Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice
I earned my MBA six months ago and have yet to find the right job that will challenge me and allow me to use my new skills and knowledge. However, I have been offered a 3-month contract position to do work that is in my area of finance, but significantly below the level I am seeking. Should I accept this position? I am afraid it will distract me from my job search.
I have to say that I lean heavily toward you accepting the short term contract position. In my years as a career and executive coach, I see how powerful the position of being currently employed is during the job search. Being unemployed, one is perceived as coming from a position of weakness. It is imperative to show that you are involved and active in your field.
I know that your ego and your bank account are not appreciating lower level work. Naturally! However, once you are working, you are ‘in the game’, you have a structured work life and you are perceived as part of the world of commerce. And in your case, you are actually having the opportunity to work in your field, excellent. A tougher call is whether one should take a low level temporary position that is completely out of one’s field. But that, too, can be a good move in certain situations. For instance, I had a client in marketing who was getting very depressed being on the sidelines. This was during a major financial downturn. The competition for jobs in his field was intense and he was getting few interviews, let along job offers. I saw he was emotionally sinking. His friend saw a help wanted sign at the local coffee shop and suggested he consider it. His wife was apprehensive, thinking this would peg him as a low level barista, making it impossible for him to ever secure a professional level job again. But the opposite happened. He loved being a barista!! He was out and among people, he’s a highly social guy who enjoyed the interactions with customers and he had a structured life and a place to go each day!
The upshot is that a few months later, in getting in deeper conversations with one of his regulars at the coffee shop, he found a new job in marketing! So the other benefit to taking a job, even at a lower level is that you have possibility of exposure to new people and new employment opportunities! I always say, Readiness + Opportunity = Success! So even if you are serving coffee, you have the chance to put your best foot forward, get to know people, show your curiosity and friendliness and you just never know who you’ll meet and who you’ll impress.
Larry, I think you need to consciously put aside your ego and get out there and get to work!
And please remember, you should also keep your hat in the ring for more professional level positions. You will still have plenty of hours in the day for your job search. You can still interview at lunchtime or after or before work. So tell yourself you are getting out there, you are active and involved in the world and you are aspirational, too, seeking better opportunities while keeping busy and being a contributor!
The next question you might have is, what to do if you get a professional job offer and the organization wants you to start right away? In that case you need to consider offering your current employer two weeks notice. You do not have to stay all three months, but you do need to provide the customary two week notice so they can backfill your position. And your future employer should understand that you have integrity and you shows respect for all employers.
Larry, life is not always fair or easy. And good timing is not always on our side. It is wonderful that you earned your MBA and that you are now qualified for higher level professional work.
But sometimes one has to look at one’s career as a stair-step process and by working, even in a lower level position, you are progressing upward!
Best to you Larry,
An easy, eight-step guide to self-discovery that lets you make the most of your later years.
We are living longer and healthier lives than ever before. Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are heading into retirement in droves (about 10,000 a day, in fact). Joan Tabb is on a mission to bring the best of them to this new stage of life—one she terms as “Revitalment.” Her new book, Building Blocks for the New Retirement: An Easy, Interactive 8-Step Guide for a Retirement with Meaning, Purpose and Fun (Great In 8 Coaching, 2018) reinvigorates the retirement paradigm for Baby Boomers age 55+ and shows us how to channel our energy into opportunities for meaning, purpose and fun. She answers the key question: How do you best use your gifts of time, energy and experience?
Tabb takes readers from confused and worried to confident and energized. In her interactive “seminar in a book,” she walks them step-by-step through eight areas of exploration, prompting readers to examine goals and aspirations around their abilities, relationships, community, legacy and more. Her process hones in on what will bring the most satisfaction through this next stage of life.Read more
by Joan Tabb in Blog
Not long ago, many women, after the first blush of their youthful beauty and the beyond their child-rearing days, felt their lives no longer had meaning or purpose.
Those days are gone.
