Month: March 2015

Four Steps to Cope with Change

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.
Benjamin Franklin

Joseph-Siffrein Duplessis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Joseph-Siffrein Duplessis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Franklin may have been one of the wisest Americans who has ever lived, but in this case, he was wrong. There is a third certainty:

Change.

Some change we initiate, and for good reason: a new job, a marriage, the birth of a child.

Some changes are forced upon us against our will: a layoff, a new boss, the death of a loved one.

One of the maxims in Spencer Johnson’s top-selling business book, Who Moved My Cheese (the book that managers like to give to their staffs before a round a layoffs), is that we must change with the change or risk becoming extinct.

This is easy to say when the change is good. But how do we do this when change is forced upon us?

Let me give you four steps for Coping with Change:

1)  Expect Change

The typical interpretation of the classic Aesop Fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper” is that the ant planned ahead, that he worked all summer gathering food so that in winter he would not starve.

Johannes Moreelse (after 1602–1634) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Johannes Moreelse (after 1602–1634) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Notice that the ant anticipated change, he knew that the good times of summer would not last. He expected it to change.

As the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus (left) put it, “Everything changes and nothing stands still.”

The mice in Johnson’s book noticed that the cheese supply was dwindling even before it moved, so they were ready with their next move. The little people did not anticipate the change and were caught off guard.

Expect there to be change, and you can more readily adapt to it.

2)  Choose Your Response to the Change

Sooner or later, you must accept that the status quo is different.

In some cases, it may have to be “later.” Some change is tough to deal with. Embrace your emotions. Allow yourself time, if necessary, to grieve.

All change involves loss. Some loss is good (getting a better job, getting married); some loss is harder to replace (the economic security of a well-paying job, the death of a loved one).

Concentrate on the things you can control – exercise, meditate, pray. Punch a pillow (in the privacy of your own home). Write in your journal (but don’t publish it as a blog). Seek counsel with an objective third party (not someone who is involved in the change with you).

3)  Accept the Change

Don’t rush your feelings, but do understand that the sooner you can accept the new status quo, the sooner you can begin to be successful under the new status quo.

4)  Embrace the Change

All change creates opportunity. Search for that opportunity, be it the pot of gold or the silver lining.

Set new goals under the new paradigm. Establish new habits to work with the new reality.

Finally, pay attention and be ready, because Change will happen again.

Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

Book Review: “Get a Job! How I Found a Job when Jobs are Hard to Find, and So Can You!”

Author Dan Quillen was enjoying his career as an executive recruiter for a law firm when, like so many of us, he was laid off. Drawing on his experience as a recruiter, Get a Job details how he was able to secure an astounding 34 invitations to interview before landing a new position to continue his career.

In addition to detailed advice about resumes, cover letters, interview prep and the interview itself, Quillen includes chapters on:

Plan to Stay (make yourself important to your company), Prepare to Leave (continual professional development – finish school!)

First Steps After a Layoff (make a plan, work your plan)

Staying Positive (take care of yourself, ask for and accept help, realize you are not alone)

After You Land Your Job (an often neglected but vitally important aspect of career management – don’t get fired for silly mistakes!)

My only quibble, but not Quillen’s fault because it is not his experience and not his focus, is that Get a Job focuses on mid-level and above career transitions; there are no comments on the barriers that many of my clients face (challenges that come with job searching while experiencing homelessness, returning to work after long absences, or criminal background issues).

That aside, I recommend Get a Job because Quillen’s advice is spot-on, advice I coach my clients to consider. And you really can’t quibble with 34 invitations to interview!

Quillen, Dan. Get a Job! How I Found a Job When Jobs are Hard to Find – and So Can You. Cold Springs Press, 2013. Print.

Get a Job! How I Found a Job When Jobs are Hard to Find - and So Can You by Dan Quillen

Get a Job! How I Found a Job When Jobs are Hard to Find – and So Can You
by Dan Quillen

Have you read this book? I would love to know your thoughts. Leave a comment below, or connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

How SMART Are Your Goals?

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery (though in dispute)

The most successful people in life, whether in business, family, finances, or job search, are goal-focused. But just having a goal is not enough. You need to create a plan to reach your goal.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
– Alan Lakein

They key to creating the right plan to reach your goal, is to have the right goal to begin with. That is why you want a SMART goal;

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

SMART as in intelligent and intentional, but also SMART as in:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

– Specific. The more specific your goal, the more likely you are to achieve it.

