Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice
Yup, automation technology is ever impacting everything! And now it is having an interesting impact on the job seeking process.
For the first time, I’ve heard about a robo interview. A client of mine is a recent college graduate and she’s seeking a position
in the environmental consulting field. She’s ecstatic that a company of key interest to her has requested her to interview.
And the good news is that they are way open and flexible on timing. As long as it’s completed within the week. You see, it does not involve
scheduling because she can do the interview at any time that suits her. She merely goes on to the designated interview site,
types in her special code number and voila, she is in interview mode. The screen has her log on and asks her to press the START
button. The questions appear on the screen with suggested times to answer. And the taping begins!
Yes, you are looking at a computer screen instead of another person. You really don’t know what the questions will be. You are told the whole
interview should take no more than 45 minutes and there you go!
I asked my client how she felt about it. She said that it seems like it’s a good news/bad news situation. The good news she doesn’t have to leave home, she can do the interview at her convenience and isn’t worried about having an awkward interaction with a difficult person or even a panel of interviewers that can make you feel like you’re out numbered.
The bad news is that you don’t get any feedback at all. You are just taking into a screen and camera and you have no idea of the reaction that the ultimate assessors will make. You realize that you typically get all kinds of cues, both subtle and direct from an in person interview; even from a phone interview. There are no follow on questions, no nods of the head in either direction, no indications if you are going on too long.
So how does one best prepare for this new day of ROBO INTERVIEWS?
Here are three suggestions with the overall advice being to prepare as you would for any interview, with a few caveats:
- Prepare answers to the typical questions of why you are attracted to this organization and to this position. And what skills do you bring that demonstrate your abilities. Also be prepared to discuss your work style as a team player, as a leader and how you works in groups. But practice and TIME your responses. Anticipate that people do not have long attention spans. Typically do not plan to do a monologue for more than a couple of minutes
- Anticipate that they will ask if there’s anything else you want to add. And I think that if they haven’t already asked if you have questions, do come up with some to suggest you have researched and learned about the company. They could be questions about their biggest challenges, how they compare with their competitors (and mention their names to show that you know them.)
- Show Enthusiasm. Smile. Without getting live feedback it would be easy to get very serious and monotone. But don’t! Pretend it is a performance and you need to entertain them. Really. It will make a difference. Mention some knowledge you have about their industry. Look to see if they have been in the news. Maybe they have a new CEO or Executive Director. Talk about key ways you can add impact and value. Onward for your success in this new day of Robot Driven Interviewing! Coach Joan
Dear Coach Joan,
OK, I blew it. In college I was more into partying than studying. I was immature and had the wrong priorities.
I graduated with a GPA (grade point average) of 2.0 out of 4.0. That means I had a lot of Cs, some Ds and perhaps one B.
Fortunately, I was able to get a job in a very good company despite my poor academic record. However, I had to take a junior position to get in, but once in the company I have had three promotions in three years! Proud of myself. But that darn low GPA is holding me back. I am now ready for graduate school and just know that my low GPA will not serve me for graduate school admission. Suggestions?
Regretting my past,
If I had a nickel for everyone I met who had regrets about their past I’d be a rich woman! No kidding. If the regrets were not about academic performance, they might be about the good boyfriend or girlfriend who got away, the drug or alcohol problem, a selfish attitude, painful words spoken, etc. In other words, almost every human being has regrets. We don’t come into this world whole and perfect. No one does.
That said, I think we all need to learn some self forgiveness. We need to recognize that at the time we made our decisions, given what we felt emotionally and knew intellectually, we did the best we could. Self forgiveness is the beginning of being ready to move forward. So first thing, Justin, tell yourself you were immature, you didn’t see the value of hard work in college, yet you changed your tune, got on the career track and prospered. Congratulations!! You had another chance. In fact, you made another chance for yourself. You took a low level job, did well and earned advancement. In fact, your ambitions today are a strong testament to the maturity you gained along the way.
This is the kind of story many graduate school admissions people like to hear! You have a track record of upward achievement and growth!
Here’s my suggestion after you have forgiven yourself: Research the overall admissions criteria for the graduate schools you are interested in. Typically they look at several aspects of a candidate’s performance. That includes the college GPA, the GRE or Graduate Record Exam or if it is medical school or law school, certain tests for those fields. They also look at your employment history and recommendations. Seems to me that if you had three promotions, you probably have some very impressed managers who would support your application with fine recommendations and offer to be positive references.
