Career Management and Life Planning Tools – Eight Powerful Questions about Your Future

•August 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

By: Sharon Teitelbaum

“Most people don’t plan to fail. They just fail to plan.” This old saying applies to any area of your life where you want to make some positive changes. Prior to planning, however, you must get absolutely clear on your intentions, and then keep those intentions top-of-mind as you make your plans and live your life. Identifying your intentions is particularly key if you are setting professional goals for the coming year, or considering a career transition.
The following questions are designed to help you identify your priorities and GET AT what your intentions are. If you are like most people, you have a nagging, vague sense of where you need a course correction, but your thoughts are too fuzzy and ragged to have much of an impact on your actions. Work through these question on your own, or work with a partner or a coach. I have seen many successful people clarify their intentions with these questions, and then use them to inform their career transition or other life changes.
These eight clusters of questions apply, whether you are making major changes or simply fine-tuning. The clearer you become with your intentions, the more powerfully they will impact your life.
1. What are your intentions for your next work chapter? What do you want to bring to it that has worked for you before and what do you want to do differently? What do you want to bring forth from yourself in this new adventure? What experience are you looking for, and what kind of support do you need for that to happen?
2. What are the things you have tolerated or are currently tolerating (people, behaviors in yourself or others, low standards for this or that, and so forth), and how can you eliminate these tolerations as you move forward?
3. What experiences do you want to have had, 10 years from now, looking back over your previous 10 years? You might express these experiences in very concrete terms, such as, “I want to have seen fields of tulips in bloom in The Netherlands.” Or you might express these in more abstract terms, such as, “I want to have learned to recover more quickly from ‘mistakes,’ and to have grown thick-skinned enough that I no longer dwell on things I wish I’d done differently,” or, “I want to do something groundbreaking with my team, where we all pull together and do something amazing.”
4. What do you want to learn in your next professional chapter, whether at your current position or somewhere else?
5. Do you want to create some shift in any of these areas?
* simplifying your life
* finishing incompletes (with projects, with people)
* handling money, creating reserves
* taking care of your mind, body, spirit
* extending your boundaries, being well protected (insurance, as well as more abstract protections)
* raising your standards
* re-orienting around your values, strengths, and what delights you
* creating a healthy support network
6. What might de-rail you or get you off track or out of balance as your life gets busier? What can you do in advance so that doesn’t happen?
7. What are the ways you are holding yourself back from dreaming big – ways you are telling yourself to only shoot for, say, St. Louis, rather than the moon?
8. What do you most fear about your future? Get very vivid and clear and detailed about the fear; get friendly with it. Then figure out a way you would deal with that which you fear – not just how you would survive it, but how could you come through it with strength and even some grace. Then figure out yet another way you could deal with it. What is your intention regarding this fear?
If you could use some support for any part of this process, including how to make your intention become a reality, do not hesitate to get help from a career professional. There is just no reason to stay stranded and alone. Most career coaches will provide a complimentary initial consultation, which will give you a strong sense of what coaching can do for you.

Do You Really Want That Job? Six Things On Your Resume Says You Don’t.

•July 27, 2010 • 1 Comment

Writing a resume seems pretty easy and straightforward.  All you need to do is have a catchy job objective and slap on your career history and you’re good to go, right?  Wrong.  Creating a coherent resume that flows well and captures a hiring executive’s attention is not easy.  You have to be willing to spend time (more than 20 minutes) on developing a resume that will stand out from the other 100+ people in your field who are competing for the very same position.  Whether you are just venturing into the work force, or you are an executive with more than 20 years of experience, you need to remember that there is more to your resume than what you’ve done (or haven’t done).  Don’t shoot yourself in the foot before you even have an interview.  Presentation and professionalism are key.  Listed below are six things to keep in mind while writing your resume.

1)    Spelling and Grammatical Errors –

While this might seem like common sense you might be surprised by the number of resumes recruiters and hiring executives receive with various errors, including the using the wrong word (insure instead of ensure), misplaced or forgotten punctuation , and simple spelling mistakes (‘recieved’ instead of ‘received’).  When you send your resume to a prospective employer and it is riddled with errors, you’ve effectively knocked yourself out of the running.  If you can’t act professionally by making the time and effort to present a clean and coherent document for prospective employers, how can they expect you to do the same for your job?

There are a few simple ways you can avoid sending out a flawed resume.  The first is to see if the word processing program on your computer is equipped with a spell/grammar check feature (many of them are).  Now, re-read your resume to make sure you didn’t use the wrong variation of a word (their instead of there) as spell/grammar check programs won’t pick up on that.  Next, make sure you are using the right word to convey your meaning.  Look it up in a dictionary, or use a free online dictionary, such as dictionary.com.  Finally, if it’s been a while since you’ve brushed up on your grammar, borrow a grammar book from the library or buy one from your local bookstore.  Many writers refer to The Elements of Style (Fourth Edition) by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White.

2)    Convoluted Job Objective

Many people learned how to write a very basic resume in school that included an objective at the very top that stated what you had to offer and what kind of company you were looking for.  This is not a true objective.  It’s a convoluted phrase that weakens your resume and prevents you from truly representing yourself.  When you write your resume, you want to have a clear job objective in mind, so you can state in a few words what position you are after.  For example, ‘Sales Management Qualifications’ is a much stronger and direct objective than ‘To offer my extensive skills and over 20 years experience to a leading company with growth potential.’  The last thing you want is to submit your resume for a job and have HR or the hiring executive toss it because they can’t figure out what position you want to be considered for.  Once you’ve decided on your job objective, then you can include a brief paragraph about how many years of experience you have and what you’re capable of.