A goal to “have more money” is not specific enough.
A goal of “having enough money to retire” is not specific enough.
A goal of “having $500,000 in a retirement account so I can retire” is better, but
a goal of “having $500,000 in a retirement account so I can retire at age 70” is best.

For Job Seekers, a goal of “finding a job” is not specific.
A goal of “finding a job as a [fill in the blank]” is better, but
a goal of “finding a job as a [fill in the blank] with one of these three companies” is best.

– Measurable. How will you know when you reach your goal? The more specific the goal, the easier it is to measure.

If you want to have $500,000 by the time you retire at age 70, simply calculate how much you need to save each year until retirement.

If you want a job as a [fill in the blank] and you get offered another job instead, you can decide whether to accept the job relative to your goal (is it the same type of position but with another company? Or a job with a target company but in another role? Or simply what you can get for now, but you’ll keep looking?).

“What gets measured gets done.”
– Tom Peters

– Achievable. A goal that is out of reach, no matter how well planned, will never be met.

Saving $500,000 for retirement might be achievable, but $5Million may not be.

A goal to be a surgeon because it looked cool on “Scrubs,” but you cannot maintain grades to qualify for medical school, may be out of reach. But perhaps you would be satisfied with another role in a hospital or clinic.

– Relevant. A goal that is not relevant to your values, your interests, and your lifestyle, no matter how achievable, will be an empty victory.

Saving enough money to buy an RV Camper, but you don’t like to drive (or to camp) would be a wasteful purchase.

– Timely. When do you want to achieve your goal? How much time is there between now and then? What do you need to do at each time point? And what do you do if you start to fall behind?

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.”
– Napoleon Hill

SMART goals will help you create an actionable plan, and greatly increase the chances that you can achieve what you want.

What are your experiences with goal-setting? Please share in the comments below!

Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.

Why you need an Employment Cheat Sheet

On a whim, I went to the Careers page of the company website. Remarkably, they had a position available – THE position that I desired. I carefully crafted my resume, including their key words, highlighting my qualifications and transferable skills. I wrote a cover letter that addressed their pre-screen questions. I submitted. It couldn’t be this easy, could it?

A few days later, I was called and invited for an interview. Maybe it could be this easy. I researched the company. I prepared. I went in.

And I nailed it. Within only about 15 minutes, it was no longer an interview, it was a conversation. I answered every question, I asked insightful questions of my own. It became apparent that the job was mine.

“Before you go, would you complete this application for us?”

“I would be happy to,” I replied. Almost smugly, I began filling in the blanks. Name, Address, Current Employer, Former Employer, Name of Supervisor…

And I froze. What was his name? I worked with the man for over two years, why can’t I remember his name?! Maybe it’s in my phone. Why is the name not in my phone?!?

I am constantly reminded of how little I really know

I am constantly reminded of how little I really know

I had to leave the field blank, with a promise to follow up later. To make matters even more embarrassing, I was applying for a position as an Employment Specialist. I had just spent 45 minutes convincing the employer how good I am at helping people find jobs, and then I pull a bone-head move like this.

I am now able to use this experience as a teaching moment for my clients, and I urge you, my readers, to learn from my mistake:

When you are job-searching, create and carry with you a Cheat Sheet with your employment and educational experience.

A resume is not an application. A resume is the story of your qualifications for a specific position. A resume does not lie, or stretch the truth, but neither does it necessarily include details that do not support your story. A resume often does not include all the details required by an application.

An application is a legal document, much more detailed and factual than a resume. Simply referring to a resume does not answer all of the details. And, you sign an application at the end, attesting that everything is true and valid.

What to include on your Cheat Sheet:

  • Name
  • Contact info (address / phone / email / LinkedIn URL / Web Site)
  • Current Employer (name of company, address, phone, job title, date started, starting salary, current salary, name of supervisor)
  • Former Employers (name of company, address, phone, job title, date started, date ended, reason for leaving, starting salary, ending salary, name of supervisor) – 10-years’ worth
  • Education (name of school, address, highest level completed / degree earned, graduation date, Grade Point Average, honors / awards, clubs / organizations, offices held)
  • Training / Certifications (type / description, name of educational / technical institute, address, phone, date completed, valid through). Include any certifications that have expired, if you still have the knowledge. DO NOT claim the certification, but you might be able to claim the knowledge.
  • Other Languages / fluency

You are not showing this to anyone, but you will be glad you had it when you need it.

Do you have any interview horror stories? How did you overcome them? Please share in the comments below.

Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.