Currently Browsing: Career Transition

Weighing in: 3 Job Search Fitness Tips

By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

Following our New Year’s resolution to get fit, my husband, Rob, and I have lost a combined total of nearly 40 lbs. During my last weigh-in, the scale’s little pound-marker quivered between a 19 and 20 lb. net loss. With 15 lbs. yet to lose, and after having “somewhat mastered” my strength and fat-burning cardio routine, I now must sharpen my focus on free weight and upper body training, which I’m working on.

How we stayed the course these past nearly 3 months boils down to our personal reality check and a resolve to make it work ‘this time.’ Both Rob and I are in this together (which means we are in sync with meal plans and snacks and totally accountable for pretty much all we eat). A few rules we followed and lessons we have learned during this ongoing journey follows:

#1: CREATE A PLAN AND STICK WITH IT

After CLOSELY counting calories the first 2 weeks of the plan in January, we’ve stuck to a pretty rigid meal formula:

a) Breakfast: single serving Quaker brown sugar-flavored oatmeal + 1 banana;

b) Lunch: 1 serving soup; 10 crackers; 1/4 cup cottage cheese; slice of fruit;

c) Dinner: Baked fish or chicken; veggie; freshly made, ROBUST salad (lettuce, 1/2 egg, strawberries, olives, bit of cheese, cucumber, tomato, a few sunflower seeds, etc.) – no dressing except for a splash of olive oil;

d) Evening snack: Jello pudding; individual serving;

e) We keep baked almonds around for afternoon hungries – I usually measure out 1/4 cup; and,

f) Pretty much eliminated all cocktails during the week, and reserved such treats for weekends.

Also, we have cut out bread/carbs for the most part (except for the crackers at lunch). That was difficult at first, but it’s funny how, after nearly 3 months, the things I strongly missed don’t matter nearly so much now.

Bottom Line: We are satiated and don’t go hungry; so this time I’m getting healthy versus dieting and starving myself, which I used to do, while also being highly motivated by shedding pounds! I need to see my body change and get trimmer, but I also know it’s about being healthy inside. The biggest surprise to me is and how much more energy I have to make better decisions in my business. I feel more optimistic and hopeful. Stronger, for sure.

On weekends, we take 1 day off to have fun, enjoy an off-diet breakfast or dinner, enjoy a glass or 2 of wine and simply play.

Takeaway for Job Seekers: Whether you are unhappy with your current job and want to find the escape hatch, or you have been thrust into the sea of job search, you MUST commit to a transition plan and discipline yourself to stick with it. Structure is key, especially in the initial stages of executing your plan, and sticking to that structure. Over time, new habits will form!

While enduring through this new disciplined approach, be sure to take time to smell the flowers: play, laugh, let go of the job search at least 1 day per week. Rest in the evenings. Rejuvenate.

Not only will you find that your imminent goal of landing a new and/or better job  is more likely to be met, but you will find renewed vigor, confidence and clarity of thought for future career decisions.

Your lifeless, limp job search will grow muscle and traction; subtle improvements in the shape of your career body will show up.

#2: GET SWEATY; NO PAIN NO GAIN

100% commitment to 50 minutes of sweaty exercise 5 days/week + some sort of fun physical activity on the weekends (e.g., our new bicycles that we can ride to the lake and back, a 3.6 mile ride with a few challenging hills). Investing in The Biggest Loser Weight Loss DVD has been my secret weapon.

Bottom line: Rob and I both are not huge exercise fans, but we realized, as we moved into and past our mid-40s, that we HAD to do something – we love life too much! We were becoming unhealthier each day. We love to eat, and imbibe, but it was starting to turn on us. We now enjoy our breakaways from the healthy eating plan, on weekends, but we also embrace the feeling of strength and clearer thinking that result from sticking to the plan, for the majority of the week.

Takeaway for Job Seekers: Show commitment to tangible, uncomfortable action, not just words! Live outside that ‘box’ you’ve been hiding in. Sweat out your angst, demonstrating to yourself that a little pain is worth it for the gain. Research and invest in tools and strategies that will help propel your goals to the finish line. Perhaps a resume writer or career coach can help!

#3: DON’T EXPECT INSTANT RESULTS; CHANGE TAKES TIME / PATIENCE

During the first few weeks of our fitness routine, the fit of my clothes remained the same while the weight on the scale ticked down. So, while I saw measurable progress, the visual results were slow to follow. However, nearly immediately, from day one, I felt better, emotionally, intellectually and physically. Over time, week over week, and month over month, more significant changes to my body’s shape and strength have begun to emerge.

