Invest in Yourself!

Invest in Yourself!

This week a new client came into my office and wrote me a check for several thousand dollars. They could have taken the money and gone on vacation, paid it down on a new car, or bought a new piece of furniture. Instead, they chose to invest in themselves to develop a clear career roadmap and move forward to a better job. Let’s take a closer look at their other possible expenditures: – A vacation might have been very enjoyable. This would have provided them the immediate gratification that many people desire. But, it would not have improved their future. – A new car might also have provided some immediate gratification, too. But it would also result in them continuing to spend money on a depreciating asset. – A new piece of furniture would be nice to have. They could enjoy it for a while, until it blended into the others. And it was sure to depreciate. Yes, the difference in investing in yourself is that you are investing to increase the value … to cause “appreciation” of your greatest asset: yourself. Yet far too few people ever do this. What about you? When was the last time you invested an amount of money in yourself that was in any way comparable to what you have spent on a vacation or a variety of depreciating assets … cars, furniture, clothes, electronics, etc.? For most people, they are their greatest asset. You can invest in yourself and make yourself more valuable. Such an investment can pay for itself many times over. Decades ago, workers assumed that their employers would invest in...
A Simple LinkedIn Strategy for Career Success

A Simple LinkedIn Strategy for Career Success

Ten years ago during the infancy of LinkedIn, I created my profile and waited to see what happened. You can guess, right? Nothing happened! At some point I realized that the system wasn’t producing any useful results for me. I was at a crossroads and had to make a decision. Should I give up and ignore it, or roll up my sleeves and learn how to use the system better? I made the decision that I would invest more effort into learning how to grow my network in a strategic manner and better use the overall functionality. So, here I am ten years later. Because I made the investment of time and energy over the past few years, I am now in a position to leverage my extensive network when I need it. As mentioned in the Social Media chapter of my job search book Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!), “LinkedIn is my primary tool for business networking.” LinkedIn can be used for a wide range of purposes. To help you leverage the value of LinkedIn, I want to share one simple success strategy for making changes during your career. Leveraging LinkedIn to Make the Right Connections One of them most important factors in making career changes is connecting with the right people. Whether you want to engage a person who can give you critical information, a recruiter, or a hiring manager, this simple process will help you achieve your goals: – Do your LinkedIn research to determine the “targets” you would like to engage in a conversation. Use the Advanced Search page to identify people by employer name, title, and … most importantly… for only...
Are You a Lame Career Seeker?

Are You a Lame Career Seeker?

I spoke recently to a group of approximately 40 job seekers who were alumni of a well respected and nationally ranked major university. They interacted well, asked questions, and seemed genuinely interested in the topic. I volunteered my time free of charge and made several offers of help to this audience. That’s the good news. Now for the bad news: The majority of the audience was composed of lame job seekers. I can’t say that I was surprised, having volunteered at similar venues for several years and seen many similar groups. But, it is always a little bit of a letdown. Before I go any further and before you become indignant and stop reading, let me explain what I mean by the adjective “lame”. One of the definitions for “lame” in dictionary.com is “impaired or disabled through defect or injury” Lack of Initiative Can Hurt Your Search These job seekers, as well as many of those I have met and conversed with by phone, fit this definition perfectly. They didn’t know what they were doing and were making things up as they went. And, they lacked initiative. Ignorance plus a lack of initiative is an impairing/disabling combination for those who are unemployed or unhappy in their current line of work. Let me explain a little further. While you and I may debate what people are thinking and what their motives are, there is much less room for debate about observable behaviors. Here are behaviors that I observed from the recent alumni audience: I offered them a helpful “How to prepare for a job interview” document and asked them to email me if they wanted a free...
Job Search: How to Reach Anyone You Want

Job Search: How to Reach Anyone You Want

“The quality of your life is the quality of your communication.” Tony Robbins What would you consider the most important factor for success when seeking a new job? A great resume? Relevant qualifications that match the job description? An MBA or other educational achievements? Actually, the most important factor for job search success and your overall career advancement is the quality of your communication. And, fundamentally, the first step in quality communications is engaging people who have the authority to hire you for the job(s) you desire. But, we all know that the current hiring system is designed to insulate job seekers from the true decision makers. Online job postings are the most extreme example. Many require that you blindly complete an application and provide various additional information, not knowing if any human will actually see your information. This is a source of great frustration, which is understandable. In contrast to online applications and other ineffective activities, you know that your best bet is to cut out the “middle men” (recruiters, resume screeners, etc.) and connect directly with decision makers who have the authority to hire you. After doing the research and identifying companies of interest, consider the following actions that provide far higher odds of reaching people who can hire you: – Take the time to research your companies of interest and identify the specific person or people who would most likely be your boss. Various online tools are available, most notably LinkedIn. These are your “targets”. – Take a mental inventory to determine who you know in the companies of interest, if anyone. Review your LinkedIn contacts, in case you have casual connections that you have forgotten. Where appropriate,...
New Year, New Career!

New Year, New Career!

Each new year offers a time to reflect on the past year and set goals for the new one. And this year is no exception. With the economy continuing to improve, more people are likely to seek career improvement in 2015. As I reflected back on clients who were successful in making career improvements in 2014, a few specific ones come to mind…. In January, 2014, my post titled New Year’s Resolution: Quit My Job mentioned the President of a $300 million division. Although meeting 100% of his performance objectives and making over $400K, he felt that he could never make his boss happy. He engaged me to assist with his proactive search for a new job. Within a few weeks, he negotiated an amicable separation agreement that provided several months of severance. Ten weeks later, he landed a comparable position in a new company and collected double pay for quite a few months. This is a good example of what many high performers do. They take action early and typically are rewarded for their proactive efforts. In a subsequent post titled LinkedIn: Improve Your Visibility, Credibility, and Connect-Ability, I provided several suggestions for leveraging this power online system. A little later in the year, I was asked to assist a VP of Sales for a Fortune100 company with strategic LinkedIn and resume improvements. Within three weeks of completion, the VP reported being approached more frequently by recruiters with jobs that were more satisfying. His actions multiplied his options through increasing his LinkedIn visibility and credibility. Later, my post titled What Good Networkers Do… and Don’t Do mentioned a former client whom I had supported in making a transition from being a bank loan officer to starting...
New Year’s Resolution: Get a Coach?

New Year’s Resolution: Get a Coach?

Last week I was contacted by a late-thirties executive who was seeking a career coach. He said he had worked previously with a coach in another state, the result of which was a move to Atlanta with a step up to a Vice President position and considerably more income. I asked him why he called me and he said he was ready to take the next step in his career. He said he had been very happy with the help he received from his last coach and wanted a local Atlanta coach to work with him in making his next step upward. I smiled … outside and inside. A common expression some coaches like to use is “Even Tiger Woods has a coach.” They say this in an attempt to wake people up to the fact that every level of performer can benefit from being professionally coached. Because many people are resistant to change, I believe that this comment tends to fall on deaf ears. Engaging a coach is an action that openly invites change. If you are like the VP who called me and are open to change, then professional coaching may be right for you. Most career seekers I speak with each week are not like my VP caller. They have gaping holes in their thinking when it comes to career planning and career changes. They want some free advice and then, upon receiving it, go along their merry way. But, if you are the exception and are interested in learning more about the benefits of coaching, then professional coaching may be right for you. Coaches seek to determine if a prospective client is “coachable.” Even if you are open to change, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are willing to do the work. It also doesn’t...