Q&A: Four Steps to Career and Job Advancement

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“To find a career to which you are adapted by nature, and then to work hard at it, is about as near to a formula for success and happiness as the world provides. One of the fortunate aspects of this formula is that, granted the right career has been found, the hard work takes care of itself. Then hard work is not hard work at all.”

~ Mark Sullivan ~

Client Christopher Asks: I’ve been at my job for about three years now. I thought I’d just be happy in this position. I mean, I like my job and all.  But I’m finding it’s getting a pretty boring. I realize I’d like a more of a challenge. But I have no idea how to figure out this career advancement process. What does it take to get a more fulfilling job?  How do I even start?

Coach Joel Answers: Good question, Christopher. To help you get started on your search for career and job advancement, you need to make some decisions. These choices will help you find your direction and open the path to a better job.

1. What is your career goal? I know that might be hard to answer, as you thought you had it solved. But now, take a moment and look at what gives you satisfaction.

  • Which parts of your job to you enjoy most?
  • As you look around you, which jobs to other people have that you think you would enjoy doing?
  • Are there salary goals you have?
  • Are there certain kinds of responsibilities and actions you enjoy doing?

All of these are clues to what your career goal might be.

2. What skills will you need? After you choose a career goal, Christopher, you need to understand the skills, education, and training necessary to advance to that job. The bureau of Labor Statistics offers an Occupational Outlook Handbook that lists thousands of jobs and the criteria for them.

One additional benefit is that it predicts whether the need for that specialty will be increasing or decreasing in the coming years. As you think about your career goal and the training necessary to help you advance, this can be a good source for you.

3. Where can you find the training? Once you’ve chosen the career you want, and you know the skills you need, where will you get them? Consider looking for them exactly where you are.

  • Your company may offer the training you need.  It might be through mentoring or other traditional or non-structured learning at work. Especially if you’re looking to advance in your company, this is a best first choice. You’ll learn the skills most desired by your organization.
  • College classes or degrees may be preferred if you are looking to move a great deal higher in your company.
  • Coaching is a valuable option to hone in on skills – analytical thinking, problem solving, decision making, team building, and other skills essential for success.

4. How can you promote your job advancement?  Once you know where you want to go with your career and job advancement, you need to take steps to make it happen. Assess how much help you might get from your current employer.  Ask for feedback on your current job, and let them know what your goals are.  They may help you work into that job.  If not, hone your skills, develop your talents, and search for a job in another market.

Christopher, many people want to move ahead in their career and just aren’t sure how to get started. If you follow this plan, you can soon feel comfortable that your career and job advancement is on track to success.

For more information about how to advance your career with personalized and individualized coaching, contact Joel.

Talkback: What steps have you taken to advance your career?  How did you start out?

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Square Pegs in Round Holes: Career Choices for Introverts

Square Pegs in Round Holes: Career Choices for Introverts

“Telling an introvert to go to a party is like telling a saint to go to Hell.”

~ Criss Jami ~

Client Emily Asks:  I feel totally out of place and uncomfortable in my job. I’m a marketing manager for a major entertainment company and I’m surrounded by people who are constantly running in high gear and bouncing off the walls. I get so stressed out, some days I just want to crawl into a hole. I know I’m an introvert and I think I need a total career makeover. But I’ve invested a lot of myself in getting ahead with this company and I hate to blow it off. What should I do?

Coach Joel Answers: Taking a close look at your level of job satisfaction is never a bad thing to do. Based on your description, I’d say you’re probably an introvert in a career that’s populated by extroverts. Statistics tell us that 12-25% of people in the general population are true introverts. The rest are either partial or total extroverts. If that’s true, then it’s easy to see why you feel like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Here are three things you could start doing immediately to change your situation.

• Evaluate
• Plan
• Train

1. Evaluate. Take a close look at who you are vs. where you are.  Think about your strengths, passions, interests, and hobbies. Perhaps you love to read, write in your journal, listen to music, take walks, and play with your dog or cat. You probably thrive on solitude and feel drained if you spend too much time with other people. If you’re in a high pressure, hyperactive job, you should determine if your “quiet” needs can be met on that job or if you can get enough alone time off the job to feel satisfied. For example, can you close your office door and work on your own a good share of the time? Can you eat lunch away from the crowd, spend an hour alone at the gym or taking a solo walk?

Evaluate your company as well. Since you’ve put in a lot of time and energy there, see if there’s a way to stay with the company in a position that allows you to work more on your own and less with other people. You may want to talk to your boss or someone in HR to lay the groundwork for a possible job change, even if it’s a lateral move.

