In sequence with “The Tale of an Efficient Resume”, up next is “The Tale of an Efficient Job Search” which will post as several different blog articles to fully encompass the process. In this article you can expect to refresh or learn about commonly used interview questions and the best ways to answer them. Anxiety is often running high in the interview setting, therefore preparation is a no brainer! Take the accountability and set yourself up for success.
If you have been following along with my social media posts, there have been daily questions, but for your ease, each one will be listed in this article, so here we go! First things first is how to answer questions most effectively. One commonly used approach is the STAR format. While on the surface this format seems to encompass a lot of information for the interviewee to spit out, it ensures touching on all aspects of the answer the interviewer wants to hear.
S-Situation: Explain the layout of the situation. It may be fresh in your head, but the interviewer needs some background in order to understand exactly what message you are trying to leave.
T-Task: What were you trying to accomplish in this situation? Lay clear ground work as to the overall goal and this will help close R with a bang!
A-Action: What action did you take in order to conquer and complete this task?
R-Result: You had X task as a responsibility, you took Y action in order to make it happen, which lead to Z result!
You can see how it all comes together using this structure. Let’s discuss some questions to expect and how they will fit.
The most common opener is “Tell me about yourself”. Not only will it get you to do the talking, it is a simple way for the interviewer to ease into their groove also. Ask about the expectations for the question. Inquire if they’re looking for something specific or if you should summarize your resume. Assuming they indicate the latter, pick important details and avoid reading line by line. Include education, work experience with major influential moments and any other miscellaneous activities with relevance to the role.
Describe a time when you faced adversity. Break out the STAR format here as you will be able to easily loop in the outcome during the “result” phase. An example is a deadline quickly approaching, but there were still objections for the project and what you did to expedite progress to finish promptly. Each industry and role is accompanied by its own set of adverse situations, so the potential here is sky high.
Biggest Disappointment or Failure
Give me an example of the biggest disappointment or failure you have had to deal with. This question may be uncomfortable, but be prepared to answer it. The key is to conclude with adjustments made to never experience that failure again. What skills have you gained to overcome this challenge in the future and what have you learned? Turn the surface level negative into a positive.
Tell me about your adaptability. Can you roll with the punches? Can you change direction at the drop of a coin? Be ready to discuss your skill to be versatile. One major trait an employer is looking to hire is the dynamic ability to rapidly accept change and apply it to the work.
Describe in detail a day in your current role. Discuss from start to finish what your daily operations look like. It is important to remember an activity seemingly mundane to you (because you have been doing it for years) is new to the interviewer so be detailed. Talk about responsibilities, different challenges that arise and ultimately what the goal of your workday is.
Tell me about an accomplishment due to your consistency. Regardless of industry, consistency is another top trait an employer is looking for in their workforce. Have an example prepared that led to a successful endpoint or how consistency has always been a factor in your success and why. Consistency is hands down a factor to increasing a candidate’s hireability.
What is your greatest weakness? Another question posing some uncomfortable feelings, but don’t evade preparing for it. Choose a topic you’re actively working to improve and admit you are not perfect. Avoid speaking about something that is a primary function of the role you’re applying for. An interview is one of the primary sources for leaving an impression on how you can make a difference in their organization, therefore strategize effectively with this question.
Tell me about an initiative for improvement you created. Time to shine! End goal of this question is to learn if you have displayed out of the box thinking and had the courage to spearhead the project. If you’re not sure how to answer this question, start thumbing through old emails and recover a lead you took to change the outcome of a project.
These eight questions are just a small tester of questions that could be fired off during a phone or face to face interview. As mentioned earlier, applying the STAR format to answer thoroughly will take you down the path to success. For more interview strategies and tips, follow my IG @buildyourbest_withbec and check back for the next blog article!
This past week I went to town on resume basics with my posts on social media. Seeing that January is a time when hiring increases, it seems appropriate. In addition, a trend I have been hearing among my clients and professional network is the added value of an efficient job search. About three years ago I was looking to move back home and I remember the struggle of working my full-time job and then coming home at night to start the applying process. Many employers have their own interface to apply through and specific documents to fill out, on top of attaching your resume and cover letter. It can be simple to take your foot off the gas pedal when the process begins to feel monotonous. So, the question is how do you create an efficient job search?
