Master Career Counselor

Carla Hunter, President of Career Span, Inc. is a Master Career Counselor (MCC) by the National Career Development Association and a Certified Career Coach by the National Board for Certified Counselors. She is an expert in writing resumes, effective job search strategies and interviewing success. Most recently, with over 20 years of navigating the complexity of today's world of work, she published "Finding Your Place in the World of Work", a career interest inventory (2014) and CareerView, an iPad app. As a private practice career counselor and a workforce development consultant, this blog is Carla's trove of ideas, trends, forecasts, and career tips for finding meaningful work.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Career Loss Can Be Your Gain

Never before have I seen so much angst in my clients. It is the hardest time in the history of career development to be a private practicioner. People are losing jobs like crazy and express to me their feelings of fear, hurt and rejection. It appears that life is crumbling right before them. Losing a job can be one of the BIGGEST pills to swallow. Personally, I vote you spit it out.

Here is my advice to the many who are using kleenex a lot, feeling their souls have been ripped apart by a pink slip and don't know where to turn or what to do. This blog posting is for you.

1. DON'T PANIC. The worse possible strategy is to give up before you start. Yes it is a tight market. Yes, the outlook seems bleak. Yet, reality invites you to remember that jobs are out there but they will not come to your door. I have seen clients get new offers within a few weeks. Why? Because they had the guts and determination to do what they had to do. Offering yourself back to a market that seemingly just fired you is not an easy path. The longer you wait, the longer it takes.

2. UNDERSTAND YOUR LIMITS. The biggest limit on the current typical job-seeker is a bruised ego. I can't tell you how many people are successful in getting an interview but question their confidence and allow self-doubt to creep in. The absolute greatest devastation faced by most people is the loss of worth and value resulting in a tainted perception of their skills. This is the greatest poison of all.

3. UNDERSTAND YOUR POTENTIAL. If you will get past the anger, hurt and self-doubt I can tell you the statistical probability that you will be re-hired is greater than if you wallow in pity and depression. I think you should give your emotional responses (all normal) a deadline. Then, move on and face a new challenge. Two realities exist: 1. An employer out there needs you but doesn't know you exist or 2. You have a company inside you waiting to be born. Why not now?

4. BUILD A GREAT RESUME. This is the greatest tool for initial contact that results in a critical first impression. If you email me at between today, December 4 and Christmas, I will send you a template at no cost. The one used most often by my clients works extremely well because employers helped create it.

Finally, recognize what matters most in life isn't what an employer can take away.

As I always preach...employers can have your sweat, but never your blood. That belongs to people in your life that matter most. In the end, that is what counts.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Obama Calls for Job Summit At White House on December 3rd

Remarks made by President Obama on November 12, 2009:
"Over the past 10 months, we’ve taken a number of bold steps to break the back of this recession. We’ve worked to stabilize the financial system, revive lending to small businesses and families, and prevent responsible homeowners from losing their homes. And through the Recovery Act, we’ve cut taxes for middle class families, extended and increased unemployment insurance, and created and saved more than a million jobs.

As a result, the economy is now growing again for the first time in more than a year -- and faster than at any time in the past two years. But even though we’ve slowed the loss of jobs -- and today’s report on the continued decline in unemployment claims is a hopeful sign -- the economic growth that we’ve seen has not yet led to the job growth that we desperately need. As I’ve said from the start of this crisis, hiring often takes time to catch up to economic growth. And given the magnitude of the economic turmoil that we’ve experienced, employers are reluctant to hire.

Small businesses and large firms are demanding more of their employees, their increasing their hours, and adding temporary workers -- but these companies have not yet been willing to take the steps necessary to hire again. Meanwhile, millions of Americans -- our friends, our neighbors, our family members -- are desperately searching for jobs. This is one of the great challenges that remains in our economy -- a challenge that my administration is absolutely determined to meet.

We all know that there are limits to what government can and should do, even during such difficult times. But we have an obligation to consider every additional, responsible step that we can [take] to encourage and accelerate job creation in this country. And that’s why, in December, we’ll be holding a forum at the White House on jobs and economic growth. We’ll gather CEOs and small business owners, economists and financial experts, as well as representatives from labor unions and nonprofit groups, to talk about how we can work together to create jobs and get this economy moving again."