3)    Shifting Point of View (POV)

Writing a resume can be compared to writing a work of fiction.  I’m not talking about making things up (that’s problem #5) like writers do for short stories and novels.  I’m talking about narrative flow and point of view.  Think about the last time you read a really good book.  If the story was in third person, did it suddenly shift to first person mid sentence?  No.  That type of writing not only shows a lack of understanding regarding POV, but it would throw the reader out of the story.  This principle can be applied to resume writing.  You don’t want to start your resume off in the third person and then shift to first person within a job description.  Not only it is it unprofessional to write your resume in the first person, you also give the impression that your written communication skills are lacking in addition to having a split personality.  Stick to third person when writing your resume and save the first person POV for your cover letter.  And don’t include your name in the resume.  Your resume has your name at the top, so no one is going to get confused as to who you’re talking about.

4)    Crazy Designs, Colored Paper, and Hard To Read Fonts

You don’t have to be flashy to get your resume noticed.  Having a streamlined, easy to read, graphic free resume will set you apart from countless prospects.  This means that unicorns, boxing gloves, and your headshot are not appropriate graphics to put on your resume.  Use that neon green paper for party invitations, not your resume.  Also, don’t go below a size ten for your font and stick with fonts that are easy on the eyes such as Times New Roman, Courier, and Arial.  Do you really want to send the hiring executive to the ophthalmologist just so you could appear different?

5)    The Resume That Never Ends

As I mentioned in point #3, writing your resume is similar to writing a story.  However, what type of story do you think is more effective for the first step of obtaining a new job, a novel or short story?  If you think a novel is more effective, think about the last time you read something over 600 pages and how long it took to complete.  I know that a 10-page resume is not quite the same as a 600-page novel, but the attitude is.  You’re more likely to curl up with a good, long book when you have the time.  A hiring executive doesn’t have the time to devote to your War and Peace resume.  They have about 30 seconds to make a decision, so give them a dynamic career synopsis that leaves them wanting more.  One or two pages is usually sufficient to convey enough information.  And just incase you’re wondering, this doesn’t mean cramming your entire career history in eight point Arial Narrow onto two pages (see problem #4).  If you have to adjust your font below ten to get your resume to two pages, then you need to do some serious trimming.  Also, keep your experience limit to a 20-year span.  Anything more than that dates you and your experience.  You can always go into more detail during the interview.

6)    Lying

Don’t do it.  Even if you don’t get caught before the interview, you most likely will later on down the road and whatever trust and credibility you gained will be destroyed.  Do you really want to build your career on a foundation of lies and deceit?

Recognizing Your Skills and Abilities

•June 11, 2010 • Leave a Comment

By: Susan E.

Going out into the job market can be a frightening prospect, especially if you are trying to branch out in a different direction than the type of work you are used to doing. It can seem as though employers are only interested in those individuals who have experience with certain techniques or who have performed similar types of work previously; with a bit of research, however, you will quickly find that there are a number of opportunities available to you so long as you are able to present the skills necessary to do the job.

Unfortunately, many people sell themselves short when trying to list or describe the skills that they possess. If you can’t be confident in your skill set and understand the skills that are transferable into new markets, then you’ll have a much harder time convincing a potential employer that you’re the right person for the job they’re offering. This is where being able to identify your own skills and interests can help you to bridge the gap and show that you are more than qualified for the positions that you seek.

Identifying Your Developed Skills
The first thing that you need to do is start thinking about the different jobs that you’ve had in the past and the various skills that you’ve developed over the years. Even fairly menial jobs can pass on a variety of skills, including those skills which are highly sought after in the corporate world such as time and project management and even customer relations. The skills that you have were developed with time and hard work, so don’t be quick to discount them. List the various skills that you’ve developed through work and other activities, making notes of any areas that you are particularly strong in. Managing a household or home business requires skills. If this is you, identify what skills you possess.

Finding Your Natural Talents and Abilities
Some things just come easier to certain people, and being able to identify your natural talents can help you to get ahead when trying to get the job of your dreams. Examine exactly what talents and natural abilities you have, and how long you’ve known that they just come easily to you; many employers are interested in having people with talent and who can do the work that they offer them without struggling to get it completed. Don’t worry that it will sound like you’re bragging to mention these talents and abilities… that’s what interviews and applications are for, to enable employers to evaluate potential employees and determine which ones will be the best for the job. Having natural talent in certain areas and showing documented proof will help to qualify you as being one of the best.

Following Your Interests
When you begin looking for a job, make sure that you try and find potential employers who fall within some of your areas of interest even if you’ve never had employment in that area before. Often times employers will ask job candidates during an interview exactly why it is that they want to work for the company they’ve applied at; being able to say that you’re genuinely interested in the work that they do and having enough knowledge about the field to back that statement up will help to show them that you’ll likely be a diligent worker and that you won’t become bored with the work and go off seeking another job. If you have developed skills or possess natural talents which support that area of interest, that’s even more of a mark in your favor since you will not only be interested in the work but will also have at least some of the skills and abilities needed to do it. These are qualities that employers are always looking for, and they can help you to land the job even when you thought that you wouldn’t be qualified enough.

 
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