First things first, create the most readable and prime detailed resume. Let’s pound through a few easy tips to get started. The first thing listed on your resume should be demographic information; Name, telephone, city and state. An older resume may list an entire address, but that is not necessary (preference). Two necessities are an accurate, professional email address and also LinkedIn URL. To keep the demographic section, clean login to LinkedIn, edit profile and edit the URL. It is extremely simple, small detail, but impactful.
The next section is work history, AKA experience. This is going to be the meat of your resume, so making it effective is crucial. Utilize action verbs to begin each statement and stay away from standards statements like those found in your role’s job description. A formal job description can help organize thoughts about influence of those duties, but these bullet points should be more specific. A few examples are manage, oversee, develop, strategize…you get the idea! As far as format goes an example is “Managed ‘X’ task resulting in % growth of ‘Y’ over ‘Z’ time period. A million different forms can be listed, but be specific to your industry and list YOUR influence on those tasks.
Internships should be listed in certain scenarios. Time and effort were put into these roles so don’t overlook the experience thinking it is outdated or irrelevant. If you’re a few years out of college, the experience is relevant or complimentary to the role you’re applying for, brings added value to your overall knowledge base or it’s the only work history you have, LEVERAGE IT!
Next, is technology and trust me, we are moving right along. By this point, your resume is really beginning to take shape. This section will include computer skills, database knowledge and all over IT. It is no surprise these skills are a hot point, and most industries have specific databases or technical skills that reign over others. If you possess this knowledge coming into a new role, you’re a more well-versed candidate, can hit the ground running and will require less training ($$). Now, what about Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc? These can be listed as Microsoft Office to include, but not waste space on what may be expected as a standard (depending on role).
A special section titled ‘Relevant Experience’ or ‘Additional Information’ can be utilized to include details that just did not seem effective in other locations. Don’t let it fall off the page if it’s truly important. As an example, I recently worked on a pharmaceutical sales industry resume for a client who also carried EMS industry, so it was added to his ‘Relevant Experience’ to highlight a well-rounded medical background.
Have you recently completed any volunteer and philanthropic work? Listing it is important and this is the final piece! Don’t hold back displaying how seasoned you are. Also, this is another building block to show the recruiter or employer your expansive knowledge base and humanity.
Last, but certainly not least, is the length conversation. Resume length is highly debated, but most companies expect one to two pages for a couple reasons. The first is simply the reader’s attention will span. Second, it is believed the experience and impacts you’ve had over the years should be compact and concise enough for this length. Some specific trades and skilled positions require much longer descriptions of the role and your background. The easy answer is to do research regarding expectations for your industry. Be prepared with the proper resources to make the most impressive impact!
Utilize this inclusive resume guide to break down each section of your resume to allow for a seamless build. Try not to get lost in the confusion of how to put it all together. Approach is step by step and keep it simple. Please reach out to me with questions or for assistance!
As I recently spent some time exploring the writing of Charles Dickens, I have new thoughts flowing. In the mid-1850s when Dickens was forming a Christmas story, “The Chimes”, he spoke about the New Year being a time to close out any debts, matters or projects to start the next year fresh. Although the term ‘New Year’s Resolution’ and ‘New Year, New You’ are commonplace now, do you actually find yourself finishing projects and making yourself available to begin 2019 with a clean slate?
I do not personally believe in substantial, abrupt changes when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. In order to properly change behaviors and engage in new activities, a specific mindset change in necessary. It is proven incremental adjustments versus a larger one will produce longer term results ultimately leading to a lifetime of change and not just the short term. How can you beat the question of “oh, how long did you stick with it?”.
All the suggestions listed happen with your initiative. They are not reliant upon the actions of others, nor will they benefit others. This strictly falls into your boathouse of responsibilities. As always, I am realistic. I understand there is not always enough time in the day to add on extras, so what is the benefit of laying out changes and executing? As all the effort falls on your plate, so does the benefit. The list of three suggestions above is so small relatively speaking to what you may have in mind to fit your current situation and where you would like to go, but regardless, all these initiatives have one thing in common. They better YOU. It may contribute to your organization, health, time management, professional development and the list goes on.