Women now are empowered in their later years and adept at directing their energies and talents in significant ways. They’re living their lives as they want them to unfold—instead of as old, repressive and sexist social norms directed them.
Women looking toward their later decades have opened their eyes to new opportunities and new ways to make an impact with purpose and meaning. Yes, they can still enjoy creating and checking off a bucket list of fun experiences, but they’re seeing how much more they can do.Read more
Baby Boomers are heading into retirement in droves. Each day, about 10,000 close the doors to their offices for the last time. But, unlike generations before them, they can now look forward to potentially decades of vital life ahead of them. They represent the healthiest and longest living generation ever—translating to endless prospects for vivacity and opportunities in their next phase of life.
In this new era, it’s time to retire the word “retirement.” Its connotation of removing ourselves from the mainstream and biding time with card playing and porch sitting is a throwback. A better term for this stage of life is “ReVitalment”—reflecting a time of meaning, purpose and fun, and for activating the best part of you.
However, many in the 55-plus age range are daunted by the thought of 24-7 freedom. They can’t fathom how to replace the purpose and structure their careers offer. For these people who are about to exit the workforce, a process of self-inquiry and investigation can help in defining what will bring them the most satisfaction in this coming stage of life.Read more
News Flash: Your company has been bought, sold or merged,
Yes, confidence does make all the difference in the world, especially in the world of career development and management. And I don’t mean false confidence and bravado. That is never attractive and never a winning stance, in any area of life. But I do mean the kind of confidence that comes from true ownership of what one has achieved, especially when perseverance, discipline and hard work were involved. The problem is that many people haven’t taken the time to truly exercise their confidence muscle. And by that I mean taking the time to reflect on your true achievements and how they might translate into positive impact and value add for an employer.
How to begin exercising your confidence muscle:
- Review your educational achievements: Whatever the level of education you have achieved, reflect back to the times you were challenged, stretched, worked really hard and succeeded. It could be in a challenging math class where you learned to rely on the help of classmate for whom the material came easy. But you recognized you needed additional resources, sought them out, used them and met your goal of learning the materials. That shows you stepped up to a challenge, didn’t back down and persevered until you found a way to succeed. Perhaps you’ve earned a graduate degree and had to write a thesis. The work may have seemed daunting at the start but you broke it down into manageable pieces, assembled a project plan and worked hard and diligently to complete a winning thesis. You are starting to see that your exercising a confidence muscle that has to do with standing up to problems and finding ways to solve them. All employers are attracted to problem solvers and this might be a way to show that you are strong and confident and have a track record as a problem solver.
- Review your career achievements: Again, whatever level of employment you have gotten to you have had some achievements. Perhaps you are on an entry level job and you have had to deal with difficult front line customers. How have you handled your frustration with difficult customers. Think back to times you had to be especially patient and use skills and strategies that you learned in some corporate training on your job. Write out some examples of how you’ve done good work like this. Perhaps one of the vendors you work with has commented to your supervisor that you are always reliable and thorough in all of your work. That should build your confidence muscle. Those are admirable skills! If you have been a manager for years you might have had direct reports who developed beautifully under your supervision and have gone on to higher level positions. Have them write a recommendation on your Linkedin profile and save a copy for yourself that you can use in your next job search process.
- Identify the key attributes that really define you: This is a key step in exercising your confidence muscle! Look back at both your educational and career achievements. Circle the ones that are most meaningful to you and use adjectives to define what qualities they represent. You might come us with something like: I am a unique combination of resourcefulness, analytical skills and management expertise. Then, have 2-3 examples to explain how you fill out those capabilities.It is vital to recognize and know how to articulate your value-adds in your career. The best way to go about it is to learn how to exercise your confidence muscle. That muscle is based on real use and examination of the things you have done and the capabilities you bring to work. Onward in strengthening your confidence muscle and learning to move forward with your proven strengths.
Hope you are enjoying your summer,