Activating the best of you!

Dear Coach Joan,

I should be delighted that my manager picked me to lead a major new project, but I am stressed out and feel like there are too many moving parts.

I just don’t have my arms around the project. I did put my hat in the ring for this opportunity, but now that I have it, I am scared and feeling like I am overwhelmed with the responsibility and sinking. Ugh.

Please help.


Dear Tom,

First of all, congratulations on being selected for a position of increased responsibility. Clearly your manager saw qualities in you that gave the impression you were qualified to do the work. And, the fact that you volunteered for more responsibilities  shows that you are ambitious and eager to advance in your career.

But now that you have the challenge,  you are feeling overwhelmed. This is not uncommon. Like many workers, though you are good at your job, you felt the desire to do more and advance. But what does that really mean? It means you are leaving your comfort zone. We are typically in our comfort zone when we are fully capable of doing  about 85-100% of our work with ease. The downside of being so qualified is complacency and boredom.

Please sit down and do some self talk now. Tell yourself you are now in learning curve mode. You are asked to stretch and you need to learn new skills, tasks and or strategies to be successful. You need to ask yourself how you can find the resources and ways to close the gap between what you currently know and what you need to know. To do this you need to define the skills involved with your gap.

The way to define those missing skills is to talk with your manager. Ask for a 1:1 and in advance, tell your manager the situation and try to be as specific as possible about the areas that are giving your trouble. For instance, you might have to work with a large number of people, some who are in different locations and have different levels of understanding and perspectives on your project. Write out that situation and specifically ask how to coordinate all of the communications, ask who are the key people to meet with first, how to contact them, what materials to show, how to present the project plan, etc. Your company might even offer training classes where you can learn some of the needed skills. Or your manager might even step in to directly assist in the project and demonstrate some of the necessary skills.

Tom, this is actually an exciting time, too. You know the old expression: No pain, no gain.

This is a learning  and growing time for you, and I also suggest that you document the skills you are learning and the impact and results of your project. Then, make sure to put that information on your resume and in your Linkedin profile.  Additionally, as the project continues and you do well, ask your manager if your demonstration of successfully managing this project can result in a promotion, new title, bonus, salary increase, etc. The more skills you demonstrate and the more you show your increased impact to your organization, the more you can leverage your capabilities and advance in your career.

Onward in your career development and growth.


Coach Joan

Dear Coach Joan,
I just received an OK job offer, but I think I might be getting a better one soon.
Should I accept this offer or wait for the better one?
Dear Terry,

This is a conundrum I have seen quite often as a career coach and it is not an easy question to answer.

The difficulty lies in the fact that I do not have a crystal ball, and neither do you.
What if you accept the job and just a few weeks later the better offer comes in?
And what if you turn down the job but the better offer never appears?
OK, so barring our inability to predict the future, how do you consider a good job offer when a much better one might be coming soon?
. Here are some strategies and considerations:
1. Try to Buy Time to Respond: If the better offer could just be a week off, you can see how long you can stretch out your decisions time.
Don’t ask for too much time as the organization might sense you are not interested enough and might opt for Candidate B.
Then, play the new offer against the potential one. Call the contact from the company you are most interested in and let them know you have
an offer on the table. If they are very interested in you but just not in a hurry to extend an offer, this might prompt them to move quickly and offer you the job.
2. How long have you been unemployed? If it is more than 6 months or if your savings are getting depleted and you need to work asap,
then consider taking this job. It’s a good job, yes, but not your ideal position. But you can look look at your career as having a stair-step approach to success. That means, you do not give up on your ideal job, but you take interim steps in your journey getting there. You are always more attractive to potential employers when you have a  job and if this new position offers you changes to grow and demonstrate new and valuable skills, it could be just the right opportunity at the right time.
3. Negotiate For a Better Offer: Maybe you can help make the offer that is on the table more attractive. If you have some confidence that another offer is coming in you can share that information and tell them it would be a lot more attractive if you were offered a higher salary or more vacation time, a better title,  or opportunities to do more travel or learn certain skills or manage people or whatever it is that would make the job more attractive to you; and hopefully make you more attractive to future employers.
When presented with crossroads in life it can be difficult to make a decision because we just can’t see what’s around the next bend! It is difficult to turn down a job when you think a better one is coming, but it is sometimes smarter to go with a ‘bird in the hand’ and sometimes that bird flies higher and leads to new and better opportunities. Yet sometimes having patience leads to better opportunities. Think it over, Terry, and try to weigh the considerations that are most relevant in your situation. I always like to say that when I’ve thought out a solution, whether it turned out well or not, given what I knew and felt at the time I made the best decision I could. Perhaps that bit of philosophy will help, too.
Onward in your career success,
Coach Joan

Dear Coach Joan,

Do I need to use LinkedIn for my job search?