To relate to my concentration of your professional development journey, I would like to spend a few minutes honing in on your LinkedIn profile, personal portfolio and resume. Many employers require employees to participate in an annual review, including feedback from management and self-assessment. If you are a part of an organization requiring this, great! They have provided a guide in order to get started! If not, it is not a problem, as you will have free reign to decide exactly which categories of your development to highlight. Take the opportunity to review the projects you have led or played a role in and what the results were. You can identify quantitative results tied directly back to your efforts. Another avenue to pursue is featuring educational or learning efforts pursued to further your range of expertise.
The skills or tasks you choose to highlight, will dictate which interfaces to focus on. The end result will remain consistent though in focusing on your development. Little changes to your resume, personal portfolio or LinkedIn profile produce a larger influence in the end
Close out 2018
As we close out the year, my biggest tip is to hold yourself accountable. Don’t waste time saying you will make these changes at the end of 2019. Roll into the year ready to rumble and make a difference for you. Time is and always will be our most valuable asset, so treat it right and focus on your priorities.
The writing of Dickens's presents in an old style, but his thoughts about time are relatable to where we currently stand. “The voice of time cries to man, Advance! Time is for his advancement and improvement; for his greater worth, his greater happiness, his better life; his progress onward to that goal within its knowledge and its view, and set there, in the period when Time and He began.” Let these words linger on your mind and soul until they resonate. Happy New Year, everyone!
As I reflect on what the most important read for my clients could be given the timeline, I am thinking about personally how this time of the year is, and has, affected me. There are a lot of differences throughout the workforce, but certain stressors and deadlines remain the same. When the end of the quarter approaches throughout the year things like budgets, billing, sales and project deadlines become the norm. Now, when it is the end of the year and quarter all in one bucket, it seems as those all these things are amplified. In addition to workplace targets, the influence of the holidays adds another layer of responsibility and organization to an already full plate.
Full disclosure, I am undoubtedly a strong type A personality. The reason I am sharing this is because when the hammer comes to down to make sure all the fine tune details have been handled with care, I naturally develop more stress and anxiety to achieve perfection. With that being said my goal of this article is to expose some of my secrets to keep chugging along and excel through the most stressful days of the year. Admittedly, I am also writing this piece to serve as a reminder to myself how to handle all the joys and obligations the end of the year delivers.
Tip #1: Stay Organized
The most simple and effective tip to cut down on stress is to stay organized. Investing the extra 30 to 60 minutes to develop a plan will save hours on the back end. For myself this is taking the time on Sunday to get ready for the week. Being in sales, I want to know exactly where each one of my stops is going to be and the approximate time each will take in order to be most efficient. Another helpful organization tip is developing an objective with set checkpoints to track progress and keep each milestone meaningful. Even though these will just be small chunks of the big picture, it will help to promote productivity.
Tip #2: Devote time to de-stressing activities
When planning out time and how to fit in each aspect of the 24-hour day we are allotted, devote some to the activity that allows you to take your mind of the work topic at hand. My personal preference is the gym and volleyball. I spend at least an hour each morning sweating out my stress and trying (keyword-trying) to remove my mind from all the chaos. I have to admit this past week meant more sacrifice to my sleep schedule than normal, but I utilize self-awareness to prioritize my workout routine.
Another refreshing activity I take part in to slow down is reading in the evening before hitting the pillow. Not only does reading give my eyes and mind time to adjust away from electronics, I can slow down my heart rate and truly engage solely in the pages in front of me. Friends of mine have mentioned yoga, meditation, pottery, cooking and more to step away from the strain. It all depends on what YOU prefer. What are a couple activities you engage in to de-stress?
Tip #3: Sleep!
Tip #4: Remember the ‘Why’
When you strap on your boots or heels each and every day, it is important to take a moment and reflect on why you do what you do. Some days when tensions are running high and stress gets the best of you, it may seem like an impossible task. We are all human, so this will happen, but it will help to hold yourself accountable to concentrate on your ‘why’ being at the center of your actions. The benefit of being self-aware is even higher during the year-end deadlines we have been discussing. Rediscover your passions and actively spend your energy in this space.
There are many other tips that can help us get through stressful times and I would be happy to hear any other suggestions! I hope these will help alleviate some grind it out moments as 2018 comes to a close! Happy Holidays everyone.
