Potential Portents, Ominous Omens, And The Signs Of A Job In Jeopardy!

While we often talk about how to find that dream job, the indicators that your job may be going away, either via layoff or firing, are often overlooked. Think your job may be in jeopardy? Look for these signs and make sure you’re prepared if and when that time comes.

• Responsibility Reorganization
If you’re suddenly given new responsibilities that require unrealistic achievements, it can be an effort to show you can’t do what your employer considers necessary, which could indicate it’s time for you to look elsewhere. Conversely, if your responsibilities are downgraded or lessened, it’s likely a sign that either you’re no longer considered vital or the company no longer has the business to keep you busy.

• The Open Door Policy Comes To A Close
Is your boss no longer receptive to your ideas? Are you no longer included in meetings that affect you and your responsibilities? Are there an unusual number of closed door meetings between your boss and his superiors? If the doors that were formerly open and inviting start to slam shut, then it may be time for you to consider other options, and close the book on this chapter of your career.

• Beware The New Kid In Town
Got a new boss? Whenever a new exec comes in, you have to prove yourself all over again in a very short period of time. If your style clashes with the new guy, or he or she prefers their own team, you and your job could be on borrowed time.

• A Consultant By Any Other Name…
…Is still there to assess your job and your performance. While the movie Office Space captured the role of a consultant (and office layoffs) in wildly funny fashion, an outside consultant assessing you and your skills is no laughing matter. If a new face is suddenly just a bit too friendly or too interested in what you do, be prepared. Be ready to present what you bring to the table and what you do for your company. A consultant’s arrival doesn’t mean you’ll be losing your job, but it does mean your company is considering changes. You might also keep an eye on your stapler

• Put Me In Coach!
While a career coach is always a good idea, when the suggestion comes from your boss, it could be a subtle warning for you to start looking for new work. Granted, it could also mean your company wants you to be able to grow into new responsibilities but, either way, changes could be afoot. Don’t get caught flat-footed!

Individually, any of these signs may not necessarily mean your job is in jeopardy. However, if you see one or more of these indicators, it’s good advice to have your résumé up to date, your interview suit cleaned and pressed, and your interview skills sharp and ready to help you find a new dream job!

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Jobs May Come And Go But A “Send” Is Forever!

174255197We’ve talked previously about how what you post on social networks can adversely affect your professional life. However, after reading the story that broke in early October about a Power Point presentation emailed out “to a few friends” by a Duke University student detailing and rating her sexual encounters, it’s apparent not everyone got the message.

If you didn’t hear about it, Duke University grad Karen Owen summarized 13 sexual partners she had during her time in school in a 42 slide Power Point presentation (designed to look like a senior thesis), providing names, photos, details, and individual ratings of each partner and encounter. Unfortunately, Ms. Owen then emailed her “F— List” to a few friends, one of whom (not surprisingly) forwarded it and (not surprisingly) it ultimately landed on the website deadspin.com. Within hours, Owen’s list was all over the Internet and she was known the world over for all the wrong reasons.

Obviously Ms. Owen never meant her list to go public. However, the second she hit SEND, she lost control over who saw her “thesis,” and her private little list became a public embarrassment.

Beyond the fact that she did make a list and did bother sharing with even a few friends, think about where Ms Owen stands professionally today. No one has said if or where she’s employed but, assuming she doesn’t have a job, who would hire her now? What about five years from now? While the furor will certainly blow over, a Google search of “Karen Owen, Duke University” will forever bring up her list and her notoriety.

Now think about what you send via email, Twitter, what you post on Facebook, and even the texts you send and voice mails you leave (Brett Favre, I’m talking about you!). Remember that no matter what you’re sending and no matter who you’re sending it to, in a the digital age, everything you email, post, tweet, text, or record should be considered public and potentially permanent once you hit SEND. Is that off-color joke, risque pic, or even that funny list worth putting your career at stake?

© Ph Communications, 2010

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Beware The Résumé Killers

Human resource managers can see hundreds of résumés a day. That means yours likely has 60 seconds or less to catch their eye. And, while you need to take the time to craft a quality, professional résumé that will knock ’em dead, make sure you also take care to avoid these résumé killers that can kill your chances in no time.

1. The Typo Trigger
Nothing will ruin your chance to make a good first impression faster than typos on your résumé. Spell check is great, but it often misses synonyms (there and their), poor grammar, and punctuation errors. And it certainly doesn’t catch errors that are spelled correctly, i.e. manager and manger. Proofread your résumé several times by reading it aloud one word at a time and then read it aloud backwards. After that, have a friend read it over.

2. The Random Shooter
Since no two jobs are the same, don’t send out the same, generic cover letter and résumé every time. Instead, tailor each cover letter and résumé to each position and employer so that it will reflect how you are the ideal candidate for their job.

3. The Style Strangler
There are plenty of places in this world to show your flair, but your résumé isn’t one of them! Keep your résumé paper white or off-white and limit your font selection to clean and simple, sans serif selections, such as Arial, Helvetica, or Futura.