Takeaway for Job Seekers: Akin to crash dieters, job seekers who impatiently seek instant results are not only being unrealistic, but they are setting themselves up for unhealthy habits and results that will be difficult to maintain.  Long-term career dissatisfaction is the ultimate outcome. While you are implementing your new, healthier career transition plan, you may not see results the first week, or even the first month.

Trust the plan, and be patient; constant tweaking and obsessing often create chinks in the armor of a well formed strategy. Give the plan time, and you WILL begin to strengthen your career course, creating more resiliency and more reaching the various success ports you aspire to. The ultimate result is that a healthy career plan, well executed and maintained will serve you for the rest of your career.

 

 

You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks!



By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

Hat tip to Dawn Bugni for inspiring the title to this post!

Replete with change, our recent Texas transition has dogged us with new challenges.

Enveloped by mesquite trees and a sprawling yard, our resort home would seem to afford our beloved Louie – a 15-year-old miniature pinscher, free range.

However, this delightful, yet willfully spirited fur child knows no boundaries and has been known to single-pawedly break through property boundaries and aimlessly roam the streets, lost.

Rob and I engaged in numerous discussions regarding fencing solutions to protect Louie from harm while also allowing him freedom to roam about, unleashed. However, while our thoughts coagulated to settle this quandary, Rob was quietly plotting a new problem-solving course.

As such, a few days into our move, Rob fetched me for an outdoor walk. Louie, at his side, “un” leashed, began following our footsteps in a cautious journey circling our house. Surreptitiously, Rob had been training Louie as to the benefits of property lines. Doing so actually unleashed Louie to the moderated freedoms in which to explore, sniff, lie around and play.

A transformation that I would not have deemed possible, Louie’s behaviors morphed, and he quickly became the well-behaved dog that I had only dreamed about.  And Louie’s adjustment to his new Texas environment rapidly improved as he realized the security, care and comfort within the invisible lines we drew for him.

Similarly, in their careers, I think job seekers sometimes forget where their necessary boundaries lie, spurring willful behaviors to set in. In other words, they feel that the only way to get their way is to push, pull, prod and breach the invisible job-search guidelines that are there to reinforce their goals.

What behavioral change can you initiate today that may have a profound effect on your career (and your life)? What people might you employ, engage and/or ask to help you retrain and execute this change, helping you to unleash yourself from the tether that has you yearning for career fulfillment and freedom?

 

 

Career Changer: Can You Quell “Bottom-line Ache”?

By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

image: di-ablow

Career change is not only possible, it is probable if you bear in mind certain rules of thumb and realities and consider your career change process an adventure involving new learnings, personal sacrifices and opportunities for exhilaration. As well, as in ANY change, the most effective and manageable transition involves charting a course.

I wrote about such career change navigation, HERE. As well, sometimes we are slammed by a job-loss or life-change surprise, in which case we must regain our footing and rebuild in less than ideal conditions. I wrote about my personal experiences, HERE.

This month’s Career Collective focuses on Best Advice for Career Changers and includes posts from more than a dozen other career bloggers. My colleague, Miriam Salpeter, and I enjoy facilitating this monthly event and hope you will follow our colleagues’ tweets via the hashtag, #CareerCollective.

To Begin, Some Rules of Thumb

  • Although there are exceptions to every rule (and this article is focused on rules of thumb versus those rare exceptions), do not expect career change to be a 1-2 punch. It may be a series of stair steps to move you up and out of your current career situation. It may even be that you step backward a bit, then sideways before moving ahead.
  • You must rely on your initiative in researching opportunities and knitting a story that maps to those opportunities. It must be crystal clear to the hiring decision maker that you would hit the ground running in providing value.
  • You must apply patience, and rigor in understanding target companies’ unique areas of need, then patiently parse through your career details and pull out the stories within the stories that will matter, going forward. (A little help from a career resume strategist can help this process be more invigorating, less confusing and more results focused!) It is YOUR job, not those hiring, to figure out how you fit their needs. It is YOUR job, not theirs to convince beyond a shadow of a doubt why and how you make sense in their hiring decision (beyond just: I know I can do it because I am a real People Person!)
  • While submitting your current career story to job boards generally is a shotgun approach under normal circumstances, when changing careers, this approach particularly will fail. As well, recruiters, though an excellent resource in career propulsion, probably are not your go-to resources if you are switching careers. It is not their job to convince a hiring decision-maker that your ‘transferable skills’ will meet their needs.
  • That said, if chronicled strategically, your ‘transferable’ skills and experience will read as if they are square-peg to square-hole fitting and will compel the right reader and hiring decision-leader that you can quell their aching bottom line through the flip of a career switch.
  • Career change can be fun if you are confident, clear about your goals, open to adventure, willing to be flexible and enticed by the idea that your goals may evolve through the career change path.