LinkedIn and Professional Development
I am also here to bust the myth of LinkedIn profiles solely being beneficial for job searchers. Utilizing LinkedIn for professional development and networking continues to be overlooked. Whether business growth is your goal or simply learning new skills from others, LinkedIn is the perfect go-to. If you are familiar with Gary Vaynerchuk, this social media platform is one he frequently speaks about regarding the attention being significantly underpriced. The breakdown of this idea is the audience available through LinkedIn is accessible for a very low cost (if any, depending on your goal). Essentially the reach is significant and cost is low to initiate. Another notable feature of the platform is reaching those across the world from your own living room, but that is a completely separate conversation. Let’s stay on task!
Top to Bottom
Starting from top to bottom with your LinkedIn profile, I will begin with Summary at the top. This is your personal and professional introduction to all eyes viewing your profile. Think of it as your initial handshake and meaningful first impression. A noticeable similarity in messaging can be seen on the introduction of your resume. Utilize the space to breakdown your highlighted skills in a one to two sentence format followed by bullet points encompassing other notable details. Two great examples are quantitative statistics or awards won that can be displayed to draw attention to how attractive a candidate you are.
The Summary section is followed by Experience. Similar to what I mentioned earlier, the tone and format here look familiar to your resume and vice versa. Present the information in a well thought out and direct manner showing specific tasks completed or influenced in order to make the largest impact. The use of bullet points again will allow the reader to review your skills and history with ease!
Next, is the Education section, which is fairly straight forward. List each degree with accuracy and specificity. One thing often skipped is if an Associate’s degree was completed at a different school from Bachelor’s, both should be listed. There are endless possibilities with networking or alumni connections that could potentially be missed if only one is listed.
LinkedIn Skills brings another important section! Recruiters are looking to identify key skills in order to fill their positions properly. On top of the manual review, queries are run to locate potential candidates who qualify for openings, so you can see the emphasis necessary. Terms such as customer service, sales, ICD-10, work flow operations, financial analysis and many more can be included depending upon industry.
Recommendations and Endorsements
Last and most certainly not least, are what I refer to as ‘LinkedIn Extras’. The entire profile holds weight, so don’t skip over the last couple sections. You will notice a section for Recommendations and Endorsements where other members can endorse you for particular skills or write a complete recommendation. If you’re a business owner looking to increase credibility, the recommendation section can be an effective ask of your clients to help after delivering a satisfying product or service. Endorsements can simply be sent from other members who believe you excel in particular categories, such as marketing or team building.
The final section is ‘Interests’, which will populate those pages and companies you have followed. It is important to remain specific about what you ‘Follow’ knowing it will show as public.
With all these details wrapped with a bow, you can begin to transform your profile one step and section at a time. Avoid overwhelming yourself, regardless of time of year by making small incremental changes. If you have specific questions relating to your experience and future goals, please drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org! Until next time, Happy Holidays to all!
After a recent conversation with a client, I was inclined to dig deeper into this specific topic and put everything into an article. My goal is to encourage candidates not to throw in the towel after a couple weeks of applying across a particular industry and not attracting the type of interest from recruiters and employers expected. The thought process is to change your approach, not give up.
If you read my last blog post, you are familiar with a book I mentioned titled Blue Ocean Strategy. As a quick recap, the plot revolves around outperforming the competition in ways that do not require going head to head, but simply maneuvering around them with new and fresh ways of thinking. Now, as you tirelessly apply for positions after already working a long day at your current position, taking care of the kids at home or whatever it is consuming your time, what could you do differently to attract the ideas of the beholder (AKA-recruiters)?
If you put yourself into the shoes of the recruiter, what do they want to see? The first major point is what impact you have had on roles held in the past. The breakdown of this initiative is being direct and results-aware when filling the experience section of your resume, LinkedIn page, etc. A great example in any type of sales role is providing quantitative results for work specifically done under your umbrella. Another way to pull the readers attention is to include data in the Executive Summary section of your resume. I will touch on this a bit later as there is a great debate about the efficacy of the Executive Summary.