Since I'm not one of the small business owners invited to attend, here is my advice as a career counselor:

1. We are in such a dramatic technology revolution that has forever changed the way our world does business. This may likely result in a permanent loss of certain jobs (telephone operator,drafting technician,etc)that will not have significant growth again while paving the way for brand new ones (web designers, systems analysts,researchers etc). The steps needed for employers to start rehiring may likely NOT be their sole responsibility. The potential workforce may need a serious retool. All you have to do is ask a newspaper publisher if I'm right.
2. Re-tooling may mean reinventing America's idea of "career". Job security is not only dead but now fossilized. It may not be unheard of for most of the future workforce to be independent contractors that piece meal small jobs from a plethora of different opportunity sources.
3. The green collared workforce is not yet prepared for the potential of indefinite avenues of growth in biotechnology, food sciences (especially with animals) and the environmental push to reduce carbon footprints. We have barely scratched the surface of such a HUGE well of potential that demands a new type of worker that LOVES knowledge but is also completely comfortable working with gadgets and tools.
4. As a nation, we must re-brand, re-invent and reconsider our attitude of "vo-tech" jobs. Being a plumber, electrician, HVAC technician, or a mechanic have seriously been viewed as an educational safety net and option for the "less than smart" student. In reality, those jobs and workers who do them are the bread and butter of our economy. Ask any utility company about the future worker who will replace their older, aging linemen and they will scratch their heads in complete frustration and anxiety. The reason? Maybe we have overmarketed the college four year degree that is needed in only 15% of our economy. I am not discounting a college education. I am saying the associate degree, the vocational certificate and training needs equal footing in importance. Who is going to repair your broken air conditioner? Who will fix the power line downed by a winter storm?

I could go on, but that is all for now. Best wishes to all the experts converging in Washington. I hope that you remember a knowledge worker can use a wrench and hammer to ratchet our economy in a new direction of growth and opportunity.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It may be time to reframe the word "Career"

The word, career has its root in the french word meaning "racetrack".
Makes perfect sense to me.

After all, sometimes our career feels like a race. Each morning, we start out of the gate with a sprint and reach our turns by mid-afternoon. We watch the clock and keep on track for when the day is done. Then, our race for the day is finished.

However, the word career implies so much more. It implies a race but a very long one. It implies speed, excellence and duration over time. We start a career when we begin to get paid for work. We end it when we die. The finish line comes only at the very last leg of the race.

So, how is your race going? Are you out of shape? On the wrong track? Left out in the barn? Are you sprinting with no end in sight? Are you pacing ready to crank it up to full throttle?

Career is really a word that means movement toward a destination around the bend. We can't predict exactly what is beyond it but we can prepare for it. Simple steps include:
1. Have your resume updated at least monthly.
2. Learn a new skill at least weekly (preferably related to technology).
3. Find a mentor in your field of expertise.
4. Take a colleague to lunch and brainstorm about what is likely to happen to your industry next.
5. Get plenty of rest. Every horse has a stall to take a breather and relax.

No better time than now to prepare for the future. After all, it starts tomorrow morning.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Lethal Stress and the Workplace

Serious questions are being asked today in the wake of the Ft. Hood shooting spree in which a gunman killed 12 and injured many. One of the zillions of questions to be asked and answered will be, "What event, circumstance or trigger would set-off such vile anger to carry out such a horrific act of unfathomable proportions?" This was an violent act against the very "family" he not only worked alongside but had sworn an oath to protect, guard and help. We will be grappling with this for months as the victims' families try to cope for decades. Violence, hostility and anger have dire consequences in any workplace if certain warning signs are not noticed, ignored when noticed or minimized for the sake of convenience, fear or retribution. As the events of Ft. Hood continue to unfold, it is not unlikely that some will indicate noticing subtle behavioral changes while others observed the same types of routinized actions of a man known to be typically kind and quiet. It is a reminder for everyone that workplace stress magnifies stress to enormous proportions. A military base would be at the height of such stress during a war with multiple deployments. In a sour economy that has increased stress no one is immune to stress even on a good day. Be aware and keep watch for behavioral changes in co-workers and colleagues that can't be overlooked or denied. My strong advice to you is to seek resources available to you should you notice it in co-workers or in yourself. Warning signs are a first line of protection that can't be ignored.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Three Career Time Zones for the Careerlancer

As a career counselor I always make sure clients understand the three time zones of career success. We actually live in all simultaneously:
1. The past.

This one creates the most toxic of outcomes if you're not careful. The past can be the greatest obstacle to achieving goals because it grabs us by the foot and holds us in a mire if we have made mistakes and experienced failure. This time zone demands that all of us implement a new frame when looking at what we perceive as failure. New definition for optimal growth: Failure is when I experience something and learn absolutely nothing from it. Regret and sorrow have to stay behind you.

