Did you ever play the game, “I went to grandmother’s house and bought…”it’s one of those childhood games that seems to be handed down from generation to generation.  The winner of the game is the one who can recite the long list of items without forgetting any item. Hopefully, by then, you truly ARE at grandma’s house or where ever your destination may be.

Like the “grandma list,” there are often many things we need to do to get us to life’s destinations.  I work with people who are often re-entering the job market, looking for a better job, wanting to relocate, or vying for a different career/industry. While we are on the path to get “there,” many of us face the need to find what I used to call a “survival job.”

Maybe you’ve been in this very situation yourself or know someone who is. You probably have a good idea what this type of job looks like. It’s usually one that doesn’t require a lot of skills, it doesn’t pay a lot, and/or working conditions/hours are the pits. But this job can be a way to get from Point A to Point B. And for this reason, I have decided to give it a more positive “spin” and call it what it is…a Gateway Job.

But here’s what you need to consider before taking this route…

How determined are you? A gateway job may provide money for bills, but it’ll take you more time to reach your goals. Do you have the perseverance and determination to continue working toward your ultimate goal? Will you have the energy and time after working your shifts?

Boredom. Often gateway jobs can be routine. Several years ago, I took a part-time job as a benefits clerk—basically filing. Can you hear me yawning? I talked with my coach and she gave me good advice, “Be the best clerk you can be.” So, I decided to make up goals for myself. “I will finish up to the letter M before I leave.” It made the time go quicker (in all honesty, not quick enough). And, I did have time to work on my new business after I came home.

Life on hold. Your life isn’t waiting for you until you get your “ideal” job. Life is around you right now, wherever you go, whatever you do. We often confuse our purpose with our job. I can remember when I was laid off and I introduced myself to others, I would quickly talk about my former job like I was nothing without it. It took a while for me to realize I am not my job and my essence stays with me.

Choices. There are a lot of emotions that you will feel as you go to work at this job. You could feel resentment that you have to take such a job when you have so much more potential. Yes, you have many skills and a bright future ahead of you. And yes, you could be doing much more. Remind yourself why you decided on this option at this particular crossroad facing you. It IS a choice. It is YOUR choice. What’s the best alternative? If there is a better choice, then by all means, pursue that option.

A happy heart. If your answer continues to be go with a gateway job, then reframe your thinking. You want to get to acceptance and even joy. This job is freeing you from the heaviness and worry you had that prevented you from pursing your dreams. Consider this job a blessing. Keep your heart grateful and enjoy whatever benefits you reap from this opportunity and where ever it may lead you.

Knowing you are taking some action will help you to have more positive energy. It’s kind of like committing to a diet. You may not have lost any weight, but the fact that you’re taking a step in the right direction for your future will lift your spirits immediately.

So instead of having a worried or angry aura about you, you will feel more relaxed and confident when you arrive for that all important interview, meeting, or presentation.

Hidden Gifts. Your expectations may be low ayou start this job, but if you keep your eyes and heart open, you might find unexpected joys and benefits. No doubt you will learn new skills and you will increase your knowledge about a new industry or company. But perhaps, you will find an opportunity to help a co-worker or a customer in a special way. Maybe this job proves to be much more and it changes your direction.

Everyone has had one of those  fantasies…you walk into your boss’ office and say “I quit.” In your mind, you picture your boss being shocked and begging you to reconsider… you are ‘way too valuable to the organization…you hear his/her apology for taking advantage of  you…for giving you too much work…for not giving you enough pay… (insert your own complaint here…). Let your imagination run wild but don’t do it!

I wish this was a perfect world and that managers of people would treat their staff fairly and with integrity. Unfortunately, we know this is not true. If you are in that situation, consider your alternatives. If the job is salvageable, take action(s) to try and correct and resolve your issues with your manager. Arrange a meeting and state your case objectively and calmly.