Now, let me share a story or two about career changers with whom I’ve worked when embarking on their career turn:

image: Rettop (flickr)

Jack(ie) of All Trades and Master of None?

As careerists enter my virtual door, the oft-touted message is that they are masters of many, many different career areas. Quite frankly, there is some truth to that as my senior-level clients have risen through the ranks through challenges involving human resources, administration, general management, operations, sales, marketing, finance, technology and the like.

It is natural for them to espouse an ability to shift-change, adapt and succeed in whatever role or challenge in which they are parachuted!

Sometimes, inspired by burnout in their current role, frustration with their present colleagues and co-executives and/or simple curiosity, leaders will assert their strong desire to change careers. They aspire to a role that emphasizes career muscles they may have flexed five, 10 or even 15 years ago, but may have withered a bit in recent years. Or, even, they may decide they aspire to something wholly different than they’ve ever done.

Often, despite these challenges, with introspection, career changers can bring to light valuable career anecdotes that sell a reader that they are a necessary interview candidate for the opportunity that is burning a hole in the target company’s career pocket.

Shine a Light on Key Messages

Bring the critical messages to light – reveal your career wins that relate to your target goal. Identify those stories that may be buried in the recesses of your mind. Paint them with bright word colors that exude your passion for the business bottom line, for the executives and customers with whom you engage and for the absolute betterment of the company’s market share, positioning and sustainability.

For example, I had a recent client – we’ll call him Jim — whose longstanding career proved he had blazed an account management leadership and profit success trail across a plethora of financial institutions including the now-tarnished sub-prime lender arena. His record was peppered with financial results, but the industry upon which his track record was built was crumbling beneath his feet. He set out to pave a new career specialty after more than 12 consecutive years in the same trade.

Be Willing to Take on a Career Change Bridge Role

When this client approached me to rewrite his resume, he was not only surviving, but thriving in a ‘bridge’ sales management role that he had taken for the past 1.5 years to initially transition industries. This transportation (motorcycle) product sales role cued in on his exceptional strengths in fast-track learning, innovation in finding new markets, implementing new sales techniques and creating new market presence through collaboration with marketing and relationships with channel partners.

Further, he showed, through vivid word pictures how he generated double-digit growth in a down-trending and historically unproductive territory donning the same talent wings that helped him soar in his prior industry.

Moreover, after deliberating about what his future goals were, he zeroed in on a Senior Business Development and Sales Management role selling tangible products. Note: the lions share of his career had been marketing intangible, financial services, but with a bridge role under his belt that demonstrated his prowess in selling tangible products and a deep, concerted and confident approach to moving ahead in a different industry, Jim proved, in short order, that he could add relevant, revenue-focused value in an industry and product relatively new to him.

image: H.R. Hatfield (flickr)

Focus on the Right Audience

In his next, transitional search, Jim didn’t focus on insisting to square-peg, square-hole-centered recruiters that he was the right fit for their very specific requirements; instead, he focused on new shoots of green by directly contacting key decision-makers in companies exhibiting signs of growth and rebirth. As such, after his successful landing, he shared with me that he had noticed a local company that had broken ground for new construction.

The long and short of it is he wrote the owner an introductory note that spurred an interview, resume presentation and ultimately, a job offer. Rather than shot-gunning his resume to job postings and recruiters where his resume, not quite the square-peg candidate, would get shuffled into the trash bin, Jim researched companies and actively pursued those that had an imminent need for what he had to offer.

What Jim Did Right:

  1. Didn’t center his communication efforts on recruiters. Though a recruiter may believe you can do the job, his job is not to convince HIS boss (the hiring company) that, even though you have absolutely ZERO experience selling ABC widget, medical devices, technology solutions, or some other specialty product that you are the perfect fit.
  2. Instead, Jim took stock of his unique value, created a story-board set of career documents from which he could tap during conversations and which he could present in written form (resume). These resume documents spoke to why HE was the perfect fit for a hurting business owner, executive, manager or other hiring decision-maker.
  3. When writing his career positioning documents, he converted financial services industry language into the language of his target audience, amending his story to resonate with new listeners, outside his familiar industry arena. This strategic marketing initiative created a nuanced, focused resume that looked and sounded dramatically different from his prior career industry marketing documents.
  4. He also bore in mind that what may have been important message points on his former resume may be left on the cutting room floor, going forward. As such, career changers MUST be ready to tame their ambition to magnify stories that once mattered in their ‘old’ career and humbly bear in mind the NEW audience’s needs. This made a striking difference; instead of writing a play about HIMSELF, he wrote a career production about THEM, where HE was the leading character.
  5. He looked at small- and medium-sized companies, where the willingness to hire less-than-perfect-fit candidates is more likely than with often ‘less nimble’ larger companies.

