Career Plan

New Discovery to Increased Productivity

happiness

How many of you had parents that said if you work ‘hard’ you’ll get ahead. And you probably have worked hard and have been successful. Now let me ask you about your stress level and your happiness. Are you happy with what you’re doing? Or are you so stressed out that you’ve burned out and you’re only in your 40’s or 50’s.

 

In a Gallup poll conducted in 2014, 70% of the population was unengaged in their work. According to Statista, 64% of employees reported higher levels of stress with their workload being the number one cause.

And I’m sure you’re well aware of the number of studies showing the adverse effect that stress has on our health. The pressure to succeed is even affecting our college students. Google ‘stress and college students’ and you’ll find plenty of studies showing the rise in depression, anxiety, and burn-out among younger adults today.

So I’ll ask again, are you pursuing a career at the cost of being unhappy and unhealthy?

If so, I would recommend reading The Happiness Track by Dr. Emma Seppala Ph.D. Dr. Seppala is the science director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University. In her research, Dr. Seppala found that ‘happiness’ was the key to success, not hard work. She believes that if you’re happy you’ll be more creative, more productive, and more influential. In her book Dr. Seppala disproves the notions of working nonstop in order to achieve your goals and that you can’t succeed without stress and that we must stay focused on our goals at any cost.

If you’ve ever failed at achieving your goals did you beat yourself up thinking you let yourself or someone else down? Dr Seppala’s research shows that self-criticism is really self-sabotage. Instead of criticizing ourselves Dr. Seppala suggests that we should show ourselves self-compassion. If we treat ourselves with the same kindness we would treat a friend in the same situation we would end up being more resilient and more productive.

Is it really a dog-eat-dog world? Research shows that being kind to others and going out of your way to help ends up not only benefiting those you are helping but will help you be happier, healthier, and more productive.

So if you’re one of those in the boat that believes you need to work hard on the road to success, keep in mind the data now suggests otherwise. Science has proven that taking care of yourself and others, taking time off, and finding joy in your life is the easier path to success and achieving your goals.

 

Can’t Find A Job?

cant-find-a-job

Have you been looking for a job for six, eight months even a year and still haven’t found anything?

Have you sent out hundreds of resumes and no one is calling?

Have you been on countless interviews only to be told that someone else got the job?

 

If any of these apply to you, it’s time to examine what might be the issue.

So where do you start?

Resume

Take a second look at your resume. You might think it’s great; however, the recruiter and hiring manager might think differently. If you have the opportunity, ask a recruiter their opinion of your resume. Most recruiters will give you pointers because recruiters really are jazzed about getting you the job. If you can’t ask a recruiter ask a former supervisor to take a look at it. You don’t want to ask a friend because friends don’t always tell us the truth fearing they might hurt our feelings. Another option is talk to a staffing/employment agency. They’ll give you honest feedback as well. You want someone to review your resume who has had a lot of experience looking at plenty of resumes.

Finally, make sure to tailor your resume to each job. No longer does one size fit all in the world of resumes.

Interview

It’s time to practice your answers to interview questions. If you can remember some of the interview questions you’ve been asked, write them down and then write down your responses. There is plenty of help on the internet related to interview questions and responses. I’ve also included a list of some of the more common interview questions with responses HERE. Remember to keep your answers brief and to the point. As you practice, time your responses. If you take ten minutes to answer a question, try again. You want to keep your answers less than ten minutes. Also, keep your responses related to the job the company needs to have done. Review the job description and write down examples of how your experience meets the requirements of the job. Don’t bring up examples of experiences that have nothing to do with the job. Find someone to practice with, perhaps a previous co-worker.

Salary Expectations

Sometimes salary requirements can prevent you from obtaining employment. If you’re standing firm on a particular amount and you know it’s too high or you’ve been continuously told your requirements are outside of the range, perhaps it’s time to lower your expectations. Doing so depends on how long you want to be employed. Sometimes companies will hire you at a lower rate and then once you’re employed and they see how much you can do they will adjust your salary. This has happened to me on occasion. Be sure to conduct your research to make sure that your expectations are market rate for your skills. Just because you were making the amount at one company doesn’t mean another company has to pay you the same.

Applying to Jobs that You’re Qualified to Do

Over the years I’ve seen applicants set themselves up for failure and frustration applying to jobs they weren’t qualified to do. If you truly are qualified, make sure that your resume reflects your qualifications. But if you know that you aren’t qualified don’t apply. Spend your time wisely applying to those jobs that you’re qualified to do. If you want to make a career change, consider accepting a position that you can do while you train to make the change. If you’ve been training, then make sure you explain in the cover letter why you are applying and what you’ve done to qualify for the position.

