I was waiting to get my hair cut and picked up one of the magazines—a Reader’s Digest from several months ago. It caught my attention because it had Robin Roberts from Good Morning America on the cover.

Like many people, I love Robin. She’s been a part of my morning routine for many years and have watched her go through some serious health issues. For some reason I not only like her, but trust her—which was interestingly, what that article was about. I quickly wrote down a few key words from the magazine before my hairdresser called my name, knowing that it was perfect fodder for my own article (it was, and here it is).

Trust is one of those things we don’t often put in words, but we know it when we see it. We get vibes about people. Some we trust right away and others…not so much. Trust is a biggie when you think of leadership and in the building solid relationships in our lives. We often do this without thinking; but I’ve listed a few key factors that influence our gut who guides us.

Authenticity. Perhaps one of the biggest things in trusting someone is seeing that that their actions align with what they say. When we see someone over a period of time like at work, we can observe their consistency and integrity.

We used to call it the “hidden agenda” when I worked in corporate America.  You could just tell when there was a person who supported this or that because it was good for them, even though they positioned it as “good for the company.”

We have all had chance meetings though, with people where our “trust” indicator gets tested. How about when a sales person who tries to convince you that this outfit, this coat, or what-have-you is simply perfect, but you know they just want to sell you something? What truly impresses me is when a sales person tells me “no,” that doesn’t look right on you or sorry, I don’t have what you’re looking for; have you tried——-? That sure gains my trust and loyalty for the future.

Personal excellence. It’s hard to trust anyone when they don’t seem to know what they are doing. There’s a big difference in having people “follow” you because of your position versus someone who is respected for their wisdom, experience, and good decision making. Competence doesn’t always translate to trust, but trusting someone requires it.

Likability. It’s said that people want to do business with people they like, know, and trust. No matter what our personality may be, being interested in others as a human being goes a long way in building trust. As leaders in the workplace, truly listening to someone and having empathy for them is a critical skill.

Moral Compass. It’s people who take the high road even when it’s not the easy route are those who leave heart-prints on people. People who do something nice when no one is looking or it is not expected, create followership and loyalty. It doesn’t have to be something big. When I was in HR, I would sometimes get an off-handed comment from someone’s employee sharing how her boss did this or that for them when they had a personal or family crisis. Often, it was a minor little gesture or comment that was probably forgotten by their manager. They may never know what a long way that went in building long-term commitment.

Recovery.  Mistakes and life’s trials happen to all of us. It’s often how people handle those moments that cement our opinions. In the business world, nothing could be worse than observing a manager blaming their assistant or member of their staff for an error that they themselves made. Cringe. The tough times in our lives bring out the true character of someone. Back to my HR days, I was knee deep in alligators while closing our Rochester, NY facility. Employees were invited to either move to Massachusetts or lose their job. It was a life-altering event and I got to observe how this crisis brought out the best in some people and the worst in others.

When someone stopped in my office, I was braced for what I was about to hear. (The good news is that they felt comfortable in venting to me when they felt threatened to raise their question/issue with the other managers. The bad news is that they felt comfortable in venting to me.) Anyway, when I talked with a person who looked at this unforeseen interruption in their lives not as a cruel and inhuman event, but as a possible opportunity, I wanted to hug them. I got to know the real depth of some people. And it was sure an eye-opening experience for me.

Perhaps this is where Robin excels. She has taught us how to make our mess our message. While she could have kept her story to herself as many celebrities do, she helped a lot of other people by using her TV platform to share her story, and in doing so, has helped many people facing similar challenges. As leaders and as people, we have the same opportunity. You can share what you want to share, but people trust people they feel are human and not just a “suit.” You become connected as part of the human race. It’s a gift that only you can give and goes further than any financial incentive you could ever give a person on your team.

 

I recently taught a class on job search skills at a local college and was surprised when one of the participants told her story about having an interview at a company. She mentioned how her son had worked there for many years, but she didn’t want to use his name, because she “wanted to get the job on my own merits.”

Her comment reminded me of the saying we’ve all heard, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Like Laura (not her real name), I can remember thinking negatively whenever I heard that someone got a job “like that.” Perhaps I was miffed I didn’t know anyone who could get me anywhere (at least anywhere I wanted to go). Somehow it made that practice seem underhanded and almost illegal.

