Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice
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.
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 JoanRead more
This is a conundrum I have seen quite often as a career coach and it is not an easy question to answer.
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?
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:
- A clear, nice headshot of you. The best ones have the individual dressed in business attire looking: clean, fresh, professional, warm smile, friendly and approachable. Do not include pets, other people, children, bold jewelry, too much makeup, tattoos, etc. Look professional and ready to work!
- A short and clear summary of your expertise and the kind of work you do. A couple of key results and achievements are helpful in the summary
- Full list of past employment and academic credentials. Include key results and if possible, quantify those results.
- Any special awards, publications, leadership positions, additional professional classes or certificates, etc.
- At least 2-3 recommendations that are written well and reflect the recommenders relationship to you, with positive affirmations about the quality of your work and your work style.
- A bonus is to add any articles or publications you have written. You can also add articles that reach all of your contacts. A periodic piece on your thoughts on the industry go a long way toward getting you noticed as a leader.
- Keep you profile up to date. If a recruiter finds you and your profile does not align with your current situaton, it is quite unimpressive.
- Join GROUPS on Linkedin. This way recruiters can see your interests and specialities. Recruiters look to find those who are active in their profession. Join alumni groups from the colleges you attended and alumni groups from the companies you worked in. If you can, play a leadership role in at least one of those groups or professional organizations.
- CONNECTIONS – Connect with all of your current and past colleagues, look up friends from your college days to connect with. Make sure to connect with former managers, bosses and supervisors. Try to get at least 100 connections. Below that number you do not appear to have a professional network yet established.
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!
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.
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:
- 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’.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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,