But if you have done as much as you can or you feel there are issues that conflict with your values and/or ethics, then make plans to find another position. Especially in today’s economy when jobs are hard to come by, people who quit without a position waiting for them are looked upon with suspect by potential hiring managers. Your fantasy of quitting, then walking out the door is not a good plan. Believe it or not, but you are not irreplaceable. The company will survive. You are the one who will suffer the most, both immediately in your wallet and potentially with future references. Have you heard that it’s a small world? Your boss and your boss’ boss know a lot of people. You never know who knows who.

Take the high road. Plan ahead. Be patient, continue to do good work, and start looking. Many people wait until they can’t stand it anymore.

If things don’t change after a reasonable period of time, decide what your next job target or target company is, get your resume tuned-up, your LinkedIn profile up and running, and start looking. Too often people wait until they see their ideal job and they are not ready to make their move. Don’t let that happen to you!

Need help in getting your marketing tools ready? Call me for a free consultation!

 

Let’s face it, it is tough to get any response from your resume or application. So if you are selected for an interview, congratulate yourself! You must have solid qualifications or you would not have even gotten that far.

Your resume has gotten you into the door, but now you have to bring it home. Sure you know your background and experiences, but don’t think you can walk in the door and wing the interview. A good candidate prepares and anticipates what the hiring manager wants to know and their expectations.

How do you prepare, you ask. Start with the job posting. Look for key words in the posting and be ready to give examples of how you demonstrate those aspects. Go through your resume and review how you will expand on each of your accomplishments and responsibilities. Think of whatever you’ve written on the resume as talking points for the interview.

Also, spend time in thinking about answering behavioral based interview questions. They usually start with something like, “Tell me a time when…” Anticipate what the hiring manager might be interested in hearing about. To answer this type of questioning, think of real examples from the past. Do not say anything like, “…well, I would…” The interviewer doesn’t want to know your theoretical answer, they want a solid example from the past. Come up with your stories on examples of how you address a question on team work, how you solved a problem, an ambitious goal you achieved, a colleague you struggled with etc.

It helps to practice beforehand. If you have an interview coming up, contact me for my Interview Coaching program.

 

Yes, it’s true. While you may think jobs are gotten through people you know, it’s actually who your contacts know. Ninety percent of jobs are gotten through strangers. That’s why LinkedIn is such a great tool. Not only do you have a great repository for your own contacts, but once you connect with them, now you can see who THEY know.

Remember that when you network, you are not looking for a job, you are looking for information. It may not be a quick return on your time investment, but it will yield results in the long run. If you make a positive impression, you will be remembered when your contact does hear of an open position.

I also encourage my clients to have their own business card. Some call it a mini-resume. Just some key contact information and a little about your job target. Perhaps a little about your background on the back. And I also recommend having a professional photo on it. People can take your card and file it away for another day. A photo helps remind the contact who you are!

Don’t think you have to contact your network all at once. Schedule one or two a week and keep working at it, along with your other job search strategies.

Congratulations if you have your profile on LinkedIn. But that is only a small part of how valuable this digital tool can do for you.

A goal for you to start with, is to have 100 contacts. Who do you know? Think back to your former jobs and the people you worked with. Who do you remember? Are they on LinkedIn? I bet they are! Sometimes a person’s name comes to my mind. Yes, I often go to LinkedIn to see if I can find them. I found my first HR boss who hired me as his assistant and mentored me. When he hired me, it would change my career journey and I was always grateful. After I found him, I wrote him a note about how much I appreciated him believing in me. While he is now retired, I was so pleased to have been able to share the impact he had on my career and life.

What’s amazing with LinkedIn and yes, sometimes scary, is that LI will soon suggest people to you. I think it has one of those formulas to find people where you worked and went to school and again, contacts of contacts. You’ll find people you forgot about and there they are, all you have to do is click.

But wait! Before you click on the standard connect tab it provides, write a personal note. Remind the person how you know them and perhaps a few nice words about your previous relationship. More people will accept your request if you go the extra step and write a few words to them.

Once they are on your list and if you’re looking for a job, you should “shop” for people that may be of interest to you and/or can help you with information either about a company, an industry, or a career. Then ask them for 2 or 3 more people you can talk with…always building your network. If you are trying to connect with a contact of one of your contacts, you will probably need your contact to introduce you. That will increase your chances of a reply.

