially since forecasts suggest that one-third of all jobs worldwide will be transformed by technology. 

As the survey states, older workers are capable of adapting and switching careers and mastering new roles but they cannot meet all their challenges alone. Employers and policymakers need to take steps to counter the rampant ageism.

Finally, keep in mind that older workers are our friends, neighbours, and parents. Do we seize the compelling opportunity they offer, or abandon them to lives of quiet desperation and long-term unemployment?

_________________

Sources:

Meeting the World’s Midcareer Moment (www.generation.org

Download a copy of Generation’s Report: Meeting-the-Worlds-Midcareer-Moment-July-2021).

Download Kick Ageism to the Curb-Your Career Isn’t Over_Crowd-sourced Resource, a resource compiled by this author with contributions from a number of career coaches: 

McKinsey’s Podcast: The Economic Impact of Ageism (https://mck.co/3ERQB5H)

 

What Do You Do When You Didn’t Get the Job?

“After careful consideration, we have decided to pursue another candidate…”

How many times have you received an email that said something like that? What was your first response? Did you:

  • Throw your cell phone on the wall?
  • Hit your laptop so hard, some of the keys flew off?
  • Hang your head in shame muttering what’s the matter with you?
  • Call your coach to talk it through?
  • Write a follow-up email with a call-to-action?

I hope you chose the last one – wrote a follow-up call-to-action email – even if you tried some of the others.

Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich said:

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”

There is truth in that quote: every failure carries the seed of an equal or greater benefit.

Consider one of my client’s experience: She had an interview for a communications specialist role after which she was asked to send a sample of her writing. They were impressed, so they sent her a writing assignment a few days later… and then she waited.

Two weeks passed and she received an email that said, in part “After careful consideration, we have decided to pursue another candidate for this position whose skill-set matches more closely with our organizations requirements at this time.”

Yikes! After all that effort!

Let’s face it, it’ is not a pleasant feeling to receive such an email. Your first thought is to beat up on yourself or to blame someone or something. But, sometimes you just have to adopt the attitude that “it’s not over ‘til it’s over”. That’s the mindset my client eventually adopted.

She phoned one day to say she was “…trying to remain optimistic, but it’s becoming more difficult as the days passed.” We talked through her situation and one of the positive actions she took was to respond by thanking them for the update and letting them know that, although she was not the successful candidate, she was still interested in working for the company and would keep in touch. 

Several days ago, she received an email inviting her to another interview because the position was still open. None of us know the real reason for the opening but it could be any of the following:

  • They made an offer that was declined,
  • Their preferred candidate didn’t work out, or
  • They decided to expand the team.

Whatever the reason, if my client had not followed up to reiterate her interest in working with the organization; if she had fired off an email to ‘tell them where to go’ with their job, or if she had just taken ‘No’ for answer, she wouldn’t have been offered the job.

Here is a part of her email that arrived in my Inbox on Family Day (of all the days):

Client Testimonial for Daisy Wright, The Wright Career Solution. Career Coaching, Interview Coaching

“I’m writing with good news! ______ Canada made the official offer. I signed the contract and I start work tomorrow! I’m really happy and excited to be starting this job.

I’ll write with more details about the job offer later, but I really want to thank you for all your support throughout my job search. Your advice and coaching helped me improve my interviewing skills – and become more confident – by identifying and sharing success stories that illustrate my skills and experience. I’m so glad my Google search for an interview coach led me to you! From the first time we chatted, I knew that your energy, enthusiasm and expertise was exactly what I was looking for.” 

Amen to that, but I can’t over-emphasize how much coaching is a collaboration. It’s having someone you can turn to when things get tough; someone who can help you clear the cobwebs that get in the way when you need clarity or someone who listens. This client initially hired me for interview coaching, but we continued working together.

If you ever receive a job rejection email, here are three tips to help you deal with it:

  1. Assess yourself. Reflect on the interview to see what went well, and look for opportunities where you need to grow.
  2. Be courteous. Refrain from bad-mouthing the interviewers. They were doing the job of trying to find the best candidate.
  3. Follow up with the interviewer. Sometimes the candidate they chose didn’t work out, but because of your professionalism and lack of bitterness, they could decide to offer you the position. You just never know.

Finally, here’s some advice I offer to clients and non-clients:

“If you hear “No” from an employer, it just means “No” from THAT employer. There are other opportunities on the horizon. Just push through the obstacles. There’s a “Yes” somewhere out there”. Don’t give up! There’s a job with your name on it somewhere.” 

