Giving thanks? Don’t forget your network!

Pictured: cofee pen and card with the message, "I am so grateful for you."

Giving thanks? Don’t forget your network!

November 21, 2022

Pictured: cofee pen and card with the message, "I am so grateful for you."One of the keys to building a strong and broad professional network that people often miss is expressing gratitude.

As I write this, we’re approaching Thanksgiving. While most of us start to think about what we have to be thankful for in our lives and in our work, I think it’s easy to forget that we also need be thankful for our network.

The people in our network are important! They can help us find a new job, advance our career, and solve a problem we’re working on. We, in turn, can help them with similar challenges, and doing so makes us feel good about ourselves.

It’s important to notice and recognize the impact that our network has on us and that we have on them. And also…

Gratitude can help us strengthen our network connections!

When we recognize the people in our lives and what they’ve done for us, and when we take the time to let them know that we are thankful for them, they feel appreciated. It’s one of many steps you can take to strengthen your relationship with them.

There are some easy ways to express your gratitude, not just during Thanksgiving but all throughout the year.

Here are some ideas that will work well in a note or an email, or in person:

  • “I have been thinking about you and the value you brought to my last job search. Thank you!”
  • “I’m really excited that you taught me ________. Here’s how it helped me: ________. Thank you!”
  • “I really appreciate that we aren’t just colleagues. I consider you a friend and I really value the friendship we’ve built.”

Here are some other things you can do to connect with the people in your network:

  • Send them an article that you think they’d find be helpful. It will tell them that you are thinking about them and that you know what’s important to them.
  • Keep track of their birthday, anniversary, and any other special events. Save them in your calendar so you remember. Then and take the time to acknowledge them with a card, an email, a phone call, or a post via social media.
  • Call or email and say, “I was just thinking about you and wanted to say a quick hello.” Or “I saw ________ and you came to mind. I thought I’d reach out and see how you are doing.”

As you roll into the holidays, don’t forget to be thankful for the people who support you. When you take a moment to express that gratitude, you strengthen your relationship with them. It also reminds you of an important reality: None of us succeed alone. We need each other!

What if you could find out about job openings before they were posted?

Download the guide, The Secret to Getting to the Front of the Line, and learn how to access the hidden job market.

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How to Measure Your Job Search Progress

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How to Measure Your Job Search Progress

October 31, 2022

Pictured: notebook with the words: how to masure your progressDo you sometimes feel like you aren’t making any progress in your job search?

It’s a long and sometimes frustrating process, and it can often feel like you’re spinning your wheels. So, that’s a great question to ask:

How do you measure how much progress you are making in your job search?

It can be difficult to tell!

Most job seekers measure how their job search is progressing by how many online jobs they have applied for, how many interviews they’ve had, or whether they’re waiting to hear back from a recruiter or hiring manager.

But then recruiters don’t call back when they said they would, interviewers talked about moving to the next round but you haven’t heard anything more about it, and you feel ghosted. When you haven’t heard back from the companies where you thought for sure you were qualified, the frustration is real!

One minute, you think you’re making progress; and the next minute, you aren’t. It feels like one step forward, two steps back. You’re feeling on top of the world, only to be let down and wonder if you’ll ever find a job.

Why is this?

It’s because of what you’re using to measure your success.

How many interviews you’ve done and which whether you’ve gotten to the second or third round of interviews are what I call a “vanity metric.” It can feel like you’re making progress, but it can be a false hope and you can go from hero to zero in a second. This is not what you need to be paying attention to!

Instead, I recommend these criteria for measuring your progress:

  • How many people (ideally hiring managers) in your targeted companies know what you want to do in your next role?
  • How visible are you on LinkedIn, especially to your connections, people you want to get to know, and people within your targeted companies?
  • How many face-to-face meetings do you have on your calendar each week?
  • How many people have you met with since you’ve started your job search?
  • How many new names have you added to your list of contacts from your one-on-one meetings?

