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...
How to Create Your Next Great Career Opportunity

How to Create Your Next Great Career Opportunity

Earlier this year, I was approached by a successful thirty-something director level who was nearing his fourth year of employment in a multi-billion dollar Atlanta company. As is true of many high achievers who don’t want to settle for less than they deserve, he wanted to find a better, more challenging job in which he could gain more income and find more personal growth. He enlisted me to mentor him in defining his next career role and developing a strategy for gaining such a role. In our first career counseling session together, I was surprised to learn that he wanted to stay with his current employer. (Most high performers in large companies who come to me want to get out.)  Due to the lack of growth and low churn in upper management roles within his company, we agreed that he would probably need to create his next career opportunity rather than wait around for a “standard” position to become open and compete for it. If he could create a job he wanted and for which he was qualified, then he would stand a good chance of landing it without having competition! During subsequent conversations, we were able to define a new role for him and develop a career advancement strategy for securing it. This gained him an immediate increase in income, a title improvement from director to senior director, and more interesting work that made his contributions more valuable and notable to upper management. Create Your Own Career Opportunity You, too, may find it helpful to follow steps similar to ours in order to create your next career opportunity:...
Career Success Tips for Women

Career Success Tips for Women

I realize I’m sticking my neck out here a little… since I’m a guy. What does a guy know about helping women succeed? Given that I have coached a lot of women and helped them advance in their careers, I believe I have some basis for the information that follows. If you are a woman reading this post and feel you have additional suggestions from your perspective, please feel free to add to the ideas presented here. I realize there are many more ideas that likely have not crossed my mind. Let me take a crack at suggesting some things that women can do to improve their career situations: Choose a professional field that is in high demand. One example is STEM – science, technology, engineering and math. Not only are these areas crying for talent, but also they are traditionally underrepresented by women. The old stereotypes and prejudices have largely gone away and women have great opportunities today. Develop your managerial skills and pursue such positions. Younger and more progressive companies are truly interested in placing women in managerial positions. Get clear on how your emotional intelligence, listening skills, people skills, etc. provide you an advantage and explain your advantages in persuasive ways in job interviews and other career encounters. Women, as a group, tend to have natural advantages over men in these valuable areas. Build your self-confidence and get coaching in being politely assertive, so that you are not shy in discussing the skills you have, the value you provide and the results you have delivered. You must speak up for yourself in a positive way. Seek...
Did the Dog Eat Your Career Plans?

Did the Dog Eat Your Career Plans?

The 2008 economic downturn had far-reaching effects on employers, the recruiting industry, and individual workers. Did it have a negative effect on your career? If so, have you recovered from it? I’m guessing that, like 95% of respirating humans, you had no career plan before the 2008 recession. I’m guessing that, six years later, you still don’t have one. Common Problems with Career Plans Most people don’t suffer from having a bad career plan. They suffer from: (a) not acting on their plan, (b) acting ineffectively on their plan, or (c) having no plan at all.  This article addresses these items, with an emphasis on the last one. Consider this:  Failing to plan is planning to fail. We’ve all heard this maxim before. It applies as well to your career as it does to building a fence (which I recently did) or completing a work assignment. While it would be easy to negate the literal assertion, it is difficult to argue with the general sentiment that lack of planning tends to produce poor results. Every day I see resumes of people who have had two or more short term job tenures during the past few years. I see resumes that indicate the person has taken a step back in title or responsibilities. I see resumes that have notable gaps in employment. These past situations are bad enough. But, additionally, these negatives also carry forward in that they can (but not always) reduce people’s marketability and raise reasonable concerns. All of these situational shortcomings can be reduced by developing and enacting a career plan that addresses such challenges and leverages your strengths. As...
Go Confidently in the Direction of Your Dreams! – Career Counseling

Go Confidently in the Direction of Your Dreams! – Career Counseling

I have a grouping of four quotations on the wall in my office. In my previous career posts I discussed these three: “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. (George Bernard Shaw)” “What would you do if you knew you could not fail? (unknown, also attributed to Minister Robert S. Schuller)” “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.  (Henry Ford)” Career Interpretation The gist of the first quote is that few people luckily fall into meaningful work or career and that reflecting on your values can help you make better, conscious choices. The second quote encourages people to take calculated risks rather than always “playing it safe”. And the third quote emphasizes the importance of believing in yourself and your ability to accomplish far more than you might think. In this fourth post in the series, I want to share with you the last quote in my grouping on my wall. It is: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. (a paraphrase of Henry David Thoreau)” If you have: Evaluated your career choices from the perspective of “meaning” and have identified something worth pursuing, then Evaluated the potential risk and reward which led you to seriously consider pursuing your dreams, and then Developed sufficient belief in yourself to take serious action, then all that is left is for you to Set goals for yourself and take consistent action toward achieving your dreams.  Without action, your dreams simply remain dreams. Self-actualization requires action! So, we come to the crux of the matter. Do you want the opportunity...
Can You Have the Career of Your Dreams?

Can You Have the Career of Your Dreams?

I have several quotations on the wall in my office that I point out to my clients. In my previous two posts I discussed these two: “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” (George Bernard Shaw) and “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” (Minister Robert S. Schuller) The gist of the first quote is that few people luckily fall into meaningful work and that you may need to reflect on your values and made conscious choices. The gist of the second quote is that most people sell themselves short trying to “play it safe” and that this has multiple pitfalls that you need to consider. In this third post in the series, I want to share with you a third quotation on my wall. It is: Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.  (Henry Ford) Follow Your Dreams If you have (1) evaluated your career choices from the perspective of meaning and have identified something worth pursuing, then (2) evaluated the potential risk and reward which led you to seriously consider pursuing your dreams, do you (3) believe in yourself enough to take serious action toward achieving them? Without action, your dreams simply remain dreams. Self-actualization requires action! This third quotation strikes at the heart of every endeavor — your level of belief or lack of belief — which can determine whether or not you take meaningful action. The Power of Belief This topic is the heart of the second chapter of my career book Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!). As I mention there, “It...