The other thing to consider Justin, and I’ve seen this strategy used successfully: Take some additional classes at a local college or online and work like crazy to earn As.
Show that you are now a focused academic and you are a strong candidate for graduate school.
Remember Justin, everyone has regrets. But one needs to forgive oneself and move forward in a self correcting, mature fashion.
Onward to going beyond your GPA!
Coach JoanRead more
Dear Coach Joan,
It’s now March, 2019 and my college graduation date is this June. Ugh. I now have to transition to the real world.
I need to get a J.O.B.! As a humanities major I really don’t know where or how to look for a professional job.
Any thoughts and direction are appreciated.
You are not alone! And it is terrific that you are thinking ahead and have a few months to do some preparation for entry into the ‘real world’. I’m glad you are now thinking about getting a real J.O.B. and wondering how to transfer your college experience into starting a career. I applaud you for getting a degree in the humanities as it probably has given you critical thinking skills, an understanding of the human condition, and some historical perspective. You have probably developed fine reading and writing skills that could well be transferred to a career position where they can build on your smarts! More and more employers are looking for disciplined good thinkers and communicators. Many companies like to train such individuals.
I want you to now think about how your skills and capabilities might be appreciated by an employer. Think about some of the papers you wrote, the discussions you had in class, the understandings you now have about the world; fairness, justice, ethics and other big ideas. Think about how those ideas might translate into you being a good employee. Also think about the communication skills you developed. You are probably good at analyzing and making some judgments and assessments. A mistake I’d like you to avoid is telling a potential employer that your goal is to learn and grow. That was your goal for college where you were paying them to learn and grow. But now you will be paid to help an employer to grow their organization or business. Please understand this paradigm change. Talk about what you have to give and contribute, NOT about what they can do to help you learn and grow. Focus on what YOU can GIVE at work. Yes, employers can and do invest in growing employees but that is AFTER the employees have shown that they can and will make contributions to them.
Here are three steps I’d like to recommend you take NOW:
- RECOMMENDATIONS: In the world of employment, employers need to make judgement about your characters, skills and suitability for a job. Typically, you are completely unknown to them when you apply for a position. Recommendations by your professors and any past employer can be very helpful to give credibility and assurance that you are an honest, good person with skills that can be valuable to their workplace. Now that you are still in college you have access to the professors who have known you and are familiar with your work. They are typically accustomed to writing recommendations. Select professors who you know and who have valued the quality of your work. Ask them if they would be comfortable in writing a generic recommendation about you that you can use in your job seeking efforts. If you know some positions you are focused on, you can let them know specifically the kinds of jobs you are applying to. You also might ask if they are comfortable with being contacted by potential employers for a deeper discussion about you.
- COLLEGE CAREER OFFICE: Almost all colleges have some kind of career center. GO THERE, NOW. Ask to meet with a counselor and pose the question that you posed to me in this note. Ask them about other humanities graduates who have landed professional first jobs. Ask specifically about local employers who have hired graduates from you school. If you are open to a regional or national job search, tell them that. Ask for any and all help they can provide. They often give help with developing a resume, targeting your job search and putting together a professional Linkedin profile. Also ask if there is an ALUMNI NETWORK that might be helpful for you to get involved with. Ask for specific alumni who you might be able to do INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS with. That is, meetings where you are finding out about their careers and how you can get involved in a career like theirs. You are asking for time to learn about their career to see if it might be a good fit for you. It is not a time or place to ask for a job.
- PREPARE YOUR ‘SALES’ MATERIALS and REACH OUT: I always tell my clients: READINESS + OPPORTUNITY = SUCCESS!! That means you need to have your written materials prepared as well as your online profile completed. Please prepare your resume and Linkedin profile ASAP. Additionally, make a list of any and all of the people you know who are in professional positions. Contact each of them to let them know you will be graduating and that you are ready and excited to get a first job in the real world!! Send along your resume and a link to your Linkedin profile. Include the letters of recommendation! Also think through how you want to position yourself to them. They will want to know what kind of job you are looking for. It is OK if you answer broadly like this: “As a recent college graduate I am looking forward to getting a job in the world of work where I can contribute my analytical skills coupled with strong communication skills. I bring a proven track record of achievement per my GPA of 3.8 and a commitment to working hard and making a positive impact in whatever organization I join. I am highly trainable and get along well both as a proven team member and as a leader.” Then, for any contact you will meet with, it is invaluable for you to research and show that you understand what the organization does and even better for you to pose some interesting questions, observations or understandings about their work.