In my HR career, there were many times where someone’s resume got reviewed because they knew someone. Indeed, several of the companies I worked at, gave an employee referral bonus for any employee who recommended a person who got the job. It’s the birds-of-a-feather syndrome with the theory being if your friend is a good employee, they will “flock” with similar types. (Note: It goes without saying to make sure the person referring you–IS a good employee.)

In all my experience, I can say that the referral got the resume or application reviewed, it didn’t guarantee a job. The individual still needed to be qualified for the job and be the right fit.

I’m not so naive to think that is always the way it is. Sure there are people that get jobs because their father or father-in-law or mother-in-law is the CEO or owner. It happens. We can’t change that. But in this day where the right jobs are few and far between, don’t hesitate to utilize a contact as a segue to have your resume reviewed. If you’re writing a cover letter, mention the person’s name in your introduction.

And don’t worry…you’ll have plenty of time to prove your own merits.

Wouldn’t it be great if relationships with our parents were like a Hallmark card? Speaking as a daughter and a mom of 3 daughters, I know for a fact that the family journey can be a rocky ride. We start our life with unquestioning adoration. By our teenage years, our parents often become stupid—not to mention frustrating when we feel they are out to make our lives miserable by not allowing us to do things we want to do.

But luckily, our parents get their smarts back as we become older. While we can’t appreciate their wisdom and experience when we’re younger, we eventually “get it” as we begin to experience similar challenges in our lives and hear their voice in our heads and realize just how wise they were.

Despite everyone’s good intentions and love, we all end up with baggage. There are inevitable memories that haunt us—something that was said or done–that hit us in a vulnerable spot and carries in us for many years.

Sometimes there are negative attributes or habits that we “catch” from our parents like a cold that doesn’t go away. Often we are unaware how this occurred because it happens so gradually or seems so natural—and it is—because that’s the way we have learned in it our household.

I probably shared this example before, but the one I always remember was going to the Jersey shore with a bunch of my college friends. As we started cooking, someone was looking all around for the Crisco (remember this was years ago) and couldn’t find it. After I walked in the room, I went right to the refrigerator where I had put it. I was the target of the joke—because I was the only one in the group who put Crisco in the refrigerator.

You can imagine that when I got home I asked, “Why do we put Crisco in the refrigerator, Mom?”  My mom answered that she had a problem years ago with ants in the cupboard and decided to keep the Crisco there from then on–so the ants wouldn’t get at it.

Although this is a silly example, many times that’s exactly how we create accommodations. We react to something in our life and develop a “cure” or a coping mechanism. The problem is that after the event or events are long forgotten (or buried), we continue to use our coping tools. The event can be serious, chronic, life-changing, or a simple event that no one even remembers–except you.

Forgiveness. Consider a gift of forgiveness. Writing a letter baring your soul is one way to get to that point. Put as much down on the paper. Then burn the letter or rip it in pieces. The act of writing it down is key in being able to release any pain you still have. You may have to do it more than once, as forgiveness is a process.

Acceptance. If there is a trait, habit, or value you “got” or didn’t get from your parents, get to a point where you are a peace with your past. Instead of blaming someone else or a situation, put all that energy towards making a change for the better. You are not a victim. If you’ve been reading my newsletters, you know I’m all about taking control of you. Now’s a good time to do that!

Love. It is true that some parents (and this goes for kids too) are really a mess. Their baggage is alive, well, and thriving. This I know for sure that you can’t change anyone but yourself and perhaps the only gift you can give them is simply love.

I can distinctly remember thinking during one of my own family twisty curves, “But I did the best I could.” It was at that time that I realized that if I did the best I could, surely my parents did as well.”

 

Do you have a goal you want to accomplish? Many people want to make a change in their job and/or their career, but they are not willing or able to to start down the path. Maybe in this generation of instant success, we imagine that we too, can wish it and make it so. Unfortunately, that doesn’t normally happen.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with where you want to go and all that needs to take place. My best advice is to keep your goal in your mind and heart, while you just focus on the next best step you can do. It’s easy to get discouraged, but just keep moving step after step.