Don’t be disappointed, though, if someone never responds. It happens. Don’t take it personally, and keep trying. There are many great people out there that are willing to give back to people wanting to advance their career.

I talk with many clients who not only don’t know what LinkedIn is but if they even need it. Do you need it? Yes!

It wasn’t too long ago that people looking for positions would contact their friends and family to let them know they were looking for work. They might attend a networking event often sponsored by a local chamber of commerce. But back in 2002, a social professional networking site was created. By 2006, it had 20 million participants and by 2013, it has more than 239 million! So if you’re not on LinkedIn and you are a professional, then you don’t really exist.

The first step is to start your profile. While there are several good resources out there that can give you detailed information about creating a profile, I will simply say that  your LI profile should tell a little (professional) story about you. Unlike a resume which is more formal, here is an opportunity to add a little of your personality. Use the word “I” when you write it and share your strengths and a few accomplishments you are proud of in your career.

But more than having a profile, is how to use LI. Here is a great place to list anyone and everyone you know from your professional network. We often forget how many people we actually do know, but once you write a list, you’ll probably be surprised to discover you may have as many as 100 people!

What’s really cool, though, is once you have them on your contact list, you now have access to THEIR contacts. It has been said that most people looking for a job will do best by networking with people you do not already know. Why? Because the people in your own circle already know you are looking for a job. If they haven’t materialized a job for you, then it’s probably not likely to happen in the near future. But by exploring your network’s network, you have access to perhaps, hundreds and even thousands, of other people!

So if you’re not already on LinkedIn, start working on getting your profile up. It’s sometimes hard to write about yourself. I often write profiles for my clients. If I can help you, please contact me for more information.

 

 

If you have watched any TV recently, I’m sure you’ve heard clips of the song, “Let it Go” from the movie, Frozen. The song and movie was often mentioned on TV, but the only part that was ever mentioned was “Let it go…let it go…” I was puzzled about why the song was so popular with children since I hadn’t seen the movie. As a life coach, I often suggested to clients to “let it go,” but it didn’t seem to be the right context for kids.

My curiosity peaked, I googled both the movie plot and the song lyrics. What I discovered is that it is not only a wonderful message for children, but a great reminder for all of us.

The movie centers around Elsa (Snow Queen), who keeps her powers hidden because she is embarrassed and fearful of her talents. Eventually, she comes to realize that her special gifts are a blessing and not a curse. I imagine the song is played when she decides to toss her fears aside and lets it go…and shows off who she really is.

I’m sure I’m not alone in struggling with the confidence to feel comfortable with who I am and to accept what makes me unique. Although I had a musical talent, I envied those high school cheerleaders with their athletic ability. When I was older, I wished I was better with math, instead of being “good with people.” We always seem to want what we don’t have.

And then, we grow up wanting to please our parents, friends, teachers…and later, bosses—and often we bury our true opinions and talents. When are we going to please ourselves? If not now, then when? Here are a few suggestions to practice or begin “letting it go…”

Ask Dumb Questions. Have you ever kept a burning question to yourself because you were afraid everyone else knew the answer except you and that the others would surely think you were stupid? Many times, I’ve kept my mouth shut at a meeting, only to hear someone ask that very question and realized many others didn’t know either.

So instead of second and third-guessing yourself, just ask the question! If this seems too difficult, you can ease into by saying, “Perhaps this is a dumb question, but…” Invariably, no one will laugh (everyone can relate to that) and most of the time, you’ll be revered by asking a question that no one else had the guts to share out loud. And who knows, your question may be so insightful, it could change the direction of the issue being discussed.

Joy Working. Did you have a parent who nudged you into a “safe” career? I remember my mother suggesting I become a teacher because I would have my summers off. Although in my case, it turned out to be something I did enjoy. But there were other possibilities I did not pursue because they were more risky and I was fearful of not succeeding.