2. The present.

This time zone taps into several of our essential motivators to work, live and love. It is the NOW of life never to be lived again. This zone demands energy, focus and a sense of purpose to help you overcome the past and to not be stalled in fear of the future. Optimal growth occurs when you play hard, laugh loud from the belly and think of yourself as part of a community. No matter how isolated you may feel at times, you are a part of something much greater than yourself. Go find it.

3. The future.

This time zone requires that you not be faint-hearted. It runs at full capacity when you do two things: A. Ask a lot of questions such as, "Where do I want to be in a year? How do I get there? What can bring meaning into my work? What leisure activity do I need to try? B. Get over or through or around the fear of where this zone might take you.

Life at full throttle means our sorrow for mistakes is in the past, our will to love and live is in the present and our brain power is engaged to think, "what do I intentionally want to do? in the future.

Apathy is not welcome in all three zones.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Lifetime Careerlancer

In the last post, the main idea was this:

In the future of the American workforce you may work but not have a typical "job".
It may be that you're contracted by the job with a set deadline and a goal to achieve. You can have tons of flexiblity, but it such availability can lead to serious hours of work especially at night when everyone else is asleep. But in the end, is it worth it?

As a mom of three with a vital need to have flexible hours to put them first, the answer is yes. I do much of my work on a contract basis only. I see clients hourly and limit my private practice hours. I do trainings, workshops and a variety of tasks that are on deadline. It is an awesome career to allow freedom to be an academic coach at my daughter's school, take a break whenever I choose and to walk the dogs at a moment's notice. To be a careerlancer (career professional + freelancer)means that I have opportunities to cook dinner in the middle of 40 emails, run to the post office before or after lunch and to eat lunch at 2:30pm if I wish. The challenge isn't finishing or accomplishing the goal, but rather how to blend it all into a meaningful and rewarding life with no regrets.

Professionals today run a marathon as though it were a sprint and very few know how to pace the demands into the synchronicity of life's precious and fleeting moments. Thus, I said no to daycare and yes to raising my children. I said no to working in a job that asked for "40" a week when the unwritten rule was really "50" or more. I said no to a sense (albeit a false one) of security with a job title, and a knowledge that I would have a job. There are no promises for that anymore.

Rather, I have said yes to being the driver rather than passenger of my career. The car may be in warp speed at times, but its me who puts it in gear.

Yes, it is scary but so is staying in a cubicle from 9 to 5 with no flexibility for a life calling to be lived once. I am writing into a blogosphere of almost nothingness trying to tell someone that needs to hear, "It is worth it to take a chance on making work fit your schedule rather than being a slave to it.
The answer?
Becoming a careerlancer for life. The how to guide will continue in these posts.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Are you ready to be redefined by job title loss?

The American work world is in a frenzied and ferocious state of redefinement. Yes, in just a few years, we could all have work, but not necessarily "jobs". In the future, what will fill the need of employers is the professional who considers their identity in three facets:
1. contracted work
2. short term relationships of synergy
3. stepping into roles in a seamless fashion.

1. Contracted work- This new model will mean that most American workers will be contracted on a job basis only. This may mean doing the work, meeting the goal and getting paid for it. Yet, it is a limited and on call basis only. Call it career freelancer. This person is adaptable to fast paced environments that outpace the dinosaur bureacracies it leaves in its wake. The Pro--- FLEXIBILITY. You can work from home in your pajamas and take a break whenever you want. It is about the end result (product) not the time spent (clocking in). The Con---can be risky for the faint-hearted. Not knowing where your next project will come or when, can be stressful. Is it worth it?
2. Short term relationships of synergy- The new American worker will need to know how to cultivate quick relationships and adapt to a myraid of personalities and demands. You might be working on three projects at a time with three different "bosses" can get a little crazy. But is it worth it?
3. Stepping into roles in a seamless fashion.

Creating garments without seams is incredibly difficult but worth the work. What a spectacular display of craftsmanship. Similarly, working as a free agent or careerlancer requires a professional who adapts, flexes assertiveness and initiates projects from the ground up. It means a blur of time spent working. This may mean working at midnight but at least in your pajamas. You may be a project leader and take a break to tuck your kids into bed or let the dogs out every 2 hours. Is it worth it?

You bet. In my next post, I will tell you how I did it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bad boss quiz results

Bad Boss Quiz Results

Based on the last post and quiz of bad bosses, here are the directions and results.

1. For each of the 25 questions give the following points to your reponse:

A. Blue answers get one point.
B. Green answers get two points.
C. Purple answers get three points.
D. Red answers get four points.
E. If no answer applies, then zero points are given.