Another impact point is to adjust the formatting of your resume and LinkedIn in order to make the readability friendlier. All the important and relevant details the employer wants to see may be listed, but if they’re hidden in paragraphs or the last page, unfortunately, you don’t stand a chance at receiving a phone call for next steps. Stressing ‘clear and concise’ will be on repeat throughout this article. Use effective bullet points to draw attention and remember what position you are applying for. Avoid using an Executive Summary to insert fluff into the most imperative section of your resume.
Utilize the Job Description
When you read through the job description, do you have experience matching what the position would like to see? If so, then turn those similarities into a large attention grabber. Recruiters and employers always search for a candidate who can tackle their workload most effectively and grow the business, so if you have relevant experience or successes, count them as a gold star. I cannot emphasize making those details jump off the page enough. Not only does it highlight the quality candidate you are, it simplifies the job of the recruiter to decide if you’re a solid fit for the role. Think of the job description and requirements as a complimentary gift for your interest in the position. Your responsibility before landing the job is to utilize the information properly.
Ever since I was a kid, my mom always used to say “Utilize the resources around you to their greatest extent.” In some cases, this is networking and learning through conversations. In this example, it is digging deep to become the ideal candidate each role you apply for. Start off with a bang and make a great first impressions displaying you’ve done your research and you’re ready to prove why you’re the right fit.
My last tip for soundly landing the first phone interview after submitting your application and resume is follow-up. One of the most underrated pieces of the job search puzzle is the follow-up aspect. Now, let me preface this with the some (few) situations where there truly is no contact information provided at any level and getting in touch is difficult. But, throughout most processes an email, phone number or LinkedIn account of someone who matters can be located.
The key here is to always be looking. The first potential location for this information is the job posting. When you scroll all the way to the bottom, is there a section with content about who posted the job? Second, is when you submit the application. Most likely a screen will appear saying “Congratulations, you’ve submitted your application. Once we review your documents, a member of our staff with reach out to you.” In many scenarios, there is contact info at the bottom. If there is still nothing there, utilize LinkedIn, which I highly recommend regardless. You can search the company, people who work there, possibly recruiters they work with or the HR department. Lastly, when a recruiter calls for a long-awaited position, your heart starts pounded and all you can think about is saying the right thing. After the phone call, your mind is jumping in a million different directions, BUT the first thing to do is save the information in your phone for the purpose of follow-up. If you have not heard anything by the end of the week after they mentioned that time frame, give them a ring and check to see if there is anything else you could do to help move the process along. The same idea goes for email, although this vault can be a little easier to dig through, it’s still vital to save email addresses for key players.
The overall message here is to promote yourself as an ideal candidate by being attentive and detailed. Thinking from the perspective of the recruiter and positioning yourself as a one of kind candidate will prove to be easier than you once thought. Let me know if you have any further suggestions about how to stand out most effectively.
Implementing ideas from two different books that very much speak to the fundamentals of my internal passion and drive. The first is the Slow Fix by Carl Honore. After reading ‘The Praise of Slowness’, I plan to pick up each and every book written by this author. His thoughts are beyond refreshing and presented in a realistic manner where you can apply them to the workplace, home even relationships to achieve success. After just finishing his next ‘The Slow Fix’, I am ever so inclined to share how these ideas relate to Career Coaching. The main points include tackling problems with a long term plan in mind. It may not even be a problem you are looking to overcome, it could be strategy for achieving higher employee retention or gaining increased market share for your novel product.
Regardless of the subject matter, the idea of Slow Living allows you to step back and truly analyze an approach before springing into action. There is so much value in this level of thinking in order to truly prioritize what can realistically be achieved short and long term. Throughout the book the author refers to specific situations where significant results have been achieved starting with Slow Thinking. I would be remiss not to mention the problem solving approach is not the only benefit of Slow Thinking, but for the sake of subject matter I will stay in this lane or I may go on forever.
The second book is Blue Ocean Strategy by W Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. This read was also a game changer for my views on innovation. My interpretation of the book establishes a method to outrun competition, not by competing in the same space, but developing a ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ meaning a whole new avenue of thinking. A common trend in achieving this success is giving the consumer (buyer, end user, etc) what they want before they know they want it. Sounds trivial, right?
This is where the loads of planning I preach comes into play. Tackling ‘Subject A’ step by step with proper organization gives you the ability to analyze from a high level view and build strategic advantages. These advantages will propel you straight past the competition. Even in a position of power, this level of thinking should never subside. It is a revolving door to stay ahead and maintain growth. Entrepreneurs, sales and marketing departments, along with many others know it well.