If you took a lie-detector test and was asked if your work brought you joy, would you pass it? If not, take some time and invest in yourself to discover what would. Life is too short to be miserable most of your 24 hours/day.

Own your gifts. When someone compliments you on something, do you… a) you play it down; b) share what wasn’t so perfect about what you did; c) mention someone who does it better. I am currently reading The Confidence Code (I’m sure it’ll give me a few articles for the future.) Perhaps nothing new to most of us, but women fall short in the confidence category.

And while you may not be “there” 100%, it may be a great time to practice, “act as if.” Act as if you were confident. If you complimented someone else, act as you’d like them to receive it. And remember that there is always someone better than you at just about any talent. But on the other side of that, remember there is always someone worse than you. Be happy with what you are blessed with, who you are, and how you can share the gifts YOU have. (And I promise I’ll try and practice what I am preaching here!)
“Let It Go” excerpts from Frozen (movie)…“Let it go, let it go! Can’t hold it back any more. Let it go, let it go!… Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know; be the good girl you always have to be…Well, now they know!….let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore…let it go, let it go…I don’t care what they say.

Can’t get to me at all, it’s time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through. No right, no wrong, no rules for me, I’m free. Let it go, let it go, the perfect girl is gone, here I stand in the light of day, let the storm rage on, I’m never going back, the past is in the past…”

The beginning of the year is a time when we’re often reminded about setting goals. If you’re like me, we’ve read several articles and seen many TV programs that feature this topic. Identifying what our dreams/goals can be fun and motivating.

But by February, we start hearing stories about why people don’t accomplish their resolutions. And it’s true–we often set ourselves up for failure right from the start—especially when they set a goal and then declare how impossible or difficult it is. We don’t know where to begin and so we don’t.

I recently heard Frank Sinatra’s old song, “High Hopes.” My favorite part is about how ants can move a rubber tree plant—why? Because he has high hopes! (Are you hearing the song in your head?) When our own hope is gone for accomplishing our goal, we are defeated before we start.

The song reminded me of a chapter in Dr. Henry Cloud’s, 9 Things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life. One of Dr. Cloud’s 9 things is to act like an ant.

Have you ever watched ants? If you ever had an ant farm or purchased one for your kids, it gives us an opportunity to watch ants in action (without them ruining your picnic). What you see is that each ant gets one little tiny grain of sand in its grasp and marches from one end of the green terrarium to the other.

While you may not initially understand where the ants are going with that sand, a few days later, the sand between the panes of glass begins to take shape. After more time has passed—an entire ant city has been built with its hills and valleys and a complex network of tunnels. It looks like a team of architects and construction crews have been there for months with miniature bulldozers, trucks, and cranes. But when you look at any given ant, it carries just one little grain of sand.

The activity of any one ant seems to have little impact. It may not be apparent how any single grain has much to do with the big picture of what was forming, but the impact was happening, and form was indeed, developing.

The reality was that many tiny ants had taken many tiny steps—one step at a time, one grain of sand at a time, one day at a time. The amazing feat was really no more complex than one ant with one tiny little pebble. One step at a time, one grain at a time.

Ants don’t have a concept of “I can’t.” They are programmed to just go forward and do what they do best. Humans don’t have that luxury–we have a brain and a memory. Some of us (you?) might remember previous goals we didn’t achieve and we focus on them. We certainly don’t want to incur that embarrassment again.

It seems easier to forget what we have accomplished and how far we’ve come. While striving for improvements are—some of us (you?) we don’t take a breath to celebrate our progress. By focusing on our achievements, we can be reminded that we’ve had success in the past and surely, success can be ours in the future.

If you’re looking at a fresh new year ahead and making plans, here are a few small steps you can take to make to take along with you:

  •  Take a few minutes to focus on what you accomplished or feel good about in 2012. Get rid of your “evil gremlin” during this exercise and find your “best cheerleader and coach.” Celebrate your progress and successes—no matter how small.
  •  Identify 3-5 goals for 2013. Take the time to also discover why this goal is important to you. Deciding how important it is to you, will help keep you going forward.

