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

Monday, March 8, 2010

Careers: 4 Things That Will Derail Your Job Search Before You Even Get Started

Getting job clarity is one of the simplest concepts in job search, yet one of the hardest steps to take. When I say job clarity, I mean the 2-3 specific jobs a person is pursuing in their quest to find a new job. It does sound simple, but my observation is that in reality, a job seeker is often troubled about clarity. I have seen people realize that due to their background and desires, they could head in a number of different directions – all valid, all confused. One of the first questions I ask a person who seems to be struggling with their job search is what specific jobs they are pursuing. The answers I get range from an industry they want to focus on like "finance and banking" to something that resembles a word jumble. An industry is not a job title, nor is a word jumble. I know right then that their struggle in the job search is not a bad resume' or work experience, it has to do with the fact that they haven't focused on what they are in search of. It's like saying they'll find my home somewhere in the Northwest. It's a direction, but so loose they really can't begin an effective search. The chances of someone finding my home are almost zero. Your chances of finding a job without knowing what you are in search of might be about the same.

An effective job search entails a great strategic plan, but you can't begin to form a plan, if you aren't clear on what your goal or job is. As a result, a job seeker will end up jumping after every tip, every lead and many ads, because they all seem like something they could do. This lack of clarity drifts into the resume' they develop, which without an understanding of what the job is, also lacks a clear message to anyone who receives it. When they speak to any of their network, the network walks away confused about what kind of help they can offer. In other words, any effort expended on the job search can often be ineffective and really a waste of time until the job seeker can zero in on a couple of jobs/titles they can focus on and believe in.

So what lends to this lack of clarity and what can a person do to clear up the muddy waters?

Too many jobs on the radar. This is an issue I see a great deal. When a person is looking for a job and has had years of experience, they may look at BOTH the array of work they have done PLUS the array of work they could do. It's wonderful to have so many transferable skills. It allows you to pursue a wide variety of positions with the belief you will be successful, because you have done that work before. The problem is that this often creates a lack focus and direction.

Solution: If you are lucky enough to be in this situation – congratulations! But, you need to make some choices. I have seen people avoid making a choice because they either thought it would reduce their chances of landing a job or they were interested in pursuing them all. You have to decide which 2 or 3 job titles you will enjoy the most, be the most competitive for and are perhaps the most abundant for you to pursue. You have to narrow down your choices. Once you've made your decision, you need to be convinced that your choices are right and move forward with confidence.

Changing career focus. I've seen people use a change of job as a platform for making anywhere from a major career change to simply applying their work in a new industry. Certainly, if your situation and background call for that kind of shift, I say: Go for it! However, I have seen people let that shift confuse them or make them unclear about what that next career is. If you aren't clear about what you're looking for, imagine how unclear the universe of hiring managers is about where you belong.

Solution: Before you step into the job search, you need to explore your options, as well as yourself. If you're doing a "slight shift", you should be able to find job titles fairly quickly with some research. If you're doing a wholesale career change, you have a whole self-examination process to go through to discover what you want to do when you grow up. Treat yourself like a research project. Go to work exploring your values, skills and passions and research where those can be applied. You do not make a major career change by launching a job search; if you do, you may not like the results.

Mistake an industry for a job. This one I find fascinating. I can't figure out what the internal process must be, but I have had people answer the question of "What kind of job are you looking for?" with things like "investments" or "banking" or "green technology". Even after additional probing they are unwavering in their responses. An industry is not a job or a career – it's a business classification.

Solution: You need to test yourself in this area. You could be what I call "tone deaf" to what you are thinking (and saying) around a job. You might think you're crystal clear, but in fact, you aren't at all. It's also important to understand that if you are looking for a job, you need to be clear with your network and hiring managers. Find a trusted person with a critical ear who will give you some good honest feedback. Tell them what you're looking for, and then ask them if you might be talking about an industry or a real job.