As you may have noticed, these measurements are all about talking to people. Are you wondering how you’re going to find a job when that’s all you’re paying attention to?

That, my friend, is the whole point!

The best way to find and land the right job (not just any job) is to find out about new openings before they are posted online. Help people in the companies you want to work for get to know you (and by “people” I mean the hiring managers and the people they trust). Then, when there are new openings, you are the first person they’ll think about.

There’s one more benefit that you get when you focus on how many people you know and how visible you are: You eliminate the highs and lows that come with doing all of those interviews for jobs you aren’t even sure you want.

What if you could find out about job openings before they were posted?

Download the guide, The Secret to Getting to the Front of the Line, and learn how to access the hidden job market.

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3 Steps to Finding Your Best Next Job

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3 Steps to Finding Your Best Next Job

October 17, 2022

pictured: man and woman networkingIn a recent blog post, I talked about choosing the best path to your next job. In that article, I highlighted the most powerful way to find a job that you love… one that fits you and steers you in the direction you want to go.

In this article, I want to dig into that process a little bit, because I know that it can be daunting.

I’m going to give you three steps for getting onto this new path so you can get moving forward more quickly and easily.

But first: What is this job-hunting process that am I talking about?

The best way to find your best job – one that you’ll be happy in and will also help you move in the direction you want to go in your career – is to network first, apply second.

This isn’t just your typical networking, where you walk into a room of unknowns and see if you can find something interesting. Rather, it’s an intentional networking process during which you connect with prospective employers that you have already researched. Ideally, you have already spoken to them by email or phone prior to the networking opportunity!

What makes this your best choice? There are a few reasons!

For one, you’re starting with what you are interested in doing and then finding the job that fits what you want. That’s why this process increases the likelihood that you’ll be happy in your job.

For another, you’ll start with companies that you’re interested in working for and focus only on them, which increases the likelihood that you’ll like where you work.

And lastly, you’ll make connections with prospective employers before you apply for a job, which means you are a known quantity to them and vice versa. Everyone interacts better with people they know; that includes hiring managers!

How can you get onto this more lucrative job-hunting path more easily, especially since it’s probably new to you?

Here are three steps to get you started:

  1. Download my guide, The Secret to Getting to the Front of the Line, and answer the two questions it presents. You’ll end up with a list of key contacts!
  2. Send a message to each of those contacts to begin connecting. This could be via email or through LinkedIn.
  3. Meet with each of those contacts in person or via Zoom and have a networking conversation. In addition to telling them what you are looking for, make sure you learn what they are up to and how you might be able to help them.

If this still feels too big, or you aren’t sure what to say, maybe we should talk. I can help you get clear about what you’re looking for, coach you around what you want to say during your conversations, and help you build your confidence, so you present your best self to your prospective future employers. If that sounds like something you need, let’s connect! Just fill out the form on this page to get started.

What if you could find out about job openings before they were posted?

Download the guide, The Secret to Getting to the Front of the Line, and learn how to access the hidden job market.

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Choosing the Best Path to Your Next Job

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Choosing the Best Path to Your Next Job

September 26, 2022

pictured: business people standing in line along a wallWhat does making progress in your job search really mean? Here are three options for you to choose from:

  1. You have attended a lot of interviews
  2. You’ve made it to the second and third round of many interviews
  3. Each week, more people know what you are looking for and you have visibility within your targeted company even though there isn’t a job opening.

Most job seekers would choose 1 or 2 from that list. They believe the interviews are the key sign of progress. They are feeling optimistic about moving through the interview process because the interview went over 15 minutes, the interviewer liked their responses, or they told you someone would be calling you to move to the next round.

That makes sense! When you can see something, you can visualize you doing that job and you are hopeful about getting an offer.

Unfortunately, looking for a job is much more complicated than applying online and walking through the interview process. If you want just any job, you’re probably right. But if you want to like your job, and if you look at your next job as just one step in your long, successful career, then it isn’t that simple.

There are three pathways job seekers can use to find the right job. Which pathway are you using?