Example: Sure, you want to lose weight. But is it because of your health or a wedding to attend in July? Picture yourself attaining the goal in your mind’s eye.

  •  What is one small step can you take? Then, what is the next step?

Example: Are you really ready to commit to work out at the gym1 hour every day? Maybe the first step is to commit to 20 minutes for 1 week. Then increase that time 10% every week until you attain 60 minutes.

  •  Look back periodically to celebrate your progress. There is no one right answer—it could be monthly or quarterly.

Example: Maybe you haven’t done everything perfectly, but you have stopped eating sugar 5 days of the week.

 Remembering your successes big and small can be the bridge to your future. If you’ve done it before, you can do it again. But you need to take that first step—a step as big as a grain of sand.

 

 

Perhaps not a day goes by when we hear a story on TV or see an article in a magazine about aging gracefully. Almost always, it’s a reference to looking good at a particular age and almost always it’s geared toward women.

I particularly love the stories about how good someone looks at (name the age). The story continues to ooh and ah about how so-and-so looks amazing, but you notice she can’t smile because of all the Botox she has had. Are we kidding anyone when we look at someone 75 or 85 who has the skin of a 40 year old? Is that what aging gracefully means?

I am not against anyone having “work done.” Matter of fact, if I had the financial resources, I would have my list ready for “tweaking.” But I believe aging gracefully is much more than skin deep. As we get older, we realize that while we may look great, if things under our hood are not working well, it’s all for nothing.

I have always been a proponent for us to be leaders of our lives—whether it is about being intentional about our career or the time in between. And while much of my business is focused on our careers, I know that the things that really count in life is the time in between.

Helping others be the best they can be is what I am passionate about. I have never been shy in using my own experiences in hope to provide ideas and guidance and to let people know they are not alone. So many times we think we are the only ones who have done this…or experienced that. We keep it a secret feeling different instead, we are just like the person sitting next to you!

And my Resilient Living of my blog and my separate FB page will be devoted to personal leadership—living the best quality of life we possibly can.

Granted, not everything is within our control. My daughters are not quiet about pointing out something they have inherited and will say, “thanks mom, for sharing that.” Ah, genes—the gift that keeps on giving. It’s true we can’t alter our DNA, but we don’t have to fall victim either. We need to identify what we can change and do those things. That’s what personal leadership means.

Sure, I wish I had a different body structure and predispositions, but wasting my time on that “train of thought” will only get me stuck at the station. I’m for making the best of the hand I was dealt. The reality is that there is a lot within our control and it is the things within our control and that I’ve learned through the years is what I want to share with you.

Sadly, how well we fare in the “afternoon tea” of our life is often impacted by how well we take care of ourselves in our early years…those years when we feel “it can’t/won’t happen to us.” While we can’t rewind our past, but we can start now.

What’s one thing you can change today that can help you live more gracefully tomorrow?

 

I went on my first diet when I was 16 and have spent the rest of my life seeking the answers to getting to that “perfect” weight. Typical of me, when I am interested in something, I research, read, and absorb enough knowledge where I feel confident and “satiated.” Frankly, I never achieved that with weight management. Just when you think you got the right answer, someone says you are doing it all wrong.

Despite doing everything I’m supposed to do, nothing seemed to work. There had to be a missing piece somewhere. There were many times I just wanted to give up my pursuit. But I decided to conjure up enough hope to try one more time to see if there was something I wasn’t doing, and went to see a PhD nutritionist.

Just as I started seeking advice from the nutritionist, I had a health issue crop up…I blacked out getting up in the middle of the night. Even in those first few hours and being in shock of what just happened, I knew I was lucky. It could’ve been much worse. It was a wake-up call because it has happened before, and I ignored it.

Fast forward 3 months … I have taken numerous tests of all sorts, some prescribed by my team of doctors and others recommended by my nutritionist. While some information is still not known, I now feel I have some of the missing pieces I have been seeking for such a long time.