2. Tabulate your score by adding up all the points.

3. Below is the feedback given for the type of boss you have.


Results Feedback: Your boss is rabid. Get the heck out of there! RUN!!!!!!! Leave as soon as humanly possible. You’re in a dungeon of venom yet no one has handcuffed you to the wall. Your blood pressure, headaches and depression are signals you can’t ignore. Life is too short! Find another place to work. Hurry! Do not delay. Your boss is as poisonous as carbon monoxide. No work, no project, no paycheck is worth what you are enduring.


Results Feedback: Your boss is horrible. Leaving your current position must be a definite priority in the very near future. Your boss is verging on a lethal level of unhealthy behavior and attitude. The inability to know day to day how your boss will act or respond is not conducive to professional development. In addition, your lack of trust in what actions are being carried out is a warning not to wait it out and hope things will improve. Don’t tolerate this harmful behavior any longer. Leave!


Results Feedback: Your boss is one of indifference, intolerance and resistance to change. Your type of boss will always want things the way they’ve always been and will not address the need to accept new ways of doing business. Rather, they prefer to play it safe resulting in a depressing work environment of monotony, resistance and inefficiency. “We can’t do it! No! Sorry! Maybe next year! Not enough resources,” are common responses from the pessimistic boss who refuses to embrace the inevitable and will avoid conflict at all costs. Do you really want to stay? Is it worth it to be in a lackluster environment that will not harness your talent?


Results Feedback: Your boss is likely putting out flames and taking on emergency situations around the office. Always responding in a reactive mode of operation, your boss may not be one to give specified attention to your professional growth and development. Be assertive in scheduling quarterly meetings with your boss to receive feedback on how to improve, develop and learn new ways to do business. If you don’t, a lack of motivation, energy and focus may swallow you up in a vacuum of numbness.


Results Feedback: You’re enjoying the best boss around. One who likely is supportive, communicative and flexible. No boss is perfect, but yours sure does come close. Send a note to her/him and express how much you appreciate their leadership and let their actions become a role model for you. After all, when one of your employees finds this quiz on the Internet, what do you want your score to be?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Take the bad boss quiz

As a continuation of the last post dealing with a bad boss, let's first set the parameters for what defines and measures a bad boss by taking the following quiz. Each statement reflect an indicator that merits our attention and focus on what constitutes a bad boss.

Important directions:

A. Place a check on the line of each question if your answer is yes.

B. If you placed a check by the statement indicating yes, then your next step is to circle or highlight the colored frequency of how often the behavior occurs. Scoring the quiz will depend not only on bad behavior but also how often it occurs. Scoring the quiz will come in the next post.

For now, when you read each statement answer it immediately. Don't chew the sentence and spit out an answer three hours later. Go with your instinct and past experience.

Are you ready? Okay, let's begin.

1. ___ My boss produces a toxic environment of distrust by actions that seem to make no sense at all to me or anyone else.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

2. ___My boss gossips about others behind their back without regard to confidentiality, respect or integrity.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

3. ___My boss lacks social awareness skills such as constantly interrupting, saying rude or obnoxious comments in meetings or to my face. I feel so uncomfortable when I am with my boss.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

4. ___My boss appears oblivious to the harm caused by an unmanaged emotional outburst in a meeting or to the staff who feel embarrassed or humiliated when hearing it.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

5. ___ My boss can exhibit impulsive behavior toward making decisions that affect office policy and procedures and will usually enact rules without notice.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

6. ___ My boss will ask for feedback but when it is given, dismisses it as nonsense or makes whoever spoke up feel stupid.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

7. ___My boss makes unreasonable demands on me or staff usually as a result of poor planning and ineffective leadership in meeting deadlines or goals.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

8. ___My boss has impossible expectations. No matter what happens, NOTHING is ever enough.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

9. ___My boss seems to feel threatened by other's success and accomplishments.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

10.___My boss would not recommend a top performer on our staff to other departments or managers to keep that person from moving up.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

11. ___My boss doesn't want to change the way it has always been done and is resistant to changing the status quo.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

12.___My boss plays favorites with staff and makes it obvious to the ones not chosen.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

13.___ My boss completely ignores conflict and avoids trying to solve problems with staff and peers.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

14.___ My boss seems to have no life outside the office and is consumed by work.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

15.___My boss appears to have a hidden agenda or an underlying motive that I can't quite put my finger on.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

16.___My boss can be cruel and ruthless in treatment of others including peers on the same level.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

17.___ My boss is inflexible with work schedules and the occasional need for family flexibility.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

18.___My boss has a leadership style that is all about control.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

19. ___ I would leave my job in a heartbeat because of my boss, although I love the work I do.