- Teri, success builds success. You should be proud of achieving your college degree! Reflect on the skills and insights you have learned, research to find out more about various careers and connect with people who will be pleased to have a hardworking, educated young graduate to add to their team. Onward in launching your career with success, meaning and fulfillment, Coach Joan
Pardon me while I vent. Yes, I’ve seen a lot as a career and executive coach for the last 12 years, and in my decades working in corporations. Sadly, I’ve seen people so stressed out and wounded by being laid off in insensitive ways, that they sometimes never fully recover. They become the walking wounded, and often end up working at a lower capacity, having lost trust and dignity. The repercussions of a brutal layoff can impact not only their self-esteem, livelihood, and professional capacities, but negatively impact their personal relationships and overall lifestyle.
It doesn’t have to be this way!! As a coach, I’ve had clients who come to me after a layoff, sad or disappointed that their jobs ended, but still holding their heads high, maintaining their confidence, and ready for new employment opportunities. These people were treated respectfully and emerge intact. On the other hand, I have seen people brutally laid off and walked out of their office as though they were common criminals. They were shocked by the layoff, given no advance warning, and truly suffer from symptoms of post traumatic stress.
COACH JOAN’S REMEDY!
If I were in charge of the layoff process I’d implement: Layoffs with Dignity. Here are the three BEST PRACTICES I would mandate:
- COMMUNICATE: Management, at a certain point, has the responsibility to communicate when the winds of change will be impacting the company . Not all employees are politically tuned in or sensitive. Sometimes there are mergers and acquisitions that cannot be made public and managers are mandated not to say anything. But at a certain point, it becomes clear that jobs will be eliminated. It is at that point that the management has an obligation to give some kind of heads up to the employees. They might not know the details, but they can suggest that everyone document their achievements and skills, update resumes and linked in profiles and can spend a certain number of hours each week interviewing for new opportunities. And it means taking any phone calls from recruiters and perhaps reaching out. Employees are still obligated to complete their regular job responsibilities. Once a layoff has happened, it is vital that the organization let the community know that the employee has left, and if possible, acknowledge their contributions. It is disrespectful and sometimes eerie, especially for longterm contributors, to just disappear without a trace!! No closure is not a good thing for anyone. It makes the organization look bad for treating people disrespectfully. And it leaves room for rumors and gossip among the employees remaining and the larger community.
- ASK FOR INPUT: In some cases an organization can see that profits are trending downward, competition is getting more fierce or other factors that indicate the need for contracting workers is on the horizon. In one instance, a non profit knew that they would require a different kind of executive director, but they didn’t tell her about it. So instead of giving her a heads up that they would be looking for a new leader, they waited until they lined up the new person and quickly fired her after 30 years of service, with no notice. Yes, they gave her severance, but the humiliation and shock was overwhelming. And it didn’t have to be that way. They could have let her know that their requirements in a leader had shifted, they now needed someone with excellent financial management skills and could they could with her to create a new position or would she like to move on? They could have respected her contributions as a key member of the team for decades rather than go behind her back and eliminate her in a legal but highly unethical and painful way.
- POST-LAYOFF SUPPORT SERVICES : This is an important one. They organization can recognize that the employees are being laid off through no fault of their own. So they can provide short or long term outplacement services that provide resume and Linkedin preparation, interview skills, and other ways to help to get a new job.
We, as a society, need to expect decency in our employers. Our jobs and careers are more than a paycheck. They often provide the structure to our days, to our lives, they provide social interaction, they provide an extension of our identity. So the practice of taking people into a small room and being told their services are no longer needed and then being asked to clear out their workspace and then walked out the door like a criminal, it is not only unethical but it is emotionally painful and I believe almost abusive.
Yes, let’s move to a new normal in layoff practices. YES, layoffs can be done with some dignity.
Onward to a more enlightened workplace, one that treats employees with dignity, even during layoffs.
Coach JoanRead more
Lately I’ve had clients in their 50s and 60s who are facing a dilemma. They’ve
been laid off, their company has been bought or merged, or they just see signs that their current
job is ending. They are not sure what to do next. Some are
fortunate in that they have adequately saved and saved sufficiently to stop working.