Pathway #1

Most job seekers are applying for jobs online. They’re seeking roles they believe they are qualified to do. Either they have the skills outlined in the job description, or they have some of them and are confident that, with some training by the company, they can get up to speed quickly. They supply a cover letter and a resume. Then they wait…. and wait… and wait. Sometimes they hear back, but they often don’t.

Pathway #2:

Some job seekers look for jobs within companies where they know someone. They start by finding jobs online, but then their second step is to identify someone they know (or someone that someone they know knows) and asking or a referral. Ideally, the referrer knows the hiring manager and passes on their resume, which increases the chance of hearing back and getting a screening interview.

Pathway #3:

Few people take this third path. It involves developing relationships within your targeted list of companies and roles. You get to know people who can give you information about your industry, and the skills and qualifications needed for the role you are seeking. Hiring managers get to know you beyond your resume, and it increases the chance that you’ll learn about an open role before it’s put out into the public. Because you are now a known entity and have built a nice rapport with the hiring manager, you have an increased chance of getting an interview and getting the job.

Think about it: If you had an opening in your department, would you rather hire someone you’ve already met or someone you need to get to know.

Looking back at these three pathways:

In pathway #1, you aren’t doing enough. You’re starting way back at the end of the line, where thousands of other people are in line with you. You’re largely invisible, and you’re leading on luck to get that job.

Pathway #2 has a better chance of working than #1. Now you’re in the middle of the line. There are still a lot of people there, though not as many as in pathway #1. It is a big help that you’re coming in through a referral in the company. In essence, you are leaning on your referrer’s credibility. It makes you a bit more of a known quantity.

I have to say though – the biggest problem with both #1 and #2 is that you’re basing your search on what is already available. You’re taking what you’re interested in doing and fitting it into the cookie-cutter jobs that are being publicized.

That’s where pathway #3 really differs. When you are taking this route, you are starting with your interests and finding the job that fits you. When you get to know the hiring manager ahead of the job opening, you’re leaning on your own credibility.

Looking for a job is not easy. More than likely, you have used pathway #1 or #2. My question for you is this: Have they led you to a job that you love and a company where you really fit?

If your answer is no, then maybe it’s time to try a new approach. You can get started right now by downloading my free guide: The Secret to Getting to the Front of the Line.

What if you could find out about job openings before they were posted?

Download the guide, The Secret to Getting to the Front of the Line, and learn how to access the hidden job market.

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How to Set Boundaries That Serve You

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How to Set Boundaries That Serve You

August 15, 2022

pictured: business woman with hand up, creating boundary between her and man with his arms crossedDo you struggle with setting boundaries with people you work with, or with those in your personal life? Do you allow others to treat you in ways that make you feel bad about yourself?

Have you ever wondered why it happens, or why you allow it? What stops you from speaking up clearly and confidently when someone crosses your boundaries?

Before we get to that, let’s define what we mean by boundaries.

Boundaries are established guidelines or rules of conduct around behaviors with people we have a relationship with, both in the workplace and in our personal lives.

We often think of boundaries as a wall that we set up between ourselves and others, but really our boundaries are about the passageway through the wall. It’s about what we allow, and it enables communication, connection, and stronger relationships based on respect.

Boundaries define how you want to be treated by others, with a focus on respect, kindness, compassion, empathy, and understanding.

Boundaries are also about self-worth. When you set a boundary, you are expressing your internal belief of feeling worthy of love and belonging. This is about the value you place on yourself. It is about making decisions that are right for you and not about pleasing others.

The best time to set boundaries is right now. Use the process below to begin identifying them before you’re in the situation where you need them, so that you already know what they are.

Grab a piece of paper and a pen, and answer these questions:

  • Think of one or two recent situations where you were treated poorly. Write out some of the details… What happened? How did it make you feel? For how long after did you ruminate about what happened? What other impact did it have on you?
  • Write down why you didn’t speak up either during the situation or after? What do you think they would have said or thought if you spoke up?
  • Next, write down how you would like to have reacted. What do you wish you said or done? How do you want to feel about it?
  • Drawing from what you’ve written, create a list of three ways you want to be treated in the future. Be as specific as possible.