Occasional thought weekly thought daily thought constant thought

20. ___ The culture in my workplace is poisoned by the negative attitude and actions of my boss.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

21. ___ What is valued most by my boss is keeping my mouth shut and doing whatever I'm told.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

22.___ My boss doesn't annually evaluate me in a review giving positive feedback and challenging me to do my best work.

It happened five years ago Talks about it but never does Refuses to make it a priority When hell freezes over

23. ___ Depending on mood, everyone stays clear of my boss if it is bad.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

24. ___ I breathe a sigh of relief when my boss isn't in the office or away in meetings.

Only occasionally weekly daily constantly

25.___ Since I started taking this quiz, I feel nauseated and my head hurts.

Only a little I'm quite queazy I feel sick I just threw up

You have completed the quiz. Ready to score it?

Results will be tabulated in the next post.

Stay tuned.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What to do when you have a really bad boss

Today’s entry is a spin-off from my last one. Sometimes, no matter how much you and co-workers may have similar patterns of migration to interests, activities and values that bring meaning and fulfillment to the workplace; there are bosses who make life miserable for everyone. Before we begin to define a bad boss and what to do when you have one, let’s ask ourselves one question, “Is my boss incompetent and therefore bad or is my boss challenging and therefore stretching my boundaries of comfort?”

A bad boss is defined as one who is incompetent in leadership skills (what they do) and sustainability (who they are) in the workplace. A competent boss may actually challenge us to step out of comfort and go beyond the status quo. Thus, we may describe them as “bad” because they don’t fit our concept of doing things the way it has always been done.

Does that make them bad? The word “bad” is so subjective!

If you have stated the following to your boss in the past six weeks, your boss may not be so bad after all and you may need to redefine your expectations. Have you said:

“But, we’ve always done it this way. Why change it now?”

“Will I get paid for this extra work?”

“That is not in my job description!”

“I can’t do it. I don’t know how.”

“Do I have to do that?”

“I will get back to you in the next few days.”

“I really don’t like all this change.”

If you’ve answered any of those questions with a resounding yes, then let’s re-word the negativity. If your boss is leading at a pace you’re uncomfortable with or does it different than how it has always been done, it is likely you have the greater challenge.

A boss is not there to make your work life comfortable. A boss is there to make you competent and harness your very best talent.

In the next post, let’s get to the heart of what the definition is of a really bad boss.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Where are the birds like me?

So much of the joy, reward and meaning of work is not solely found in what we do. It is also discovered quickly in whom we do it with. I have seen many clients over the years in a desperate migratory journey trying to find happiness at work when in fact it wasn't the work itself. Rather, a co-worker, colleague or boss seemed to make life on the job completely intolerable.

Take Jane for example. She chose occupational therapy in college because her dad commented that it is a 21st century hot career. She excelled academically in the sciences, but upon the clinical phase of her work, discovered a huge disconnect with her colleagues and patients. "No one seems to like me or even speak to me. My co-workers act like a high school clique and my patients are rude and condescending. They won't follow my directions even though I am matter of fact and concise. This work makes me feel incompetent. "

Take David as another example. He chose to be an attorney because of its seeming prestige in the community. He breezed through law school but could never develop a successful private practice upon graduation. His first hints of disppointment were in law school when he didn't seem to fit with classmates. He preferred being alone and likely appeared aloof. He hated working at the firm and despised what he perceived as office politics. He never once joined in for after hours get togethers, parties or social events seeing them all as a waste of time. He couldn't understand how he could excel academically, but fail misearably on the job. " I can't understand why this career is so horrible. I have constant anxiety and a recurring ulcer. I don't fit in with everyone else. No one in the firm seems to be like me."

What do Jane and David have in common?

Here are some lessons they've learned the hard way:

1. Career satisfaction is a broad spectrum of variables you cannot control such as the people who work alongside you. An awesome career can be ruined by a horrible boss or co-worker.
2. A third of life is spent at work. Why spend it in misery at a place or point in your life where you don't fit now or perhaps never fit at all? Academic success doesn't predict a sustainable, enjoyable and meaningful career.
3. A person can excel at the employability skills taught by professors or academic courses but not have similar interest patterns and values of colleagues that increase or decrease satisfaction in the workplace.

How is satisfaction attainable in the workplace you ask?

Well, let's just lay it on the line. It is all about our feathers, beak and migratory habits.

