Tag: career

6 Steps to Jumpstart Your Career Transition

In the past month, I have seen an increased demand for career transition coaching.

This tells me one of three things: either I’ve been farther off the grid than I realized (entirely possible!), or unemployment is actually higher than the reported 4% (US Bureau Labor Statistics), or significantly more people are disengaged and dissatisfied enough with their current jobs that they are considering alternatives. I believe it’s the latter. In my experience as an organizational development practitioner and executive coach, employees who are fully satisfied and fully engaged in what they see as meaningful work do not seek career transitions until circumstances change.

The good news is we can identify those areas of satisfaction and engagement that most closely align to our personal values and mission. If you or someone you know recognizes this situation to be true, there is hope for a fulfilling career ahead, whether in the current role or in a completely different space. The challenge, however, often comes in knowing what steps to take in pursuit of this path. These 6 Steps will assist you in jumpstarting the next phase of your career.

  1. Identify the Target: Sometimes the biggest obstacle is identifying what will bring increased satisfaction, engagement, fulfillment and joy in a career. There are many ways to accomplish this, including assessments, self-reflection, sabbaticals, conversations with trusted advisors, and exploring options with a coach. For some people, the change may be as simple as changing responsibilities or roles, while others may need to explore other organizations, even other professional fields. By knowing the target – what would actually bring joy, your aim will be true, as well as the efficiency and effectiveness of your effort.
  2. Create (or Enhance) Your Personal Brand: If you don’t know what this means, run a web search on your name and see what comes up. Imagine yourself as a recruiter or hiring manager looking to hire you, what do the results say about you as a candidate? What do you want the recruiter or hiring manager to see, think, know about you, based on your online presence? In my workshop, participants are often surprised at perceptions about their virtual profiles, especially those who are just entering the workforce or early in career. On the other end of the spectrum, some clients are shocked at the potential effects of having no online presence. Be objective, and then be intentional.
  3. Update Your Profile: In addition to beefing up your online presence, it is imperative to have a current resume and cover letter template, which may be customized to highlight qualifications that address the target job description. In addition, the LinkedIn profile should be refreshed and consistent with the resume. It’s a small thing, but it matters. Think of the cover letter as your first impression. It’s your first opportunity to state clearly what attracts you to the position for which you are applying, what qualifies you for consideration, and then request further discussion in the interview.
  4. Practice Interviewing: There is no substitute for practicing interview skills. Once you know the target, launched an arrow in the form of your application package (including cover letter, resume and profile), and scheduled the interview, your focus will shift to how you will represent yourself, your qualifications and your differentiators. How will you stand out from other candidates? What narratives will you share to convey your expertise, your experience, and your values? By practicing potential interview questions, not only do you reduce (not eliminate!) the element of surprise, but the responses and stories become more fluid, more natural, more authentic, which may help you relax a bit during the actual interview.
  5. Create a Successful Transition Plan: Even when change is an improvement in one’s circumstances, it can still be challenging, messy and even painful. By creating a transition plan, you will think through, plan for and mitigate the inherent obstacles, as well as prepare for those unexpected surprises that inevitably pop up during times of change. My clients develop a 90-day Successful Transition Plan, in which they envision what a successful transition means to them, ensure those satisfaction criteria are met and reduce any anxiety associated with making the change. This includes bringing the current role to a mutually agreeable and beneficial conclusion, and setting oneself up for success in the future position.
  6. Live the Dream: Now that you have embarked into the next phase of your career journey, it is good and right to celebrate! Then reflect on what went well, what to improve and how to ensure those satisfaction criteria continue to be achieved. Make course corrections early. Maintain relationships that have been built and fostered over time, and of course, build new ones. You never know how important your network is until you need it.

During the month of October, I am offering my 6-Week Career JumpStart Program at a special reduced rate, in response to the high volume demand for Career Coaching services. Transition seekers who sign up before October 31, 2017 save over 40%!! This program includes six weekly coaching sessions, which guide clients toward achieving their successful career transition objectives. This program is designed for recent college graduates starting a new career, entrepreneurs launching a business, mid-career professionals seeking greater satisfaction or making a complete career shift. This process will help participants to be intentional about their search, to polish up a resume and cover letter, to enhance social media presence, to practice interviewing skills and to create a successful transition plan, all in service to achieving that personal mission.

Click here or contact us today to learn more!

