May 23

Leveraging relationships to your advantage

How’s your career doing these days? Is it taking you where you want to go? If you are employed, you may be simply thinking you are happy to have a job. The job market always seems to be in a volatile state, doesn’t it? There is so little security in our world anymore. But take heart, there are things you can do to enhance your career security and accelerate your career advancement. The key is to be proactive and utilize relationships to expedite your promotion and career advancement.

Here are some strategies to proactively utilize relationships to your advantage:

  • Develop a strategic career business plan with short and long term goals.
  • Break down each goal into action steps to take you from where you are to your next desired career position.
  • Identify breakthrough contacts – the key people in your company that can help you get ahead.
  • Put together a strategy to envelop and enhance relationships with each of your breakthrough contacts with the goal of leveraging those relationship to help position you favorably within the company. Here are ways to do that:

- send them an article or a resource related to their area of expertise

- invite them out to lunch or for coffee

- request an opportunity for a face-to-face meeting to solicit their opinion/advice/perspective on their area of the business as it relates to yours

- send them an email recognizing their efforts on a particular initiative or congratulating them on an achievement or award

  • Follow up religiously to maintain ongoing relationships with your contacts.
  • When the timing is right, ask each of your breakthrough contacts the following question:
    What would it take for me to get into the position of XYZ (your next step)?
  • On a regular basis, check in with your manager or supervisor by asking the following question:
    “How am I doing? Am I meeting your expectations?”
  • Then follow that by posing the question:
    “What would have to happen for me to be able to move into the position of XYZ, or take on the XYZ project?”

If you utilize these strategies on a consistent basis, you WILL see yourself advancing in your career and moving closer to achieving your short and long term career goals.

Dec 31

image-new-year.jpgIs this going to be YOUR year for a breakthrough in your life or your career?  To create the momentum necessary to make your dreams come true, sometimes it is necessary to identify and overcome barriers that may be holding you back. For many it is anger. One of my clients sent me an email today that represented a major breakthrough for her. She had a lot of unresolved anger toward her family that had been negatively affecting her for the past year. In working with me, she resolved to try and work through it this year when she went home for Christmas, and in her email today she shared that she had made progress and felt better about it. Now that she has freed up energy, she can begin to make progress toward achieving her career goals.

What’s holding you back? What can you do to eliminate that anger or fear or other psychological issues that are keeping you from taking action or moving forward? You might want to take this anger quiz to assess whether anger is an issue for you. If it is, the question is what action can I take to resolve it?  If you haven’t been successful in 2007, you have another chance to make some real changes in 2008.

When I am struggling with an issue that nags at me, I reflect on the serenity prayer….

Grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change;
COURAGE to change the things I can;
and WISDOM to know the difference.

May each of you have a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year and may your life goals and career dreams become a reality in 2008.

Aug 1

Beach

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.

Well here we are in the deep summer doldrums and I confess I’ve been remiss in writing. I spoke with a client today who mentioned the quote above to justify her lack of progress in her job search. Having just returned from a week’s vacation at the Jersey Shore, I could see her point. The first week back, I found myself a little slow in regaining my energetic pace, but I did notice that I had more creative ideas. What that tells me is that it is okay and even beneficial to cut back on the fast pace of work, whether it is your job or a job search campaign. Everyone needs a vacation and the job seeker is no exception. In fact, taking a complete break from your job search, including thinking about it and not worrying about it, can help you get into a breakthrough state where creativity will emerge. You will also communicate with more enthusiasm and confidence when you return to your job search.

Are you feeling burned out with your job search? It’s easy to do. Job searching can be emotionally exhausting. So, if you have not had a vacation this summer, I am giving you permission to take a break from your job search. Be sure you make it a true vacation, however, from an emotional standpoint. Allow yourself to enjoy a week of fun and relaxation knowing that you will return from your break renewed and rejuvenated, increasing your chances for success!

Happy Summer – and please feel free to share your summer break experiences and how your job search is going.