2. Plan. Changing careers or even jobs is not like buying a new pair of socks. You need a solid plan, a step-by-step process to get you from Point A to Point B. The first step is to look at your career thus far (marketing) and see what jobs within that field might be a better fit. For example, could you shift into graphic design or market research—both careers that allow you to spend a lot of time flying solo.

If you feel that a job change within your current field is not possible or practical, then you may want to plan for a complete career change. Test yourself, first of all, to get a clearer picture of what specific career fields might be a good fit. There are many internet sites that offer free self-analysis tests and career recommendations. You may want to work with a career coach who can help you cut through some of the clutter and develop a solid plan. You could also invest in one or more career guides or workbooks that could provide valuable insights.

3. Train. You may choose a short term solution, such as staying in the same company or field but in a new job. If that is your choice, see what training opportunities the company might offer, either in-house, on line, or perhaps even a subsidized degree program. If you design a longer-term plan that involves a complete career change, what will it be? People on the introvert side of the spectrum lean toward professions such as law, accounting, research, or technology.

The bottom line is this: what will make YOU happy? What can you do now to feel more fulfilled, more excited, and more of who you really are? When you have answers to those questions, you’ll be on the right path toward a fulfilling career.

If you’re feeling stressed or out of place in your current career, Joel can provide you with helpful advice and direction. Email him today. 

Talkback: Have you made a career change that worked for you? Or have you found ways to get more of what you need in your current job? Share your experience here.

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My Job Isn’t Satisfying: Changing Careers at 30, 40, or Even 50

Your New Career Sign

“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: They try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.”

~ Margaret Young ~

Annie Asks: The job I have is not satisfying. I’ve been doing it for over twelve years. I don’t know what I like to do. How do I figure this out and find a career that is fulfilling for me?

Joel Answers: For most people, changing careers is a process, not an overnight, snap decision. You know you are unsatisfied in your current position, and you’re exploring your options. That’s the first—and often the hardest—step in the process. The good news is that you can change careers at any age or stage in your career. Whether you’re changing careers at 30 or 45, the process is still the same. Here are some tips to help you discover your dream job, regardless of how old you are or how long you’ve been in your current position.

  1. Think about what you really love to do.
    For now, don’t try to make this work or career-related. Don’t think about what kind of work you love to do; think about what you love to do in your free time. Do you garden? Spend time with your grandkids? Putter around in your workshop? What really makes you happy? Any one of these things could be the foundation of a new career. What is it that you do in your own time that really makes your heart sing?
  2. Consider ways to make what you love into a career.
    Once you have determined what makes you happy, think of ways that you might be able to turn that activity into a new career. If you love to garden, you could start a nursery, go to work for a greenhouse, become a landscaper, or even teach others about gardening. If you love spending time with your grandkids, you might enjoy working with other people’s children as well. A career as a teacher or daycare director might be right up your alley. For the workshop hobbyist, making and selling handcrafted furniture can be extremely fulfilling and profitable.
  3. Get help from a career coach.
    If you’ve tried coming up with ways to turn one of the things you love into a career but you’re still stuck, consider turning to a career coach for help. A good coach will guide you through the career change process and help you find the right career for you.

If you’re unhappy in your career, the time to get started searching for a new career is now. Even if you’re just 30 or 35, changing careers is hard, but as you get older, it gets even harder. If you’re young now, don’t wait until you’re 45 or 50 to think about changing careers. Older workers often face more of a challenge starting over in a new career due to reluctance on the part of employers to hire an older worker to fill an entry-level position.

If you are changing careers in mid-life or later, first read my article, “5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Pursuing Your Dream Job,” then consider ways that you might be able to combine aspects of your old job with your new career. For example, if you are a sales manager now, you might have an easier time changing industries if you accept a position in sales in that industry first, then pursue the position you really want after you’ve gained some experience in the industry.

Do you need help finding your dream job? Fill out the career assessment on the Dream Job Coaching website to receive a personalized response from Joel.

Talkback: Are you in the process of making a career change or have you successfully completed one? Tell us about it below or leave a question for a future Q&A with Joel.

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Trying to Find Your Dream Job

Dream Job
“Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.”

~ Oprah Winfrey ~

Are you trying to find your dream job? One approach is to have a solid online presence and online marketing strategy. With that said, how you project yourself online can make or break your job search efforts. Here are 3 deadly mistakes you can’t afford to make when using the Internet to find your dream job:

  1. Relying on just online marketing. If you think applying to hundreds of jobs online gives you a better chance of landing your dream job, you’re dead wrong. Imagine thousands of applicants aspiring for the same job–this could spell disaster for you and for the employer who posted the job. Could this mean many employers may choose not to post the job online?  From my experience I know this: the best jobs are never posted but are found through networking and contacts. That’s something to think about.
  2. Focusing on quantity not quality. There are literally hundreds of social media portals out there. Trying to post your online profile on all of them is like spreading your net out as wide as you can but not catching anything at the end of the day. A better approach is to focus on building your online profile on some of the most populare and well-respected sites out there. LinkedIn is a good example. Focus on one or two sites to demonstrate your skills, experience, make contacts and build positive relationships in your industry.
  3. Playing the waiting game. One of the worst things you can do is to build your online profile and NOT do anything after that. Don’t assume people will land on your profile, contact you and hand you your dream job on a silver platter. You’ve got to work hard with online networking. Connect with people offline and tell them to connect with you on LinkedIn, for example. Join industry-related groups and be a part of the conversation. Leave helpful comments on other people’s posts. Demonstrate that you’re an expert in your niche. All of this will help increase your visibility at work, which just might catch the eye of a headhunter or your future employer.

Understand that without a doubt, potential recruiters are going to look you up online. Maintaining a strong online profile is essential to finding your dream job. However, a successful job search program or plan does not only involve having an online presence and using online marketing.

Traditional methods like using influence, getting others to perceive you positively, and building your brand are equally if not more important to get ahead in your career.

So the next time you connect with someone online, also remember to network face-to-face, recruit a person of influence to hand-deliver your resume to the HR manager, and assume that your prospective employer will be conducting a search for you on Google. With all the right elements put into place you’ll be well on your way to finding the job of your dreams.

Looking for concrete tips on building your online profile? Read this blog post or schedule an appointment with Joel Garfinkle to get the dream job coaching you need to succeed!

Image: Phaitoon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Pursuing Your Dream Job

Dare Dream Do by Whitney L. Johnson

“When we dream we make meaning of life, discover the essence of ourselves, truly grow up, and most importantly, model for children how to dream.”

~ Whitney L. Johnson ~

Years ago, an associate of mine was working in a job that had already made him more money than most Americans earn in a lifetime. Right out of college, he landed a position with a major tech company and helped design several iterations of the world’s leading networking equipment.

Some might call my associate’s career a study in success—a perfect example of how a smart, hard-working, enterprising individual could still do great things in America. Only, the man wasn’t happy. In fact, he was miserable. He was tired of networks and technology and wished his life had taken a different direction. In other words, he felt trapped.

He was also paralyzed by fear. He attributed most of his success to luck, circumstances, and youthful enthusiasm. More than halfway through his life, how could he dramatically change its trajectory, yet still meet all of his financial obligations? More importantly, did he have what it took to do something new?

The man eventually hired me as a career coach, and several months later he made the transition into a C-level position at a leading nonprofit organization. When he and I reflected on his success, he said, “I think it’s the questions we discussed, the ones right at the beginning, that made it all possible. Once I realized I could answer them all in the affirmative, I knew I had what it took to make a change.”

Those questions are reproduced here:

  1. Can you invest hours of your free time in learning something new? Most people’s dream job—whether it’s a director of marketing, a boarding school history teacher, or a chief information officer—requires a high degree of expertise in a diverse set of specialized skills. Those skills take time, effort, and intentional practice to master.
  2. Are you willing to accept rejection? It’s the extremely rare individual who lands his or her dream job on the first interview. Just as J. K. Rowling received dozens of rejection letters before having her first Harry Potter manuscript accepted, most dream job seekers will have to deal with being turned away by HR.
  3. Do you know how to talk with people? Whether it’s fair or not, few people will recognize your expertise and value if you don’t introduce yourself to them. Old-fashioned networking is essential to landing most dream jobs. The more people know or hear about you, the more likely they will be to hire you—or point you in the direction of the perfect opportunity.
  4. Can you discipline your thinking and achieve emotional detachment? For most people, one of the biggest barriers to landing their dream job is self doubt. The human subconscious has a negativity bias by default, which leads us to constantly question our plans. Thankfully, practice and mindfulness can transform our thinking and dramatically decrease self doubt.
  5. Are you willing to put happiness above money? According to psychological researchers, earning more than $75,000 per year (adjusted for local COL) doesn’t contribute to the average American’s overall level of emotional well-being. While not every dream job comes with a pay cut, some do; others may require substantial education or relocation costs.

If you’re interested in reading more about landing your dream job, my friend Whitney Johnson has a new book out titled Dare, Dream, Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream, which is available at bookstores nationwide, as well as on all major online retailers, including AmazonB&N, and Indiebound.

Talkback: Are you working at your dream job, or is it “just a job”? How would you answer the five questions above? Are you willing to do what it takes to start pursuing your dream job?