Develop or Become Obsolete: Part III – Your Leadership Development

In my last post in this series, I wrote about Professional Development as an intentional focus on learning skills to be successful in business. Leadership Development, on the other hand, focuses on learning how to enlist, inspire, influence, guide and direct teams or individuals toward some predetermined result or outcome. This is not to be confused with Management, which is more focused on process and policy.  

Whether we are leading our teams, families, communities or ourselves, we can practice, practice, practice the skills of leadership. We can enlist people in our ideas. We can influence decisions and outcomes. We can inspire and motivate others to become their best selves. We in fact have an impact on performance, merely thru what we choose, say and do. One CEO refers to the “leader in everyone”, and in fact the leader expectations in his company are built around this idea.   

The good news is Leadership skills can be developed. Using the 70-20-10 model of development, only about 10% (or less) of leadership is learned through traditional modes: classroom, books, even videos or CBT’s. These traditional modes of learning serve as the seed of learning, whereas the 20% represents learning through others, such as networking, mentoring, coaching, offering good and bad examples of behavior. Ultimately, 70% of learning takes place on the job, in the role with real people on real teams with real consequences. This requires constant experimentation and feedback, followed by adjustment. It truly is the trial and error method of learning. The downside of this is that potential consequences of mistakes are also very real, especially to those on the receiving end of the impact. Leaders who are learning on the fly must also be incredibly humble, receptive to feedback, and sensitive to how their behaviors are experienced by others. At the bottom line is the leadership style building and creating trust or eroding and damaging it?

The reality is high performing individual contributors are often promoted to supervisory and management positions, long before they have developed a sense of their own leadership style, philosophy or approach. By contrast, professional athletes learn and perfect their skills and techniques on the practice field, years, even decades, before making it to “the big show”. It takes practice, practice, practice, with professional coaches, feedback from teammates, constant self-evaluation, experimentation and adjustment to perfect their skills. Can you imagine if professional athletes had to learn and hone their skills in the job in a real, high stakes competition when the scores count? 

For this reason, we all must develop leadership capability long before we have a supervisory position. Our choices, attitudes and behaviors reflect who we really are and how we will lead others in the future. Some of the most influential leaders in my life were not the people in positional power, but rather the people around me who cared enough to provide honest and candid feedback about my performance, my attitude, perceptions of others about me and challenged my thinking when I needed it.  

Whether we are leading our teams, families, communities or ourselves, we can practice, practice, practice the skills of leadership. We can enlist people in our ideas. We can influence decisions and outcomes. We can inspire and motivate others to become their best selves. We in fact have an impact on performance, merely thru what we choose, say and do. Further, we can invite and receive feedback graciously, by receiving it as an opportunity for becoming even more effective.

Regardless whether you are a new graduate just beginning your career, a mid-career professional transitioning to management or a seasoned executive, there is always improvement to be made in terms of how teams and organizations perceive and follow you. You can always be more effective, more impactful, more compassionate, more dynamic, more ….. (you fill in the blank). Feedback is the gift that helps you to identify what additional practice is necessary.

  • For those just entering the workforce, practice patience. Practice listening. Practice adapting your style to the needs of others. Practice inquiry. Practice giving clear, objective and caring feedback that helps others. All of these will serve you well. 
  • For all leaders at every level, be mindful of what your people need to remain motivated, inspired, engaged. Learn how to adapt your style to the needs of your team members in each situation. Be intentional about connecting your team’s contributions to the broader strategy. Reward good performance. Recognize and celebrate accomplishments. Say thank you. Keep learning. 
  • For executives, stay humble and remember what got you here will not get you to the next level. Whether by design or by default, you will have an impact. You will leave a legacy with those who follow. How do you want to be remembered? Take the opportunity to be intentional about how others experience you.

For more information on leadership development and coaching programs, visit Blue Horizon Solutions or schedule your complimentary coaching consultation today. 

Join our Leadership Mastermind Group: This special coaching group is designed especially for experienced business leaders to discuss complex business challenges with other like-minded executives for perspective, alternatives, insight and collaboration on a monthly basis. Sign up before April 15th and save 15%!

Develop or Become Obsolete: Part II – Your Professional Development

“Develop or Become Obsolete!” was the rally cry of a former HR executive during a season of intense organizational change. It was his way of encouraging us to become greater than we ever imagined.  As stated in my last post,  this quote has become a foundation of what I believe it takes for business professionals (or athletes, for that matter) to remain competitive and successful contenders at the top of their game over time.  We must continually learn, develop, grow and expand our skill sets, so that we may not only keep up with our customer demands, but also outpace our competition.