Ready to have a career conversation? I am all ears. Give me a call or send me an email.

 

10 Ways to Support Your Career Coach & Resume Writer Colleagues During COVID19

www.thewrighcareer.com

As we brace for what will certainly become the ‘new normal’, the grim reality is that some businesses will thrive and some will not survive. Hopefully, those of us in the career space will be on the thriving end of things. Crisis tends to bring opportunities; we only need to look for them.

At the moment, many of us are engaged in activities aimed at supporting job seekers and our clients during this COVID19 crisis. There are free webinars and online courses on a wide array of career and job search topics, and based on comments I have heard and read, these actions are having a positive impact.

Amidst all of this, it occurred to me to ask the question, how are we doing as a career collective? What support do we have or need? What are some simple ways we could support each other (for free), during this time?

The ten tips on the attached image would be a great place to start. Are there others you could add?

Which career coach or professional resume writer could you reach out to today?

What Happened at Our Quarantine Networking Party

Unsplash

At the start of 2020, the beginning of a new year, and a new decade, many of us had had lofty plans, resolutions and goals, or whatever we chose to call them. A few months in, and COVID-19 has upended every facet of our lives. We are now reaching for some semblance of stability in a world of uncertainties. Some of the everyday things we once took for granted now have a deeper sense of purpose. Chief among these are the relationships between family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues. There seems to be an urgency to connect, of course within the #StayatHome restrictions.

Last Saturday night I decided to host a “Quarantine Networking Party” via Zoom with a few women from my Let’s GROW community. We hadn’t gotten together since January 11, and I thought it would be a good idea to schedule a quick check-in. What I thought would’ve lasted an hour, took two hours.

We opened with an upbeat rendition of Bob Marley’s One Love: “One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel alright.” What is striking about this is, I wanted to begin the get-together with something fun and upbeat. It wasn’t until one of the said out loudly, “Everything is gonna be alright!” (another of Bob’s songs), that I realized we were actually going to get together, and whatever happens post-COVID19, everything is going to be alright.

We took a few minutes to introduce or re-introduce ourselves and discussed how the evening would proceed. We then entered the breakout rooms where the aim was to go beyond the customary “How are you doing?” question and really dig deeper. This idea came from a Quartz article written by Elizabeth Weingarten of Ideas42.org. (Credit goes to my friend and supporter Kasindra Maharaj who shared the resource with me.)

In the article Weingarten says, “In this challenging moment, let’s move beyond “how are you doing?” and get more serious about the questions we’re asking our colleagues, friends, and family…It’s a matter of keeping our relationships strong and solvent during what may be a long stretch of healthy spacing ahead of us.”

Asking the right questions

In line with the article, I preselected a few of the questions to do just that – move beyond “how are you doing?” Each person was to choose any of the questions and discuss them in their group. The seven below is from an original list of 20:

  1. How are you taking care of yourself today?
  2. What part of your shelter-in-place residence have you come to appreciate the most?
  3. What surprising thing have you been stocking up on (that isn’t toilet paper)?
  4. What habit have you started, or broken, during the quarantine?
  5. Which specific place in your neighborhood are you most looking forward to visiting once this is all over?
  6. What’s the easiest part about the quarantine?
  7. What are some things you have realized that you don’t really need?
  8. “What problem—either yours, or something more global —do you wish you could solve?”

The Debrief

We regrouped for a debrief. We learned that someone in the group was recently laid off as a result of COVID-19, and two had been job hunting. Someone immediately shared a link to jobs in the GTA. The others of us are okay at this point. In view of the COVID-19 crisis, it was not surprising during the debriefing to hear comments such as:

  • Family is much more than “How are you?” Deeper conversations are taking place.
  • Nobody knows what the new normal will look like. It is scary in one respect, but exciting in another.
  • People seem to have become more collegial, and empathy and compassion are more evident. This is one thing we would want to see continue.
  • Remote work is here to stay. More employers are going to buy into the concept that remote work makes good business sense. Put another way, the toothpaste cannot be put back into the tube.
  • There is more communication between employers and employees, online meetings are more prevalent, and relationships overall seem to be much better.
  • Those deemed essential workers are garnering more respect. Not only those in health care, but train and bus operators, retail and grocery clerks, delivery drivers, etc. People are waking up to how important they are.
  • Some companies are demonstrating social responsibility by, not only keeping their staff pretty much intact, but also ensuring that PPEs get to some hard-to-reach northern communities.
  • Being laid off come with blessings, but the job search will continue
  • Virtual coffee chats and kitchen table bible study groups have been created.