Other Advice for Career Changers:

  1. Clearly, if you are missing the precise experience or skills that the hiring decision-maker is seeking, then seek out experience through classwork, training, volunteer channels and more to fill the gap.
  2. For example, I recently worked with an operations and procurement client with a multiplicity of marketing skills that will support her transition into the marketing arena. However, most of the jobs she sought were higher level marketing roles requiring a much deeper level of experience and niche areas of prowess than she offered; e.g., specific experience and results in social media marketing, where she had none; specific experience and results in SEO, where she had none; product positioning; direct response marketing, etc. – you get the drift.
  3. Though she had certain elements of marketing under her belt; e.g., working on customer mailing lists; marketing/communication campaigns and strategies; website maintenance; and writing, she was sorely lacking in very key requirements of a well-rounded marketing strategist.
  4. Her next steps may include upping her activity on social media, gaining personal, day-over-day practice on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Quora; signing up for training (webinars, classes) regarding social media marketing; and/or volunteering for an association and join a marketing committee that will allow her real experience applying marketing prowess to business needs.
  5. Her options may also include taking a step down in her career to enter into an entry-level marketing role, if she can afford the salary cut to do so. Or, she may vie for a lateral career switch that taps into her operational/procurement core strengths, yet offers opportunities to continue expanding her marketing arsenal.
  6. Perhaps, she may seek out opportunities at a mid-size or larger company where the circumstances facilitating career change are more favorable (e.g., a company that encourages career movement), once she is settled in for six months or a year. This type of stair-step change requires the job seeker conduct due diligence to determine which specific companies’ management cultures encourage career movement and growth.

image: flightlessXbird (flickr)

Finally, consider your current role and opportunities at your present company to expand your visibility and value therein. Offer to tackle projects related to your intended goal, creating a win-win for you and the company. In my client’s case, she already was taking the initiative in her company to initiate and pursue marketing-related roles; however, she was at a sticking point spurring her to desire to leave (working for a large, politicized company with leadership and other related barriers to career movement).

However, if you are feeling stuck in your current role, but are happy, overall, with your employer, consider ways you can volunteer to participate in or lead projects related to your target transition goal and start gaining new experience and proving your abilities.

So, get started on the research today to propel your career into the direction YOU desire. Begin online (then take it offline with real live conversations). To support your research goals, following are few resources you may visit to collect valuable insights about target companies.

Get Started on Researching New Companies

  • Hoovers.com: to search people and companies (limited “free” information); e.g., for company information, you’ll find address,phone numbers, rankings in FT Global, Fortune 500 and S&P 500.
  • Glassdoor: helps employees, job seekers, employers and recruiters find and share detailed information about more than 110,000 companies, such as Facebook, Accenture, AT&T, Oracle, Starbucks and UPS.
  • ZoomInfo.com: a business information search engine that provides company search, people search and job search. It constructs profiles on people and companies.
  • Manta.com: the largest free source of information on small companies. This is a very cool site that has key information on over 60M companies, allowing you to drill down by industry, by location, by size, etc., and then find a profile (address, phone, website, company contacts) as well as reports; map; and web results (i.e., they do a Google search for you, providing a quick snapshot of search results!).
  • Forbes.com: home page for information on the world’s business leaders and includes nine editorial channels on business, technology, markets, personal finance, entrepreneurs, leadership, ForbesLife, opinions and lists.
  • Business articles at Bizjournals.com or Wall Street Journal (online.wsj.com).
  • LinkedIn: Follow companies and read their profiles and goings-on.

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Here’s what my colleagues are saying:

Are You Ready for a Career Change? @Debra Wheatman

Changing Careers? Ask yourself these questions. @erinkennedycprw

Changing Careers: Not for the Fainthearted, @GayleHoward

Career Change Isn’t An Exact Science, @careersherpa

The 10-Step Plan to Career Change, @KatCareerGal

When it’s Time to Recycle Your Career, @WalterAkana

Best Career Change Advice: Target & Plan, @JobHuntOrg

How social media can help you change careers, @keppie_careers

Expat Careers: You Are Not Your Job Title, @expatcoachmegan

Changing The Direction Of Your Career, @EliteResumes @MartinBuckland

Top 3 + 1 Tips for Making a Successful Career Change, @KCCareerCoach

Changing Careers: Look Before You Leap, @barbarasafani

10 Commandments for Career Changers, @LaurieBerenson

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