Some have already downsized and are able to begin social security. A choice is a good thing to have
but that still leaves some in a quandary. Should they look for another job to continue their career as it
had been? Do they make an intentional move away from their lifelong career? Here are three scenarios:
- Dean just can’t let go. Dean, at 59 years feels as healthy and vital as he did in his 30s. He has been a competitive and successful sales professional in high tech since college graduation. His last two companies were bought and both times he was laid off, despite having an excellent track record. Both times the companies chose to keep the sales team of the company that was doing the purchase. The first time he was laid off he felt fortunate to get hired rather quickly, working for a competitor. The second time he was not so lucky and he came to see me after an eight month period of a long, unsatisfying job search. He was losing confidence and patience and didn’t know what steps he wanted to take. We reviewed his life situation. He was long time married with no kids and no extra financial obligations. His wife was an executive and planned to work at last another five years. He still had energy and motivation, and realized he enjoyed the ‘win’ of making sales. He was still motivated to make money and he felt he keeps score with his income. (Yes, people have different kinds of motivations and values.) He was well connected in his industry but kept losing out to younger candidates. Finally we found a niche that could work for him where his decades of experience would be valued. He moved into sales training. He found a company that provided advanced sales and leadership training. He liked their curriculum, they liked him, and he embarked on a new and last stage of his sales career. This time as a mentor and trainer and still well compensated.
- Barbara was ready for change. Barbara was a music teacher with the public schools. She enjoyed her work but was concerned with the ongoing cuts in arts education. And finally, after 25 years, she was laid off. Barbara was relieved that she qualified for her pension. And fortunately, her husband had invested their savings well, and she did not have to think about making a At first Barbara was at lose ends as her whole career had been full time music teaching, and she thought it was going to continue another decade. We had some deep discussions about her values and interests. She realized that over the years she had changed, she was very concerned now for older adults. She had been the caretaker of her parents and saw them lonely in their assisted living situation. She decided to devote her time to volunteer work with the aged. In fact, she went through some excellent training and realized that her work was rewarding and perfect for this stage of her life.
- Sam moved to the other side of the table. Sam had been a powerful litigator and would have continued his work for several more years. But his law firm had a strict retirement age of 60 so it was time to go. Sam did a lot of soul searching and he realized that he saw the legal system in our country in new ways now, different than he had seen it at the start of his career. Even though he enjoyed making money, he started to see that other rewards might be more meaningful for him now. He started to volunteer with the local legal aid group and ended up finding the advocacy work extremely rewarding. He wasn’t aware of how much he had changed until he started to explore different ways to apply his legal skills. He has been doing advocacy work now for over a year and he is feeling on-purpose and surprisingly happy at his choices. The key takeaways for people who are in their later years and have changes imposed on them career-wise, is to start with an inventory. First, do you still need to create an income. If so, how much do you require? Second, what do you really enjoy about your work? Have those things changed over time? Are there other things you might prefer to do? Have your values and interests changed over time? Somehow we think that we’ll always be the same. But we really do change. I see that all the time in my career coaching practice. People deepen and often they become more interested in being of service as time goes by. Naturally, you need to provide for your own well being first. Some people choose in their later years to downsize so they have lower expenses that free them from a paycheck, and they can put more time and energy into helping others. Know thyself. It’s key way to look at career decisions. “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?” That quote is from Mary Oliver, a celebrated poet who just died last week. I think this line of hers is perfect for today’s career article. Onward to bringing your best to life, Coach Joan
I was recently contacted by a national technology publication to address the issue of how to manage one’s career during an economic downturn.
I thought that you, my readers, might well be interested in hearing some of the strategies I shared. Having been a corporate manager involved with deciding who should be laid off in times of industry contraction, plus having coached many, many clients in the last 11 years as an executive and career coach after layoffs, I have five proven strategies to share with you. The goal is to position you as one of those invaluable employees that the organization chooses to keep and have you well positioned to find a new position if you are laid off.
Sometimes entire organizations or departments are laid off and no employees are spared, but often the management ranks employees and keeps the ones perceived as most valuable. I’d like YOU to be on the list of those that get to keep their jobs! Please read and follow the advice in the following five areas:
- WORK LIKE YOU ARE NEW ON THE JOB! Yes, remember back to your first few weeks on the job? Remember how you were so careful to dress right, look good, take notice of everyone and everything going on around you? You were keen to make a good impression and form good relationships. You were super motivated to do a great job and get along with everyone. You were alert and trying to learn the bigger picture of how your company worked and how you could best play a role. Well, go back to those days of being fresh and alert! Show you care and bring your best self to work each day. It will be noticed!
- COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE: Make sure that all the people around you, especially your manager and the organizations upper management, knows that you are a contributor. Clearly communicate the projects you are focused on and the contributions you are making. Let folks know the skills that you are bringing to your job. If you’ve gotten sloppy about doing status reports, change that now. Each week, write up a full report to your manager of all the work you have done. Let him/her know any questions you have, resources you need, red flags or problems. Also let them know if you see new opportunities for contribution in the organization that could make that manager looks good. Yes, make your boss look good!
- ONGOING TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT. Show that you are a lifelong learner. You are ambitious and ready to learn, grow and contribute more! Check into your company’s training department and see if there are classes you can take. Look to participate in industry conferences and meetings. See if you manager might have a budget for your development. See if there are opportunities for you to do a talk and make your company look good. Ask your manager for areas that he/she thinks you need to develop in and ask how you can learn those skills or develop those traits. Do some research on your own. Go for a higher level certification or degree! Those things also make you more employable in your industry.
- RAISE YOUR HAND! Always be the one on your team to offer to help and to take on new assignments. Offer to help train the newbies. Suggest ways that you can do extra work that can contribute to the bottom line. If there are new areas that your organization is getting into, do research and show what else can be done to help the organization become a leader. Find out the new skills that will be of value in the future and find a way to develop those skills. Be the most helpful person on the team, willing to go the distance. And be the one who publicly recognizes the contributions of others. It is important to be seen as a great team player, not someone who is only interested in their own success.
- UPDATES & BIRD DOG YOUR INDUSTRY. Update your LinkedIn.com profile and your resume. be in ready position for new opportunities. Take recruiter calls. All of them. Ask recruiters about the industry and what new types of jobs and positions are in demand. Then learn the skills needed. Energize your network. Call all of your old contacts, peers and managers. Get the ‘skinny’ on what’s happening. Who is moving where? Where are the new jobs? Expand your network now! None of us can control an economic downturn. But knowing that one might happen and doing all one can to both secure current employment and be ready for new employment is the best way to safeguard our careers. Always, BRING THE BEST OF YOU TO WORK. In fact, that is the tagline of my coaching practice: Greatin8Coaching.com Onward in your career success! COACH JOAN
Dear Coach Joan,
My boss is on an exercise and diet kick. Up until last year she was overweight and out of shape, but when her husband, due to health problems, started a diet and exercise regime, she got on board. In a big way. Now she is a zealot, and although we see that she really seems happier, more productive and energetic, we resent her trying to recruit us to her cause. We find it rude and intrusive. Kindly advise.
Ah, those exercise and diet zealots! They can drive us crazy with their enthusiasm and desire to get us all into their low carb, vegan, paleo diets, on the treadmill, up at 5 am for jogging, weight-lifting etc.
And what do I think of it?
I am of two minds regarding bringing one’s personal life into the workplace.
On the one hand, I find any kind of evangelizing at work to be rude and inappropriate. Whether it is for religious causes (not allowed), for the purchase of selling Girl Scout cookies (controversial) or for a particular diet or exercise regime, it is iffy if it belongs in the workplace. Some companies have specific rules and regulations around this topic.
Yes, we are naturally enthusiastic about things that we feel help us in our lives, but is the workplace the best place to share and encourage our practices, belief and habits? I think we need to step back when it is clearly crossing a line. And what are some examples of that?
It is crossing a line if a colleague is printing out her religious prayers at work, on work equipment.
It is crossing a line if a manager says that absolutely no sugar can be brought in to work events. (Unless it is a food that could cause a serious allergic reaction, as in the case of some peanut allergies, for instance.)
It is crossing a line if the company mandates that everyone uses the company gym and monitors usage.
But is it crossing a line when your manager strongly recommends that you clean up your diet and start an exercise program? When does a recommendation turn into a mandate?
Here’s where I stand on the boss being a diet and exercise zealot:
1) Let them be a great role model by sharing the improvements they are noticing to their work performance. Perhaps they find they are more alert, agile and productive. Yes, they can share those findings, and offer to be available to discuss how they have managed this change. But that should be done on a one on one basis, not to the whole group, unless perhaps the whole group agrees they want the information.
2) If they take up work time, say in a staff meeting, discussing the details of their new eating and exercising regime, I suggest that in a one on one setting you let them know that you are not interested, and don’t find this relevant to work. If it persists, you might poll others on your team and discuss it with HR. That is, if, they have seriously crossed the line into evangelizing on work time.