The last question, “What problem—either yours, or something more global —do you wish you could solve?”, was reserved for the main discussion during the get-together. It was to put legs to a book idea I have been mulling over for my 2020 Let’s GROW theme. It was a question we agreed to contemplate beyond the meeting, but it provided a segue into a brief introduction of Ikigaki.

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that examines all areas of our lives that give us purpose and meaning. “Having a direction or purpose in life, that which makes one’s life worthwhile, and towards which an individual takes spontaneous and willing actions giving them satisfaction and a sense of meaning to life.”

The plan, moving forward, is to apply aspects of the Ikigai concept to our lives: What’s our passion and mission? What can we do in the space that we have? Who can we empower, inspire and motivate? What will our legacy look like, and how can we capture that legacy? Equally important, what are we learning, or what have we learned? How are we growing, or how have we grown?

That’s how we ended our quarantine party – with lots of food for thought, as we consider the book project and where it will take us. The coronavirus may have descended on us and created a lot of uncertainties, but all is not doom and gloom. Out of a crisis comes opportunities, and we need to seize the moment. That’s what the Let’s GROW 2020 project is going to do.

Your Breakthrough Might Just Be Around the Corner

Photo credit: Pixabay

Right now, you may be feeling discouraged for a number of reasons. You may have done more than your fair share of interviews without getting a job offer. Yikes!

You may have put all your effort into a project; it failed, and your expected promotion didn’t happen, or

You tried every networking strategy you were advised to use, and nothing happened!

You are now thinking “I have reached the end of my tether, and it’s time to give up.” My question would be “Give up, then what?”

Pixabay

June has been a breakthrough month for three women I have been working with. Their stories are different, but they had one thing in common: giving up was not an option.

Their names have been changed for confidentiality reasons:

[Sarah] contacted me several months ago. I have chosen to use a significant portion of her email to demonstrate the relentless way she was going about her search and the strategies she had been using:

  • In about a year, I’ve sent close to 150 resumes, very targeted in most cases. At some point I was applying to a lot of HR jobs but in the last 6 months I’ve been applying to only jobs that I want to do, and researching the companies before applying. 
  • Had approx. 90 phone interviews, 40-45 in-person interviews (1st round), 20 interviews in 2nd/3rd round, and in 5 cases I got to the final round.
  • I do reflect on what went well and not so well in all interviews, take notes, and prepare for other chances. Nevertheless I do welcome any new advice in this area.
  • I follow up when not selected, request feedback, try to reach out later to build a relationship… no luck with that. 
  • I’ve been trying to reach senior people at companies I want to work for, just to have informational interviews.  I send personalized requests, write to them, and follow up twice… not much luck. 
  • I’ve asked most people in my network to introduce me to potential hiring managers, and tell me about jobs in my chosen field. 
  • I also volunteer a lot, I’m super active on LinkedIn

So it’s not that I’m sitting passively and waiting for the phone to ring!  There must be something I could be doing differently….  some interview practice for manager-and-above roles would be beneficial too.”

You are probably thinking that you would’ve given up by this.

Sarah is highly qualified, with an MBA, PMP, and HR (CHRP), certifications. I concluded from her email that she was doing everything right, but I was puzzled by the lack of job offers.

In our conversation, I commended her for her tenacity, a trait that not many people have. She reiterated what was in the email, and I asked her if she had done any assessments. I wanted to get a holistic view at her situation. She said she had just completed a 360o Feedback at work, and it didn’t unearth anything she didn’t know about herself.

During the session, I quickly realized she had some great accomplishment stories. Her homework was to recall some of the questions she was asked and come back with several stories. We arranged to have another conversation a couple of weeks afterwards, to review her homework. After listening to some of her answers, I encouraged her to add more depth to the stories, and allow them to flow naturally.

She continued to get interviews. At one point, when I asked if she had followed up with one particular company, she responded in an email, “I suppose I should have followed up again with the hiring manager but with the discouragement of the rejection I didn’t have the energy to do so.”

I totally understood how she felt. However, weeks later an email arrived with the Subject Line: Good news! The message said, “I have great news to share with you – I got a new job!!!  I am starting June 17th. I’m super excited about it!!!!

She followed up with a Thank-you card:

I gushed with humility, but my role in this was small, compared to her relentless nature. I gained strength from her tenacity.

