Updates from new blog at www.nextchapternewlife.com/blog/

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Career Change – Step 1 isn’t updating your resume’

I can't count the number of times I've heard people talk about "updating their resume" when thinking about making a career change. If you are one of those people out there putting the polish on your resume' as you are about to launch a job search for a new career- STOP. Your resume' is not the place where you start your work on a career change. If you are simply looking for the same or similar position in another company, go ahead. There is a big difference between looking for a job and making a career change. Sure, at some point the process is the same and you will need to have a spiffy resume' but it's not the place to get started in making a career shift.

When contemplating a career shift, you are in need of something that looks like a research project. You need to do the work to help point you in a different direction. Picking a career is as hard to do at 40 as it is at 18. The world is your oyster which is a great thing but how do you find the one with the pearl? The good news is: if you are older than 18 you have more work and life experience that will give you important insight into the process and decision making.

So, where do you start? There are multiple actions you can take initially and they primarily involve self examination. Among the first steps:

  • Tests or assessments – These are good to give you more information about yourself. These assessments will give you insight on things like interests, strengths and work orientation. If you pursue these, you have to know up front that they alone will not give you the "One Big Answer" about your future career. In fact, they may in many ways tell you things you already know about yourself. So why take them? Because it will give you a starting place, it will help distill down information about you that you need to have as you embark on making a decision about a career. With any research project, you collect data from numerous sources to help create the conclusion. Among but not limited on assessments: Meyers-Briggs, Strength Finder, VISTA cards, Color Q and Holland. Many of these are in books and online.


  • Self assessment – This is where you really self examine. What kinds of things do you like to do? Where do you currently excel? What do you gravitate to outside of your current job? What did you dream of doing when you were younger? Are there people you know who have fun sounding jobs? Are there causes you believe in?



  • More self assessment – Start looking for feedback. When your performance has been assessed, what strengths and weakness to you exhibit? If you were to ask a circle of friends and relatives, what kind of work do they think you would be good at? You'd be surprised at how insightful this exercise can be. They aren't encumbered with your history yet they know you and often have some great suggestions based on what they know about you.


  • Job search – many libraries and websites have all kinds of job titles. Some titles will make almost no sense but most of them will. Start looking these over to see what might jump out at you as something interesting. You can also go to job search websites and get vast amount of job titles and job content to help in this step. What is it about the ones you selected that sound worthwhile?



  • Compile and research – with your mounting list of insights you can now start synthesizing into some logical groupings. These groupings are becoming what will ultimately be your new career because the baseline is from things in your research that have attracted you in some way. Don't worry about "real" titles, but put logical elements together. You want to avoid putting basketball and surgery together, it makes no sense. You could put problem solving, math skills and detail orientation together. An important action in this step is to eliminate things. If you naturally are interested in specific job titles or elements, then focus on those. Your goal in this step is to create groupings or jobs that will become your future career.


  • Network and research – With your newly minted jobs (mind you that you may still not have official job titles), you now need to talk to people and do more research to finalize on what you are looking for. In this last and final step before working on your resume', you need to understand where this work is, titles it might be called, and any further qualifications you might need to land a job. You will know when this step is completed when you have a clear picture on what career you want to pursue. The other great thing about this step is it has just given you great input on where to start your job search, once you are ready to get started.

Hopefully, you see that when making a career change, you need to do some heavy lifting to move you toward something meaningful. It is way more than simply updating your resume'. Many people don't know what steps to take and muddle their way through life not happy with their career/job. The actions aren't hard or difficult and the outcome is well worth the effort.

A career change can be an exciting and fun step to take. Most people have more than 2 or 3 careers in their lifetime. Since you spend so much time in your life working, it's worth the time and effort to find something you will love.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Yes, I am from Kansas. Confessions of Dorothy

For some of you reading this blog, you already know that fact but for others of you, this may be news. As I grew up, there was the acknowledgement that there was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and she was from Kansas. That was about it. No big deal. Then I left Kansas. (Oh Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore!)