We ALL have a need and even longing to belong to something bigger than ourselves. Sometimes that plays out for some of us in a group. For some, it means being left alone with uninterrupted time and concentration. We need meaning and a sense of value. The more time spent with colleagues sharing similar beliefs and ideals the more we sense inside ourselves that we "fit" within the ranks of a profession.

For me, this collaboration and sense of identity corresponds to a goose flying in a "V" formation. Sometimes, I want to lead the charge for a new and updated theory or scope of practice that pushes the limit of tested knowledge. I will honk and quack until everyone is on the same page. Then there are moments when my wings are tired and I fall back in a set formation following the wind gusts and air lifts until energy is restored.

After all, geese are all about belonging to a flock. They're group oriented and even roost together in lifetime pairs.

All of this to say that as an identifiable goose, I know not to waste energy trying to eat out of a hummingbird feeder. I'm a bird with wings and a beak but I don't flit very well. I am not fast and speedy. I appreciate landing on a supportive device for long periods of time. I'm also not typically territorial and won't fight for the food unless irrationally provoked.

There are stark differences in people just as there are among the avian species. What species of bird best represents you? Are you a hawk? An eagle? A robin? A cardinal?

Whatever variety, the critical issue is to receive the validation of other birds like you and to appreciate the differences in those who aren't. Do you know at this moment, where birds like you are flying? Where have they set up the roost and you are missing the action?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Starting Over, Where Do You Begin?

As a career counselor specializing in helping job seekers for over 16 years, this particular down turn with massive company restructuring that seriosly looks like a triage room at a hospital ER, I must tell you the following. Please know there are strategies you can implement if the storm hits your desk and leaves you in the debris. Do you want to know what the secret is of those who rebound faster, heathier and even better than they were BEFORE they lost their job??? Keep reading.
1. Fear will do one of two things. A. It will be a wall that paralyzes your energy and strength. B. It will serve as a springboard to stop wasting time and energy focusing on what could have been, but isn't. So, choose fear wisely. Is it a prohibitor or a catalyst? Those are simply your only two choices.
2. People will be your greatest resource for encouragement, focus and strength. The more time you spend alone and isolated from people, the longer it takes to find a job. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! Visit the library, volunteer, give time at a soup kitchen, mow the lawn of your neighbor, take someone to a cheap lunch. Do whatever, whenever but don't do it alone.
3. Grief and anger are powerful forces to be reckoned with so give yourself persmission to feel the brunt of it. The very best definition of depression is: anger turned inward.
You may have lost your job and hardly anything is more daunting, embarassing and humiliating than facing a walk out of the building for the last time. Yet, if anger and grief are allowed to overwhelm your sense of identity, talent and purpose, you'll sink into a quagmire of reeking self pity. That will get you absolutely no where. So what to do?
4. Grieve, get mad, work out, run 25 miles, vent in appropriate ways, talk a lot, and cry like a baby. But! Give yourself a deadline. Declare the end of your grief and sadness. Give no more than seven days for this funeral from the moment you were let go. Then, it is over. Bury what happened and never, I mean never look back.
5. CHOOSE to move forward. If you don't the consequences of being mad, angry, depressed and afraid hurt no one but you. You have to believe there is an employer who needs your skill and talents. Use what has happened to you to change the course of your life for the better. Let me end with one of my favorite sayings:
"Stop looking at the hole by starting to look at the doughnut."
Krispy Kreme, anyone???

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Where Will the Job Market Grow?

As our information age re-tools the job market from its transition from industrialization to technology, here is a list of markets to pay attention to in the next few years:

1. Go green! The market will expand, even explode due to demands for ways to utilize and harness natural sources of energy including solar, water and wind power. Our society’s increasing emphasis of decreasing carbon footprints may increase new opportunities. Also, the increased production of soy, corn, grapes and new fuel sources for biotechnology will increase demand for specialized occupations.
2. The wave on the horizon, social enterprise! Social enterprises are for profit companies that have a non for profit cause embedded in their business model. Likely to catch the attention and support of consumers, social enterprise models provide a cause for improving the world with clean water, food or resources that go way beyond a purchased product. A leading force to be reckoned with is Ethos water. Visit them on the web:
3. Federally funded opportunities- The stimulus array of opportunities in conjunction with the projected demand of population growth while increase the federally funded jobs on a national scale. Visit:
4. Products for a new generation of spenders- Anything that is fast, furious and fun will increase demand from a younger and larger population that exceeds the baby boomers. This will include savvy electronic toys, speedy motorcycles and retailers that market to especially 20 to 35 year olds.
5. Technical trades- Occupations such as electrician, plumber and mechanic will maintain demand as 85% of the national job market requires technical trade certification.
Bi-lingual – The increased Hispanic population will drive the demand higher for professionals who speak Spanish in every industry.