Unexplained Gaps in Employment

Does your resume show gaps in employment without any explanation? If so, you need to correct this immediately or you’re only setting yourself up to not be contacted. Explain either on the resume or cover letter why there is a gap. The majority of the time gaps are explainable and no big deal. But if you don’t explain them recruiters aren’t likely to take the time to call especially if they have plenty of other qualified applicants.

Are You Only Looking on Indeed?

If you’re only using one source to look for open positions you might be unemployed for a very long time. Companies don’t use one source to post their jobs. Many companies don’t post their jobs at all. You’ll need to conduct a search of companies in the area and start looking at their websites. The local Chamber of Commerce is a good source to determine companies in the area. Other sources to use to look for jobs include professional associations, networking groups, and social media especially LinkedIn.

Relocation

If you have already followed all the guidance above and you’re still having trouble, it might be time to consider relocation. Sometimes the market for certain jobs changes. In this case you’ll need to consider changing professions or relocating to where the jobs for your skill sets are.

My point here is that if you’re having trouble finding a job there are things you can do to help yourself find employment again.

And don’t forget – stay positive and persistent!

Should You Accept the Offer?

 

accept-the-offer

Congratulations! You got the offer. You successfully passed the resume, interview, and background phase of the job search. Now what do you do? It might be tempting to go ahead and accept the offer right away because it’s the first offer you’ve received and you’re concerned that you may not get another one.

If you do accept the offer, you could be making a big mistake.  So take a deep breath and ask the company for some time to think about the offer.  Let them know you would like to read through all the documents they provided so you have a good understanding of what’s being offered. Companies will normally give you a few days before requesting a final decision.

Now that you have some time, let’s walk through everything that you should consider before accepting your offer:

Is it the right job?

The most important point to consider is the job. Is it what you want to do considering you’ll be spending 40+ hours a week doing it. When considering the job, answer the following questions:

  • Do you get excited when you think about doing the job?
  • Does the work fall in line with your career plan?
  • Is it the type of job that makes you want to go to work in the morning?

If you answered ‘no’ to any of the questions, then the job may not be the right one for you.

Is the culture of the company a fit?

Not only do you want to make sure that the job is right for you but is the company right for you, too? To determine if the culture is a fit conduct the following research:

  • Search the company’s website for their value statement and whether they are committed to supporting a diverse workforce.
  • Look at reviews on the company at places like  Glassdoor.
  • It’s perfectly acceptable to call the recruiter or the hiring manager and discuss the culture with them. Ask them why they decided to work for the company and if they like it.

Keep in mind that the size of the company can dictate culture as well. The larger the company the more policies and less flexible the company will be.  Start-ups tend to be the most flexible with regards to work environment.

Consider the offer?

After you considered the job and the culture of the company and you believe both are acceptable, now consider the offer. Make sure that you gather all the appropriate information you’ll need before deciding if the offer is right for you.  Refer to the Job Offer Checklist to help you gather the pertinent information.

In the end, let your instincts be your guide. If accepting the offer doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Because the worst thing that can happen is that you accept the offer and within the first 30 days you realize you made a mistake. Not only have you wasted 30 days you could have been using to find the right job, now you’re in a situation of having to decide do you quit so soon after accepting.  There’s a good chance if you do quit you might burn a bridge, too.

Don’t ever accept the first offer just because you got the offer.  If that company wants you then there are other companies who will want your expertise as well.  Looking for a job takes a lot of time and energy. Taking the time to find the job that fits will prevent you from having to incur the stress of looking for another job right away if the one you accepted doesn’t fit.

 

 

Your Career Plan is Like a Google Map

career-plan

How often do you use Google Maps or another map program for directions?  I know I use them at least two or three times a day. It’s so convenient and most of the time you don’t get lost. All you do is enter your starting point, define your destination, and then select the option to route you.  Your personalized map pops up with step by step directions on how to get to your destination.

That’s what your Career Plan is like, a map with step by step directions how to get to your destination – your career goal.

How do you know if you need a career map? Ask yourself the following questions.

Question 1: Are you satisfied where you are now in your career?

If you answered no, why not? When you define why you’re not satisfied you’ve established a career goal.  Developing a career plan will help you establish specific step by step instructions to take to accomplish your goal and achieve career satisfaction.

