How You Can Undo Your Career Change Goals Without Even Realizing It

Yea, that’s right. I’m talking to you. You’ve been talking about a career change for awhile, and while you think you’re doing all the right things, nothing happens. You’re really truly in it to win it- you apply to job after job, you’re out there networking and it’s starting to be a real drag, amirite?

I see this all the time, so if this is speaking to you right now, you are not alone. Because it’s important to me that people committed to change actually have it happen, I started compiling notes of anecdotal evidence on this and I’ve noticed a few scenarios where despite our best intentions, we can unwittingly undermine our progress. I want to share a couple, along with some tips on how to avoid it here.

 

career stress

  1. Mutlitasking: It’s well documented that our decision making power and effectiveness wanes as the day goes on. Add multi-tasking into the mix and you’re pretty much waging a losing battle. I know job descriptions galore talk about the need to multitask, but I’d like to propose the notion of monotasking, just focusing on one thing at a time. During your workday, you’ll be more effective and less tired, giving you more energy for an evening job search session. (Or better yet, try to get an hour of job search tasks in before you head to work!) For some help on how to do this, I always refer clients to Better Than Before, a book by Gretchen Rubin on cultivating habits that work for your personality type.
  2. Being Too Available/No Boundaries: Last week, a client mentioned that she had had a horrible week at work and had gotten little of the career change homework done. When we dove into her week, we could really see her role in it. For example, she made the decision to work the rest of the day at home to get things done, but once there, opened up her email and her work instant messenger. Instantly, messages came across all platforms and before she knew it, she was knee jerk reacting to everything at once (see: multitasking too). At the end of it, she was exhausted, irritated and unable to do much of anything besides order takeout and veg in front of the TV. It’s critical to create some boundaries for this and you can start by influencing the behavior in a way that suits you. When those IMs came in, for example, who said she had to answer them instantly? We’ve somehow created a culture for immediate response and it’s detrimental to company output (but I digress) and worker sanity. If you don’t answer instantly (or better yet, turn off your devices for time to get actual work done), then they won’t answer instantly back. You’re influencing the behavior you want. And if your current company is especially rigid on this, it may be time for a frank conversation that frames it in terms of benefits for the company. For some help on how to do this, I always refer clients to the book Essentialism, by Greg McKeown.
  3. Not Developing the Mindfulness Muscle: All of the above planning and strategizing would be for naught if you never pay attention to how you play a role in all of this and how you feel in those dizzying moments at your current job. If you’re just going through the motions, it’s hard to get habits and boundaries and monotasking, etc to stick. At the beginning and end of each work day, I suggest asking yourself how you feel, what you want to accomplish today and why that’s important (or what you accomplished) and what you’d do differently tomorrow. You can of course create your own questions that work for you, but the idea is to keep it simple so you can stick with it until….drumroll please….it becomes habit.

So, these are some ways I’ve seen people unwittingly sabotage themselves in the career change process. For some more riffing on this from another angle, how to stay focused at work when you mind is on your career change, join my online class here.

Networking Emails: How to Get a Response

Ok, so you’ve gotten on board with the fact that networking is part of the game plan when it comes to career changes or job jumps. But now when it comes down to it, you actually have to…go out there and network.

If you’re like many of my clients (or me before, say, 2014), this is not exciting news. I get it- when you first get started, it can be pit-in-the-stomach-dreadful, but it DOES get better with time, I swear!

So, for those emails where you’re reaching out to someone in your network, or someone you know has made an introduction for you – what the heck do you say to get the result you want?!

networking

Here are the 4 Key Components to writing a networking email that will get you the response you want:

Outcome: Know what action you want the recipient to take- be super specific. Then include that in your “Ask” in the body of the email. Are you interested in a specific job and want to talk it over? Do you want to meet for a coffee or phone chat? Say that. (And while you’re at it, specify a few times so they can quickly check their calendar, but also say you have availability to be flexible since they’re doing YOU the favor. Make sure you have varying times (pre-work, lunch, post-work for example), keeping their schedule and what might be best for them in mind.