Identifying how you want to be treated is the first step in creating boundaries with others. In addition to delineating how others will treat you, it helps you get clear on how you want to treat the people in your life as well!

Where do you want to go in your career?

Use this guide to create your own career path. You can choose your own adventure.

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Case Study: How to Get Support from an Absent Manager

Case Study: How to Get Support from an Absent Manager

July 18, 2022

Periodically, I invite a small group of early to mid-career professional women for breakfast and what I call, “Career Conversations.” I want to hear about the challenges they are experiencing in the workplace so that I can understand how to better serve them and others like them through my coaching and training.

The women who join me for this event are always very gracious as they share stories about their struggles and concerns; In turn, I offer guidance and help them come up with some new ideas for how to handle their situations.

As a new feature to my blog, I’d like to share some of their stories with you here as case studies. I’ll also share with you the advice I gave to help them in each situation. My hope is that you will find these conversations useful as well. I do have their permission, though I will use fictious names to respect their confidentiality.

Here is one of their stories:

Elizabeth has a manager who is consistently canceling meetings. She is frustrated because the manager is not providing enough direction for her to reach her sales goals.

The manager knew it was a new industry for Elizabeth when he hired her, so her asking for guidance was expected. However, the business has been growing, and he had less time to spend with her. When she reached out to him, his response was: “I am too busy because we are growing, so I don’t have time to meet with you.”

My advice:

I recommended that she send an email expressing why she needs his time.

During our discussion, we spent some of our time wordsmithing the email so that she had clear steps to move forward. Here is what we decided:

She should open the email by acknowledging the good news that the company is growing and that she can understand why his calendar is getting busier.

She should then state the reason she needs his help. For example, she might say: Since I am your only salesperson, I need you to help me understand best how to get the attention of new clients.

I also recommended that she include the following in her email:

  • What she has done to get herself acclimated to the new industry
  • What she has been doing to increase her knowledge of the industry
  • How she is broadening her network
  • How she is using LinkedIn to increase the company’s visibility.

These details will show her manager that she is not solely relying upon him to help her.

I also suggested she mention to her manager in a diplomatic way that since he has canceled the last three meetings, that they meet at a different time even if it means coming in early or staying late.

She should end the email expressing excited she is to see the company growing and that she wants to continue to be part of its success.

And finally, I suggested that in the future she should not wait too long to address concerns with her manager. This will enable the challenges to be rectified sooner and prevent them from growing out of hand.

Would you like to experience this level of support? Registration for my next workshop, Accelerate Your Career With Confidence is open now. Join me for a 3-month workshop that will help you improve your decision-making, feel more secure and confident at work, and work through the career challenges you face so you can build the career and life that you love.

Where do you want to go in your career?

Use this guide to create your own career path. You can choose your own adventure.

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Introverts: The Secret to Using Conversations to Build Relationships

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Introverts: The Secret to Using Conversations to Build Relationships

July 4, 2022

pictured: a business woman and business man in conversationAre you an introvert who finds it difficult to engage in conversation with someone new? Are you the quiet one in a crowd?

Perhaps you’re worried that you don’t have anything to say that would contribute to the conversation? Or maybe you have something to say, but it’s difficult to find an opening when so many people are talking?

Here is what I want you to know: You have something to contribute! And you don’t need to be talking in order to participate.

By being a good listener, encouraging others to continue to talk, and showing genuine interest in others, you will leave a more favorable impression than the person doing most of the talking.

At the same time, we don’t want you to be completely silent, right? So, let’s talk for a moment about balanced conversations and a framework that you can lean on to help you find space for your voice.

In my book, You, You, Me, You: The Art of Talking to People, Networking, and Building Relationships, I present a simple framework that can help you create structure in your conversations.

The rationale behind this framework is for you to invite others to talk more than you, which is a perfect fit for your tendency to be the quiet one.