Will it really help? Does it make a difference?

And if so, how do I go about creating an effective profile?

Thank you,


Dear Will,

The answer is a resounding YES! Social media is now the preferred way for organizations to find new talent. In fact, a resounding 92% of companies use social media to find their job candidates. 87% of recruiters specifically used Linkedin to search for candidates. And 73% of people used social media to find their next new position.

If you haven’t started to use social media in your job search I strongly suggest you consider doing it. And I suggest starting with building a Linkedin Profile.

The key elements of your Linkedin  Profile should include:

Yes, Will, the job search world now almost requires participation in Linkedin. It is the number #1 site that recruiters, both in-house and independent use to both identify job candidates and verify their credentials, recommendations and network.

Best of luck to you in using Linkedin as part of a robust job search campaign.

Onward in your career success!

Coach Joan

Dear Joan,

After a six- month job search I finally landed the job of my dreams. Or so I thought. It truly is a bait and switch situation. The job is for a non-profit and I’m responsible for managing ten locations, each with its own local supervisor, supposedly. I did ask about the challenges of the job, and they said there were  typical growth challenges, period. When I asked what happened to the last manager they said she moved on to a better opportunity.

The job is truly a nightmare. On my first day I attended a staff meeting where the key topic was no-shows;  a third of the staff are not regularly coming to work. Morale is horrible. It is complete chaos and among the ten locations I have responsibility for only half have a supervisor in place. How do I get out of this ‘burning building?” I am now in week three.

Please help….


Dear Jerry,

I am so sorry to hear that you landed a lemon. Seriously, sometimes I think there should be lemon-laws applied to really bad jobs like yours; jobs that are not at all what they were cracked up to be.

But you did accept the job, even though they were not honest about the situation. How could they be? If they were, they would never have attracted you, or any candidates for that matter.

But I have seen this situation before, and the good news for you, is that it is still early on and you have a chance to get out, and get out before it is a real stain on your career:

  1. Document it all – I always advise clients to start their relationship with their hiring manager by saying that you believe in weekly status reports for clear two way communication. Select a day of the week you like to prepare it, often a Friday, end of the week is good. For the first one, discuss your objectives with your manager and each week write down the objectives and your work to date to achieve them.  Then, have a section called Open Issues In this section, clearly enumerate the problems and be as objective as you can. You can use phrases like: ‘Surprised to see that my staff of supervisor positions are only 50% filled. Was not advised of this’. ‘Morale is down as evidenced by 30% absenteeism and has been for the last three months’.
  2. This kind of document will get your manager’s attention. If it doesn’t then make it clear to both the manager and HR department that the job is not what you thought it would be and you are not too comfortable.
  3. Start your new job search right away. Call back any recruiters and or companies that you were in contact with. Let them know you are available.
  4. Get a new job asap. If you can, get a new position and you may not even need to put this job ‘mistake’ on your resume if it was less than a three month period. In some cases it is even better to quit than stay and be associated with such a poorly run place.

Jerry, in my experience it is better to quit and move on rather than sully yourself and your reputation by being affiliated with an organization in  tremendous disarray with little sign of improvement. Most organizations look at the first three months as a ‘getting to know you’ period, so if you leave before that time, it can typically be forgotten. Sometimes you can even get unemployment if you can prove that the job was not what it was described as.

I remind people to do their due diligence to ask around about the organization, and the management but in your case it sounds like you did. But you were not fully informed, and it wasn’t your fault. But is important to move on. Recognize it as a bad fit, like a bad girlfriend or boyfriend and look for the next, better one.

Onward to your career success and be strong,

Coach Joan