'Why' the Effort
My goal of this blog article is to establish clarity why this applies and is crucial to personal career development. With reference to the two topics mentioned above, approaching personal and professional growth is a winner. Whether your long term goal is to climb the corporate ladder, become a successful entrepreneur or retire by 40 with a cabin in the woods, take your career continuum as serious as financial and health stability.
When laid out as simply as that, it appears outrageous not to have a plan of attack for each aspect of your development, but do you?
This is my plea to spend time (our greatest asset) as responsibly as possible and since we allot the majority to work, again the breakdown seems simple. This type of behavior begins with developing a personal portfolio. There is nothing holding greater value for the long term professional game than your portfolio.
Each piece with the exception of structure is personalized. It is a time to review work history, accomplishments, promotions and any other features highlighting who you are and what your journey has resembled. Consider this portfolio a structured timeline of your professional life.
I hope the value of this timeline is starting to become apparent, but if not, envision this situation. You have an upcoming review with your direct manager and feel there should be a well deserved promotion on the table for the start of the new year. Instead of walking into the meeting with a few thoughts sketched out on your latest company letterhead notepad, you have an entire portfolio organized to visualize exactly what you have done throughout the year and results produced because of those efforts.
Not only does preparation display initiative (Blue Ocean Strategy), while your manager may have your best interests in mind, they also have a lot coming across their planners. This organization will avoid any potential projects or initiatives slipping through the cracks.
The second behavior combining professional development and the features mentioned above is a business plan used specifically for presenting ideas, or the interview process. Again both of these initiatives are meant to allow you to stand out from the crowd. A SWOT analysis for the current marketplace structure or knowledge of the topic at hand are valuable ideas to include in a business plan. Again, the business plan is personalized for the candidate regarding the end goal and of course experience level.
Both of these documents create value for the end user through emphasizing productivity, but also personal accountability. Through an organized checklist of what you accomplish with your time, you increase visibility for yourself. Of all elements that could be overlooked, it is this one. In the long run, the only person tracking personal and professional progress for you is YOU. When is the last time you accepted or presented a challenge to management or yourself? If you have followed these steps, you just need to peak back at your portfolio to easily lock down the answer. This initiative is essential.
To reiterate this is my personal ask of you to start a personal portfolio and other supporting documents in order to hold yourself accountable. Depending on your strengths, you may not need a professional to help you get organized, BUT in the event you need assistance, I am here and am happy to help. Watching my clients thrive through these initiatives creates and propels my professional journey. Let’s make it happen together!
What is grit and how do I find mine?
So, you get knocked down after making a presentation to your big wig client or completely stumble over your pitch to the new sales director or maybe it is something as simple as walking in late only to be noticed by HR.
First things first, admit your wrongdoing (if there is one). Always display accountability for your actions, no matter how much pride you have to swallow. The growth process includes understanding when and where to admit you are incorrect.
Next, it is time to slide on your big kid pants and realize the world is going to continue spinning. The clock will keep ticking and your next task lies ahead of you regardless of what happened yesterday. Displaying self-awareness to understand the actions you can take in the future to avoid a similar situation is a sign of a true professional.
Depending on the nature of the hurdle you have to jump, what comes next will vary, but one thing is consistent across all grit situations. You have a decision to make and this is one only YOU control the outcome. Are you going to dwell on the past, or embrace the future and continue to chug forward? In order to display grit, you must choose to move on and conquer your next challenge. Of course, this is easier said than done, but when you break it all down, is lingering on one issue (or multiple) worth stopping you from achieving your goals?
Goals and Grit
What are your goals? In much of my content I speak about short- and long-term goals. The reason I spend ample time here is because it’s vital to know what you’re working towards. As an aggregate group, we all need to embrace our skills and work with our passions versus the alternative of working just to live.
The next question is, once you have your goals clearly laid out, how much grit are you willing to display in order to achieve them? I call this my ‘no BS mentality’. It just does not make sense to waste precious time concentrating on things that don’t matter. If you get knocked down, figure out how to get back up ten times stronger.
Where else does grit matter?