How do you do that? By asking questions to help you learn about the other person before you begin to share something about yourself. There’s a rhythm to it… You, You, Me, You. It enables everyone to share, and it creates a sense of balance in the conversation. You can put this framework to use through the questions you ask.

I’ve put together a guide to help you quickly understand and apply the You, You, Me, You framework. You can request the guide here or use the form below. If you want to go deeper, you’ll find my book helpful.

As Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming more interested in others than you can in two years by trying to get other people more interested in you.”

How do you turn a networking conversation into an ongoing professional relationship?

Use the You, You, Me, You Framework to easily engage in smoother conversations that leave a great impression.

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How can I become more confident?

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How can I become more confident?

June 20, 2022

Three business women sharing a high-fiveYour confidence plays an important role in your career, especially in terms of your success.

Having confidence allows you to take risks. It gives you the courage to request assignments on high level projects and to speak up for yourself when your boundaries are compromised. It is an overall feeling that you can manage most situations without fear of doubt.

If you feel like your confidence could be better, trust me that you are not alone. We all have areas in our lives where we wish we were more confident. Happily, you aren’t stuck with your current level of confidence. This is something that you can work on and improve!

What are you doing to become more confident?

Building confidence takes time, effort, and your willingness to take risks. You have to be willing to lean into the concept popularized by Thomas H. Palmer: “If you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again.” You must be willing to fall short (I am not a fan of the word failure) each time you attempt to do something new. That is what learning is all about, and confidence comes with working for your eventual success.

A recent conversation with one of my clients highlights the challenge that most of us face when it comes to our confidence. She was telling me about a stressful, difficult experience that happened to her one time in college. As she told me her story, she realized that many of the decisions she’s made about her career were based on that one, single experience. We talked about how important it is to not define ourselves by one moment in time; that we need to look at the many other moments that were positive and use those to ground our self-perception and our confidence.

How about YOU? Are you ready to begin building your confidence?

Use the process below to start growing your confidence one step at a time.

First, identify your unique challenge:

Grab a piece of paper and draw two vertical lines so that you have 3 columns.

  1. In the left column, identify the situations where you especially struggle with your confidence. Get really specific. The clearer you can be about where you struggle with your confidence, the easier it will be to focus on improving it. For example: If you lack confidence when speaking in public, list some situations that come to mind. Giving a speech at a conference? Being on stage in a play? Or being at a party with people you don’t know?
  2. In the middle column, identify what you believe may be the source of your lack of confidence in each of those situations. Was there one incident in your life or several that contributed to this struggle? What did someone say to you that affected your confidence?
  3. In the right column, capture your thoughts, emotions, and actions that you associate with each of those situations where you don’t feel confident.

Second, select one situation from your piece of paper that you want to work on, and do the following:

  1. Find opportunities to practice the thing that you envision. Now is your chance to take that risk. Start small and choose to be ok with the fact that it may not go perfectly the first time, or the second. But the more you do it, the more confident you will become.
  2. Before you actually step into that situation, visualize yourself doing it confidently. Be very specific! For example, if you want to become more confident with giving a speech at a conference, visualize yourself up on the stage giving a speech with total confidence. What would you be thinking if you were confident up on that stage? What would it feel like to be so confident? As you visualize, think and feel those things as if you were actually up on that stage, feeling confident.

Developing a stronger foundation of confidence takes time and it does not happen overnight. Celebrate your successes and learn from your challenges. You’ve got this!

Where do you want to go in your career?

Use this guide to create your own career path. You can choose your own adventure.

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How to Make Sure You’re on Track: An Assessment

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How to Make Sure You’re on Track: An Assessment

June 6, 2022

pictured: book with the word assessment on the coverThe journey to finding a job and career you love can feel like a long one. How are things going? Answering that question is something that we don’t do enough of. While I’m writing this at the half-year point (hello, June!), there’s never a wrong time to stop and assess your progress.