Length: Use the KISS Method, (Keep it Simple, Stupid!). These really shouldn’t be much longer than a paragraph or two. If it’s someone you don’t know and you aren’t being introduced, a brief 4-5 sentence bio, tailored for your ask/outcome is a good idea. Don’t just copy your bio from LinkedIn- relate it to your specific ask. It will probably be similar but you don’t want to sound static.

Do Your Homework: Know something about the person, what they do, and/or their company to immediately connect with the recipient in the first sentence or two. Maybe they recently published an article. Maybe you saw them speak or heard a good thing about their work. Include that! It shows you’re paying attention and are looking for more than a quick do-me-a-favor fix. Make sure the language you use in the networking email indicates that you want to build a relationship, rather than take-take-take!

Do Their Homework: If you’re emailing about a specific position, make sure you quickly connect how your experience is a fit for the specific role in the networking email. Do the work so they don’t have to! If you just can’t quite seem to stick to the KISS method, the other option is to bold/underline a couple of headings within the email, so people can skim and jump around. So “A little about me:” or “How I can help in this role”….but I always opt for KISS when possible :)

This is just a little down and dirty in terms of a fool-proof method to get responses from people you really want to hear from. If you want more of this, sign up directly below to get tips and tools direct to your inbox that can help you jumpstart a new career!

 

What to Do When Your Job Makes You Feel Insane

Maybe you can relate: you’re doing a good job, your work is of high quality and you’re feeling like you’re getting into your groove at your new-ish job, when suddenly things don’t seem as good as they were at the onset. Suddenly, you’re told you’re not meshing with the culture or it’s not “as much of a ‘culture fit’ as we originally thought.” Say WHA??? You may ask yourself if you’re going insane.

Whoa, what? But everything was going so well! My work product is great and on time or early, you might be thinking. I am displaying all the signs that I want to learn, you might be telling your management team. What gives?!

 

insane

This kind of situation can be confusing and make for an almost out of body experience. I remember when it happened to me a few years ago, I was so confused, scared, flummoxed, flabbergasted, and every other word that basically denotes “WTF!” I remember feeling like I was going insane- the things that management was saying about me and to me were so foreign and weird, that I didn’t know what to do. (I’m still trying to find the words to share more of that experience, in hopes it can help someone in a similar situation, but I haven’t quite gotten there yet.)

I felt the need to write something in the interim about this, because I’ve recently worked with two clients on issues like this. They’ve broken down in our meetings, and my heart goes out to them, because I know what it’s like to be in those shoes. (I got so upset on my birthday a couple of years ago, and I worked myself up so much, that I vomited.)

Now, of course, there are difficult employees. But assuming that you are not one of them, and you’re dealing with this very real situation where you’re feeling the tide is turning and this wall of resistance is building against you, I wanted to share the following advice/perspective.

1. You may feel insane, but you most likely aren’t. Since you’re spending so much time there, their interpretation of this situation can feel like reality and like you’re doomed, but you’re not. Once I realized that I was dealing with an untenable situation, I developed an exit plan and developed a relationship with another company where I worked as a contractor for a couple of years as I built my coaching practice. Working there was a fabulous and nurturing experience and it reversed my PTSD-esque brief experience with the other company.

2. The good news is, you’re not entrenched. What I mean by this, is the majority of times that I’ve seen this happen, it’s early on in your ‘residency’ at the company. In other words, things turn bad quick, and it’s easier to disentangle yourself from the situation. You’re not on a million projects and a key lynchpin at the company. Of course, it IS possible for that to happen, but it’s not as likely. This makes your exit plan that much easier. You can likely move on and remove the experience from your resume, as I did. (My experience was also with a less than ethical company, in my opinion, so I didn’t want my name associated with them.)

3. Take Care of Yourself. I can’t believe how when this was going on how I wasn’t paying attention to how I was feeling and what I was doing. I threw up for Pete’s sake! Know that it WILL get better and try to focus instead on your wellness. Meditating, going to the gym, talking with a coach or therapist or friend about it- whatever it takes to not internalize the horrible insane situation and instead let it out in a cathartic way. Do what makes you happy, get to a good baseline and when you’re feeling calm and ok, develop your exit plan and GTFO (get the eff out) ASAP. This involves getting in touch with your network- another good reason to keep them top of mind always- and seeing what’s out there, even if it’s a temporary fix to your situation (freelance, project based work, for example).