You may be holding on to the past. For people that have been laid off or are facing the end of some dream career, you may lack clarity, because you're looking backward not forward. You haven't come to grips with the fact that your circumstances are now causing you to look for a job. You may be reluctantly trudging through the acts of looking for a job. You might be thinking you have to go do "X" because that's all you can do. There are a variety of reactions when people are in this state of transition. If you think you might fall into this situation, you might lack clarity, because you can't "see" yourself in that next job.

Solution: Normally, transition has its own timeline, but you may not. If you can afford to simply give yourself a space of time to allow your previous work life to end, it will free you up to think more clearly about your next job. If your circumstances simply won't allow you to move through your transition at your own pace, then I suggest you consider a coach or someone who can help you process the endings. This can open up the possibilities for finding your dream in the next thing you do.

I heard a quote that I think applies here: "When you are clear, what you want will show up in your life, and only to the extent you are clear". Chris and Janet Attwood. I think this summarizes it best. To maximize your job search, to make everything you do count, you have to get clear about the job you're pursuing.

Want to reprint this article? You can reprint this article as long as you use the following: Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is a Career Coach and expert on helping her clients achieve their goals. Want to discover specific career change strategies that get results? Discover how to by claiming your FREE gift, Career Makeover Toolkit at:


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Career Change: 2 Strategies for getting off your “buts”

I hear countless comments from people saying they want to change careers, BUT, but, but, but. They make up some reason for not changing. Among these reasons are: I'm too old – I'll have to take a pay cut – I don't want to make the effort – I don't know what I'd do. Essentially, I think it boils down to fear of change or no effort to change, probably both.

There is a big portion of the workforce truly unhappy this morning as they drive to work. They don't like their jobs, but they keep on doing the same thing day after day, year after year. They are doing nothing to change the situation. It's really unfortunate, because their lives don't have to be like that. Change can be made and while it does take an effort, it's not that big of a hill to climb. Let's look at two strategies a person can pursue.

Strategy #1: Decide if you can get happy where you are or if it's time to go (no improvement in sight)

There are about sixteen factors that play into our satisfaction of our work situation. It's little wonder we can get grumpy about work. However, only the top few are really the deal breakers. The number one issue to work satisfaction is the relationship with the boss. After that, the top issues are (in no particular order): - work environment – work associates - job content. Notice I didn't mention pay. Salary is somewhere around 5 or 6, depending on which survey you read.

You have to spend some time really analyzing your situation and determine what the real issue(s) is for you. Once you have identified the issues, you need to do some problem solving to determine what actions you can take to improve those issues. The actions must be ones you have control over, not silly things like a personality transplant for your boss. Once you have developed an action plan, before doing anything else, ask yourself these questions: If I take these actions, will I be happier than I am now? Will I be happy enough to sustain me in this position for x years? If you think there is a possibility for improvement, then systematically pursue those actions. You have nothing to lose and you stand to gain greater happiness right where you are right now. If not, then go no further. It's time to leave and move on to the next strategy.

If you do decide to make it better, you may want to consult your library on things you can do that will help you further solve some of these issues. There are books written on every single work issue you can come up with. Once you have taken these actions, allow time to make those actions take hold. At some point (you decide when) reevaluate your situation to see if you're feeling better in your job. Many times the simple act of taking action is enough to really improve your situation. If not, it was worth the effort to see if things could improve. Then you can make the decision to move on knowing you did your best.

Strategy #2: Identify and Research your "buts" for making a career change

Stop making excuses and identify the issues that are keeping you from making a career change. You need to stop telling the stories and start doing some work. The person who is reluctant to make a career change sometimes has to address the issues or concerns first. With this strategy, you need to self examine what you really think the barriers are to a career change. Then go do some research to find out if you're all wet or if you really have an issue worth hitting the pause button for.

