Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Building Your Brand After a Layoff

By Sherri Thomas, Career Coach and Author

Having trouble getting hired after you’ve been laid off? The biggest hurdles you can face after being laid off is figuring out how to tell your story, build your personal brand and position yourself to hiring managers.

In my own career, I woke up one morning after being laid off, and realized that I had to stop being so reactive and become more proactive.  Throughout my journey, I’ve learned how to position myself to hiring managers, how to set myself up for success with my manager, and how to find and create more career opportunities than I could have ever imagined.

So how did I get hired after being laid off?  By following a 3-step action plan -

Telling my story.

What would I say to people about the lay-offs? I found the best approach was to always say something positive about my previous position. I would talk about how it was either a great company, or how much I loved my role and responsibilities. I made sure that I always had something positive to say about the experience, that I truly believed it and that I was genuine when I talked about it.

Also, if the lay-off had been due to company down-sizing, I followed up by saying something like, “Unfortunately, the company went through tough economic times and my position was (cut, outsourced, or whatever.) If the lay-off was due to lack of performance like the time I was hired at an Advertising Agency where I expected to do the job of two people, then I said, “I didn’t realize when I took the position that I was expected to fill the shoes of two employees. Even though I had some big results and was good at my job, I just simply couldn’t fill both of their shoes.”

Even though I experienced a laid off, I’ve had many job offers since then because I’ve learned how to tell my story and position myself in a positive way to hiring managers.

Customizing my resume.

I customized my resume for every job I went after. I created a new section on my resume called, Freelance, Consulting and Short-term Positions. I put any of my short term job stints into this section. This way, I was showing that I had long term employment with 3-4 companies, plus a few other gigs!

Whenever a potential employer asked about any of the positions in that category, I just said something like, I worked there for a few months and really enjoyed it! I learned such and such, or I contributed by doing this or that. I made sure that what I said was always positive, and focused on what I learned or how I contributed.

I also focused on results.  Instead of writing about responsibilities, I wrote about results I had achieved or goals I had met or exceeded. I substantiated everything I wrote by adding dollars, numbers or percentages.  This helped me show that I had a history, or pattern of achieving quantifiable results.

Getting job leads, referrals and recommendations.
I always called up past employers, managers and customers to catch up with them and let them know that I was ready for the next chapter in my career. I got out in the world and networked and socialized. It helped me build my confidence, practice telling my story and helped me learn about career opportunities.

Prepare for interviews by practicing your story out loud, and be sure to talk about what you’ve learned and how you added value to other organizations.  Ask thoughtful questions to the hiring manager. Be confident in your strengths and abilities. Show that you’re grateful and appreciative for the opportunities you’ve had in your career.  Networking can happen at any time. I had a client who entered a golf tournament and got paired up with a VP of a large retail corporation. They both shared stories about their golf game and career. After the 18th hole, my client handed the VP his business card and said, If anything opens up in your organization, let me know. I’d love to join your team!  Four weeks later the VP hired him.

Getting laid off is not the end of the journey.  Push away any doubts or fears you may have, build up your self confidence and resume, and then go out and strut your stuff!  With the right story, resume and attitude you will get hired again.

Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist, international speaker and author of the new book “The Bounce Back – Personal stories of bouncing back faster and higher after a layoff, re-org or career setback.”  Grab three free chapters at www.MyBounceBack.com

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pathways of Purpose

By Peg McQuarrie, ACC Certified Professional Coach

Some individuals know from a very early age what they are meant to do and who they are meant to be.  Others can take a lifetime wondering “what am I here for?”  Others may walk a path for years and realize that something new is calling them.  Wherever you are on this journey, it can be illuminating to reflect on your purpose and calling from time to time.

Curt Buermeyer, Ph.D. has defined purpose as “that which you are uniquely capable or suited to do, which creates true value for the world, and enhances your personal energy, sense of meaning and fulfillment in life.”   In his website www.PurposeMonkey.com he lists a number of examples of individual purpose:
·         To bring out the best in people
·         To create
·         To inspire others to achieve great things
·         To explore
·         To be an amazing father and husband or mother and wife
·         To teach
·         To make a meaningful difference
·         To leave the world a better place
·         To help others

There are many paths available to us that point us toward our “true north.”  With an open mind, an open heart, and a bit of patience, our purpose and calling can reveal itself.  If your life is feeling stale, if you’ve lost your sense of direction, take time to reconnect with your authentic yearnings.  

