Stuck in a Career Rut? Allow us to point you in the "Wright" Career Direction

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.

 

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.

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!

 

Dare To Take Chances – [Your Monday Rx]

Monday Rx_CareerTips_Sept_27Have you ever wanted to do something – probably pursue a dream, or ask for a promotion – but got stopped by a big knot in your stomach? Or, did you allow a negative comment by someone to derail your dream? This happens all the time – in the workplace, at home, with friends, BUT…

Have those dreams remained dormant? Are you being haunted by regrets of “I should’ve…, could’ve…, If only I had…”? It’s not too late. You still have time to pick up from where you left off. It’s time try again. Social Media consultant Chris Voss said, The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.”

Whether it’s an entrepreneurial dream, a dream of a better job, a promotion, or a career transition, here is what you need to know:

  • You don’t have to go it alone. Ask for help!
  • You don’t have to risk your life, limb or livelihood. Start small.
  • You don’t have to become overwhelmed with negative thoughts and by negative people. Banish negative thoughts from your mind, and surround yourself with ‘possibility thinkers’.

Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, said “Most people live and die with their music still un-played. They never dare to try. Mary Kay Ash knew it all too well.

After seeing all the men she was training being promoted over her, she decided to write a book to help women survive in the male-dominated business world.  One of the things she did was to make two lists.  One list highlighted the things her employers had done right; the other had things she felt they could have done better.  After reviewing the lists, she realized she had inadvertently created a marketing plan for a business. The rest is history!

Whether you are a male or female, you too, can make your two lists. One list could be what you have done; the other could be what you can offer an employer or a customer. Those two lists could be the beginning of your own marketing plan for your job search marketing plan or your business. Whichever one it is, are you ready to step out in your boldness, and try again? Phil Knight, Co-founder of Blue Ribbon Sports, now known as Nike, told graduates of Standford’s Graduate School of Business (his alma mater): “Dare to take chances, lest you leave your dreams buried in the ground.” 

You don’t want to leave your dreams buried in the ground! “Let your dreams be bigger than your fears and your actions bigger than your words.” ~Unknown

This is another dose of the Monday Rx. Have a great day!

Related link: Find Your Calling and Ask for Help

10 Resume Pet Peeves Cited by Hiring Managers & Recruiters

Job seeker, sometimes it’s just a small blunder or gaffe that stands between your resume being selected for further consideration, or being tossed. Since recruiters and hiring managers play a significant role in your job search success, the onus is on you to know how to avoid these resume faux pas that irk them. Based on a survey conducted in late 2010 about Resume and Job Search Trends, the following were identified as the top resume pet peeves for recruiters and hiring managers:

  • “Generic  Objectives” that scream ‘me-me-me’. “It rarely helps, often hurts, and always takes up valuable real estate that could be better used to showcase your accomplishments”, said one respondent.
  • Massive email blasts where the resume is not tailored to the position for which they are applying.
  • Beginning each point, regardless of experience, with the standard “responsible for” with few, if any, real accomplishments.
  • A resume that contains “references available upon request”.
  • Lack of professionalism in the layout and composition.
  • Lack of detail on duties and accomplishments.
  • Dull job descriptive statements.
  • Content that is unrelated to the role.
  • Chronological history of events dating back to high school (especially when the applicant has been out of high school for 3 or more years).
  • Resumes with more than three pages, poor formatting, and spelling and grammar errors.

Some recruiters indicated that they prefer a longer resume as it enables them to see the breadth of the person’s experience and are better able to identify the skills relevant to the position they are trying to fill. However, these same recruiters say that clients/employers prefer a 2- or 3-page resume, and they would modify them to suit the client’s needs.

“As we are placing the candidates to our clients we prefer the longer version for details but we don’t like to send that to the client, unless specifically requested.”

While you might not agree with all of the above, some are glaringly obvious and should be avoided. Have your say.

Woman Honoured By Alma Mater

Daisy Wright (third from right), a Brampton businesswoman, was recognized with the 2011 Alumni of Distinction award from Conestoga College.

Wright, the founder and chief career strategist at The Wright Career Solution, a career transition firm that helps individuals find jobs and an author, was among eight Conestoga College alumni honoured.

The award is the college’s highest recognition of outstanding graduates who have achieved great success in their careers and made significant contribution to society.

