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.
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!
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!
Searching for a job does not have to be DEBILITATING emotionally (or exasperating at best) Some people believe that jobs are even, (and I am going to whisper this so shhh, sccaarrrccceee). However, you don’t have to be a famished job seeker. Instead, be job savvy! I am passionate about empowering my clients to take exhausted and worn out resumes and turn them into resumes that scream, “I am ready to do my best for YOU!”
Why do I go the extra mile for my clients? Well, simply…because nothing is as important as your resume. These days, without having a resume that WOWS (rather than “just works”), you probably won’t ever get that interview in the first place.
One of the first decisions you have to make is to decide what it is you are looking for. Sure, you may have more than one target, and you may need to create two (or more) differently focused resumes depending on those unique targets. But being clear on what you are looking for is critical. One of the ways I help my clients get clarity is by an in-depth interview of their background and career objectives.
Secondly, a good way to start is to look through some of the job postings and job descriptions on career sites (sometimes called job boards) and scan them for jobs you are interested in. Note the particular responsibilities potential employers list and what kind of qualifications they are looking for. Look for themes between the various postings.
Then gather up any job descriptions and performance reviews you have and if you have an old resume, that will help as well. Start picking out the accomplishments and responsibilities that in particular, match the job you are targeting. You’ll want to highlight them in your resume so your potential employer can easily pick them out.
In this tough economy, employers want people who have the skills to hit the ground running. You must demonstrate through your achievements what you can do to fill their needs. Remember, your resume is not an autobiography. It doesn’t have to include a list of everything you have ever done in your life. Be selective in what you include!
More about turning up your resume in subsequent posts. I reserve Tuesday afternoons for tweaking resumes with my clients. It you’d like to be included on that list, email me and I will let you know when I have my next availability. If you’re ready to position yourself for success in 2011, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you looking for a job? With so many people looking for work and so few jobs available, the competition is fierce. Job hunting has never been something that people enjoy; but these days, the pressure is on and it’s difficult not to be brought down by your situation. I totally get that! But you don’t have to feel isolated and overwhelmed.
First, recognize the things you have control of and those you don’t. The way to keep your confidence so that you come across confident to your future employer is to focus on the process, have faith and believe that you will rewarded for your dilgence and your perseverance.
Although I don’t own a GPS, I count on my MapQuest Directions and maps in order to help me get to where I’m going. Without these trusty tools, we may wander around aimlessly and arrive late or may even throw up our hands and go back home in frustration.
A job search without good pre-work and clear targets is very similar to that direction-less car trip. That’s why it is so essential for you to have the relational support of a coach to get you to your desired outcome. You may find yourself very busy, but getting no where. And although you may not want to take the time to program your GPS or pull out a map–you will reap the benefits in the end, by doing so.
I can hear the wheels turning in your head, you’re saying, “But I just want a job, any job.” I understand, but do you really mean that?
I was sitting in on a workshop for unemployed people and one of the participants said that very thing. Then almost in the same breath, she described her last job at a grocery store. She got a job–but couldn’t stand the way the manager treated her and the hours she had to work. In the end, she quit–so, she really did have job requirements. Do you agree with me–that she had values of wanting to be treated fairly, wanted some flexibility in her schedule and she wanted to enjoy her co-workers?
What are your priorities? What kind of work environment do you want to work in? How about the schedule–day, evening–part time? List out as many particulars you can think of. Then develop a plan on how to get there. For example–how much time will you spend each day on your job search? who can you network with? Could volunteering help you meet more people and/or gain needed skills? Do you have a resume that is targeted for your ideal job?
Don’t assume you have to settle for what you can get–call me or email and let me serve you with a session completely oriented to helping you find your perfect job.
I was saddened to hear about yet another company down-sizing. This one hit close to home—it impacts my former colleagues and friends. Most of the people I worked with will be losing their jobs when they close that particular R&D facility.
The news brought back memories when I received my own “departure notice” a few years ago. It was a meeting I’ll never forget. I was told how everyone had nothing but positive things to say about me and how my clients praised my work, (I held my breath as I waited for the other shoe to drop) but the HR role continued to evolve and I was not strategic enough to fit it.
My head knew it was just another business decision, but it felt very very personal. I’ll never forget walking out of that conference room and going back to my office. It was business-as-usual for everyone else—but in a few short minutes, my world had completely changed.
Two months later, as I swiped my employee badge for the last time, I wondered, “now what?” I had worked ever since I was 16—first in the summer months while going to school, and then full time after college. Other than a few leaves of absence due to having my three babies or having a gall bladder out—work was something I always did.
A few days later someone said hello and asked, “And how are you today?” Normally, I wouldn’t hesitate to recite the expected reply, but this time was different–I hesitated. Do I tell her–”fine”–or should I be honest and admit I lost my job and hope I don’t cry? Maybe I should wait until the next time she asks? Eventually she’ll know the truth either from me or someone else. Will she be upset that I hadn’t shared my news with her sooner?
