career advice

4 Ways To Reconnect With Your Career

by Jenny Yerrick Martin

Remember all those years ago when you first started down your career path, making steady progress or landing a job you were sure you would want forever? Or maybe you just accepted a job that seemed promising, or that you felt was the best you could do, and one thing led to another – leaving you stuck without even a honeymoon period to look back fondly on?

It happens a lot. We wake up and don’t want the job that we’ve got. It pays decently, or more-than-decently, and/or provides some other Holy Grail-type perks, such as flex time or, the Grail of all Grails, good group health insurance. And yet, we keep humming the old Peggy Lee song, “Is That All There Is?” as we toil away at our desks. Honestly, it feels like someone else’s job sometimes, even while we’re doing it.

But there are ways to reconnect with your career, to find the right path and course-correct, no matter what phase of your career you are in. Here are four exercises that will help you clarify what’s missing, so you know whether what you need is a little tweak or a complete reboot.

  1. Take Inventory

Really break down what is and isn’t working for you in your current position. You feel comfortable in the environment, for instance, but the actual work you are doing is a dull grind. Get specific and create two lists: “Like” and “Don’t Like.”

  1. Retrace Your Steps

Go to previous jobs and break down what worked and didn’t work for you in each one. Was there a job you had in the past that you loved? What was it that loved? Were you working in a field you were passionate about? Being challenged by big projects on tight deadlines? Again, get specific and break it down into “Liked” and “Didn’t Like.” Yes, even in a job you loved, there was something about it that you didn’t love. Don’t gloss over that. The pay was low, the hours were crazy, or the boss was a tyrant? Include it in your breakdown.

  1. Go Back To Class

Don’t despair if you’ve never had a job you loved, if you feel you got off on the wrong foot right out of school. Think back to your student days. What classes did you love? Was the Advanced Marketing class your favorite? Why? Was it the group projects, the psychology behind getting people to buy, the amazing mentorship by the professor? These are clues to help you discover what you are currently missing, and what could be the key to career satisfaction.

  1. Indulge In Envy

You know when you get together with your friends and one friend is always talking about her job? It sounds like she is complaining, but you know she is really bragging because it’s an AWESOME job that you would KILL for. You wish you had a job like hers.

Again, start making a list. What is it about your friend’s job that you envy? What would you not want from her job? You love the idea of giving presentations to rooms full of people, but not of flying to Timbuktu to do it. Once you’ve broken down that friend’s job, think about other people whose jobs you envy? Get specific. There is gold in that envy.

Once you have done these four exercises, you should have a better idea of what you are not getting from your current job and maybe more importantly, what you are getting. There may be a way to somehow change your current job to make it more of a fit (make a lateral move into a more dynamic department or with a boss who has less micromanagement tendencies, for instance).

Or, it may be that, as you suspected, the job is just the wrong fit in so many basic ways that you have to get out. Use the results of these exercises as a guide so when you make your plan, you have a more complete picture of where your career happiness lies.

Read the original posting on Careerealism HERE

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How To Handle Cancelling An Interview

In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a growing complaint among my friends who are small business owners. They’ve experienced an increase in candidates not showing for interviews or cancelling an interview at the last minute with wacky excuses. If you have been invited for an interview, but can’t attend for some reason, take the following steps to ensure that you don’t burn bridges to future employment.

Contact Them ASAP

As soon as you know you won’t be able to interview, contact your recruiter or the person who set-up the meeting. Most recruiters and hiring managers are understanding enough to realize that life happens and it sometimes gets in the way of even the best intentions. If possible, try to reach the person in multiple ways, via phone and e-mail, to ensure that your message is received. Politely request that the person call or e-mail you back with confirmation that your message was received.

Be Honest

There’s probably a legitimate reason why you can’t attend the interview at the established time. Be honest and convey that message. If your reason is legitimate, there’s probably a good chance that the interview can be rescheduled at a more convenient time. There’s really not a need to make up excuses or tell lies. Your honesty does not need to include specific details about an illness or family emergency. In fact, most interviewers won’t want to know the specific reason, especially if it’s something personal or medical-related.

Apologize And Move Forward

Recognize that you are causing an inconvenience, apologize, and determine next steps. If you still want an opportunity to be considered for the job, end your conversation by asking about setting up an alternate interview time.

If you’ve been fortunate enough to obtain a new position with another employer before the interview, it’s still best to call and share that information with the recruiter or hiring manager. No shows are very frustrating because the interviewers have blocked time on their calendars to meet with you. If you aren’t interested in being considered for the position any longer, you can help the employer by allowing them to resume the recruiting and interviewing process.

Furthermore, there may be a time in the future that you will again want to be considered for a position with that employer. If that’s the case, it’s best to handle interview cancellations professionally and with tact. Many companies maintain candidate files and would be able to refer back if you re-submit a resume or application for consideration. If you’ve blown off an interview once, it could hurt your chances of being asked to interview again in the future.

Read more interviewing tips at http://www.careerealism.com/cancelling-interview-how-to/#hEoe7eCbYOWZ7Wc8.99

How do you find people to network with?

Careers and Employment

We had a couple of events last week where networking was emphasised as a way to help discover the hidden job market and to connect with people who work for a company or industry that you are interested in. We try to have as many opportunities as possible for students to network by putting on careers expos, employer presentations and seminars plus we also run a networking workshop but what about finding your own contacts?

One of the simplest ways to start networking is to speak to the people you already know. Don’t just think of the obvious people in your life, think broadly e.g. family, friends of family, friends, friends of friends, neighbours, university lecturers and tutors, high school teachers and principals, colleagues from part-time jobs and volunteer jobs, sporting club contacts and community group contacts. Once you’ve spoken to them ask if there is anyone that they know…

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The Deepest Source of Motivation

Forget the carrot and stick. Motivation and innovation come from a desire to help. shutterstock images 1,068 inShare. For decades, bosses have assumed that the best way to motivate workers is by promising financial gain and threatening financial loss. With one hand they dangle a carrot of more pay while brandishing in the other, the stick of “get to work or you’re fired.”

However, according to a recent article in the New York Times, research in organizational psychology strongly suggests that people are more innovative and more successful when motivated by a desire to help other people.

This is a vast departure from the management theories of the past which have assumed that success in business is “the survival of the fittest.” Under this way of thinking, helping others is a waste of time and effort… except insofar as it’s self-serving.

What Do You Like Best About Your Job?
Over the past 20 years, I’ve interviewed hundreds of successful people, mostly top executives and top salespeople. I start nearly every conversation with a simple question: “What do you like best about your job?”

In every case, these highly-successful individuals have responded to that question with some variation of: “I like helping people.” When I probe, I usually discover that they’re not just talking about customers. They want to help coworkers, too.

When I look at the different types of writing I’ve done in my life, there’s no question that I’ve been happier, more productive, and more innovative in exact proportion to the likelihood that what I’m writing will help others be more successful.

I’ll bet if you honestly review the jobs you’ve done in the past, and the job you’re doing right now, you’ve accomplished more when you were certain that you were helping others than when you weren’t quite sure.

The lesson here is simple: when you focus on helping others rather than helping yourself, you draw upon your deepest sources of motivation. It frees your creativity and energy while developing simultaneously developing both empathy and patience.

It’s not a dog-eat-dog world out there. It’s a “let’s make this happen together” world. Want to become a better, smarter, more effective team builder and communicator?

Join us at Inc.’s upcoming Leadership Forum June 10 to June 12 in San Diego. Visit leadership.inc.com for details.

Original article: |

7 Cover Letter Mistakes You Make When Applying Via E-mail

How many times have you replied to a job ad via e-mail by shooting them a copy of your resume and cover letter?

I’m going to venture a guess and say at least 20 (but more likely hundreds of times) if you’ve been searching for any significant length of time.

Cover Letter Mistakes

Here are some of the most notorious cover letter mistakes we’ve seen and what you can do to greatly improve your chances of being noticed.

1. Attaching The Cover Letter To The E-mail
What’s wrong with that, you ask? Most hiring managers aren’t going to open the cover letter and read it. They’ll go straight to the resume instead. Want to ensure your cover letter gets read? Copy and paste it into the body of the e-mail. Whoever received the e-mail will be much more likely to read it if it’s already right there in front of their face.

2. Writing Your Whole Life Story In The Body Of The E-mail
Don’t go overboard with details; keep it short. The hiring manager won’t be willing to invest a lot of time reading your e-mail. Keep it short and to the point.

3. Providing Information Not Relevant To The Position
Here is a great example. When I want to bring an additional resume/cover letter writer on staff, I’m not looking for someone with technical writing expertise, article writing skills, or journalism savvy. Those forms of writing aren’t relevant to what we do here. I want a writer who has extensive expertise and certification in resume writing.

If someone goes on and on in their cover letter (or in the body of the e-mail) about all their other writing experience, they will lose my interest. Instead, I want them to tell me about their most relevant experience as it relates to my needs. I want them to tell me about any resume writing experience they have. Give the hiring manager a brief overview of the most relevant experience you have, appropriate to the position they are trying to fill. This will pique their interest—rather than lose it.

4. Excluding Information They’ve Specifically Asked You To Include
Depending on the position, the employer may ask you to submit a sample of your work, portfolio, hours of availability, or even salary requirements. Whatever it is they’ve asked you to include, make sure you include it in your cover letter.

If not, you will most certainly be removed from consideration for failing to follow instructions. Following instructions and acknowledging everything the employer has asked you to address in the job ad not only saves the employer time but makes you look good. I can tell you this from experience because 9 out of 10 applicants will fail to address every stipulation the employer has listed. It happens to us all the time.

5. Not Using A Cover Letter At All
We’ve received e-mails from applicants, and the body of the e-mail provides either little or no information whatsoever.  Some simply state, “Here is my resume for your review.” You are selling yourself short by not including at least a brief introduction. Especially if the employer outlines specific requirements. Take the time to write, “I see you need someone with availability to work nights and weekends; I would enjoy working these hours and am available to do so.” Or, “I have included a sample of my work for your consideration along with my resume. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.”

6. Forgetting To Tell Them Why You’re The Best Fit
Let me tell you about one of THE BEST cover letters I’ve ever seen: I could tell this person put effort into it—and she took the time to specifically and meticulously review our job requirements. She scrutinized our requirements and detailed in her cover letter how she had experience meeting those needs. It was applicable, relevant, and attention getting. It was probably one of the only cover letters that actually made us want to read the corresponding resume.

7. Using A Boring Closing Statement
Instead of using the same old boring line, spice it up a bit. One of the more daring cover letter closings I have read closed with, “Call today, don’t delay.” I applauded her boldness and had to call her. The closing was confident, feisty, and it certainly grabbed my attention. Not to mention the entire cover letter addressed everything she brought to the table as a potential employee and how these elements were relevant to meeting our needs.

What I am trying to get you to see is boring the hiring manager with details not relevant to the opening—or not making the most of the space and time you’re getting is really to your detriment. Instead, take the time to write something catchy, relevant, and targeted to the position for which you are applying.

Sure, it may take a few extra minutes to tweak your cover letter—but in the end, if you get the interview, won’t it be worth it?

Source: Careerealism.com

Do You Manage Your Career Like A First Date?

First date.. Career… You heard me correctly!

Do you manage your career like a first date?

I remember what it was like to be single. That was over thirty years ago but I remember the awkward feelings of trying to find someone who would just go out with me on a date.

When I graduated from high school I was 6 feet 4 inches tall and a mere 145 pounds. I had a big head of red hair. I was no chick magnet!

I was an awkward nerd.

I tried to make myself attractive to the opposite sex. I picked clothes so that girls would notice me.

Now you wordsmith your LinkedIn Profile so that recruiters will notice you. You are establishing your brand just like I was trying to be stylish.

When I asked a girl out, I was just hoping not to be rejected. You submit your applications and pray that the recruiter calls you.

When I got a date, I was just trying to make a good impression. Was she the right girl for me? I was not worried about that I just wanted her to like me. When you go for an interview you are just praying that they call you back for a second interview. You just want them to like you.

Does this sound familiar? It should because this is how many of you manage your career.

  • You scour job boards looking for a date…. oh I mean a job
  • When you find a girl….  a job that meets your requirements you send in your resume and pray you will hear a response
  • When she calls…. I mean the recruiter calls you put your best foot forward hoping not to get rejected
  • When you get the first phone interview you try to sound like a nice guy… I mean like a experienced professional but still hoping not to get rejected
  • When you get the first interview you put you really try to show your stuff off… I mean you try to demonstrate your outstanding skills and talents
  • When you get the second interview, you are thinking will I get to second base with her… no I mean get an offer.

Are you concerned that this might not be the job for you? Heck no! You just want to get the next step!

You should be concerned on whether there is the right chemistry between the boss and you. Are you going to be happy in this next position?

Your job search is just like dating! You have to date to get married. Not every date turns into marriage. In the job search you have to interview to get the job. Not every interview turns into a job. Half of all marriages end in divorce.

Your career is very much like a marriage. It is about finding common ground, compromises, happiness, successes,….

Have you gone on a date that you just wanted to walk out? I hear there are strategies for that now.

Have you gone into an interview prepared to ask all of the right questions? Is this the right job for you?

Do you even know what the right job for you is?

What kind of boss do you want?

What kind of team do you function best on?

How do you want to be rewarded? Most of us want a combination of the following:

  • The bonus check
  • Public recognition
  • Pat on the back from the boss
  • Pat on the back from your team
  • Pat on the back from your client

How much variety do you want in your day?

Do you know what you need in a work environment and then how to determine whether you are going to get what you need?

Have you taken a job and suddenly said — what have I gotten into!

Finding your next job is serious business just like finding a spouse. There must be the right chemistry to make the relationship work… oh I mean the workplace fun and rewarding.

Go find that perfect match. Go find the perfect job for you. One that meets all of your requirements and reject those that do not.

By Mark Miller: Original Posting via Purzue