Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice
Whether it’s your first job fresh out of school, a new job mid-career, or the last position in your career, there are ripe opportunities for you when you are starting a new job. It’s a new beginning and you don’t need not bring any negative baggage from your past. You can strategically plan to bring new, smart and wise behaviors.
You can write your script your way! When you are the newbie in the organization you can ask a lot of questions. You can introduce yourself and as a newcomer with a fresh slate, you can create the reputation you want to have.
If you had false starts or some bad professional relationships, here is you chance for positive beginnings.
New jobs truly offer opportunities for new beginnings. If you had trouble with some of your relationships at work before, or made some mistakes on the job, here is your chance to start over.
Here are four things to think about when starting a new job:
- YOUR STORY – How you introduce yourself, your capabilities and interests matters. It should be intentional. Reflect and be ready to talk about what attracted you to the organization and why you are excited at the opportunity to be contributing to it. You also want to talk about your past experiences and or credentials. Again, be deliberate on what you choose to share about yourself. Never say anything negative about your past employers or colleagues. The old adage applies, if you don’t have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all.
- PREPARE SOME THOUGHTFUL QUESTIONS: You want to learn more about this new organization. You want to know where the power lies and how the winds are blowing. You need to find out; what’s happening here! The company and the position are described a certain way when you are interviewing, but once you actually start, you want to probe and learn more. You can ask general questions about what they perceive as the biggest challenges and the biggest opportunities. You can ask them what they see as the success factors for people who do well in the organization.
- FUTURE GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES: You want to find out how you can be of more and more value in the company/organization. It’s good to find out if they have an internal training and development group that you can take classes with. Let your manager know you are interested in growing and learning more; especially skills that can help you advance on the job. Make sure to work hard and work smart to make excellent first impressions.
- NETWORK AND CREATE ADVOCATES: Be friendly, supportive and helpful. Introduce yourself to your peers and other managers in the company. Let people know about your specific capabilities and desire to contribute. If there are any extracurricular activities for the employees such as volunteer days, sports teams, etc., become a part of those and let people see that you are energetic and want to be a part of the fabric of the organizational culture. Watch carefully and try to pick up on the corporate culture to fit in. Notice things from how people dress to the common work hours to how much people share about their personal lives and how they set up their work/life balance. Yes, new jobs, just like new relationships, are the chance to start over thoughtfully and wisely. Learn from your past, bring forward the strategies that helped you get ahead, and shed the behaviors that didn’t support you or your career. Most of all, be deliberate, be open, helpful and focused. As I always say: Well begun is half done! All the best in your new job, Coach Joan
Many of us living in the Sonoma County area are thinking about retirement or we might already be in the midst of it. Our society has given us images of retirement that I believe are outdated for many of us. They are images of being out of the mainstream, tired, worn and only set on an early-bird dinner.
I contend we need a new phase of life that acknowledges that many of us in the 55+ category are ripe and ready for MORE. We are still VITAL, we still have energy, good health, ideas and intents. We can go beyond the bucket list of fun stuff to create later lives of purpose, meaning and fun! We can move to something I’ve named ReVitalment ™.
Some of us are lucky enough to:
- Take an “inside-out” perspective.Throughout our careers, we’ve focused on being responsible and hardworking. We concentrated on qualities shaping us from outside forces, spending much of our energy on how society tells us to live. But now we can shift our focus to those personal preferences that we’ve had to ignore or tamp down as professionals. Now we can operate from our essential selves. This means we can acknowledge, embrace and give expression to our inner gifts. Perhaps it’s deepening our spiritual or creative sides, or reconnecting with family and friends who may have slipped from our busy lives.
- Cultivate a new spirit of exploration and enrichment. Ask yourself: What are the hobbies or experiences you’ve always wanted to pursue, but never felt you had time for? Have you missed having moments for reflection? Now you can take up journaling, meditation or memoir writing. Are you a people person who thrives on social activities? Join a hiking club, a discussion group, or take part in Meet Up gatherings. This is your opportunity to embrace the new — for no other reason than pure enjoyment and enrichment.
- Explore ways to apply your skills and abilities.After decades of honing our skills and expertise, many of us are reluctant to walk away from applying them. Rather than abandoning those aspects of our careers that we truly enjoy, we can look for new ways to use them. Volunteering as a part-time mentor or trainer for entry-level or mid-management employees in our former or a similar organization shares our talents in fulfilling roles. Many in the health, education or other fields find exciting places to extend their vocations in less committed roles.