My observation is that most of the time people come up with barriers without really knowing FOR A FACT that they really have an issue. Go get the facts. I also know that once you know the facts, you can devise an approach that will help you should you decide to move forward changing careers. I'd like to give you a personal illustration. Early in my professional life I decided that I was going to change careers. I was pretty sure I'd have to take a pay cut, because I was getting paid fairly high for the work I was doing. I devised a plan to pay off 100% of all debts I had. My thinking was that if I did have to take a pay cut, then I wouldn't have to be so concerned with the pay: and I could focus on a great position in a company with upward potential. I knew if I had almost no bills, I could take a substantial pay cut and be okay. I devised a strategy to address the issue. It took me about a year to put it all in place, but it was well worth the planning and effort.

I would also point out that taking that first little action will help you build momentum. You don't need to be a fireball of career ambition. You simply need to put one foot in front of the other long enough to systematically confirm that a change of careers is what you need. If you are the kind of person that does best with a work-out buddy, you might want to do the same in this part of your life. Identify a trusted person who will hold you accountable to your own happiness. Motivation is not created from a bolt of lightning. It is created by the act of doing. So do yourself a favor. If you know you can't make yourself happy where you are, start moving today. Even small steps forward are better than no steps at all. Eventually you will make that career change.

You work so much and for so long in your lifetime that you deserve to be happy in doing it!


Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is a Career Coach and expert on helping her clients. Want to discover a specific career change strategy that gets results? Discover how to by claiming your FREE gift, Career Makeover Toolkit at: http://CareerMakeoverToolKitShouldISstayorShouldIGo.com/ 

Saturday, January 30, 2010

CAREERS: Four reasons you might be bummed if you aren’t working.


What do the following people have in common?

  • Retired engineer
  • Laid off project manager
  • Stay at home parent
  • Newly graduated student
  • Trailing spouse to a military soldier
  • Injured and recovered worker
  • Out of work actor

These people have much more in common than you probably realize. The commonality is what they are missing. All of these people are missing the many benefits we get from working. Of course, we all know that they are missing the paycheck, but there are other aspects to work that most of us take for granted, until we no longer have them. When you are in the work trenches it's kind of hard to think you would miss anything. You probably think the idea of not working sounds like a dream, and it can be, but not without recognizing what things you are missing and taking action to replace them.

When you look at the stories of these various people, you will often find a theme of depression, feeling down, deflated and being adrift. These people may also share their commonality with retired individuals, who have one of the highest rates of depression than any other demographic. The key reason: They have failed to replace those important aspects, the good things they got from working, also known as "workplace assets".

Let's look at these four workplace assets and what you can do if any of them are missing in your life.

  • Structure – Our work effectively manages our time and drives our decisions about our daily priorities. We know what time we have to get up. We know when we'll perform various work tasks throughout the day. We probably have our non-work activities scheduled, too. This is a form of tension and accountability that motivates us. Without the structure that work provides, we are left kind of rambling around day to day with only the occasional appointment to interrupt the vast feeling of having nothing important to do. I often hear people talk about "filling their day". We are easily bored, so when left to our own devises, we will fill our day, but often with mundane tasks that are not very fulfilling.

    Solution: Create a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Take the must-have activities, things you know you need to do each day or week, and determine exactly when you will perform them. If an item is on your calendar, you are more likely to keep that appointment. If you've been meaning to work out and just haven't started, consider adding those kinds of activities for your calendar.


  • Social Contact – For most of us, work provides the main part of our social fabric. We become attached to people we work with for a variety of reasons. We have a shared set of circumstances with these people. We also see them daily (or frequently) and, therefore, get to know them well enough to form relationships. Even if you aren't fond of most of the people you work with, the fact that you are interacting with others is an important nurturing act. We need other people. It's that simple. When you aren't working you lose a big (and for some people all) part of the social aspect of your life.

    Solution: Maintain relationships with past co-workers, beef up your existing relationships or make new friends. Sometimes when we lose the commonality of a shared work place, it can be hard to keep relationships going. It's important that you recognize that many people simply can't put in additional time and energy to see people outside of work. It's not a reflection on your adequacy as a friend. You also need a bit of a variety to your roster of friends. Rarely will one person fulfill all your needs, so you may want to find settings where you share common interests with others with whom you may form new friendships.