 

Mar 19

What a crazy March it has been! The stock market ups and downs, severe weather. and world affairs – one can only dream of security. If you have a job, consider yourself lucky; although you can never assume that you are secure, not in this day and age. If you are looking for a job right now, you are probably wondering, how is the job market?  Right after the first of the year, the consensus in our industry was that things were going great. The job market was one of the best in years. While things are still good, it appears that there has been some backing off from hiring recently. It could be the time of year, with taxes coming due and people taking a breather for Spring Break. Companies may be a little hesitant to hire due to the economy’s uncertain signals. Who knows what is going on. What is a job seeker supposed to think?

Well, get used to it. It is a sign of the times, volatility, uncertainty. As Mark Twain said, the only certainty is change. Should this affect your plans to go forward? Absolutely not. In fact, everyone who is employed should be prepared to conduct a job search even if they are completely happy in their current job. Take the advice of a seasoned resume writer and always have your resume updated and ready to submit. You never know when you might get a call from a recruiter or hear of an opportunity.

If it isn’t too late for New Year’s resolutions, take my advice and UPDATE YOUR RESUME!!

What else can you do to be proactive in this crazy world and volatile job market?  Post your resume on the niche job boards that relate to your background/job function. For a list of niche boards, go to
www.nicheboards.com.

And be sure that you are taking steps in your current position to make sure you are "recession proof." To get an idea of where you stand, I give my clients an assessment called "Ten Keys to becoming a Career Conqueror." The handout was included in my training from Career Coach Academy with Susan Britton Whitcomb (http://www.careercoachacademy.com/about_CCA.html.)

I’d be happy to share it with you if you send me an email at jfranke1@bellsouth.net.

Here’s a preview:

"If you were to learn tomorrow that your job was
eliminated, how confident are you that – WITHIN 60 DAYS – you would be able to
find a job that you enjoy doing and would pay your bills?  The assessment evaluates where you stand on three basic principles:

1) Be future focused: goals, brand / identity, connected /networked.

2) Be employer focused: ROI proposition, skill development, interpersonal relations.

3) Be personally proactive: self accountable inspiration & attitude, self-initiated training, time management, support.
The self-scoring assessment will give you an indication of the health of
your career.

So take time out to give yourself a "Career Checkup" today!

Feb 12

Well, here it is February, almost mid February. Boy time sure does fly. How are those New Year’s resolutions coming? Is the depression starting to set in now that the initial "high" of starting fresh full of hope has yielded to the reality of being right where you started?

Don’t let it!  We all know that attitude or mindset has a direct influence on our productivity. It is hard sometimes, but to stay positive we have to FOCUS on the things we are doing right. Take time out at the end of the workday or right before you go to bed to ask yourself what you did well that day. Then congratulate yourself, reward yourself, and use that excitement and enthusiasm to set your goals for the next day. Little baby steps propel us forward and result in progress, not giant leaps. Sometimes we are so focused on looking for a big change that we miss the minor progression.

If you are job searching this is critical. It is the toughest job out there, looking for a job. Your self esteem gets a real workout. So, write down all the things you do each day and give yourself credit for your efforts, even if they don’t directly result in a positive outcome. Stay focused and positive, and take action, the results will come.

A good exercise that can help with this is to write a fictitious accounting of the positive outcome you are expecting. Take 4 or 5 jobs you would love to have and imagine how they could materialize, then write the fictitious scenario with all the detail of how the opportunity "fell into your lap." Here’s a sample scenario that actually came true for a client!

Dream Job as a Consultant:

"I’ve always thought how much I would love to work for a Big Five consulting firm. The world of consulting seems like a perfect match with my personality as I love variety, working with people, helping them find new solutions to problems, traveling to a different site each week, being respected for my advice and expertise.

So I identified someone I know through my local alumni club that works at one of the firms I would like to explore. I had been involved with the club recently and during one of our encounters, I asked him if he knew of any opportunities that might be available for me at the firm. He says he will speak with his supervisor about me and next thing I know, he sends me an email saying his supervisor is going to contact me to speak with me about a potential opportunity.  I am ecstatic, I get the interview and land the job!  It is my dream job and I am happier than I have ever been in my life!"