4. The Oversharing Overkiller
Human resource managers are looking at how you might fit into their company. However, sharing excess personal information and hobbies that don’t apply to your skills for the job will just distract from the more important parts of your résumé. Your résumé is supposed to help you get a job, not tell the world what you do in your free time.

5. The Background Stabber
A résumé isn’t the place for negativity. Mention why you left or are leaving your previous position only if you’re asked. And even then, frame it so it reflects positively on you and your skills.

Don’t Overlook the Accessories to the Crime!
Remember the little things too. Always send a cover letter (or email) and apply the same rules above. Limit your résumé to two pages, though one is better. Be truthful about your previous work and periods of employment, since it’s now easier than ever to uncover inaccuracies. And finally, make sure at every turn that your cover letter and résumé effectively reflect what you can bring to a company. Anything else can kill your résumé in the eyes of a human resources manager and poison your chances of landing that new job!

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What The Beatles Can Teach You About Your Job

Recently, I read a book entitled, You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After The Breakup by Peter Doggett. In it, the author details the breakup of what many consider the greatest band ever, as well as the aftermath that enveloped the various other business entities that grew out of the group.  While it was certainly a breakup caused by creative differences, the Beatles‘ parting was, in a sense, a business breakup as well.  The four lads from Liverpool who started with little but a dream in 1960 were, by 1969, vastly different people, each with different viewpoints, different ideas as to their role in the band and the world at large, larger egos, and even bigger bank accounts (to say nothing of the effects of their use of mind altering substances and belief in the power of 1960s era hippie idealism).  Though Doggett offers no opinions on who to blame for the ultimate breakup of the Beatles, in its’ simplest sense, the four primary employees of what became a huge corporation could no longer stand to work together.

So what does any of this have to do with employment?  Well consider your current position versus where you started.  If you find your job description, responsibilities, or expectations are different, and you’re not happy about it then, believe it or not, you have something in common with the Fab Four!  And like John, Paul, George, and Ringo, you can do something about it. It’s never too late to start planning your next career move and it is always better for you to decide to move on, rather than the company telling you it is time for you to look for new employment.

Especially in today’s environment, don’t overlook the fact that the company you’re currently working for may be merged/acquired and the name changed. Consider names like Arthur Anderson, Enron, Standard Oil… Some merged, some broke-up, some went belly-up, but the end result was the same. That company was and is no more.

As the Beatles so aptly sang a long time ago, it is a Hard Day’s Night, the world of employment is ever-changing, and you simply can’t afford to Let It Be. Ultimately, it’s more fun for you to be in control of that change than it is to give the control to someone else. And if You Are The Walrus, don’t you want to be the one that decides where you swim?

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How Do You See Yourself?

Recently, I read a post about Perception on another blog and it got me thinking about what one hears often from people considering a career change.  That is, “I just don’t see myself as (insert career choice here).”

That’s why, if you’re at a career crossroads, a Career Coach can come in handy.  Why?  Because their job is to look at you objectively and help you find the career where you do see yourself succeeding.

How do they do that?  First, a Career Coach will assess you, how you work, and your strengths and weaknesses.  From there, you can establish a plan of action that will emphasize your strengths to help you achieve your goal.

A Career Coach can also help sharpen your game, be it your résumé, your interviewing skills, your job skills, or even your basic attire.  A coach can also be your biggest supporter, but also that objective opinion source who’s not afraid to tell it like it is.  And that’s an important part of how others, such as potential employers, see you!

If you’re ready to get into a different game, you need game-changing advice.  And helping you get on top of your game is what a Career Coach can do for you!

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A Five-Point Plan To Find A Perfect Job

By Kari Mirabal

Thinking of looking for a new job?  Then, before you consider salary and office perks, think about your current career position and determine if satisfaction and growth potential rank high on your personal fulfillment ranking.  There are a lot of reasons people change jobs but, ultimately, if the position you were hired for isn’t satisfying you and you don’t feel you’re going anywhere professionally or growing personally, that’s when you should consider developing a new plan of action for your career transition.

Out of fear that their perfect job doesn’t exist, some people opt for a new position that neither challenges or excites them.  Others simply don’t have the time, desire, or wherewithal to put the work into what it would take to go after their ideal position.  Thus, job seekers often don’t take the time to create a plan to reach their objectives.  And, if you haven’t developed your plan, finding yourself disappointed with your career decision isn’t uncommon.  That’s why every professional, regardless of job status, should conduct their own career assessment annually.

Not sure where to start?  Consider these steps to create a plan of action that can put you on the path to finding the perfect job for you:

1. Evaluate Your Dissatisfaction – Take a moment to consider what you don’t like about your current position.  Are there opportunities for you to step to the plate and volunteer your time/experience to help the challenge?  Successful career professionals look for opportunities to shine and help organizations versus complaining.  Be part of a positive change in your workplace – you may be able to fix your own challenges by developing creative solutions to the problems you have identified.