So look for increased demand in mechanics, truck drivers, electricians, systems analysts, social enterprise project managers, technicians, correction officers, engineers and even the sales representatives of fast and furious Suzuki motorcycles. And if you happen to speak fluent Spanish, you’ll be in high demand with your skill-set.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Angst of the Job Market Ride

So many clients are in a very high state of of uncertainty and stress. The job market feels like it is on a turbulent journey to an unknown destination. I'm not a flight attendant, but here would be my career counseling instructions:
1. Unfasten your seat belt. Don't sit like a knot on a log thinking this wild ride will not affect you. It may so get up and meet people who are active and involved in your profession.
2. Breathe in some oxygen. Even in the midst of such stressful times, don't forget to take a walk, play and enjoy your life in the now. We are never promised tomorrow. It is the simple things that can center us on what is most important.
3. Recognize you're not alone. So many people feel isolated in their journey to rediscover their passion, find employment and enjoy meaning. In order to do this, it is most likely accomplished through community involvement and reaching out to others. Volunteer!
4. Do your part and act now. Get your resume fine tuned. Practice your interviewing skills. Research markets that are growing and expanding even as the current economy is contracting.
In the next post, I will give you a list of where the jobs are expanding. For now, expect the best to happen and enjoy the view. It's all about the journey, right?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Business Portfolio: How Important Is It?

A signicant tool to bring to the interview table is a business portfolio. It is an objective tangible display of your skill-set and the results you've accomplished over the span of your profession. I strongly encourage clients to invest the money, time and energy into a business portfolio that harnesses the strength and talent discussed during the interview now shown in a full documented report. Truly, almost any profession can benefit from this display of credentials and accomplishments.

Here are the secrets I tell clients:

Go to Office Max or Staples and purchase a black leather three ring binder ($25 to $30). Nest, purchase clear sheets to place in the binder as well as 20 pound cotton linen paper to make copies of your resume or presentations. Off white or gray is best.

Your portfolio needs to contain the following documents:

1. Table of contents (organize and lay-out the presentation of your work)

2. Resume

3. Letters of recommendation

4. Diplomas

5. Credentials

6. Certificates of completion (trainings, professional development, etc.)

7. Professional feedback ( emails or thank you notes from colleagues, customers, etc.)

8. Samples of your work (brochures, power point presentation, etc.)

9. Achievements and Awards

Take the portfolio with you to the interview. Tell the interviewer to keep the portfolio and you will pick it up in three business days. This way, you also have an opportunity to follow up in person and this feedback session can be a positive catalyst for the next phase.

Once you've developed a business portfolio, keep it current and active. Contents should be removed if dated beyond five years (diplomas and credentials are an exception). If you have a certificate that shows you completed a customer service training in 1999, it needs to be tossed. Customer service today is not like it was then. Show you're in the know with the latest training opportunities.

Make professional copies of your original diplomas, credentials and certifications and insert them in the portfolio for professional posterity.

The benefits? HUGE!

  • A tangible, hands-on product that proves your contribution and professionalism

  • A written tool to reinforce the skills you presented verbally in the interview

  • A confidence booster that can refresh and invigorate your job search

  • An objective reflection of your talent via educational and career accomplishments

Make the effort to accomplish this important task of compilation that speaks volumes of the organization, energy and success you bring to the table.
After all, a business portfolio can be your best reference.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Boomer Spending Effect on Economic Downturn

Have you thought about the likely ill effects of the boomers aging? Right now, the average boomer is 53 years old with a median income of $72K. Not bad! Researh has indicated that boomer spending habits change at fifty years old. How you ask? Well, they stop spending. Think about it. By the time one is fifty, the kids are out of the nest and the house has about all it needs and more. The "stuff" of life has been purchased.
If I could guess, I would say that is exactly why Circuit City closed its doors. The boomers were the best customer. They were loyal and spent a lot until the had the 50th birhday dinner. Meanwhile, Best Buy built a new fan base. They may not have the best customer service (Circuit City made you feel like you had a professional stalker following you), but they have bright colors, easy to navigate shopping and quick dispense aisles of the latest products. Circuit City meanwhile sealed their fate by not readying themselves for a new generation of spenders that like it easy, fast, fun and cool.
Finally, have you wondered why the big three car makers are in a world of trouble? Their boomer spenders have put away their wad of cash and are no longer buying. They don't need anything right now. Especially in this contracting marketing that is reeling from their 50th birthday parties.
What the new generation spender (the majority being women) wants is to purchase the fast, fun and easy. If only Ford would get rid of that blue Ford logo (more on this in a later post) and reinvent their definition of cool. Wake up, you boomer driven companies! Your loyal spenders have stopped spending. The next casualties?