Question 2: Have you received a promotion in the last 3 years?

If you answered no and you think you should be promoted, your career plan will help you define specific actions to take that could possibly lead to your promotion.

Question 3:  Has your boss said that you are a vital person in the company?

If you answered no, your career plan will help you define how you can become a person that your company counts on.  Individuals that companies need are more inclined to be promoted.

Developing a plan for your career can…

  1. Allow you to develop new skills to keep you energized and help you avoid getting stuck in a slump.
  2. Allow you to take responsibility for your career advancement so you don’t get dissatisfied when you get overlooked for that promotion.
  3. Give you the satisfaction knowing you have a direction for your career.
  4. Say to your employer that you are interested in continuing to learn, grow and develop your skills.
  5. Help you determine if you’re in the right career field.

Keep your career plan simple and achievable. Set you goals, be persistent in your achievement of them, and don’t be deterred by setbacks.

CLICK HERE for step by step instructions how to create your own career plan.

 

Over 50 and Just Lost Your Job – Now What?

over-50

After you’ve gotten over the initial shock that for whatever reason your job suddenly ended – breathe! The worst you can do is start thinking you’ll never find another job or that you’re too old. Haven’t you heard 50 is the new 30? There are plenty of companies who are searching for the experienced worker. Even though someone with less experience would be happy to jump in and do your roll for less money, companies don’t have time to devote to training. Business is moving too fast and product has to get to market to beat the competition.

So how do you find the companies who are looking for the experienced worker? If you haven’t searched for a job in a while and don’t have a clue where to start – here are some tips.

Resume

Let’s start with your resume. By now you’ve collected a lot of experience and you probably think you need to wow your next employer by listing all your achievements. Not true! The recruiter is going to see your resume first and they only have a couple of minutes to review it. If you’re resume reads like a novel, you’re going into the slush pile.

Here are some guidelines related to your resume:

1. Be brief – Keep your resume to no more than 4 pages.
2. Achievements – Your achievements will set you apart from your competition. List your achievements under each one of your jobs but don’t list ALL of them. Pick out the 5 – 7 most important achievements and if possible match them to the job description.
3. Use bullet points – The ‘look’ of the resume is as important as the ‘content.’ Recruiters read hundreds of resumes daily. A resume with fewer words is a lot more appealing to read then one where the entire page is covered in words. Think about marketing campaigns. Are you more likely to read an ad where there are fewer words and more white space on the page? Consider your resume as your marketing device. After you finish it look at it. Is there any white space on the page? If not, cut…cut….cut words.

For further guidance on how to complete your resume and cover letter CLICK HERE.

Networking

In a study conducted by AARP of individuals over 50 trying to enter the labor market again, 45% of the respondents surveyed said that networking was their most effective tool in finding another position.

Here are some guidelines related to networking:

1. Announce you’re looking – Soon after losing your job announce to your professional network that you are on the market again. Be sure to include a statement as to the type of position you are interested in finding. Let your family and friends know that you are looking and ask them to announce it to their networks, too.
2. Networking Groups – Search for local networking groups to join. One word of caution before spending your time with the group, find out the group’s agenda. Some groups meet and the members are uber proactive in finding a job so that’s a good group to join. You’ll want to avoid groups where members only lament how difficult their search is going. You want to make sure that you surround yourself with positive supportive energy during your search.
3. Professional Associations – Search for a professional association for your field and attend a local chapter meeting. At the meeting announce that you are looking for a job. Some professional organizations have job boards. Be sure to add your resume to their database. Recruiters have very little time to source so they go to places where there is the largest concentration of professionals with the skills they’re searching for.

For a list of professional organizations that have job boards CLICK HERE.

The Job Search

With hundreds of job boards where do you start? The easiest way to find job boards that list your type of position is to conduct an internet search using Boolean logic. Boolean logic uses ‘operators’ such as AND, OR, NOT, to retrieve information based on the search words and phrases you want to use.

Here are some examples of searches you can do:

1. Google Search – Following is an example of a Boolean search string to type into Google if you were looking for Business Systems Analyst jobs needing Agile. (Note: just replace the job title and skills to match your specific situation.)

“Business Systems Analyst” AND Agile AND Colorado AND job –resume -descriptions -profiles -“resume profile” -template -“job description”

(Google doesn’t recognize the operator NOT so use a ‘-‘ instead.)