For the first several years after I moved to Oregon, I had countless reactions when people found out about this factoid. I was gifted with t-shirts with Oz related graphics along with countless paraphernalia. My personal favorite was the day I was in the neighboring engineering group at work. They had what amounted to a Burma Shave series of signs: 1- Oh Toto! I don't think I'm in Kansas anymore! 2- If Dorothy isn't in Kansas, where is she? 3- Alive and well in marketing, one aisle over. I even had a group give me a "Witch-be-gone" kit which consisted of a spray water bottle, ruby slippers and instructions for knocking off a witch. I can soundly say that when many people make this connection, they have found countless minutes (which has turned into years) of joy and laughter. It pleases me to be the source of fun, even if I didn't invent it myself.

So, you may wonder, how did I end up with that name? Many people speculated that I was named after Judy Garland's character in the movie. That is not the case. My sister named me. When my mother went to the hospital to hatch me, my sister Jane stayed with my aunt and uncle. This would be: Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Gene. Ahhh, you're starting to get it. My mother had picked out the name Jean but couldn't figure out a second one to go with it. When Jane showed up at the hospital to check me out, my mother asked her what name she thought would go well with "Jean". Instant answer (as only a 5 year old does) "Dorothy-Gene". This was her affectionate moniker for the seamless team that was my aunt and uncle. Rolls right off the tongue, don't you think? I am named after my aunt AND my uncle. The Wizard of Oz simply wasn't given a thought.

Despite the origins of my name, I finally figured out how to get people to remember me. It only took 50+ years. Now when I introduce myself, I follow it up at some point with: And Yes, I was born and raised in Kansas. Yes, I have ruby slippers and Yes, my husband thinks he's Toto.

I love the association because I have found many lessons in the story. The lessons: - Have a path and a goal – Love your friends – Love your family – Strive to continuously improve yourself – Be hopeful – Sing and skip – Know you are capable of doing more than you realize – When you've been through a tornado, braid your hair. I am Dorothy from Kansas and I continously live in the land of Ahhhhssss.

PS: I don't think it would have gone quite as well if I had been named Scarlet O'Hara, do you?


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Life Lesson: Eliminate barriers for your life dream

An important life skill you need to maintain or develop is how to eliminate barriers to your life dreams. As I see it, there are two primary reasons to do this: 1- You are as empowered as you allow yourself to be. Empowerment allows a person to remain victim-free and confident that no matter what, you can move forward. 2- It keeps you introspective and in a problem solving mode. Introspective simply means you think about your own actions (or non-actions) and their impact on your life and others. I combine introspection with problem solving here because it is a skill that you need your entire life. Chances are with being introspective; you will need to create solutions so you can move forward with your life.

What are the barriers you might face with regard to pursuing your dreams? We produce most of our barriers. As you have heard, we can be our own worst enemy and this is certainly one way we do it. We don't always realize it since it can be so much of who we are. If our dream is to help feed people in an impoverished country, we may have a voice inside telling us we can't do it. That voice can rationalize multiple fairly logical sounding reasons. That voice more often than not, is the barrier I'm talking about. The voice is your more primal, survivor instinct telling you not to jump over a cliff. It stands to reason then, that if the voice is right about the cliff, it must be right about the dream. Not so.

I do acknowledge that there are other possible barriers that get created along the path to your dream. The same skills and outlook are needed no matter where the barrier comes from. I've seen people have issues crop up not of their own creation and allow that issue to totally derail them. I'm always sad to see this happen for the person, especially when I know it doesn't have to stop them. It's times like this where having a finely honed problem solving skill ready to pull out is great so you can look for alternative solutions. There are very few things presented to us in life that only have one path forward. In fact, if you were to give 10 people the same goal, chances are very high that you would get 10 different paths to that goal.

Are you stuck going forward on your dream? Not sure how to get from here to there? Time to open up your personal tool kit, gather your resources and get going. You can eliminate barriers by going around them, over them, through them or another way. Let me know how it goes.

Career Change – Are you afraid to move in this economy?

The buzz right now is that everyone is holding on to their current jobs with a death grip due to the grim economy. The overarching belief is that there are no jobs out there and for the ones that do exist, there are too many people applying. Let's say some of that is true. What is also true is that there are job openings. People move, get promoted or something continues to pull people out of their jobs every day. There are jobs. Maybe not as many and maybe the competition for the ones that come available are stiff BUT there are jobs that need to be filled. One thing is also true; you won't get any of them if you don't try.

If you have arrived at a point where you think it is time to make your next strategic career move, you should not let the state of the economy stop you. Don't create barriers where there are none. The challenge will be greater than in previous years but if you're prepared for those challenges, go for it. Let's look at what some of these challenges might be:

Job Posting Site– You hear stories of 200 people applying for one job at a local nursery for a nursery stock tender. In this environment, you can count on stiff competition for any posted job. The key here is "posted job". While it is one way to find out what openings exist, you and millions are looking at that same posting. Looking for a job this way is the lowest priority in a job search because it is the way millions of others are searching and applying. It is hard to land a new position this way due to the volume of other applicants and it is hard to stand out in a big crowd. It can be done and you should pursue it, you just need to calibrate your expectations appropriately.

Recruiters- You also need some insight into the life of a recruiter. They receive thousands of resumes each day. They will often use their computer software to sort out all kinds of criteria to help narrow down the huge pile that has come in. This is a buyer's market also. They don't need to talk to you, give informational interviews or much of anything they used to do a few years ago. Right now, they want to process the paper as quickly as possible, narrow it down to a few that look hot and screen them. With tight budgets, geographic consideration is also a big selection criterion. They may not want to fly applicants or relocate new hires, so be aware that geography is now playing a role in how an applicant is being screened.

The perfect match – Because the use of resume' handling software has become so prevalent these days, there is such a thing as the perfect match. If a hiring manager has determined 9 key skills and experience, the software will prioritize the resume's that have the highest number of matches. With a large volume, it is now possible to have resume' selected that hit 100% of the criteria, thus leaving out perfectly good candidates who are "close".

This is starting to sounds like an increasingly impossible set of barriers. This environment is challenging for sure but not impossible if your plan takes these things into account. Let's look at the key actions a person can take.

Make use of your contact and network – More than 80% of all job openings never make it to any kind of posting. Only the seriously hard to fill positions go out publicly for the most part. That means you must find those positions through the use of "who you know". This has been and continues to be the number one way to find an ideal spot. It's good because to some degree, it's prescreened for you. Your network will be reluctant to send you into a snakepit workplace. They would have to face you later and simply don't want to feel guilty. Also, they will refer when they feel confident with both sides, you and the other being a good fit. Don't feel bad if some people you know simply don't refer, they probably are the same ones that don't fix up their friends with blind dates. Some people just don't want to do it. BUT, some do!

Expand your network – if a career move is on the horizon, it's time to cast the net a bit broader. Figure out some groups you can hook up with that will be rich in potential job contacts. Look in Meetup on the internet, tons of great groups. Also, look into social networking like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, easy and convenient.

Look in unique places- on an airplane, coffee shop or church.

Plan your resume' – It is no longer possible to have just one all purpose resume'. Because of resume' search software, you must create resume's rich in key words. So if there is a few different related positions, create a different one for each position.

Set your expectations – Once you make a decision to move, it is a bit like stopping a freight train. You want to move right now. In this environment, you need to be a marathon runner. You need to pace yourself and set your expectations appropriately that this will take a while. You need to plan for a few dips and bumps which means you need to push through them and keep your eye on the goal.

Don't let the economic environment stop you from pursuing your dream job. There are millions of jobs and people are hiring every day. Your job is to understand the hiring situation, put your plan together and start working on it, today.