I predict companies like JC Penney's, Sear's and even Harley Davidson will shut their doors if they don't pay attention to the new spenders with the debit card. Just watch.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Important Interview Questions to Ask

Many job seekers don't recognize the importance of asking pertinent questions at the end of the interview.

Typically, the interviewer will initiate an open door for the job seeker to make a lasting impression by well thought out questions. Here are the ones NEVER to ask:
1. Can you tell me the salary and benefits of this job?
2. Can I leave early on some days?
3. What is your company policy on sick leave and days off?
4. What is a typical day like?

The vital key to successful interviewing is ALL in employer perception of you.

How do you want to be viewed? Here is how they will see you if you asked those questions:

#1. You just want to know how much money you will make. You really don't want the position. This would be a wasted hire. 
#2. Potentially lazy, diffused attitude without much energy. Indifferent to the contribution they need to make.
#3. Poor judgment on when to ask appropriate questions. We haven't even offered the job yet!
#4. You should already know this through research and the interview process. Obvious clue that you don't take advantage of resources already available.

So, how do you want to be seen in the interviewer's perception of you as a potential contributor to the organization?
 Consider these questions instead:

1. Describe for me the top reasons you enjoy working for ABC, Inc.

2. How would you describe the culture of your organization?

3. What is the greatest reward for you in working for ABC, Inc.?

These questions will likely provoke a positive response from your interviewers.  In the best scenario they will talk openly and among themselves as they contribute to the answer.  If they don't, maybe the organization isn't a place you want to be. Every question provides an opportunity for them to see you as open, personable, adaptable and invested in the interview process. 
The reality is yes, we need our jobs to provide money to live. Yet, an employer would want you to think working for them is more than just a source of income. The more vested you are in thoughtful interview questions, the more likely you are to give it your best shot when you're hired. Otherwise you may be seen as a potential liability.
Finally, you are intentionally asking questions to invite the interviewer to talk about themselves and the company. After you leave the interview and they begin to discuss it, chances are someone will say "Wow. He was a great listener and very personable." Actually, you just simply let them discuss what they love.
Remember, it is all about perception. More about this in following posts. For now, think about how you want to be perceived and if what you say in an interview is an accurate reflection of your professionalism.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Resume Objective Revitalized!

Hi, all!
Think about your resume as a strategy to get the interview. That is the goal. Today, an objective must be targeted and very specific.
Typically, the worst type will look like this:

Career Objective: A position where my skills can be used and advancement desired

That header plain stinks. First, there are no "career" objective guarantees. Did you know the average professional changes jobs or careers at least eight times? An objective is to state your resume's purpose. What is that? To get an interview. My career equation for a successful resume looks like this:

Great cover letter + targeted resume = Interview (Note that I didn't say job. That is the sum of an excellent interview.)

With your strategy to get an interview in mind, I encourage a bold initiative. Get rid of the old objective and get straight to the point:

Goal→ Interview with ABC, Inc. for Administrative Assistant

That's right. State at the beginning your aim is to get an interview for the position you specified. Let the rest of the resume support your goal. Maybe this new strategy will hit the mark and you'll receive what you asked for. Are you ready for what you want?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Resume Headings: What's In and Out

Resume headings are critical these days. They show one of two things:

1. You're savvy and in the know.

2. You're outdated and need a revamp.

So, take a look and tell me what you think...

Old- Summary of qualifications

New- Business Skill-set highlights

Old- Work history

New- Professional Expertise

Old- Interests/Hobbies/Personal Information (Take them all out!)

New- Community Involvement, Technology Capabilities, Professional Organizations

I highly suggest you may want to consider a radical departure from the norm. A resume is not a dry work history. Rather, it is a dynamic marketing tool of what you bring to the table. My next post will share a secret that I have been using for the last few weeks that employers really like.

Stay tuned.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Master Career Counselor Blog Online Today

As a master career counselor (MCC), I have purchase more kleenex for my clients in the past six months than the past six years. They ask me, "Will I be able to get a job?" "How long will it take?", "What can I do in this turbulent time?". These are tough questions, that call for expertise and knowledge. I have chosen today to place that expertise on a blog to help my clients and you if you happen to drop by. Visit the National Career Development Web site to find out what a master career counselor is and if there is one near you.