This conversation is highly relatable beyond just professional development. Maybe it is relationship with a friend or significant other that really ended sour and you feel the world didn’t treat you fairly. It is fair to say those situations sting in the beginning, but with time and conscious understanding you can learn and grow to help you move on stronger.
Another example is something as simple as getting a flat tire. You have two decisions to make (after handling the logistics). You can pout and let it ruin your day, or you can get that baby fixed and use every minute left of the day to make an impact. When you look back in a year, which decision will give you more pride? I think we can all agree here.
Green vs Red Lights
An analogy I use often (just ask my boyfriend) relates to a red versus green traffic light. Think about a red light as a problem or issue and a green light as a win or smooth moving part of your daily life. As you move through your day, what stands out more to you? The red lights adding stress or the green ones that just seem to fly through naturally? Often times problems or mistakes are highlighted more regularly than victories and ease of momentum. Whether regarding colleagues or projects, this analogy NEEDS to remain top of mind. Discussing a red light is one thing, but don’t forget to include all the greens along the way.
Be there person in the office or your friend group who just seems to display endless tenacity. Others will follow this mentality and continue to produce positive relationships and results. Remember the same frequency you display is the one you demand from others. How do you guys display or define grit? Leave me a comment and let me know!
Why should I partner with a Career Coach?
Why is Career Advisement important? Regardless of how much experience you have, what industry you work in or education level, having a trusted source to assess your overall path is vital. During normal life progression, we have professionals to manage our health, finances and other smaller day to day tasks, so why is career any different? When you take a step back to weigh the factors and time inserted into career decisions and accomplishments, it becomes clear why a partnership at this level is beneficial for the long haul.
Mid-year reviews, project presentations, year-end budget reports, interviews, industry changes, raise considerations and so much more. The list continues to grow the deeper into your career you are and the decisions grow in complication. Push-back I have heard in the past I would like to address is “How could a Career Coach know enough of the inner workings to be helpful when it comes to making these choices or moving forward with a ‘risky’ business move?”. The answer is simple! A solid Career Coach has a system to create open lines of communication and demand accountability throughout the relationship. For example, I require a quarterly review to assess changes, progress and accomplishments for my clients. The idea here is not only to tune me in with what is going on at work, but to create the accountability piece with my clients. Did you achieve goals you set out to conquer throughout the three-month period? If you did not have specific benchmarks set, based off the review, what do you feel needs to be accomplished this quarter in order to move forward? It is time to write them down and begin having honest conversations.
Risk vs Reward - Time
Too often these seemingly difficult and time-consuming conversations are pushed aside due to complacency and getting caught up in the everyday chaos of life. We need to step outside of the short-term way of thinking and take on the challenge. The same risk vs reward thought process dedicated to many other business decisions should be applied to your career also. Is it worth the commitment to your career continuum and growth to dedicate time creating goals and holding yourself accountable? The answer is ‘yes’ every time, but reality is, much of this weight falls on the shoulders of your career coach. Allow for the organization and progression of responsibilities be handled by a professional. Your focus should remain on industry specifics and daily incremental accomplishments.
Self-awareness is key to recognizing how outsourcing the delicate and detailed logistics of your career path is important. Short-term work for long-term reward!
Earlier I mentioned a system to create dialogue between clients and those managing their careers. My system is simple and effective. Even though I only require quarterly conversations, I encourage my clients to reach out more frequently when changes or new items occur. There are two major benefits to these conversations occurring more consistently. The first is the more information fed to me about the inner workings of how you function in your role, co-workers, culture, what it takes to grow within your organization, etc., the more personal and advantageous my recommendations will be. Second, as you verbalize growth regularly, you begin to prioritize commitment to your future just the same. As with many other aspects of life, if that certain something remains top of mind, continued focus shows its efficacy.
There is no clear-cut answer to how each client will be handled as one can imagine the vast amount of differences from person to person. But, what I can say is, when you execute accountability of this nature to yourself, the results will do the talking. Gain the courage to admit a helping hand to supplement your career is valuable and you will be taking an astronomical leap forward.
To revisit thoughts I preach daily, we are here for one life and time is our greatest asset. The only soul responsible for how you manage your time is YOU. This comes down to finding your passion, spending time doing what you love, understanding your potential and achieving the goals you have set forth for yourself.