- Give time and attention to your physical wellbeing.We live in a youth-oriented culture where the messages to look younger are profound. But, removed from the professional world, the pressures to battle ageism can fall away. At the same time, our freedom from work life allows us time to give our bodies the attention they deserve. Getting into a daily exercise regimen helps give us energy, improves sleep and fends off numerous health issues. With more time to make healthful meals, we can improve our diets. We can also pay better attention to staying well hydrated — a key health component in our later years.
- Find ways to leave a legacy.Whether in our own communities or in far-flung regions of the world, endless issues need attention. What issues in our world beckon to you? Online resources abound for finding ways to help. Giving back may just be the secret to living a life that’s not only happier, but healthier, more productive and more meaningful. A study published in BMC Public Health concluded that taking time to volunteer could reduce early mortality rates by 22 percent. Volunteer work can also provide structure that some people crave after leaving the workforce.
I strongly suggest we reconsider what we can and should do when we are 55+. Whether we have the resources to fully retire or still work, or work part time, our time is precious and we need to make the most of it. We have plenty to do to enhance our lives, our families, our community and our world! Don’t sit by the sidelines and retire when you can create ReVitalment!
Onward to activating the best in you and bringing it to our world. We need your energies, your ideas, you skills and your passions!
Coach JoanRead more
I’ve been working in banking for over 25 years. I started as a teller right out of high school and am proud to say I’ve had several promotions, and even moved to a new bank for a better position a few years back. At this point I am itchy to try a new industry. The problem is that I have no idea how to get started, and honestly, no idea what other job or industry I am qualified for. I have worked mostly in banking operations but I do know I enjoy helping people and have always been good at customer service and training. Can you kindly offer some guidance?
First of all, pat yourself on the back for clearly achieving decades of good work and progress in an industry that has undergone many changes and has had many challenges. You survived and you flourished! And it’s excellent that you are self-aware enough to recognize that it is time for exploration and re-creation. You also have clear preferences and a track record of proven skills. It’s an exciting time for you!
Many people get to the point where they are ready for the NEW but just don’t know how to start. Here are some concrete first steps:
- Surprise! Clients sometimes come to me thinking that they are ready for a major pivot and ready to leave their industry and leave their employer only to find out that they can ‘scratch their itch’ in an easier way. The surprise is that sometimes people don’t realize that they are merely unchallenged in their current position and might find new opportunities for growth, new direction and re-creation within their own industry and sometimes within their own organization. For instance, you mentioned that you know you like to help people and you must be naturally good with customer service and naturally good with explaining things. Well, have you considered doing an informational interview with managers and leaders in both the customer support department and the training and education department? It might very well be that considering you already have years of familiarity at the bank, and have played various roles, you might be perfect for a lateral or even an upward move into a position in a new department.
- Peak Performance Exercise. Do this exercise when you an hour or two to devote to it. It involves thinking, reflection and writing. Think about three times in your career where you have really been at your best. Times when you were in the flow, enjoying your work, your project, the people you were working with, the scope of the project and the outcomes and results. Write down all aspects of three times you had your best times. Include the challenges, the opportunities, the problems you solved, the resources your used, what you enjoyed and what you can take credit for. Next, read back over the three narratives and identify the SKILLS that you demonstrated. Then make list of all the skills and all the outcomes and results. Put them in order of both impact and interest. That should give you a pretty good view of what you are good at and what you enjoy.
- Learn about other fields and set up informational interviews – There must be other industries and fields that have some appeal to you, especially now that you have determined some of your key skills and areas of impact. For example, perhaps you are thinking of joining a training department. Research to find local training professional organizations, go to their web site and look at the topics they discuss and upcoming events you can attend. Then, look for some of the leaders both in the organization and ask to schedule informational interviews where you can find out the inside story and views on the profession. Ask about their challenges, the opportunities, how they into the field, what they see as the success factors, etc. Yes, Bobby, make it easy to get started by starting within your own organization, then branch out once you have a clearer sense of your preferred skills. You have what it takes to start on your journey for the NEW! Good luck to you! Onward in your career development and success, Joan