I began dreading meeting people and being asked, “What do you do?” What should I say? “I used to work at – – – but I just got laid off from my human resources job.” Was that TMI? (too much information)? Did that sound like whining or asking for sympathy? I didn’t want people feeling sorry for me—I was already doing that quite nicely for myself.
There are lots of people who don’t work outside the home. I never think twice about it—but not me. If I’m not working, then who am I? I began to understand just how much we identify with our label du jour.
Identity, labels and titles, oh my. In addition to work designations, we can be a student, mom or dad, husband or wife, married or single (you get the picture). When we are stripped of our protective label/cape, we often struggle with the whole concept of, “Well, if I’m not a – – – – , then who am I?”
There are labels and titles we gain or shed easier than others. But then there are some that are loaded with emotional baggage. Soon after my divorce, I can remember that outsider feeling so many times listening to my married friends. I’ve heard from my childless friends that they have had moments like that as well when we chat (and complain?) about our kids. There are empty nesters and the newly retired. It’s not just the label, but the inner changes we need to make—sometimes needing more of an adjustment than initially thought.
An inside-out story. A hundred years ago, I went from being an HR Secretary on Friday to being an HR Director of a non-profit agency on Monday (literally). I remember starting my new role and feeling like a phony. “They are expecting me to know what I’m doing. Little do they know I’m clueless.” Well, I rose to the occasion. I knew more than I gave myself credit for; because I did find the right answers. But I learned first-hand how powerful “fake it ’till you make it” can be.
The reverse situation happened many years later when I first moved to Asheville. I was a part-time agency temp in an HR department doing filing, processing benefit packages, taking photos of new employees etc (you get the picture—excuse the pun). It didn’t pay much, but I appreciated earning a little money while I was building my new coaching business.
When Jennifer was at lunch, I would sit at the reception desk, answer the phone and greet visitors. When I told my daughters I was relieving the receptionist, they laughed, “Mom, do they know you could run the whole department?” The department managers who came by to ask for the HR Director, seemed to look through me–like I was invisible. As I smiled and went to get the Director, I had finally learned I was not my title.
Self inflicted titles. It’s bad enough to have all the titles and labels we have or we get from society, but have you ever listened how we label ourselves? I’ve heard people describe themselves as: lazy, stupid, fat, old, tired, shy to name a few. I confess I’ve even said a few of them to myself. Whether or not we ever utter such words out loud, those labels are there–floating around in our minds.
It’s amazing how powerful our own labels affect our actions and thinking. I’ve recently been observing on how people think about or act their age. While I occasionally think I’m a bit nuts to be starting a business now in my sixties, my passion continues to energize me and I am finally experiencing fun with my work. Who could ask for more?
Another lesson from Adele and Jack. Many of you will remember me talking about my dear friends, Adele and Jack, who were killed in a tragic car accident last September. I was honored to give a eulogy to celebrate their lives and share how much I loved them.
As I listened to everyone else’s eulogies, I was struck that despite the fact that none of us knew what we were going to say, we all seemed to repeat the same things. So much so that Pastor Dan actually made note of it.
Isn’t it interesting that people who hadn’t known them in their younger lives were able to “see” the very same qualities they lived–in their later years. It wasn’t their job or their title (although Adele and Jack’s work had been very noble and notable) that we remembered—it went much deeper than that. We experienced their true legacy.
What’s your legacy? Brad Swift, in his book Life on Purpose,says that “life purpose isn’t ever about what you do, but is instead more about who you are.” I love the reminder that we’re called human beings, not human doings.
I went to the movie today to see “Up in the Air.” My friend had suggested that with my interest helping people transition, it would be a good movie to see. Well, I’m glad I went to see it. Of course, George Clooney in high definition and on the big screen was a great way to spend a few hours, but it was one of those movies that brought back some very painful moments in my life.
The movie centered around George who was hatchet man–traveling from one company to another firing people. My own experiences sitting on the “wrong side” of the desk came quickly back as I was watching the show. But what really surprised me was feeling the feelings of being the “hatchet” person myself during my human resources career. Although I did what I had to do, I could see how I buried my feelings in order to get through the many termination meetings I’ve been through in my 30 year career.
The movie came a few days after I attended a Job Fair to promote my new career club, BIZyBoomers. During that day, I met many people who have been impacted by unemployment. It was hard to hear and see the faces of so many people who have been devastated by the reality of today’s economy. But now, instead of giving people the news of such terrible news, I am helping people get back on their feet via my career club. I’m excited about the possibility of making a positive difference in people’s lives. It’s such a good feeling!
Being laid off was my wake-up call. It was the kick that got me going to follow a career I had thought about for many years, but had let my fears stop me. Although there were many scary times, the end result is knowing the difference in working at a job that pays the bills and having your passion be your work. My hope is that I can help many people facing their job loss to have their own chance to do work that builds on their old experiences and skills and makes a positive difference in the world.
Have you lost your job only to find work that you love? I would love to hear your story and what you’ve learned.