3) In your one on one meetings with your boss, perhaps you do want to learn more. It doesn’t sound like your boss is demanding your participation but hey, if you notice they are really improving in ways that you find positive, maybe you do want to learn more. And maybe the company might even give you the time and some financial support in joining an athletic center or providing work time for sports activities.
Yes, Susan, zealots for any cause seem inappropriate in a work setting, but in the case of good health habits, with noticeable positive results, it just might be something to check out!
Heading to the gym now,
by Joan Tabb in Uncategorized
Did you know that after graduating from Harvard Law School and working in a corporate law firm for several years,
Michelle Obama decided she wanted to make a career transition? I learned all this in her new, excellent memoir, BECOMING.
As more than 50% of lawyers realize within the first several years of practicing law, Michelle realized that the law was just not for her.
She wanted to switch fields. But where to go, what to do and who to help? This happened when Michelle Obama, like most of us, was not well connected, did not have wealthy, professional parents to make introductions for her, and had little sense of what she’d like to do next!
So even for a seasoned career and executive coach like me, I was impressed that Michelle Obama had tremendous gumption, courage and confidence….
She decided to create her own introductions! She built, from scratch, her own network of success!
Michelle researched to find the names of leaders in her Chicago community who were involved in what she saw as powerful and impressive organizations. She made a list of the leaders in government, academics, non-profits and more. She started basically COLD, with no personal contacts. Next, she wrote an impressive letter of introduction, explaining her academic and corporate background and her desire to branch out and learn more about how she could apply her skills in other areas, outside the law.
Interestingly, she got a number of calls. Yes, it helped that she had stellar credentials, an undergraduate degree from impressive Princeton University and the law degree from Harvard, but at the same time, she had no name recognition at that point, and no personal connections to introduce her in.
She did not get responses from all of the people she outreached to. But she did get some. And when she did get the calls she was ready!
I always say: READINESS + OPPORTUNITY = SUCCESS.
Michelle Obama was ready. She was prepared to articulately discuss the skills she had demonstrated, the knowledge she had and she prepared excellent questions so people could see she knew how to think, how to research and was thorough.
What are the takeaways for YOU to use if you are looking to make a career transition?
- Do your research. Find out who, in your community, are some of the leaders of organizations or companies you might be interested in.
- Develop a thoughtful letter of introduction that explains your credentials, skills and shows you have done some research on them
- Ask for an Informational Interview, a 20-30 minutes meeting where you can ask them questions.
- Always ask, at the end of the meeting, if there is anyone else they’d suggest you meet with.
- Do all the follow up that is suggested. Michelle Obama started out with NO connections, no introductions at all. She didn’t have a clear path forward. In other words, she was like most of us! But she used focused intelligence, courage and created an outreach plan to build her own network of influence and opportunity. Interestingly, some of the introductions she made through her personal outreach efforts led to job opportunities years later. So if you’re looking to make a career change, you should consider taking a few tips from the Michelle Obama playbook! Good luck and please, let the world know what you can do…The people who get ahead first need to show up and reach out! Onward in your career success, Coach Joan
Dear Coach Joan
I’ve been, working for 10 years in a company that provides business-to-business services. I have great relationships with my management, customers and colleagues. And
I have been promoted several times. The problem is, I’ve reached my ceiling in terms of compensation and responsibilities.
And I feel the entrepreneurial bug! I want to go out on my own.
What kinds of things should I be considering before making the big move?
Susan in Santa Rosa
Congratulations on your successful 10 year run. You’ve clearly demonstrated a number of positive capabilities and skills to have earned several promotions and built strong relationships. That said, there are definitely considerations to make before going on on your own. Here are three essential dimensions of entrepreneurship to consider:
- The Resources: You have been accustomed to a regular paycheck. Your focus has been on doing the job and getting a very regular paycheck. Once you quit, the paychecks stop and that can be shocking and frightening. You need to consider how much money you have saved to carry you through a period of business building until you would once again have a regular income. People typically need to have at least 6 months of expenses saved. And benefits: Is your company providing your with health insurance and other benefits? Make sure to factor in those costs, too. Do you plan on taking out a business loan? Do you have a partner that you share income with? Look carefully at the consequences of leaving a regular paycheck behind.