The funny thing about this exercise is that the person who wrote the fictitious scenario actually had it happen to her. She received an email out of the blue from the contact at the firm saying he had seen her email signature and that their firm needed help with a special project that he thought she would be qualified to do. It turned out to be a contract position, not a full time position, but none-the-less it showed the power of fantasy in attracting things to us. And after the client completes the contract job, she is going to try and leverage her experience into a full time opportunity.

This is a good example of "The Law of Attraction," that what you think about, get excited about, show feeling for, is what you attract. So try it, write some fictitious scenarios of how your dream job could simply land in your lap and see what happens.

Most importantly, please share your experiences with us on this blog so we can celebrate with you and to prove to others that it works!

Jan 31

Wow, there are some great resources out there to help job seekers of all ages find a job! With all the online career marketing technology available, including websites, blogs, podcasts, etc., there has never been more free resources out there to help you write your resume and conduct a successful job search campaign.

One of the best is found on Career Hub a blog written by some of the top professionals in the careers industry and members of the Career Masters Institute, CMI (www.cminstitute.com). You’ll find on the Career Hub blog a free downloadable e-book called "The Insider’s Guide to Resume Writing." At the same site, they also make available an ebook called "The Insider’s Guide to Job Search." I highly recommend these resources. These are the experts. Believe me, I’ve been in the careers industry for 16 years now and I’ve been a member of CMI for most of those years. This professional association recently combined forces with the Kennedy organization, the recruiting experts. The CMI members are the authors of the top books on resume writing on the market today; these are the trend setters, the most highly credentialed and polished professionals in the field. So you are getting the best by reading their website and downloading their free materials. The blog site to download the free e-book on resume writing is:

http://www.careerhub.typepad.com/

The blog also lists Weddle’s 2007 Top Career Sites that include many of the more commonly known job boards such as monster.com and careerbuilder; however, there are lots of other sites listed as well. It makes sense to check out the less popular sites where there is less competition due to less traffic. One site in particular that my clients have reported good success using is www.indeed.com. Indeed.com is a consolidator site which means it searches hundreds of job sites simultaneously, saving you from having to go to each site individually.  Check it out and let us know how it works for you. Better yet, get a career coach and implement a proactive job search campaign where responding to online ads is only 30% of your time and the other 70% is spent implementing a referral campaign. I’ll speak to that next time.

In the meantime, I’d love to read your comments and especially your successes in using the resources discussed here, so please share with us.

Jan 29

My son just graduated from college and is looking for his first career position. Naturally I am helping him, and I will say that he is a lot better off than I was when I was looking for my first job out of school. As one of the "pack" of baby boomers, everything was so much more competitive, whereas right now the job market is quite favorable for new grads. From my perspective, the job market is actually the best it’s been in at least five years. All my clients are finding jobs quickly. However, it does seem like the young people have the best shot at getting hired though. Employers, especially from large companies, love to hire new grads as they can get them while they are fresh and train them in their way of doing things. This trend has been well documented and is discussed in a blog that references a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor about the positive outlook for college grads. The blog post states that the salaries for college grads are on the increase and lists the highest paying career options for new grads.  Here’s the link:

http://www.executive-resumes.com/2006/05/new-college-grad-in-your-family-good.html

So how can you use this opportunity to your advantage? The key is to realize how critical the first job can be in shaping your career, so take it seriously. Don’t jump at the first opportunity, but take time to explore who are the best companies, which ones have the best training programs, what will look good on your resume. And most of all, evaluate what type of position is the best fit for you. A good place to start is to take a personality assessment. I use the Myers Briggs, but there is a derivative of it called the Kiersey Temperament Sorter that you can take online for only $14.95 and know your score in minutes. The report can be very helpful in answering important questions such as "in what type of work environment will I function best" and "what careers are a best fit with my personality?" If you are an intuitive type (N), you will want to look for variety and stay away from routine repetitive tasks. If you are more sensing (S), you don’t mind concrete tasks, such as accounting for example. If you are an extrovert, you get your energy from activities, people and things outside of yourself, so you’ll want to be sure you look for a position that has people contact. The way you structure your day-to-day activities is reflected in your judging (J) vs. perceptive (P) style. If you are a J you will be happiest in a more structured environment with set routines, procedures and schedules. P’s on the other hand love flexibility and can be stifled with too much structure; they may be happier in a small to mid sized company as opposed to larger companies that tend to be more structured and bureaucratic. 