Path of Remembrance
The Path of Remembrance calls you to examine the stages of your life – early childhood to your teen and young adult years to middle age to your elder years – and to remember early influences, wants and needs.  First remembrances and initial responses are best.  Notice any surprises or memories you’d forgotten along the way.  Pay attention to how your memories make you feel about yourself.  Notice where you feel whole; notice where you feel proud of your accomplishments. 

1.    How did you have fun as a child?  How did you pretend and play?

2.    What were you most curious about?

3.    What were your dreams for the future?

4.    What do your early jobs tell you about yourself?

5.    What contributions have you made that bring you pride and a sense of accomplishment?  

6.    Which experiences have you been drawn to?  Which have you resisted?

7.    What did you want to experience that you did not have the time or resources for? 

8.    What strengths and gifts did you demonstrate through each phases of life?  Which can you do without?  Which do you still enjoy?

Path of Passion
This path examines your willingness to be open and vulnerable to life, to fully experience the good with the bad, and to connect with inspiration and to your fire within.  Notice what drives you and how you may choose to numb yourself against certain elements in your life.  As you answer these questions, pay close attention to anything that stirs up your energy and lifts your spirit.  Notice any sensations in your body, sit with them, and listen for what they might be telling you.

1.    What are you yearning for?

2.    What are you reaching for?

3.    What are you most curious about?

4.    What fills your heart with delight?  When are you at your happiest?

5.    What limits your passion?  What liberates it?

6.    What people, places, events, situations give you energy?

7.    What can't you live without?

8.    If you were completely free, what would you do?

Path of Legacy
The Path of Legacy takes an end-of-life perspective.  These questions can be difficult for those who fear or deny death, but can yield a powerful, intuitive punch if you have the courage and curiosity to go there.  Notice the dreams you see play out and any feelings of satisfaction, dissatisfaction, pride, or regrets that may arise.

1.    Imagine yourself at the age of 90 with decades of life experience and wisdom to share.  What advice would 90-year-old-you give to you today?

2.    What do you want friends and relatives to say about you when you are gone?

3.    Write your eulogy.  Fill it with plenty of details and color.  Who were you?  What did you do and accomplish?  What impact did you have? 

4.    “As you live each day, so you live your life.”  What does this quote mean to you?  What “yes” needs to be said each day to create the legacy that you want?  What “no” could make the difference?

5.    What legacy do you want to leave your children?  Your profession?  Your community?  Your world?

6.    Imagine leading your life with a fearless heart.  What would that be like?

Path of Conviction
This path examines your level of conviction and readiness to risk it all to live your purpose.  Whether we admit it or not, we sometimes like the idea of something more than the thing itself.  This is an important truth to face because any purpose worth pursuing will require dedication and a willingness to endure challenges, failures, and difficulties.  Consider these questions and notice if they pull you toward your dreams or create a resistance.

1.    How deeply do you believe in yourself and in what you want to create?

2.    What are you wanting to contribute?  What do you expect in return?

3.    What price are you willing to pay?

4.    What might you have to give up or change?

5.    What stands in your way?  How might you overcome these obstacles and challenges?

6.    Do you have the courage to take risks and make mistakes?  How do you know?

7.    What happens when the going gets tough?

8.    Are you willing to face failure and begin again?  What opportunity does failure offer you?

Spend some quiet time journaling around these questions or form a small group with friends and share your thoughts openly.  Read a book about purpose and calling.  I’m happy to recommend Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life by Gregg Levoy.  Most important of all – keep it fun!