If you reach an obstacle or find you are going down the wrong path, pause, then reevaluate your direction. Many times it may need a different plan. It’s all part of the journey after all. Unfortunately, it takes time—usually more time than we had planned, or want.

But think about where you’ll be in 2 years. Will you be further down the road or stuck in the hole you’re currently in. Momentum and motivation builds as you move forward, but sometimes you have to give yourself a little kick start!

Perhaps this has been the worst period in our lifetime when so many people have experienced rejection. And while this post is not addressing the kind of rejection you feel after a partner break-up, the emotions you go through are the same.

I wish I had some magic words that can help you through this period of your life. Here are a few of today’s work situations where you experience an emotional roller-coaster:

Company Lay-Off. Despite the fact that you know about the economy, many times you can’t help but feel, “why me”? Perhaps others did survive and you didn’t–what did you do wrong? Rejection.

Applying for Work. These days my clients wonder what they are doing wrong. They believe they have a good background–lots of good experience and yet, they hear nothing. Although most don’t even receive a rejection letter that was typical years ago, they still do feel that rejection.

Not Selected after Interview. The good news is that you landed an interview, but then you don’t get the job. It may be even made worse if you go back for follow up interviews, because the more time you put in, you start imagining yourself working at that company. It’s a hard blow when you aren’t the final candidate.

Here are some things to remember:

It’s not personal. Yes, it FEELS personal because it impacts your livelihood. Even if you are selected in a lay-off, many times it’s a numbers “game.” There is just so much money and so many people have to be eliminated. It really isn’t you. Matter of fact, many well-qualified people find themselves in the same situation. You are not alone.

Move on. The faster you are able to get over the anger and the hurt, the faster you can reach your desired goal. But do allow yourself time to feel the pain. Work is a big part of who we are–we feel it is part of our identity. However, we are MORE than what we do. Remember, we are human beings, not human doings.

Let it go. Control what you can, let the outcome go. Continue to do all the things you can in a job search. If you dwell on when you will get a job and how, you will drive yourself frustration.

I know this is all easier said than done. But keep your eyes focused on your future and not your past. Find support if you are struggling and you may need to get out of your comfort zone to find new ways to land that perfect job you want!

Although your network can be the key to your next transition, I find a lot of job seekers resist it. While it does take time to do–it could make or break your success.

Perhaps folks are uncomfortable with asking someone if they have a job. But here’s the good news–you don’t have to do that. Matter of fact, you should not do it. You are simply asking for some information.

First, do your homework. What is your job target? Can you come up with a list of companies where your target job would exist? Then, write a list of everyone you know. Identify which folks you feel most comfortable in talking with first (for whatever reason).

Then, you go on a scavenger hunt–trying to get information from each of those folks. You goal? To get to either a person who has a similar job like you want or find one of your targeted companies.

Before you contact anyone–imagine how your informational interview will go. How will you start your discussion? What questions will you ask? What information do you want from that person? How will you end it? How will you contact this person? People love to talk about their career journey, so having a good conversation with folks should be fairly easy.

Then start with one of the people on your list–start with an easy prospect first to give yourself practice. Besides some answers to your questions, ask the person on your list to give you 2 more names to contact. In that way your list of 10 will grow to 30.

If you continue to follow this recipe, your network will pretty soon increase like bunnies!

When I’m approached by folks wanting me to help them find their ideal job, there seems to be an inherent pressure on them.They want to finally get it right… this time. Most of them have the belief there must be only one right answer and unfortunately, they haven’t figured it out as yet.

Although I can certainly empathize (I’ve been there), we seem to put so much pressure on being “right.” We want to avoid unnecessary expenses by going down the wrong path and wouldn’t it be nice if we could just take the short cut.

Unfortunately, I have learned that even when we are listening to our heart and feel strongly we are headed in the right direction, there may be some surprising curves in our path.

When I got laid off back in 2006, I recognized it was an opportunity to follow my dream of becoming a coach. And I was right–my talents and interests were a natural fit for coaching. But what I didn’t expect was how starting my coaching career was just a beginning of another journey.

Initially I wanted to “step away” from business and HR in my coaching focus. It was time to take a break and I did…for awhile. But now 6 years later and 6 different business cards later–I look back and realize how much I evolved, grew, and became so much clearer than when I first started out.