You can also be specific about the sites you want to retrieve information from.
Following is a search string to bring Business Systems Analyst jobs from Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, and LinkedIn. Using this search string will be a time saver because you won’t have to go to each job board separately to search for jobs.

(site:indeed.com OR site:monster.com OR site:careerbuilder.com OR site:linkedin.com) (“Business Systems Analyst”) AND (Denver OR Boulder)

2. Yahoo Search and Hotbot Search.

Use the following Boolean search string in these engines:

“Business Systems Analyst” AND Agile AND Colorado AND job NOT ad NOT resume NOT description NOT profile

Note: be sure and look at multiple pages on all these search results.

3. US.JOBS – This is one job board to search no matter the position you’re looking for. This is a job board that companies who are doing business with the government use to post all their jobs in order to comply with affirmative action laws.

Whatever you do, don’t concentrate your search with any one job board. Companies don’t normally post all their positions with one job board. They spread the jobs across many of the boards to determine which boards bring them the best talent.

Interviewing

As we’ve already established you have a wealth of experience. You’re going to be tempted to ‘dump’ all your knowledge during the interview to impress the team. Don’t! Dumping all your experience during the interview might lead the interview team to decide that you’re overqualified for the role, you might be a know-it-all, or if the hiring manager is less experienced than you, they might be concerned that you may not listen to them.

Here are some guidelines to follow during the interview:

1. Practice ahead of the interview – Look at the job description and for the first 5-7 bullet points under job responsibilities write down examples of how you have had experience in these areas. Do the same for the first 3-5 job qualifications. Stick to addressing these bullet points during the interview and don’t stray.
2. Don’t say ‘this is my last job’ – When asked the question ‘why do you want to work there’, whatever you do don’t say that you’re looking for the last job before retirement. I can promise you, you won’t get the job.
3. Being overqualified – If you know that you’re overqualified for the job that you’re interviewing for you’ll want to address the elephant in the room even if the interview team doesn’t. Make the interview team aware that you know you have more experience and it could work to their advantage. For example let them know you can help mentor junior personnel, or that they won’t have to spend time and money training you, or that you can be up and running from day one. Also let them know that you’re okay with accepting a lower salary. Make them aware that your primary goal is to be able to contribute to the success of the organization.

Social Media

You’ve probably heard that Social Media is the way to your next job and you’re stressed because perhaps you’ve let your LinkedIn account go and you haven’t ever Tweeted or Pinned. Don’t panic. While there are a lot of cool tools recruiters can use to find people on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, if you’re not already on these platforms, don’t stress yourself and join them. Most recruiters don’t use the cool tools if they don’t have to. So you don’t need to stress yourself more by setting up and having to learning new social media platforms.

There is only one social media account you’ll want to set up if you don’t have one and update if you do and that’s LinkedIn. This social media platform is the single most used tool by recruiters.

Here are some guidelines regarding establishing/updating your LinkedIn Profile.

1. The Summary – Use the Summary to provide a snap shot of your skills and your Work Objective. State specifically that you’re currently searching for your next job and what type of job you’re looking for.
2. Job Titles – Under your Name, when using words to describe yourself, use job titles for positions that you’re interested in obtaining.
3. Make your Work Experience brief – Once again don’t write a novel when you’re adding/modifying your work experience. Make your bullet points abbreviated and meaningful. Make it easy for recruiters to scan your achievements. Make your ‘current position’ as ‘seeking new employment’. By doing so, when your profile comes up in a recruiter’s search they’ll see right away that you’re open to hearing from them.

The single biggest factor in finding the next job is being persistent in your search. To help you focus check the  3/50 Plan to Conduct Your Job Your Job Search.

Finally let’s address the mental aspects of searching for a job. Regardless of the age, searching for a job can be daunting, frustrating, overwhelming, stressful – well, you get the picture. When you’re over 50 and searching, thoughts like you’re too old, no one wants you, you’re never going to find another job again, can send you into a tailspin.

Here’s a tip on countering those negative thoughts when they come. Every time your mind shoves a negative thought to the front, counter the thought as follows:

Negative thought: I’m too old. My best days are over.

Counter: I’m a mature adult with a lot of life experience that someone is going to be lucky to get. My best days are yet to come.

Negative thought: Employers are going to take one look at how old I am and won’t hire me.

Counter: Employers are going to see my enthusiasm and my value and are going to be lining up to hire me.

Negative thought: I’m never going to be able to find work.

Counter: Jobs are being dropped in my lap one after another. I’m going to have multiple offers to choose from.