  • Purpose – Bottom line, your work gives you purpose. You have somewhere to be and something to do. You are contributing at some level and that gives you purpose. Perhaps you may feel that your life purpose is to serve at a different level, but you are still contributing yourself in a specific way. Your contribution gives you a sense of personal self worth and identity. When those things are gone, there is a sense of loss and lack of purpose.

    Solution: Try volunteering. If you are unemployed, you can seek volunteer work that will give you experience, thereby enhancing your resume for getting the job you really want. Also, non-profit organizations always have more need than money, so they will welcome you with open arms. If your situation doesn't support a volunteer situation, then find your purpose by helping someone in some way. When you give of yourself, you add a great deal of meaning to your life.


  • Money – It's obvious, but worth mentioning. When you encounter a loss of income, some serious budgeting may be needed. If you are able to plan for your situation, it allows you to save money to cover your needs. If your situation hasn't allowed you to plan, you may be reacting legitimately to a lack of funds.

    Solution: If there is any possibility that you may lose your job, consider paying off some bills now and cutting back on expenses. If you don't already have a savings account with enough funds to cover 3 months of living expenses, then start one now. If you are already in an income loss situation, research all of your income producing options, including unemployment benefits, community program benefits (like food banks), or even a part time job to help make ends meet. If you are lucky enough to have your financial situation covered, good for you. You can focus on the other three assets.


Of the four work assets, the lack of money is probably the one we understand the most. We know that it can put serious stress on us which can truly create depression. The other three work assets are less obvious, but the loss of any one of them can contribute to making your life a less than positive experience. The idea of not working is great until you're facing these losses. We are, by nature, social and creative creatures that function best when we have structure to keep us focused, people to be around, and activities to give us purpose.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Career Development – When is it time to go? 5 make-or-break factors

If you're sitting in your office bored, ticked off or feeling down you may be thinking it's time to go. BUT, you're not sure. You are rationalizing staying because there is one more great thing you can contribute or you feel obligated in some way. We all go through this kind of mental tug-of-war at one time or another. Knowing when it's the right time to give yourself permission to move on is one of those big life changers and with it comes anxiety.

There are some indicators of satisfaction that you can examine that will help you make that decision. Let's review some of them to help you move that decision making along.

1. Salary – I'm almost embarrassed to mention money. Not because "it shouldn't matter", it's because I know it isn't one of the top 3 issues. I mention it first because everyone does and I want to get it out of the way. What you are paid as it turns out are not the top 3-5 satisfiers for your career. It is something, however. If it is out of line or doesn't pay the bills it is a big DISsatisfier and you do need to move on. If your pay is appropriate for the job you do, area you live in and meets most of your need, then you're probably doing fine and this isn't a big enough deal to make you leave.

2. Boss – This one is the big one. The person that you immediately report to is the number one top item that will make work life great or bad. You don't have to love this person or even be buddies but you do need to respect this person and feel that it's mutual. Also, you need to be realistic about this person. Bosses will never be perfect. They are like the rest of us; they have bad hair days and also have their own quirks. The question you need to ask yourself is: "Can I be successful doing work with this person in the picture?"

3. Job Content – This is all about the kind of work you perform. You need to feel like you have the skills, talents and background to perform the job. At the same time you should feel like you can make a contribution and grow. Job growth is not necessarily about being promoted. It is learning new tasks, taking on new responsibilities and making new contributions. The content of your job should be something that continuously stimulates and interests you. If you have reached a point where everything is pretty much the same, you need to move on before it impacts your self esteem.

4. Work environment – This is both the physical space you do the work in and what is in the environment such as people, building and location. You can have a great job, great boss but have to commute 2 hours each way. Your life is potentially impacted too significantly. You may like the job but the environment you are in is too toxic because of interoffice relations. The people you work with could be your source of dissatisfaction and you may not even realize it. We form friendships and alliances with the people we spend so much time working with. At the same time they may feel freedom in complaining and pointing out all the things that are bad. This will have a negative impact on you. You need to examine this situation and determine what you can control and what you can't. At the same time, you need to determine if you were to design the perfect work environment, would it be like this?