My job along that journey is to ensure growth and transitions run smoothly and allow time for you to reflect on the accomplishments. Understand that choosing to work with a Career Coach, whether that is myself or another, is a great investment in yourself. There are not many things in life that don’t come lined with possible negative pieces, but utilizing career advisement is one of the exceptions. Have you had specific coaching experiences relating to personal or professional growth? Please leave feedback below as to your thoughts. The more awareness about Career Advisement the better!
To begin, thank you for taking time to read this blog article. My first true thank you is because you are dedicating time to acknowledge you are in the driver seat to propel yourself forward. Even though I am constantly speaking about career growth, a personal portfolio and quarterly review about where you stand is about so much more than just career development. It is a dedicated time to reflect on accomplishments, but also areas where you can continue to grow and accelerate. Being self-aware and verbalizing these strengths, but also areas of opportunities, is the truest assessment of yourself.
My second deep thank you is for consuming my content. I truly put my mind and heart into this material in hopes of helping as many as I can, but through an individualized message. It takes time and conscious behaviors to recognize one’s own potential.
Each industry has different metrics of how ‘success’ is measured, so apply these thoughts specifically to your role. I am going to use sales throughout for the sake of example. In a sales job, it may be a bit more objective to assess progress than others. Documents such as ranking reports, field coaching logs, market share, percent growth and more, are the norm. While these types of documents will help portray an honest picture, you still have to hold yourself accountable on another level. Did you set any personal goals at the beginning of the quarter or year? Outside of numerical achievements, did you jump on any leadership projects you mentioned to close out 2017? Or maybe there is one big client you were looking to have a breakthrough performance with, did it happen?
The point I am trying to make here is everyone has different metrics they want and need to achieve for development. It is important to sit down and analyze true and honest progress. If you inflate forward momentum, you are only hindering yourself. Outside of the two minutes to write down how you’ve mastered XYZ, zero evolution arises from this behavior. Do yourself a favor and just be honest.
Beyond the Numbers
A personal assessment does not end at the numbers. Along with any black and white quantitative growth, other development metrics should also be evaluated. I mentioned a couple examples already, but one that resonates with many is leadership opportunity. Leadership has many different faces, titles and responsibilities and if it interests you, management looks for you to take proactive steps to display that drive.
So, what does this mean? (Disclaimer: It will look different depending on job function and company structure.) First and foremost, it means holding yourself accountable to go above and beyond to represent these specific behaviors. Documenting each and every activity or encounter in your portfolio is the easiest way to track progress. Management will want to see full circle accountability on your part. It may be efforts at a meeting, intranet online courses relating to the subject matter or simply asking what opportunities are available, because you would like to push yourself forward. Regardless of the avenue to get there, document it all. When you go into your next meeting to ask for a leadership opportunity, compensation increase, or title change, your portfolio will be ready to present why you bring value. At the end of the day, it is always about how much value you or an idea can bring.
Surface level, putting together a personal portfolio may sound like extra work you need to fit into your already overflowing schedule. If you think this, you are correct. There is no icing on the cake, but what you need to keep in mind is the long-term strategy. The effort of systematically gathering intel about yourself will pay off tenfold for committing to the short-term time investment. Organization is a skill that can be perfected with attention and repetition.
The logistics of your portfolio should not be complicated. The main point is to create a structure that works for you. I started simple with a binder and clear sleeves to print out documents and certificates for safe keeping. Everything is kept in chronological order and ready to present when needed. A couple other methods I have installed over the years is a bound business plan with achievements scanned in or it could be as simple as dedicated a folder in Word to your personal portfolio. Drag and drop everything in and access later. Again, it does not matter how you organize, it just matters that you do.
Be different! Rise above and make the effort to be the employee who shines out from the rest. Give leadership and C-level colleagues something to remember you by. The kicker is all this energy also develops you personally. Professional growth is the real deal and often dictates career path, but personal growth cannot be forgotten. Embracing how this level of commitment to yourself impacts your future is a success in itself and another step towards self-awareness. Leave feedback below on different ideas you have to keep the best and most efficient portfolio!
Rebecca Wagner - I actively find flow through unparalleled focus on propelling the careers of others. These posts will help to share my thought processes about development, self-awareness and growth.