2. Complete a Self-Assessment – What do you enjoy doing at work?  What transfer-able skills do you possess?  Are there interests, values, abilities, and or specific industries you prefer to work in?  Write these thoughts down and use them as a reference for evaluating job offers and positions you proactively apply to.  If the job posting doesn’t offer similar skills, chances are you’ll be unhappy in the long run.  Don’t settle!  Keep searching.

3. Communicate with your manager – Don’t wait for your annual performance appraisal to evaluate your career path.  Discuss productivity, career satisfaction, and performance by initiating a conversation with your manager.  Ask for recommendations, volunteer to take projects that align with your career goals, develop suggestions to help the company, then offer to drive these initiatives.

4. Continue to Network – Evaluate your professional network and maintain these contacts.  Staying abreast of changes in specific industries or fields through contacts you have can help you understand trends.  This information is vital during interviews or transitions at your own company.  Talk to professionals in your field of interest and ask questions to determine if transitioning into this direction would be beneficial for you and your skills.

5. Seek Career Advice – You work with dentists when your teeth hurt.  You work with personal trainers when you need help putting together a fitness program.  You take your car to the shop when advice is needed for maintenance.  A Career Adviser or Career Coach can discuss your professional objectives and help you develop a plan that works!

Finally, take time to step away and evaluate how you may have outgrown your current position.  Try to figure out what’s changed; the actual work requirements and expectations or your personal objectives.  If you’re outgrowing your current position, take steps to change direction and don’t give up.  Career transition can be difficult but, in the end, the work you put in to create a plan of action can pay off with a perfect new job!

Kari Mirabal is a Career Advisor, IT Recruiter and Speaker specializing in helping individuals clarify their career goals and develop action plans to attain them through career transitions.

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The Power of People

While we often speak about the importance of networking in a job search, take a few moments to consider these three stories…

In the 1930s, my Uncle managed the Kent Coffee Shop in the western Kansas town of Ellis. During that time, he got know one of his vendors, a man who sold coffee and coffee filters.  A few years later, as the Great Depression continued, the man, looking to catch up to an old acquaintance, randomly found my Uncle’s name in the Wichita phone book, where both were then living.  Acting on a whim, the man called my Uncle and, as they caught up, mentioned that he needed a job.  My Uncle, then working in the Cessna plant, invited the man down the next day to go to work for him.  Both men wound up retiring from Cessna, but I first heard this story in 2006, when the man’s daughter came to my Uncle’s wake service to pay her respects to the man her father had told them about their whole lives, the man who gave him the job that became a lifetime career, my Uncle, Penny Windholz.

In 1970, a young Navy lieutenant and a distinguished, older gentleman met in a Washington, D.C. waiting room.  Comparing their meeting to passengers on a plane, the inquisitive Navy officer, who was nearing the end of his service and worried about what he’d do with the rest of his life, began peppering the quiet and reserved older man with questions.  Discovering some shared experiences, the younger man asked the older man for his phone number and, over the next few years, called him frequently.  When the younger man emerged from the Navy, the older man became a source of advice, direction, and even a career coach. Their relationship would become life-changing when the younger man, Bob Woodward, by then a reporter for the Washington Post, became known the world over for helping to expose the Watergate conspiracy, which led to numerous criminal investigations, convictions, and ultimately, the resignation of President Richard Nixon.  The older man also became known to world, as Deep Throat, the deep background source that helped guide Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they unraveled the maze of Watergate.  Though Woodward swore that he would never reveal his friend’s identity while he was still alive, Mark Felt, the number two man in the FBI during the Nixon presidency, revealed himself as Deep Throat in 2005.

In the mid-1980s, Oklahoma was still recovering the bust in the oil industry.  This hit home for me as my father, who was the truck sales manager at a Ford dealership in Oklahoma City, followed record sales years during the waning years of the boom in the early 80’s with record numbers of repossessions, as struggling oil companies had to hand back the trucks they’d purchased during the good times.  Another casualty of the bust was Sooner Ford, one of my father’s primary truck sales competitors.  Within days of Sooner’s closing, one of their salesmen, who had been acquainted with my father over the years, appeared in his office seeking a job.  The man returned several times over the next few weeks to check in with my Dad, and to use the office as a base to freelance a few truck deals with some of his customers.  Apparently, his persistence paid off, as my Dad ultimately hired him and he’s still selling trucks for the same dealership to this day.

So, what do all these stories have in common?  People.

In the cyber age, we’d call what occurred in each of the stories leveraging your network.  However, in the days before the Internet, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and email, it was called cultivating your relationships.  And the important thing to take from all this is, ultimately, regardless of how big your network is, it won’t do you much good unless you take the time to cultivate relationships with the people behind the contact name.  Though there’s still room for hundreds or even thousands of contacts in your job search network, remember that the most important part of any job or job search is, first and foremost, people and the relationship you have with them!  And whether those people are current or former co-workers, competitors, associates, vendors, or just friends you make along the way, the relationships you grow today can blossom into a new job tomorrow!

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