The biggest ah-ha for me is the realization of how much stress has affected my health, weight, and well-being. And while we read and hear about stress, I want to shout that stress is a BIG factor for most of us. STRESS needs to be in all caps! I truly believe that my being in a chronic state of high stress for many years started a domino chain-reaction in my body.

I believe that stress has depleted my cells, making them unable to absorb the valuable nutrients from food, and thus preventing me from losing weight, but also in sleeping well, and being as energetic as I could be.

I discovered I was very deficient in magnesium. Magnesium? Who’d thought? Maybe it’s too dramatic to say that taking a magnesium supplement has changed my life, but it sure has gotten things going in the literal sense. After years of being stuck weight-wise, during the past 2 months after starting on this supplement, I not only lost weight, but more importantly, lost a significant amount of body fat. My hope has been renewed.

My personal library has quickly grown to include books on stress management, toxins in our environment, adrenal glands, cortisol, magnesium, and sleep problems. Although I was initially a skeptic, I have come to believe that the soil our foods grows in these days can no longer supply the nutrients we all need. Coupled with factors of the stressful lives we have these days, our cells and our bodies do not function as efficiently as they can and eventually this results in diseases.

Bottom line, I am on a new mission. I want to help others like me who have had health and weight struggles all their life. We are an instant gratification society and I wanted to see definite “proof” that something was working. I now see the results of not only the magnesium but of some of the other vitamins/supplements I’ve added. I see that they are helping my body at a cellular level.

And so, I have recently become a distributor for Market America (MA). I am excited about the supplements and weight loss products that have been a big difference in my life.  When I walked into the nutritionist with the few vitamins I was taking, my nutritionist basically laughed at my Sam’s Club calcium bottle. She cautioned me that if you are going to make that investment, you want to make sure it’s a quality product.

When I started writing this part of my newsletter, I realized just how passionate I am about this part of my life. As I mentioned earlier, we are not just one dimension. I will be adding a targeted article that you can read if this topic interests you. Being an adventurer and risk-taker, I have tried other non-traditional approaches to health which I also will write about.

If you want to learn more about my health journey, please contact me at jane@janefalter.com

In the meantime, here are two books I recommend…

The Magnesium Miracle by Caroline Dean

Never Be Sick Again by Raymond Francis

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Although I had your business card for a few weeks, I hesitated calling you until one day, I just felt inspired to contact you. Am I glad I did! After applying for literally hundreds of jobs this past year with not even one interview…after sending the résumé you created for me, not only did I get the interview, but I got the job! I feel that God inspired me to move forward and sent you into my life when I needed it the most. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
—J. Bloomfield, Asheville, NC

 

So, thought I'd brighten your day!  My new supervisor complimented my resume. She said she liked the summary at the top. She also commented that she wasn't positive that my background would've jumped out as a perfect match, but it was written in a way that highlighted my skills as a match for her needs. The resume you wrote for me did much more than any of those things, however. It changed the way I view myself.  It supported me, and gave me a confidence that I was lacking at that time. When I first saw your draft, I didn't immediately connect with it, yet I knew it was all truth. It grew on me, or I grew into it. By the time I walked into those last 2 interviews, I had a new confidence. Something deeper than just knowing I could do the job. I knew I was the right choice. That confidence, that knowing, attracted those jobs to me as surely as my credentials well presented.  It was both, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. 
—J. Everson, Bloomfield, KY

 

I just wanted to write and let you know how much I appreciate your help with my resume. It worked!!! I have had 3 interviews, a step I did not reach before. While I have not received a job offer yet, I know it is just a matter of time before I find a position that is the right fit. Your help with the resume made all the difference!
—L. McLamb Asheville

 

I have built my business through satisfied clients so I cherish testimonials. One of the most stand-out testimonials that was given to me was shared by a client I coached to help her with an upcoming interview.

This client told me later, that she had met a woman at a community event. Jen shared about looking for a position and was telling her about the "biz coach" who prepped her for the interview. The other woman mentioned how she found this excellent person to do her resume and that the résumé itself was highly complemented on in her interview. And best yet, she got the job in the end! In a few minutes, they deducted they were both talking about the same person…ME!

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