5. Something else – If all the stars are aligned and the items listed above are all working well enough for you, you may be tugged by "something else". The something else could be a lifelong dream of being a nurse or something completely different than what you're doing today. The something else could be a deep desire to move and live somewhere other than where you are today. It's ok to give yourself permission to move toward something as opposed to away from your current career. This category of "something else" may turn out to be your calling

Life is too short to spend too much time working at a job situation you don't love and doesn't nurture your soul. Your career should feel shamefully fun and more like an avocation. Making a decision like this can be tough but it is not a sign that you're doing the wrong thing. It's tough because it is a big part of how you spend your life. It's tough because you want to make sure you enjoy the next thing. It's tough because it's a change.

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is a Career Coach and expert on helping her clients. Want to discover specific career change strategies that gets results? Discover how to by claiming your FREE gift, Career Makeover Toolkit at: http://CareerMakeoverToolKitShouldIStayorShouldIGo.com/

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Career Makeover Club starting soon



I'm starting a virtual Career Makeover Club beginning the last week of January. I am keeping two possible days and times open right now, pending input on the most workable times for those interested. I am offering the club beginning January 26 either at 5:30 pm pst or January 28 at 10am pst.

Who should be a member?

  • If you are unemployed and uninspired about your job prospects
  • If you are looking for a job but don't know where to start
  • Hate looking for a job
  • Feel like you're all alone
  • Need help to get you going and keep you going
  • Can't afford to hire a career coach or counselor

What is the Career Makeover Club?

  • This is a group of people organized and coordinated by Dorothy Tannahill-Moran, Your Career Change Agent
  • The CMC is designed to provide a support structure, job search education, resource sharing, inspiration and momentum for your job search. You don't have to "go-it-alone".
  • CMC will meet weekly for 8 weeks, over the phone. Each session has a specific agenda for education and discussion. In addition, a private online forum is available exclusively for this group to provide group updates, progress reports, wins and timely resources sharing

What is the cost?

  • The club cost is a fraction of what it would be if you hired a career coach. The cost is $25 per meeting either paid in advance or a payment schedule of 2 payments with the first half paid prior to the first club meeting and the second installment by week 4.

What if I'm interested?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Career Change: Feeling queasy about changing? 5 ways to confirm you’ve made the right decision

You made a decision to change careers but you're feeling REALLY uneasy. You can't tell if you're coming down with the flu or if that sinking feeling is your decision. Big decisions are always kind of gut wrenching but there are some things you can do to test your situation.

  1. Did you make this decision for the right reasons? Making a career decision is a big life changer and it requires some quality think time from you. If you have made this decision quickly because you had a fight with the boss or got a bad assignment, you do want to slow things down and think through the situation. We all have work we don't always love to do every day. We all have days that you can't stand the boss. Of course you don't want to do something you hate or work with bad people but the question(s) is: How long is this situation apt to continue? Can you work on your relationships? What can you do to make this better? If you have made the decision in haste put the actions on hold. Pick a point out in the future to revisit the decision. Allow time to present the potential of improvement. If it doesn't, then move on.
  2. Transitions always have a level of anxiety. Even when we have wonderful things like marriage, there is still transition that goes with it. Like it or not in those quiet moments with ourselves we all question our decisions. It's not unusual to feel some concern about your career decision. The way to sort through this is to use some cold, cool logic. Sit down with your concerns and list them out. Examine them for reality. Do you have "what if" issues? Fine, build a solution for your various "what-ifs". Once you have listed your issues you will need to problem solve and possibly do some research. Go find the answers to your issues. My observation is that sometimes we do have true concerns but don't do anything to address them. We tend to just pile the issues up like fire wood.
  3. Circumstances have forced a career change. If you have become unemployed and are using this time to change careers, I say: Go for it! It doesn't mean you are off the hook for doing your due diligence for researching your options. You always have to do your research work when making a career change. You can't go to a catalogue and point to a new career; it requires self examination and work. If you're unemployed, it's an opportunity.
  4. You might not be done with your previous career. I believe every career has a cycle:
    1. First cycle: you are in growth mode
    2. Second cycle: you hit a career high point
    3. Third cycle: you are in decline

    If you're in stage two, you probably need to continue in that career until you have hit stage three. If this is your situation you have a good reason to push back on the decision. The work still holds some juice for you and you have more contributions to make. To leave it prematurely will be leaving something undone in your life.