Get my point?

Your thoughts don’t control you. YOU control your thoughts. It’s just as easy to have a positive thought pop into your mind as it is a negative one. It doesn’t matter how many times negative thoughts pop into your mind keep countering them.

Finding a job is as much a mental game as it is an actionable one. Whatever the reasons you find yourself unemployed put them behind you and look forward.

The sun will come up and you will find a job!

I’m going to leave you with one last point. If you’ve sent out fifty to a hundred resumes to jobs that you know you are qualified to do and no one has contacted you, consider having a professional look at your resume.

Now go get ‘em!

How many jobs should you have during your career?

 

changing-jobs

 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics workers age 18 – 34 on average change jobs every 2.8 years.

The main reasons for leaving given by professionals in this category include:

 

  1. No connection to the values of the company
  2. No career path
  3. No fun
  4. No work life balance
  5. More money

So is it acceptable to frequently change jobs?  The answer depends on why you’re changing.

Don’t fit with Culture?

If you’ve tried to make your current company work but you feel like the black sheep all the time, then yes definitely consider making a change to a company where you fit better in the culture.  Check out the article Corporate Culture What You Should Know when searching for that next job to help you define the company’s culture before you accept the offer.

Don’t fit with the Boss?

If you are having trouble working with your boss, before you make the decision to change jobs try and work the issue out first. Have a conversation with the Human Resource professional. HR professionals are trained how to handle these situations and will quite possibly be able to resolve the trouble. You can also sit down with your boss and have a direct conversation with them regarding your concerns. Direct conversations often can resolve the trouble as well. There will be many individuals during your career that you will have a challenge working with. It’s best to try and resolve your troubles instead of running from them.

No Future?

If you’ve had a conversation with your boss that you’re ready to move up AND your boss agrees that you have the skills to move up but she doesn’t have a position to promote you into, then it might be time to consider another job.  Changing jobs because you want to continue to keep progressing in your career is an acceptable reason to give when asked during an interview why you left your last employer. Just make sure you have a conversation with your boss first before leaving because there might be other options to continue your learning that you haven’t considered. You might be able to partner with a more experienced professional on a project or pick up some additional education or even transfer to another group within the company.

More Money?

If you’ve conducted a  market value analysis of your skills and have determined that you’re being underpaid, first have a conversation with the HR professional regarding your findings. I’ve seen companies adjust salaries accordingly. But if you’ve given your current company a chance to increase your salary and they are resisting, then it might be time to leave.  According to an article in Forbes.com, employees can be paid 50% less if they stay in their jobs longer than two years.

No Fun?

If you’re not having fun at your job then you need to figure out why and make some changes. You spend half of your day at work or driving to work or thinking about work. You should be having fun. However, before you quit your job really do some deep thinking why you’re not having fun.  If you just quit your job to go find another one, you’re probably going to end up in the same situation again.  Figure out why you’re not having fun first, then look for another job or even change careers all together. Life’s too short for not having fun.

It isn’t bad to continue to change jobs during your career, just be clear on why you’re changing. Remember you’re going to have to give reasons for your job changes each time to seek that new job. You’ll want to make sure that you give good solid reasons so you don’t begin to look like a job hopper searching for greener pastures.

 

 

 

 

 

New Overtime Laws

Overtime LawsOn December 1st, 2016 a new overtime law will go into effect. The new law will allow salaried workers, meaning individuals who receive a fixed rate of pay, who are paid less than $913 per week ($47, 476 annually), and who continue to perform executive, administrative, or professional duties, as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor’s duties test, will be eligible for overtime pay.

The old law that had been in effect since 2004 exempted individuals performing executive, administrative, or professional duties from overtime if they were paid at least an annual salary of $23, 660.

It’s estimated that 4 million individuals will benefit by receiving overtime or an increase in their salary when the law goes into effect.

My personal opinion is that I’m in favor of this law. During the 20 years I’ve been recruiting I’ve come across individuals from time-to-time working sixty hours a week, making $24,000 and because of their job classification were exempt from overtime. Many of the remarkable women were trying to raise a family on their salary, too.

Companies will have options as to how to comply with the new law. They include:

1. Paying workers time and a half for overtime if they work in excess of 40 hours a week
2. Raise the workers’ annual salary to meet the new threshold
3. Limit the number of hours an employee works to 40 hours a week
4. A combination of any of the above.

To read more about the new law and to find out if it applies to you go to the U.S. Department of Labor website.