Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice
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,
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
by Joan Tabb in Uncategorized
Dear Coach Joan,
I had an incredibly frustrating six month job search. I followed my wife to Sonoma County for her job opportunity but have had trouble securing a job here myself. Sometimes I’d be asked back for five interviews only to lose out to another candidate. Then I’d make it through two rounds and be rejected. But after six months of consistently putting myself out there — using my network, going to professional meetings, having recruiters seek opportunities for me, nothing was working.
Then POP. All of a sudden, just after the six month mark, I am now juggling three job offers and I don’t yet know which one to take. I clearly have a preference but the offer from the company I am most attracted to is not as good as the one that would involve a lot longer of a commute.
How can I best manage this situation?
Congratulations for persevering beyond the three to six month mark! In my experience with hundreds of job seekers, most people hit a frustration wall between three and six months. Yet, that is often how long it takes for professionals to get to a job offer.
But you have made it through that period of frustration and have made it to opportunity– three of them. Congratulations!
But how to choose?
Though no one has a crystal ball, there are certain norms in juggling job offers:
- Most organizations expect to have at least one round of negotiations. That means they are not expecting you to accept the first round of terms. They expect you to ask for more and are typically willing to ‘sweeten the pot’ by adding to the offer with a higher base salary, a sign-on bonus, some equity or another way to compensating you. Sometimes they even offer an extra paid week of vacation, a car, paid public transportation, local gym membership and other things. So don’t feel that you will miss out on the job if you ask for more, in the first round.
- Do your research. Determine the benchmarks for your industry and for that particular position. It is no longer legal to ask what you made in your last position, but you can opt to offer that information if you like. For instance, say they are offering a base salary of $75k and your last base salary was $85k, tell them that and tell them that you have clearly earned the higher amount. Go to web sites like Glassdoor.com to do your salary research.
- Buy time. When you are juggling three job offers and one of them is your preferred organization, see if you can say that you are highly attracted to the position/the company but want to ask some additional questions directly to the management. See if they will allow you to prepare some questions and get them in within a few days. Thereby you have some time. Or, just ask them if you can have a few days to think about the offer. Typically you will be given a few days.
- Always a Risk to Defer. Do keep in mind that it is always risky when you ask for time to make a decision. Companies typically have 2-3 top candidates and if you say ‘no’ they might quickly go to the runners-up! But if you ask for a day or two, or have questions for them, they typically will allow you a few days. You might want to find out if there is an urgency in filling the role.If there is, you might want to take a ‘bird in the hand’…the offer that has been presented to you, not one that just might come along.
Yes, it can be tricky and nerve-wracking to juggle job offers because you don’t have a crystal ball and because you don’t want to be left with no job at all. But do know that typically you can buy some time and find out which position looks best.
Also remember that you are always a more attractive job candidate when you are employed. I always encourage my clients who’ve had a long term job search to take a position even if it doesn’t seem ideal. Sometimes it turns out to be better than they thought and if not, at least they are back to regular paychecks and they are much more attractive to the next employer.
Good luck, John, and I hope this information proves helpful to you.
All the best,
Coach JoanRead more
I see a definite pattern. Having coached hundreds of job searching clients for the last 10+ years I’ve observed a very distinct pattern. I’d like to make you aware of it because it could be preventing you from getting to your next great employment situation.
When you make the decision to look for a new job you typically go through a process of deciding what kind of job and industry you are looking for. Then you develop your positioning and key capabilities, write your resume and Linkedin profile. You also try to get some good written recommendations and ask people to serve as references. Fine.
Next, you search the appropriate online job listings, contact recruiters, friends, colleagues, former managers, and even family members to see if they have any connections for you. Check. And you meet with everyone you can to let them know your interests and capabilities. And you follow up with everyone.
You typically go full steam ahead for about three months, sometimes four or five months. You have been actively planting seeds and making connections. And you never know when a contact will lead to a concrete job lead and finally the right new job for you.
By 3-6 months you’ve often had a few interviews. And if you get hired within that first 3-6 months, terrific. But it often can take longer, especially if you are 10+ years or more into your career. The higher a position and larger the salary and responsibility level, the longer it typically takes to secure a new job. The rule of thumb is one month for every $10k in income. That means that if you earn $60k it can take 6 months to find a new job.
But it is at about the six month point that I see folks lose steam. They get down on themselves and sometimes even depressed.
That is when the initial excitement and hopefulness wears off and disappointment kicks in. This is when you’ve often had a few promising situations and you might have even come in second place. But in the job search arena, when you’re the runner up, I call that the red-ribbon candidate and as you know, as the runner-up you leave empty handed.
And that is precisely when you need to re-fuel. You need to find a way to keep yourself fresh, motivated and focused. Think of the runner in the course of their marathon. They periodically need to stop at fueling stations. You do, too! That is when you need to review all of your past accomplishments, re-read all of the recommendations that have been written about you and actually practice discussing your key skills and capabilities. Yes, practice them aloud and say them with conviction. Persevere!!
Many of us are naturally more sprint-players, we like to do things in a focused and quick way.
But when it comes to the job search we need to change modes. We need to get ourselves ready for the long haul.
In some cases I’ve seen it take up to 12-18 full months to secure a new job.
Does that mean you sit on the sidelines and just wait?
Most people cannot afford to do that; both financially and emotionally.
If you are currently employed and looking for a new job at least you have your daily work and your regular paycheck.
But if you are unemployed I suggest that you find a way to get contract work, even a low level part time job, or if money is not an issue, do regular volunteer work to keep yourself involved, with some daily structure and weekly ‘anchor points’. You need to keep yourself fueled for the long race. For some people that means a regular exercise program, a focus on healthy eating, regular sleeping hours, enough socializing, etc. Do what you need to do to stay in top form!
But please, be aware that most people start to lose steam after the 3-6 month point in the job search.
And if you’ve been doing the search correctly and planting a lot of seeds, it is often in the 6-12 month period that those seeds start to blossom.
Keep the faith, the seeds you plant will come to fruition, but they can often take time.
I’ve never seen a serious job seeker, who was doing all the right things NOT get a job after that 12 month period.
Remember, it is a numbers game and it is a marathon and not a sprint. Please keep well- fueled and ready!
Onward to bringing the BEST of you to work!