My coaching clients are typically focused on development in one (or a combination) of four domains: Personal, Professional, Leadership or Business. Today we will continue this four-part series with a focus on Professional Development.

Professional Development

No matter what role we play in society or position we take in business, our jobs require us know and do certain things, even beyond the technical skills. To be successful in any kind of business, we must learn how to have intelligent business conversations, make decisions, negotiate contracts, deliverables and timelines, manage projects, run meetings, develop and deliver presentations, and sell our products. We must learn the business of conducting business.

For example, when we teach interns to become professional employees, the key differentiators are communication, teamwork and influencing skills. There are fundamental skills that professionals must learn without exception, and then there are the professional skills that truly differentiate one person from the rest. We expect our employees not only to show up, deliver results and submit reports. We also expect them to build rapport with stakeholders and customers, communicate with management and team members, and influence colleagues without authority. At first, some of these professional skills might seem awkward or unnatural. But the reality is those who develop mastery in these “soft skills” receive more recognition and promote faster. Moreover, these are the professionals who get invited by leaders to participate in mentoring, interesting projects, both developing their capability and accelerating their success.

The same is true in any profession. 

There are technical skills, and there are the key differentiators. What are the skills that truly set people apart from the competition in your field of expertise?

One of the most frequently asked questions I hear sounds something like this, “I need to add a professional development goal to my plan. What classes or workshops are coming up?”  Now, I like promoting my workshops as much as anyone. But classroom or traditional learning is only the seed. What matters most comes after the workshop: How is the seed fostered, watered, and nourished to grow? How is the new learning reported back to the team, applied on the job or given feedback?  What follow up support do you need to ensure growth of your newly developed skills?

The most often cited learning goal I hear is the need to develop presentation (or public speaking) skills. Of course, the research shows fear of public speaking is among the top 5 greatest fears people report (usually up there with death, spiders and snakes).  However, the good news is skills can be learned.  When clients ask me, “How do I develop public speaking skills?” Guess what I tell them. The best way to learn presentation skills is to give presentations.  They hate it. But they know it’s true.  So I recommend Toastmasters or Rotary clubs or other opportunities to stand up, express a thought and receive feedback.  In our Powerful Presentations workshops, participants will profile their audience, develop the message content, practice delivering the presentation, and receive feedback, including a video recording. Practice is vital.

Suggestions for Professional Development:

  • Read a book or subscribe to audio books. Not only do you learn interesting information, hear fascinating stories, but also you are developing a stronger vocabulary as a secondary benefit!
  • Take a class (or webinar). One tremendous benefit of being a knowledge worker society is we have access to more wonderful learning opportunities and experiences than we might have ever imagined.  Peruse our workshops on Powerful Presentations, Creating Your Brand, Leading in Times of Change, and the Ultimate Career Makeover to name a few. Follow me on social media for a plethora of suggested programs.
  • Check out your local Small Business Administration,  Chamber of Commerce or professional associations for additional offerings.
  • Tell your colleagues what you learned and ask them to give you feedback. For participants in my Powerful Presentations workshop, they must ask someone to observe them in meetings and give feedback when they present. This can be done with many different professional skills. This is particularly effective when experimenting or practicing new techniques.
  • Consider how you will apply new skills in your current job.  Post reminders around your workspace to prompt new thinking, new behaviors, and new habits.
  • Identify motivators. Be very clear about how this new skill will raise your game.  Tell people.
  • Find a mentor.  Identify someone who exemplifies the skill. Watch them. Ask them questions, observe their behavior and apply what works for you to your own situation.
  • Practice. Practice. Practice.  I played softball through college, and my dad would say, “What you do in practice is what you will do in the game. Make it count.”
  • Hire a coach. Elite athletes do it. Executive leaders do it. Sometimes only the coach is able to provide feedback that other stakeholders may not be willing or able to give. When performance is important enough to succeed, it’s worth the investment.
  • Don’t miss our special self-paced online Courage, Risks and Rewards Program, which we are offering at a special low price through the month of February.

Next time, I will continue the discussion with a focus on Leadership Development. Meanwhile, stay connected with us on social media, enroll in a workshop, contact us with your suggestions and feedback, or schedule a Complimentary Coaching Consultation to determine which solution best fits your needs.

©2017 Blue Horizon Solutions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.