Here’s a great option for you P’s out there, look at Best Buy. They have a new policy that allows their employees to do their work wherever and whenever they want, as long as they get the job done. That’s right, they have no scheduled work hours, the employees are doing their work at home in the evenings, on the phone while they are waiting in the carpool line, or on the sidelines watching their kids soccer games. Amazing, isn’t it? What’s amazing is that the initial reports are quite favorable in terms of how well the program is working. So well, in fact, that other companies are thinking about testing it out. You can read the article in a recent Business Week magazine (December 11, 2006). What a shift!

I could go on for pages about matching up personality with work environments and career choice, but for now just take one thing away from this blog. If you are a young person getting ready to graduate or recently graduated, take the time and put in the effort to learn about yourself, about companies of interest, and interview carefully by asking the right questions to find out if the company is the right fit for you. If you make a good decision with the first job and you do well, it will positively impact your entire career. Make a mistake the first time and it can get you off to a bad start that is not necessarily irreparable but can result in other short term jobs that don’t look so good on the resume. So take the Kiersey Temperament Sorter online, research company websites, and read all you can about interviewing. For starters, check out this very helpful site for college grads:

http://www.collegerecruiter.com/

I’ll continue to provide helpful information on this blog, so stay tuned.

Jan 24

If you are lucky enough to be among the baby boom generation, you are no doubt thinking about retirement. As a ’50-something’ myself, I certainly think about it. What does it mean? For "boomers," it seems to be taking on a whole new meaning. We’re the generation that has reinvented everything about our lives, and retirement is no exception. The word "retirement" certainly doesn’t represent what we see ourselves doing in our more relaxed years. I say "more relaxed" although most of us will strive to be active and continue working in some capacity. The reason for this is that work is our identity, unlike previous generations that lived for their time off, work is who we are and an expression of what we were meant to do in life.

I don’t mean to make it sound like this mindset is exclusive to baby boomers, as many 40′s, 30′s and even 20′s are more focused on finding meaningful work today. It is inspiring to see how so many young people are committed to finding a career that expresses their desire to give back to the world through work.

So, what kinds of careers are retirees transitioning to? Many are doing what they retired from doing but on a part time basis. For others, changing to something new reflects the process of reinventing themselves that is inherent in this major life transition. It is usually something that is viewed as more fun or meaningful. One of my clients who was downsized as a VP started up an online silk screening internet business. Another traded in law enforcement for a job in a quilting shop. There are many more interesting examples, but I would love to hear yours, so please post your experiences. By sharing your career breakthroughs, we can all become enlightened and celebrate the myriad of possibilities and the mindset that anything is possible if we BELIEVE in our ability to make it happen.

One of my colleagues has focused her practice in the area of retirement careers. Her blog which is consistently #1 on Google provides a great perspective of the diversity of career choices. I highly recommend you visit her blog and her website to read many first hand experiences of those who have made major shifts in their careers and their lives during the "golden years."  The blog is found at:

http://blog.retirementcareers.com/blog/

Next time, I’ll take you to another key life transition period, entry-level careers for students entering the work force for the first time.

Jan 23

So, how is your day going? Are you in a breakthrough state of mind? Whether you are looking to make a career breakthrough or a breakthrough in any aspect of your life, your mindset is a big part of it. Are you open to what’s out there or are you stuck in your day-to-day rut, routine, mental "veg" state?

A popular theme in the coaching world today is the "Law of Attraction." This theory states that if you energize your thoughts and your feelings to focus on what you want, you will attract the opportunity and the very thing you want to happen will become manifest to you. It’s an exciting thought and it does seem to work for some people.