Read full Press Release here:  Brampton Woman Honoured

Monday Rx: Surround Yourself With ‘Possibility Thinkers’

Happy Monday!

What does Monday Rx have to do with your career or job search? Everything! In the midst of a job search or career transition it’s easy to become discouraged. The purpose of the Monday Rx is to lift your spirits, so take a respite from whatever you are doing and savour these words!

Henry Emerson Fosdick said, “Have the daring to accept yourself as a bundle of possibilities and undertake the game of making the most of your best.”

Today, surround yourself with ‘possibility thinkers’:

  • Those who believe in your dreams;
  • Those who will motivate and inspire you to stretch beyond your comfort zone;
  • Those who will help you reach your goal.

Look around for ‘possibility thinkers’ within and outside your network. You will need them in your corner when the going gets rough.

To your success,

Image: Attributed to Kelly Rae Roberts Wall Art

Are You ‘Shoulding’ on Yourself?

Merry Christmas… Joyeus No?l…Feliz Navidad…Season’s Greetings…Happy Holidays!

Well, 2010 came in with a bang, and now it’s almost gone. As you reflect on the year, how do you stack up against those goals / resolutions you set at the beginning of the year? Are you pleased with your accomplishments, or are you lamenting the fact that much of what you had hoped to achieve just didn’t happen? In fact, are you ‘shoulding’ on yourself because of what you failed to get done? You know what I mean – the “I shoulda, coulda, didn’t bother…” conversations that tend to clutter our minds when we fall short of our own expectations.

Don’t waste another minute shoulding on yourself. What’s gone is gone, and there’s nothing you can do about it. There were moments when I wanted to ‘should’ on myself because some of what I set out to do got derailed – sometimes because of my own effort (or lack thereof), but I changed the direction of my thoughts and focussed on what I had accomplished, and what still had to be done. That mental shift made the world of difference to finishing the year having done much of what I set out to do. It’s not too late for you to make that mental shift. Here are three tips to help you if you really want 2011 to be different:

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway. Some people are so fearful of failing, that they don’t bother trying. Later on they blame themselves for things they should or could have done. Whatever it is that you really want to do, I urge you to feel the fear and do it anyway! R.W. Emerson said, “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain“, and former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look FEAR in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do”. So, look at FEAR for what it really is – False Evidence Appearing Real, and take a leap of faith and surprise yourself.

Move Out of Camp Complacent. If it feels too safe and comfortable doing the same thing(s) day-after-day even though it no longer gives you satisfaction, it’s time to move. Complacency destroys drive and passion. That promotion, that new job, that sales call you need to make, that business you want to start, that book you want to write, stretch yourself and strive to make them happen in 2011. Remember that if you continue doing what you have always done, you will remain exactly where you are.

Commit to Making a Decision. Too many people prefer to sit on the fence of indecision while life is passing along on its merry way. Case in point: It took one man nine months to get back to me about working on his resume. He was unemployed when he first contacted me, and he was still unemployed nine months later. What did he say when he came back? “I should’ve done this a long time ago.”  What he was also doing was copying and pasting parts of different sample resumes to create one of his own. That did not work, so he too, began ‘shoulding’ on himself.

As you look forward to a New Year with all its potential, tell yourself that you cannot hold on to the life that was, but you can fully live the life that is, right now. Make a concerted effort to make your dream a reality in the coming year.  If you would like some assistance in the New Year, check out my new website CareerTips2Go Café and make plans to join me in January, when the Café officially opens! It’s a work-in-progress, but there will be tools and resources to help you in your job search or your career transition.

Connecting your Brand to your Value Proposition: Recognition to Reputation

How is Brand connected to your Value Proposition? What is your core value message? Are these terms confusing as they relate to your career transition and career development? Have you established what they are and incorporated them into a self-marketing strategy? If you have an interest in this topic; have no clue what these concepts even mean or what’s their relevance to your job search, then join my guest Wayne Pagani and I, for an informal discussion about these concepts and explore some practical ways to develop your value proposition, your brand, and how to use them to leverage your career transition.

Who is Wayne Pagani? Wayne is a talented career development strategist who brings over ten years of unparalleled service delivery in the field of career development complimented by extensive management experience in the corporate world. He has coached executives, managers, and other professionals with diverse backgrounds. Wayne delivers inspirational workshops and services to clients seeking career and professional development solutions in all sectors of business.

Listen on the Internet or call 646-478-5137