*********

[Marissa] had been planning to make a career move for months. This is another highly-qualified lady, with two Masters, and a law degree (LLB).

She was being very strategic in her approach; arranging informational interviews and attending formal interviews.

At the end of May, she received a job offer from one of the institutions she had on her target list, but the salary did not meet her expectation. It was even below what she was getting at the time. Opportunities abound with this new organization, but a salary cut would defeat her main purpose for wanting a new job. She struggled with the decision.

We strategized on the best approach, using a T-Chart to weigh the pros and cons. She had already done a lot of the work. After our conversation, I followed up with this message:

“See if you can negotiate even the same salary you are getting now. Employers expect you to negotiate. You can give them a range and make sure your current figure is at the bottom of the range, even though it’s a unionized environment. If that doesn’t work negotiate for other things. You are bringing value!” 

By the time we had our next conversation, she had decided to make a counter offer, and was willing to walk away if they didn’t accept it. Tadaa! She was offered a salary that fell within mid-range of the scale, and her request to take her vacation in August, as she had originally planned, was accepted. She started her new job on June 26, 2019.

*********

[Kaitlin] has been a long time client, and, like many of my clients, we have become friends. I have also worked with her husband. Kaitlin has had her ups and downs with her job search. One of her main concerns was ageism. She is in her sixties, and always wondered how she could compete with younger job seekers, notwithstanding she is university-educated.

On June 12, 2019, she sent an email with the Subject Line “I got a job!” Her message said:

“Hi Daisy, my dear friend who has been such a humble supporter and ‘way show-er’ all these long years while I struggled to get back out into the world!

I received an offer of employment from X company today.  I am thrilled!!

I knew someone who worked there. They put in a good word for me so even in my sixties, I got a JOB!! So grateful!”

Age is a number. Focus on what you will bring to the table, and not how old you are.

Photo credit: Unsplash

What kept these women going? They knew that, although their paths had many a winding turn, they could not give up. Instead, when they needed clarity and encouragement, they reached out to me, and others. It also helped that two of these ladies were attendees at some, or all of my annual career workshops, including this year’s Why Not Me event.

It is said that “Success is a ladder you cannot climb with your hands in your pocket”. This is true. To get to where you want to go you need to continue to work at it, even though it takes guts and perseverance. It also helps to have someone with whom you can talk; a sounding board, who will not only nudge and guide you, but will listen, help you see things from a different perspective, and more importantly, who will tell you the truth. You don’t need anyone who will sugar-coat the truth to make you feel comfortable.

Yes, there are times when discouragement and rejection will surface, and you feel like giving up. But look, whether you’ve been searching for months or years, or whether you’ve failed umpteenth times, my advice to you is to hold on. You have what it takes to get what you want. If you can’t do it alone, seek help, but don’t give up. Your breakthrough may just be around the corner.

Do you have a breakthrough story of your own, or do you need help in clarifying your path? Reach out to me. I am only a phone call or email away.

9 Reasons You Are Failing Your Interviews

September is one of the most popular months for hiring, according to Monster. That means some job seekers are sharpening their resumes to meet the hiring onslaught, but how prepared are they for interviews? Over the past several weeks I have fielded calls or received emails that suggest some are treating this very important aspect of the job search as a casual event. They are leaving it for the last minute, then panicking when they are invited for the interview. Consider one such email:

As I read it, my mind was screaming, “Are you serious?” I wouldn’t fault him or her for reaching out, but when? This is one of the main reasons some job seekers fail their interviews. Here are some others:

#1: Inadequate Preparation

Don’t take your interview lightly. Preparation should begin the moment you submit your resume because you don’t know when an invitation will be extended. You put a lot of effort into preparing your resume and cover letter; do the same (or more) for the interview.

#2: Limited Company Research

Employers often state that most job candidates arrive at the interview without having researched the company. Some end up talking about Company Y when it should be Company X. Don’t limit your research to the company’s website. Search for any mentions in social media, industry publications, or on regular news channels.

#3: Believing You Can “Wing It”

Interviews are too important for you to think you can “wing it”. Far too many times I have encountered job candidates who, after trying on their own to “wing it” end up being very disappointed. Seek help from a family member, a friend or a career coach, and don’t leave it for last minute. You want to be well-prepared. Panicky emails or urgent messages within 2-4 days of your interview will unnerve rather than help you.

#4: Unable to Articulate Accomplishment Stories

Most job seekers fail at interviews because they have not learned the to tell their success stories. When the interviewer says, “Tell me a time when….”, it’s time for you to tell a story. This is your best chance to convince the interviewer(s) that you are the best person for the job. This method of interviewing, known as Behavioural Interviewing, offers the opportunity to relate your past successes, and the best way to do so is to tell stories. Therefore, in articulating your stories, be focused and engaged. You want to give clear, concise and confident answers, ensuring that you incorporate the results or outcomes of your actions.

#5: Engaging in Negative Mind-scripting

Don’t get caught up in a cycle of second-guessing yourself and your abilities. Start with a positive mind script that says you are going to get the job. This frees you up to think clearly. Some people become bogged down, before or during the interview, with the notion that the company has already designated someone for the position and are just going through the ropes. This belief is not always true, and even if it is, the fact you were invited to the interview suggests you have something the employer wants. It’s your opportunity to shine.

#6: Not Having Questions for the Interviewer

The interview is a two-way street. You are just as invested in the process as the employer. Go prepared with a few questions of your own:

  • Is there anything else I should know?
  • If I am the successful candidate, what would you like to see me accomplished within first 30 days?
  • From a performance standpoint, what aspects of this position would you most like to see improved?

#7: Omitting a Thank You Note

Contrary to what some people think, sending a “thank you” note is not a waste of your time. People in the career sphere believe you should send one. Wharton Professor, Adam Grant said, A Thank You note is so rare, it instantly separates you from the rest.” CareerBuilder tweeted, “Please” and “Thank you” never go out of style, and Right Management Manpower Group states, “Sending a proper thoughtful thank you note can make all the difference.”

However, a mere “Thank you for meeting with me, I really want the job”, is not good enough. Your thank you letter must have substance. You want to thank the people you interviewed with, but equally important, you want to use the letter to expand on a couple of points that were emphasized during the interview, and reiterate why you would be the ideal candidate to take on the role.

#8: Neglecting to Follow Up

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you won’t get the job. You might hear that you were a close second, or the job was offered to someone with a better fit. It is disappointing, and you feel like giving up, but this is not the time to recoil. Take some time to clear your head, and then do what most job candidates would not do (especially if you are still keen to work for that particular company). Follow up! If you want to be remembered; if you want to leave a lasting impression on the interviewer(s), then follow up.

Following up will take courage and perseverance, but a few months after your interview, touch base to ask how things are going with the new hire. Most times, things would be fine, but in some rare instances, the person didn’t or isn’t working out. You could be following up at just the time they are considering looking for a replacement. This suggestion might be a stretch, but why not reach out to the successful candidate, at some point, and ask them how they were able to nail the interview?

#9: Discontinuing the Courtship

If #8 above didn’t work, it doesn’t mean you cannot continue the courtship. There could be other future openings. You can keep yourself on the company’s radar by sharing with them articles relevant to the industry or profession. You can also monitor their online forums, ask questions, and share your expertise.

What about alerting them to something their competitor is doing that they are not, then offering to help them compete? Your efforts could sway them to create a position for you, or they could refer you to some other person or company who would need your expertise.

It’s never over until it’s over, so don’t despair. Have courage and persevere. There is a job out there with your name on it.

If all else fails, why not connect with me so we can have a one-on-one discussion about how to ace your next interview?

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.

 

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!

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.

 

Canada Career Week – November 4 – 8, 2013

Canada Career WeekToday’s issue of the Monday Morning Rx is a salute to Canada Career Week.

The week, November 4 – 8, 2013, has been designed “to promote, showcase and celebrate career development nation-wide”, by the Canadian Career Development Foundation and its partners.

Canadians are, indeed, at a crossroads in their careers, and even though there are a plethora of services and resources available, many are still not sure how to access these resources and make them work to their advantage.

public perceptions about career development and the workplace

At The Wright Career Solution, we will be hosting a FREE Q & A on Thursday November 7, at 8:00 pm EST, to provide answers to questions about career, resumes, interview strategies, or the job search. Details are below.

Can’t attend? No worries…send your questions to: careercoach[at]thewrightcareer.com, and we will answer them live.

To join from a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android device: Go to Canada Career Week at The Wright Career Solution. If you would prefer to join by telephone, the phone line is: 1(424)203-8450 (US/Canada only). Meeting ID: 474 467 653.

If you are a career professional, then I invite you to participate as well.

Related information on Canada Career Week and Career Development:

Sharon Graham’s Blog

Facebook

CERIC’s Online Survey of Public Perceptions About Career Development and the Workplace