Here’s why:

First, it can confirm that you are still headed in the right direction. In this busy and distracting world, it’s easy to fall off track and wander away. Reviewing your progress can help you make sure you’re still on track and, if you aren’t, make the necessary corrections that will save you time and effort.

Second, I like to use these to celebrate how far you’ve come. An assessment, or as I like to think of it – an Accomplishment Review! – can bolster your energy and refresh your focus.

Are you ready? Grab a piece of paper… here we go!

PART I: IDENTIFY

  1. Identify all the steps you took over the last six months to move yourself towards your goal.
    These should be fresh in your mind so you can remember the details. List them out so you can see what you’ve accomplished!
  2. Identify any problems you experienced. Think of these as PARs (Problem, Action, Result) and capture them in that way. It’s important for you to not just see the problems you experienced, but also what you did about them and what happened as a result. These may be problems along your journey to building your career; they can also be problems you solved at work. It’s important to note those for future interviews!
  3. Identify any skills that you developed or strengthened. Consider both functional skills (head) and soft skills (heart). How have these skills contributed to your success? How have they added value to your team or organization?

PART II: EVALUATE

  1. Consider your work relationships with your colleagues, team members and, most importantly, your relationship with your boss. Has there been any conflict that you have not resolved? Are there relationships that you want to strengthen because they can help you achieve some of your career goals or they have a great network that you would love to get to know. Do they know of your talents and career aspirations?
  2. Evaluate how strong your network outside the company is. Have you been meeting with existing contacts regularly to stay connected? How many new contacts have you made in the last six months? Your network can be your powerhouse for finding your next role, but you have to keep it warm if you want to leverage it when you need it.
  3. Check in with your values. Are you following a path that you believe in? Are you maintaining clear boundaries? Have boundaries been crossed and you need to have a conversation with the person who might be unaware they are important to you?
  4. Are you clear about where you want to go? And if so, are you clear on what you need to advance in the direction you envision for yourself? Is your manager aware of what you need to help you in your career? If not, now is a good time to schedule a meeting with them to discuss your plans and any support that they may be able to provide.

Taking time now to assess where you are with your career goals gives you the chance to adjust before you get too far off track.

Work situations change, management changes, and you might have changed, too! Paying attention to what you have achieved and what you need to do to continue to develop will keep you marketable and prepared for pursuing new opportunities when they arise.

Where do you want to go in your career?

Use this guide to create your own career path. You can choose your own adventure.

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Asking Better Questions During Your Interview

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Asking Better Questions During Your Interview

April 25, 2022

In my last article, I talked about “behavioral questions,” and preparing for behavioral interviews.

I’d like to take this topic one step further, because YOU can ask behavioral questions during the interview as well!

During a formal interview, you will be given the chance to ask questions. This is an important opportunity because the answers you receive can help you determine if it’s the right job for you.

For example, let’s say your interview is with the person who would be managing you. Here are three standard questions that interviewees might ask:

  • Can you describe your managerial style?
  • How do you recognize your employee accomplishments?
  • What professional development opportunities are available?

Again, those are common questions, and they aren’t bad! But they also won’t get you a lot of information. How a person describes the way things are supposed to be is very different from how their employees experience it or the stories that emerge from the organization.

What if we turn these standard questions into behavioral questions?

Here are some ways that you might do that:

  • Can you give me an example of feedback you’ve given one of your employees before the review process?
  • What type of recognition or acknowledgement have you given your employees over the last couple of months?
  • Can you give me a couple of examples of how your employees have taken advantage of your professional development opportunities over the last year?”

If you’re thinking that asking these types of questions might be difficult to ask, I’m going to agree with you. It’s a different way of asking and so they take practice!

Asking behavioral questions like this can be very powerful for helping you determine if the company you are interviewing with is the right fit for you. So, take some time to practice, whether it’s with a friend or a career coach. That will enable you to ask your questions with confidence and conviction.

Where do you want to go in your career?

Use this guide to create your own career path. You can choose your own adventure.

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