About the Author:
Peg McQuarrie is a certified professional coach and the owner of WellSprings Consulting.  Her passion is to support others as they step into the successful, meaningful, authentic lives they are meant to live!  For almost 20 years, she has helped individuals and work groups maximize their potential and achieve personal, business, and organizational success.  Her services include individual coaching, specialized coaching for facilitators, team coaching for work groups, and organizational consulting.
Peg earned her Masters in Education from Northern Arizona University and received her coach training through the Adler School of Professional Coaching.  She is certified by the International Coach Federation.   Learn more at www.wellspringsconsulting.com or check out her page on LinkedIn.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Your Linked-In Intervention: 5 Changes You Must Make

By Jenny Foss, Reposted from The Daily Muse

LinkedIn is, far and away, the most advantageous social networking tool available to job seekers and business professionals today. Far and away.
So why is it that so many of us stink at LinkedIn etiquette?

That’s right, folks. We stink at it.

We send out lazy, generic connection requests. We ask people we barely know for recommendations. We ambush people, asking for favors before we’ve ever spent even two seconds of time building rapport. We shove our Tweets through our LinkedIn feeds, even though half the people on LinkedIn could care less about Twitter.

You want to use LinkedIn to your massive networking advantage? Then you need to start working strategically and mindfully. And before you even think about logging on next time—you need to digest a few basic rules of etiquette.

1. Generic Requests are for Suckers
I’m going to assume that you use care in selecting who you’re going to invite into your LinkedIn network (you should). Why then, do you send them this note: “Debbie has indicated you are a friend?”
This generic invite is a huge turnoff to the majority of LinkedIn users—especially those who get dozens of requests each week, or who don’t really know who you are or why you’re attempting to link up. (Fact: I ignore each and every generic connection request I get.)
You absolutely must send a personalized note to every single person you’d like to connect with, telling them who you are and why you’re inviting them to connect. Sure, some of these people are your pals and they’ll know you right away. But in every instance that you extend an invite to a professional (or relatively unknown) contact? You have to introduce yourself and outline your goals and intentions.

2. When You Ask for a Recommendation, Be Specific (and Know the Person)
Clearly, LinkedIn recommendations can be massively advantageous. Third-party endorsements are job-seeking gold, especially when they come from clients, supervisors, or prominent professionals. So, don’t squander this opportunity by sending a vague or wishy-washy request for the recommendation (and definitely don’t ask people you barely know for an endorsement).
A great request will let the person know why you’re approaching, what, specifically, you’re looking for, and for what you intend to use the recommendation.

Hi Susan, I’m currently seeking a new project management opportunity and wanted to ask if you’d be willing to provide a recommendation outlining your experience working with me. Specifically, I’m looking at positions that require an ability to view the ‘big picture’ and then assemble resources to ensure a project is completed on time and to budget. If you could speak to my skills with managing both ‘big picture’ projects and critical details, I would be very grateful.”
It’s also a good idea to email the person directly before you send the LinkedIn recommendation request. This helps ensure that no one feels ambushed or obliged.

3. Avoid the Default Text Like the Plague
LinkedIn has some very nifty templates and default text available, which makes it so easy to do things like request an introduction to someone’s contact. Don’t do it. Just like you’re not going to send a generic connection request, you absolutely cannot use the LinkedIn default text to communicate with professional contacts. Make it personal. Make it specific. Make it clear that you’re not the laziest person alive.

4. Stop Tying Your Tweets to Your LinkedIn Feed
I don’t care how simple HootSuite and TweetDeck make it for you to integrate your Twitter feed into your LinkedIn status updates. Resist the urge. You’re dealing with two entirely different audiences, with different personalities, writing styles, and lingo.
Twitter is like a summer cocktail party. In all likelihood, not many people will bat an eye if you get drunk and fall into the pool. LinkedIn is the mixer that follows your big professional conference. Surely, you can be conversational in your LinkedIn updates. You just can’t get drunk and fall into the pool. Big difference—and good reason not to integrate the two.

5. Review Spelling and Grammar Like Your Life Depended on It
I’m continuously simultaneously entertained and horrified by the sloppy mistakes that come my way in LinkedIn requests. You want to establish a great connection or score a favor, introduction, or recommendation? Spell well. Brand yourself right from the start as a smart, articulate, and precise human being.

When it comes to LinkedIn, stop stinking, start thinking. And use these rules as your compass