  5. What if I hate the work? I'm giving this "what if" question its own focus. I think one of the biggest concerns people have with changing careers is the unknown. The biggest unknown is the work itself. All the other unknowns might be: - not knowing if you will like the boss, the environment and a list of many new things you will face. There are two ways to answer this question. 1: If you have done your homework on your career selection you should have knowledge about the nature of the work and its appeal to your values. If you have done that work and are solid about that aspect then 2: get over yourself. You're starting to sound like a kid whose parents are about to move. Of course there are unknowns. Everything will be different and you will adjust. Attitude is the most important quality you can have when making a big career change.

The bottom-line to this situation is that if you have done your work to make this decision, then most likely you are facing some natural transition reactions. If they are transition reactions then they will pass. You can sort through them to help the process along and while doing that look at what you're doing as an adventure.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Goals for 2010? Make them SMART goals.

This time of year cause many of us to think about making resolutions or goals for the coming year. I do hear some people being very cynical about resolutions or goals because "they don't do them". How sad. I don't know what my life would be like if I didn't have a couple of goals to work toward. They help get me up in the morning. I know that there is the occasional goal that doesn't get done for a variety of reasons but for the most part my goals are met. Let me share a goal secret with you.

If you haven't heard of SMART goals, I'd like to introduce them to you. Having SMART goals is the first step toward really getting things accomplished in both your personal and business life. SMART is an acronym for:

S = Specific. In order to have a goal that you can achieve you have to be specific about what you want to get done. I have found that no matter if you are looking for a job or fitness changes if you can't be specific; you probably won't get anything done. Let me give you an example of specific: EX #1: I want to lose weight. EX #2: I want to lose 10 pounds. Big difference don't you think?

M = Measurable. If you can't actually measure your progress and know what you will accomplish, again, you probably won't. The example up above is very measureable. You may have goals that you think can't be measured. You have to be thinking of the outcome. Let's say your goal was to reduce your stress. To measure the reduction, you might give yourself a scale of 1 to 10. Your goal is to reduce your stress for month end close from a 10 to a 5. Since it is your scale, you can define it because it is relevant to what's important to your experience.

A = Achievable. Sometimes people identify goals that are unrealistic and unachievable for a variety of reasons. You have to do a sanity check and if you think you can't objectively figure this out, ask someone. If you have identified a goal that isn't realistic you are setting yourself up for goal failure. Examples that come to mind are those silly goals you often hear at beauty pageants like: "Solve world peace". Are you kidding me?

R = Resonant. Your goal has got to be something that gets you excited and interested. One goal I took for a few years was to learn to play golf. I kept doing nothing and rolling it forward to the next year. After doing that a few times, I sat back and examined what was going on. I really didn't want to learn to play golf. I wanted to do it to have something to do with my husband. I scratched it off my list. It wasn't resonant. It was a good idea but it held no juice for me. I found other things we could both enjoy.

T = Timed. A timed goal is one that has a date for the goal to be accomplished. As a coach, I'm constantly asking my clients "when will that be done?" A great way you can stay accountable is to know when to be to your goal. If your goal can be finished at any time, there is no motivation to start. If you don't start you never finish. It's just that simple.

None of the elements of a SMART goal are difficult to include when setting goals. The final step for making and achieving goals is to write them down. If you write them down you not only have something to remind you but it builds in a level of commitment to yourself. One other step toward success with your goals is to tell people about them. Like writing down your goals when you share your goals with others it affirms your commitment. If you are a resolution or goal cynic, try SMART goals and make this year a great year for getting all kinds of things accomplished.