- The Work: What exactly will you be providing to clients? You have to be very clear on what you service and value-add are. And exactly who is your target audience for these services and how will you reach them? You mentioned that you have good relationships with the current customers for the company. Do you plan on taking some of those customers with you as you go out on your own? This can potentially be a very sticky situation. In many industries you sign non-compete agreements which prevent you from taking customers away from your employer. Please check into that. If you have lined up other clients, that is great, and avoids any legal troubles. Several of my clients who were employees started to let their network know they’d be available independently and were able to line up contract opportunities before they gave notice with their employer. For instance, one woman was a marketing program manager and she had colleagues at other companies who needed to hire her services but the new clients were in companies that did not compete with the employer she was leaving.
- Your Professional Style: You mention that you have an entrepreneurial itch. Are you sure you have the skills and mindset needed to actually run a business on your own. Consider things like: working from home, alone or getting a shared space, self motivation, the lack of daily group interaction, the lack of management for guidance, structure and development. Many people who leave the corporate world also anticipate how they will: get the needed socializing, professional interaction, training and growth opportunities, building a network of shared professionals focused in a similar skill/industry area. Susan, it is wonderful that you are looking to move forward and grow as a professional! I do caution you that there are a lot of things to consider and manage in making a transition of that magnitude. You also want to make sure you have a support system for the ups and downs of running one’s own business. And you might want to consider engaging with a business coach or even a mentor who has gone the route you are considering. Please do some careful homework and research, and when the time is right and you are ready, GO FOR IT! As I always say: READINESS + OPPORTUNITY = SUCCESS All the best, Coach Joan
I’m just starting my professional career and was advised to get involved with volunteer work. I’m wondering if volunteer activities can be a boost to my career in any way?
I am quite ambitious and want to use my free time wisely. Yes, I’d like to do community service work, but might it be smart to wait until later in my career?
Has volunteer work really helped people with their careers?
And congratulations on landing your first professional job. Glad to hear that you are ambitious, and the topic of volunteering as a career asset is a super one!
The answer is YES, YES, YES!! Volunteer work can be a career boost in many ways. Here are four possible benefits of volunteer work:
- Volunteer work grows your network! By participating in community related volunteer work you will meet with people you probably never would meet under other circumstances. You will become acquainted with people from many different backgrounds, ages, careers and interests. And you’ll all have the same volunteer work in common; a shared mission. You will get to know these fellow volunteers in different capacities than in their normal work lives. This could increase both your social and professional network, make your life more interesting, and be a good support and opportunity network for if or when career changes occur. During the economic downturn of 2008 I worked with many people who were laid off from work. It was terrifying for many and fear could be paralyzing. I always recommended they get going; even if they didn’t have a structured job to go to they could create structure on their own. I always advised to do some volunteer work to stay busy, productive and to expand their career network. I know of at least a dozen new job opportunities that opened up due to volunteer work connections.
- Volunteer work can grow your industry-specific and leadership skills. Volunteer work can include playing a role in a professional association in your field. For instance, I recommended that client who is a high tech recruiter join the Silicon Valley High Tech Recruiters Association. She wisely opted to play a visible, leadership role in the organization and within a few months, several new job leads came her way. By doing volunteer work in your profession you are also seen as a doer, a contributor, and a professional who is interested in lifelong learning, advancing your profession, and helping others in the field. Many companies believe in activating their employees and they team up with local service organizations. By volunteering with your fellow employees you can network internally and that can lead to advancement opportunities, too. Some employers even give employees time off to to the volunteer work.
- Volunteer work can give you a new outlook and more energy! Everyone has ups and downs at work. By having volunteer responsibilities, and another place to focus your energies, you can balance out the demands of work and even pressures that you might have in your personal life. It feels good to volunteer and to be of service. If you go through a period where you are not feeling valued, respected or motivated in your day job, your volunteer work just might give you the energy and enthusiasm you need to boost your mood and your sense of value!
- Volunteer work can increase your sense of personal impact! Many people are concerned about aspects of our world outside of work. There are political issues, environmental, educational, arts related, social issues, and more. We can increase our sense of purposefulness and impact by doing community service volunteer work. Think about topics and issues in our world that matter to you, research to find a local group, join, and become an active part of creating solutions in our world.
Ben, I strongly recommend you consider getting involved with volunteer work and weave it into a regular and key part of your life. Get involved! Add new dimensions of impact to your life. The benefits will be many, from a broader professional network, to a more robust social life and to the good feeling that comes from knowing you are making an effort to improve our world.
Go for it, Ben!
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