And so my suggestions to my clients is to relax. Go with the best answer, the best direction…for now. Relax and enjoy the journey.

What is it about reviewing performance that everyone seems to dread? Matter of fact, there are many opinions that say they do more harm than good. However, it’s my experience that most companies do it no matter what. Otherwise, how could they defend the amount of merit pay they dole out–or don’t give out?

Preparing for an annual review is actually a year-long process. Just like setting goals, it’s something you need to practice some discipline. One quick way to keep on-going records, is to create a file where you put copies of positive letters from satisfied customers or co-workers in.

Also, keep a record or notes to yourself of all the projects you worked on.While you think you won’t forget, it’s likely you will 12 months later. Better to keep more information, then too little–you can always group goals and accomplishments if need be.

And don’t forget to look back at comments and recommendations from last year’s review. Did your boss want you to do something more or maybe do something less? How did you accomplish this throughout the year? Again, it’s best to look at this periodically–maybe quarterly.

Perhaps your company has a self-evaluation form you have to complete and send to your supervisor before the review discussion. Let’s face it, lots of time, your supervisor may forget projects you’ve worked on–so isn’t it great that you remind him/her?

When preparing for your review–focus on the problem you solved and what you did to solve it. You don’t need to go into every detail of how you went about it. Measurements are awesome if you have them! Really impressive.

If you are struggling with a challenging review, consider scheduling a session with me–I can help you be prepared!

When I talk with a potential new client to complete their resume, I often have to remind them that NOW is the time for them to talk about the good work they’ve done.

Women, especially, struggle with talking about what they have done. We have been taught to be humble and we interpret that to play down all we’ve accomplished. I still have to catch myself in doing the same thing at times.

But in looking for work and writing a resume, you need to “get over it”–stand up tall and talk boldly about your work.You need to be honest, but be careful to not play down your performance.

Identify what role you had in getting something done. Often I see a person write on their resume that they assisted in this project or that. What does that mean exactly? You did something to get a task/project done–what was your role in it?

There are several acronyms that are used in helping us develop these accomplishment statements. The one I use is CAR, where C=Challenge you encountered; A=Action you took; R=Result you got.

Whether you are developing a resume or not, keep a log of the things you’ve accomplished this year to prepare for your annual review. Have your list ready to share with your boss. Being human, they often forget what you’ve achieved. Don’t assume they will remember–they may not!

And, furthermore, it’s great for you to look back at what you have done this past year. We keep our focus on what we haven’t done or what we still need to do, we forget or think it unimportant to remember that you HAVE moved forward!

I often write blogs and articles recommending that you improve your life by suggesting some positive behaviors to incorporate into your life. In this blog, I want you to think about what you need to stop.

Do you find yourself obsessively worrying or complaining? How often do we spend our time today by rehashing what happened yesterday or worrying about what could happen tomorrow. Or perhaps you cling to a hurt that happened long ago and find yourself unable to forgive.

Negative thinking can become a habit–a way of living. When you are focusing on past issues–you aren’t able to think about positive thoughts. The possibilities of the future, what steps you could take to move forward with your goal or to reach down and continue to have a positive hope for the future.

Negativity can be contagious. When I was in human resources, I often noticed a phenomenon going on at work. At times there would be a lot of negativity and complaining from one particular department. Many times it was directed at the supervisor.

So often, when a particular malcontent person left or was transferred and I would later find there was just one person who stirred up the negativity of the rest of the team. “Did you see what he/she did?” “I can’t believe he/she did that!” People who were basically minding their own business were challenged to think about things they would have previously ignored.

Have you been in that type of situation before? Well, if we find we are doing that to ourselves, we can make a change. Harness your mind for good, positive, and hopeful. We can then turn around our view of life and our future.

So, when you discover your thoughts are not helping you today–then say, stop it! (Maybe to yourself, if you don’t want people looking strange at you!)  Picture a stop sign in your mind.

You have control of your thoughts. And just like any other bad habit–you can make a change. So, stop it! I mean, start it–the new habit that is!

Look What’s New!
Connect
    
Testimonials

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!

Certifications: