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Monday Morning Rx: Chase Your Dreams, It’s Never Too Late

Madame C J Walker_Recite

This is your Monday Morning Rx – a giant dose of inspiration for today!

The above quote is attributed to Madame C.J. Walker. “Her savvy business acumen led her to become the first female self-made millionaire in the United States who donated the largest amount of money by an African-American toward the construction of an Indianapolis YMCA in 1913.”

Mrs. Walker had many obstacles to overcome, but she did.

Take your eyes off yesterday’s closed door. Yesterday is gone forever. Today is all you have, and now is the right moment to begin chasing your dreams! What are those dreams?

  • Is it a new job? Well, what’s holding you back? Do you need some help moving your career forward?
  • Do you want to start a business? Grab the phone or send an email to someone you admire who has a business similar to the one you have in mind. Start the conversation rolling.
  • Would you like to learn a new skill? It’s not necessary for you to sit in a formal classroom to learn a new skill. Ample opportunities abound. Sometimes it’s as close as the cubicle next door, or in another department. Why not ask to job shadow someone at work?
  • Have you always wanted to climb a mountain? This may be a steep one, but if it’s your dream, then go after it. My neighbour recently returned from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, and it was a climb of a lifetime she says. It took everything she had, she said, but it was worth it. She has returned with a new perspective on life.

What is it that you have always wanted to do, but excuses kept getting in your way? You have run out of excuses now. It’s time to chase your dreams and achieve success. Madame C.J. Walker did!

Want some support? Share your dreams right here and I will hold you accountable.

 

 

 

Modern Ways to Job Search

 

Social media is enabling job seekers to market themselves creatively to employers, and the image above highlights some of the tools they are using. Of course, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook take centre stage. With so many tools, one is left to wonder if the days of the paper resume are really numbered, or as it’s often touted, if “the resume is dead!”  As seen on the image, one-third of human resources managers predict that traditional resumes will be replaced with social/business networking sites.

With respect to networking, although the term generally conjures up images of forced smiles and awkward conversations, it is well-known that more than 80% of job opportunities are found in this manner. Therefore, the onus is on job seekers to learn effective networking skills to improve their chances of job search success.

A blog is a non-intrusive way to get employers interested in your brand without even applying for a job”, says one statement in the image.  This is a message I constantly sell to job seekers, including a group of communications, advertising and marketing professionals I spoke with recently. Use a bit of creativity, start your own blog or contribute to other blogs to stand out from the crowd and grab the attention of potential employers.

While job seekers should embrace these modern job search tools, they also need to be cautious. Using these tools to bash one’s boss or to post inappropriate comments or images online is a breach of social media etiquette.

 

Monday Rx: Thank a Co-Worker Today!

This coming Thursday, November 24, is the US Thanksgiving, and the Black Friday TV ads are already reaching me from across the border. After all, I am just a mere 90 minutes away from Buffalo. But, because of the prevalence of these ads, a debate has begun between my brain and my pocket. Should I head across the border on Friday? Right now, I don’t know which one will win the debate by the end of the week.

OK, so what does this have to do with my topic? Well, it’s so easy to get wrapped up into the commercial aspect of the Holiday; so much that we forget the real reason for the season. It’s all about gratitude – being thankful for what we have; being appreciative for family, friends and coworkers, and being open to share.  And talking about coworkers, when last have you thanked one of them for ‘just being there’?

According to Jon Gordon, author of the Energy Bus, “the number one reason why people leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated. A simple thank you and a show of appreciation could make all the difference.”  Can you imagine that a simple ‘thank you’ could determine whether a co-worker stays or leaves? Yes, two small, but very powerful words could make a difference.

Wherever you are today, whether or not you are celebrating the official US Thanksgiving, find a co-worker and tell him or her how much you appreciate them. It could make their day, and yours too!

To your success,

 

 

 

PS: Every Monday, I take off my career coaching and resume writing hat and write a ‘Monday Rx’ post to stave off the Monday blues from which some of us suffer. Why not add your email address in the box on the top right of this page to receive each post? And, while you are at it, ask a friend or coworker to add their email address as well. I appreciate that. Thank You!

 

Monday Morning Rx: Know Your Value…Promote Yourself

Today’s post is about recognizing your value and asking for what you want, whether you are a man or woman!

Over the past several months I have become a fan of Morning Joe on MSNBC, with Mika Brzezinski, Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist. After watching Mika interview some of the women profiled in her book “Knowing Your VALUE – Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth”, I decided to buy a copy. It’s an excellent read. She talks about how difficult it is for women to ask for what they want, especially asking for a raise or a promotion. While men are comfortable promoting themselves, and almost demanding what they want, women prefer to work, work, work hoping the boss will take notice.

While reading the book, I was struck by a couple of quotes from Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s senior advisor.

“I felt like if I was deserving, then my boss should recognize that I was deserving.”

After one of her mentors said to her, “You can’t sit around waiting for people to recognize your work, you have to ask for it”, she gathered her courage and went to her then boss.  Soon after that discussion, she got the promotion and the front office she had wanted.

That bold, courageous move prompted Jarret to say, “If you’re not asking for a promotion…you’re not going to get the gold ring”.

See, even high profile people like Valerie Jarrett, Mika Brzezinski and others quoted in the book, found it difficult to ask for what they truly deserved, and when they did, they got what they wanted. You are no different! You are ‘high profile’ in your own right. What is it that you would like to ask for, but are fearful about? Are you afraid to ask for the job during the interview? Are you worried that in the current economy you can’t ask for a raise? Are you waiting on your boss to give you the promotion that you know you deserve? As a small business owner or a coach, do you feel uncomfortable charging the fee you deserve for the services you provide?

Whatever it is, you owe it to yourself to ask for what you want…today! Go ahead, promote yourself, and see what happens!

Have a productive Monday!

Is the Résumé Really Dead?

Every so often I read a blog post or hear comments about the death of the ubiquitous résumé, and I am sometimes tempted to believe it. After all, it draws its competition from the overabundance of social media tools and, to a lesser degree, from individuals with the ‘gift of gab’ who can talk themselves into any job without a résumé.

But, let’s pause for a moment! Probably, the résumé isn’t dead after all. A few days ago, one of my clients was interviewed for a Senior Vice President position by the top three honchos of a company. They were impressed with the content and structure of his résumé because after the interview, he sent me the following note:

The Top Guy stated he had never seen a better résumé and appreciated the time and effort I put into it.  I was straight up and told him I solicited assistance. I said, “No one stands alone but draws on other people’s expertise as required”. He loved that.

Naturally, I was happy for him that things went well, and by the looks of  it, he may be getting an offer soon, but I also reflected on the CEO’s comment. This couldn’t have happened if it was a collaborative effort between the client and me. Before crafting the résumé, I put him to work by having him complete an assessment to uncover his strengths and the work environment in which he strives best. It was a worthwhile exercise for him as he wrote to say, “I want to express how important this process has been for me to re-evaluate my worth and experience. I have a fire I have not had in a while!”

The next step was to delve into his background, unearth his success stories and formulate them into a cohesive value proposition that articulates what he is good at, what he consistently does well, and how he delivers tangible results. He was stunned when he received the draft document and remarked, “To say we are blown away (the wife and I) would be an understatement. This is GOLD!”

Before meeting with company officials, we also discussed interview strategies – what to say, when to say it, and what to hold back.  This brings me back to the question, “Is the résumé really dead as some would have us believe?” Not really! Hiring managers and recruiters usually request one; job postings ask to submit one, and CEOs sometimes want to see one before agreeing to meet a candidate. What is on its way out is the résumé as it used to be. The one devoid of value-based scripts, filled with ‘responsible for…’ statements and does not address the employer’s needs or buying motivators. Such a résumé cannot stand up to the competition and will certainly meet its demise if it hasn’t already. On the other hand, the one that tells stories, focuses on major strengths, and promises value, that’s the résumé that will lead to interviews and then to a job offer.

What are your thoughts? Have your say below.

 

But, let’s pause for a minute! Probably, the résumé isn’t dead after all. One of my clients met the top three honchos of this particular company when he interviewed for a Senior VP position a few days ago. After that meeting, he sent me an email from which I quote:  

The Top Guy stated he had never seen a better resume and appreciated the time and effort I put into it.  I was straight up and told him I solicited assistance.  “No one stands alone but draws on other people’s expertise as required”, I told him. He loved that.

In order to come up with the client’s résumé, I had him complete an assessment. After he had reviewed the results, he said, I want to express how important this process has been for me to re-evaluate my worth and experience. I have a fire I have not had in a while!”

The next step was to delve into his background, unearth his success stories and formulate them into a cohesive value proposition that articulates what he is good at, what he consistently does well, and how he delivers tangible results. All this was necessary to craft the résumé that caught the attention of the CEO. Even the client was stunned when he received the résumé. He said, To say we are blown away (the wife and I) would be an understatement. This is GOLD!”

So, which résumé is dead? The one devoid of value-based scripts, filled with ‘responsible for…’ statements and does not address the employer’s needs. Such a résumé cannot stand up to the competition, and will certainly meet its demise if it hasn’t already. However, the résumé that tells stories; focuses on major strengths and promises value, that’s the résumé that will lead to success.

What are your thoughts? Have your say below.

Is There Value in a Cover Letter?

Henry Ford said, Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” The same hold true for cover letters – whether you send one or not, you are right, or maybe! It is quite common to hear that 50 per cent of recruiters and hiring managers do not read cover letters; they go straight to the resume. Because of this, many job seekers just submit a résumé. Or, an ad asks to ‘fax your résumé’ and the job seeker faxes only the résumé. They rarely think about the other 50 per cent of recruiters who do read cover letters.

I advise job seekers to always include a cover letter. It’s better to include one and it’s not read than to omit it, and it misses the eyes of the other 50 per cent who do read them.

Recently, I was reading a blog post about cover letters in the Harvard Business Review, and the conversation was centred around cover letters! Should one be included with the résumé? This post garnered a lot of responses for and against. The writer, David Silverman, said that there were really only a few times to use a cover letter:

  1. When you know the name of the person hiring
  2. When you know something about the job requirement
  3. When you’ve been personally referred (which might include 1 and 2)

While most people agreed with the three reasons he stated, many of us were not impressed with the letter he quoted as being “The best cover letter I ever received.” It was no different, in my opinion, from a generic cover letter addressed to “Dear Sir/Madam”.

That said, one comment that got my attention was from a hiring manager. He was responding to comment by another individual, and wrote , “I would have to respectfully disagree with the comment that cover letters are a waste of time. A succinct, well-written cover letter that is laser-targeted to my specific job opening is rare and really gets my attention. And this is the real secret: the cover letter HAS to be well-written and it HAS to be targeted to my specific opening.

I couldn’t have said it better: “A succinct, well-written cover letter that is laser-targeted to my specific job opening is rare and really gets my attention.” In a survey I conducted recently with Canadian HR managers and recruiters, thirty eight percent (38.1%) said candidates must submit a cover letter for each application while thirty percent (30.2%) had no preference. Approximately sixteen percent (15.9%) said they could be useful for information not included on the resume if they add value.

What are your thoughts? Is there value in a cover letter? Join the debate by commenting below:

Source:

http://blogs.hbr.org/silverman/2009/06/the-best-cover-letter.html

Don’t Sabotage Your Dreams with ‘Buts’

How many times have you said to yourself?

“I would like to find a new job, BUT I am too old.”

“I would really like a pay raise, BUT my boss will just say no.”

“I would like to change careers, BUT I am afraid it might not work out.”

“I hate my job, BUT if I leave it I won’t be able to make the same amount of money.”

“I would like to start my own business, BUT I don’t have the money.”

“I would like to … BUT my (friends, coworkers, family, spouse, kids) keep telling me I would be crazy to do such a thing.”

Can you relate to any of those? What’s getting in the way? The big ‘BUTs’ – no pun intended. Everywhere you turn, there’s a ‘but’ that stops you in your tracks. These ‘buts’ are your fears that tell you that you don’t have the time, the money, the education, the nerve, or the skills. These ‘buts’ tell you that you should stick to the evil you know of and not venture into the unknown. These ‘buts’ cripple you and prevent you from going after your dreams.

The biggest of these ‘buts’ is F.E.A.R. – False Evidence Appearing Real. 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.” You are afraid of what people might say. You are afraid to put one foot in front of the other just in case you might reach somewhere. You are afraid to take a leap of faith in your endeavours. You are afraid to fail, and in some cases, you might be afraid to succeed! Do you see the power that fear has? It has gripped you so fiercely that you hang on to the same job day after day even though it no longer gives you the satisfaction it once did.

The other big ‘but’ is the negative self-talk you engage in. Have you ever listened to some of the things you say to yourself? “Duh … what a ditz I am. I can’t do it. I’ll never be able to have that. I don’t deserve a raise. It’s my fault. Here I go again, making a fool of myself. They didn’t like me. I didn’t get the job because I am too old.” and on and on it goes. While you are wallowing in self-pity, you meet another negative person who agrees with every word you are saying about yourself. That’s destructive behaviour!

One of these days when you are having such a conversation with yourself, try this little exercise. Write down everything you are saying or thinking. At the end, pretend you are telling your friend what you told yourself. “Duh … what a ditz you are! You can’t do it. You’ll never be able to make it. You don’t deserve the raise. It’s your fault. Here you go again, making a fool of yourself. They don’t like you. You didn’t get the job because you are too old.” Wow! Would you really say those things to your friend? If not, why are you saying them to yourself?

You need to change that mindset. You cannot allow fear and negative self-talk to cripple you and prevent you from moving forward with an idea or a decision. If you set your heart on engaging in negative self-talk, consistently allowing the ‘buts’ to get in the way of your dreams, you are destined to remain where you are. Instead, ask yourself, “What if I moved forward in spite of my fears? What if I take a chance?” You could surprise yourself and succeed!

I have known many people (including me) who have been able to clear some of the ‘buts’ out of our way and move forward in spite of our fears. We were once where you are. At every turn we saw the ‘buts’, but never allowed them to thwart our progress. It took faith; it took belief in self and it took encouragement from positive-minded people.

Surround yourself with positive-minded people who will encourage you to follow your dreams. It’s okay to listen to the naysayers, but continue moving confidently in the direction of your dreams, anyway.

I hope you have gained some food for thought from this article. It doesn’t matter where you are in your career or your life, if you want to make a move, forget the ‘buts’ and JUST DO IT!