You might be saying, "but I don’t know what I want to do next." This dilemma can be approached by using fantasy and visualization to generate creative ideas. We all have dreams about things we’ve always wanted to do. It’s our mindset that messes us up by telling us "you can’t do that," "you’re too old," or "there’s no money in that." But what if we changed our mindset to tell us it is possible? A good question to ask ourselves is "if it were possible, what would I be doing?" Another good question to ask ourselves is "if I were living my dream job, what would it be?" If you can free yourself of the negative self talk, the possibilities will emerge. If you can’t seem to focus on any possibilities, just ask yourself each day the question, "what would I like to doing for my dream career?" If you put the question out there and be truly open to see what comes up, when you least expect it, something will pop into your head or you will find that you experience a situation that "tells you" something. You have to be diligent throughout the day because the answer usually comes when you least expect it.

Not so intuitive by nature? Don’t be discouraged. There are lots of resources out there and research to explore. And there are people you could talk to about their careers. Request an "Informational Interview" and have carefully prepared questions such as "how did you get into this career," and "what do you like best/least about this career" or anything else that is important to you to know in evaluating if the career is right for you. Overall, stay focused on your desire to make a change and TAKE ACTION to explore and try out new things, and it will happen for you.

I’d love to hear from anyone out there who has experienced a career breakthrough, and how it happened for you. Please share your experiences so you can inspire others.

Next time, I’ll talk more about some specific career transition issues related to different age groups and life stages.

Jan 18

Hi everyone and welcome to my blog, Breakthrough Career Connections!  I am excited about using this channel to communicate with you and better yet, get your input regarding careers that you love, hate and that you have transitioned to from other areas.

I’ve been in the careers field for 16 years now, having had my own resume shop for nine and quickly transitioning into consulting and career management.  In that time, I have helped clients make successful transitions during some of the toughest years of the job market requiring certain sectors (such as the technology market a few years ago) to make drastic transitions.  What else can a person do who has been a "techie" their whole career?   How about a textile engineer who doesn’t want to travel to China on a regular basis?

So you can see that I have had some challenges in helping my clients not just survive, but thrive. Because my philosophy is that work is something we should do for fun, enrichment, and because it is our contribution to making the world a better place.  It should not be something we hate and have to count down the hours of a long 8-hour day.

I’m sure many of you are feeling the same way right now as we launch another New Year.  And what an exciting year it is looking to be!  The job market is hopping – the evidence is everywhere. Recruiters are coming out of the woodwork, my clients are getting jobs by posting their resumes online (wow, what a change), and companies are having trouble finding the best candidates, i.e. enter signing bonuses and great employment perks! 

So, for those of you out there who are thinking that this is the year to make that leap of faith to look for the career of your dreams, GO FOR IT!!!  There has never been a better time!  Your career breakthrough could involve transitioning to a whole new field or perhaps involve your breakthrough to discovering what it takes to take your existing career to a new level, to get a promotion or find another area within your company to transition to. Whatever it is, I am hoping that this forum will draw you in and get you psyched by reading about the experiences of those who have made a successful career transition.  Their experiences, in addition to my expertise, should inspire you to take on the challenge.

My plan for this blog is to share examples on a regular basis of successful career transitions, so I will describe a specific career and more importantly share how the transition became a breakthrough for the individual.

I decided to change the name of my business to "Breakthrough" Connections because I just love the concept of breakthrough.  A breakthrough is something that propels us to a higher level of experience, of learning, or growing and becoming the best we can be.  In my business, as a Life Coach with a specialization in Career Transitions, I am so grateful to be able to provide the spark that ignites individual breakthroughs, in career discovery, in job search success, in successful transitions.  So, the theme of this blog will be breakthroughs, and I am really looking forward to hearing your breakthrough experiences in your life, both from a career standpoint or any other aspect of your life that you would like to share.

Stay tuned, coming up I will share with you my recent breakthrough day! 

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