What else can you do to maintain your sanity when you feel like you’re going nuts? Leave some comments below for me!

 

Tip of the Week: Should I Apply To Many Types of Jobs?

Q: Ideally, I’d like to get a copywriter position, but I’ve been telling recruiters that I’m also interested in social media positions as well because my last two full-time positions have been social media ones. What thoughts do you have on how best to position myself and my personal brand?

A: It is truly all about being clear in your personal brand positioning. Having multiple options may seem like a good idea (“I could do social media or marketing or…”) but it really only confuses recruiters and dilutes your value proposition. Also, your LinkedIn is key to telling your story- using that summary space they give you and having a good solid headline with appropriate keywords so that you can be searched for is important. I’m including a link to my online class on this here.  

Ok so how do you tell your story (if you don’t want to watch me on video explain it)?

  1. Know Your Path: This may go without saying, but if you’re changing careers, it is tough to dive into this whole articulating personal brand thing. You may be easily able to say where you’ve been, but you’re unable to connect it to where you’re headed, which is a crucial component to the whole shebang.
  2. Articulate the Needs of your Field/Industry: This isn’t an exercise in writing about or speaking about how great you are (although it can be a good pickmeup!). Instead, take the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) approach. What are the perennial or new needs of the industry you’re trying to break into or move up in? How do you add value in those areas?
  3. Write or Dictate Your Long Form Personal Narrative: Sometimes (usually!) bringing together everything you’ve done in order to pull out the salient points can be difficult. I highly recommend writing out or telling your story to someone. Telling it to someone, like a coach, partner, colleague or friend and having them capture what you’re saying is a super helpful exercise and one I work on with clients all the time. The end result is that they’re able to pull in elements to their story that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle. I did this recently with a client working in wealth management as we transitioned her to auditing, and she came up with really important points that tied her whole story together. The end result is that she was able to clearly ‘sell’ her new employer on why someone with no auditing experience was right for the role, and she got it!

Personal brand is something we spend serious time on in the 30 Day Swift Kick in the Pants Career Change online bootcamp starting February 23. You’ll spend a week of this bootcamp honing your personal brand and understanding how to apply it to your LinkedIn, cover letters and resume. End result? You get noticed more for the actual jobs you WANT. Here’s the info and a link to register– early bird discounts still apply for a bit longer!

Career Change: Networking for Informational Interviews

It was ‘off the chain’ last week at GA (I’m not sure what cool people say anymore) as we talked about using networking to snag coffee date or an informational interview (or maybe even a real interview!) for a career change.

I’m still getting emails and calls from participants who are telling me about their favorite nuggets, which I thought I’d include below for those of you that weren’t able to make it:

Erin: Getting Organized! It’s so simple, yet something she said she never considered. So this involves creating your own master manipulatable spreadsheet of your key contacts in your desired field or industry. I do recommend creating this from scratch so that the people on your list have been carefully thought of, rather than downloading your LinkedIn contacts into a csv or Excel file, but that’s an option too. You want it on excel so that you can sort columns and prioritize easily. There are several key areas you’ll want to include to make this as easy and intuitive as possible. Screenshot below!Screenshot 2016-02-01 09.21.58

Desiree: Cold emails. Let’s face it- we all want a warm intro or some sort of in when contacting someone as we go through our carer change, but it’s not always possible and you gotta reach out cold. We went through the key components of a cold email and the art of the cold email. Each cold email will have a different angle (e.g. asking for an interview versus wanting to set up a research phone chat) Here’s a checklist of must-dos:

  • Connect with the recipient immediately
  • Keep it concise and to the point- don’t restate your name at the beginning- they know it from their inbox!
  • If you’re transitioning careers, briefly state that and connect the dots for how where you’ve been matters to where your’e going (do this one if appropriate for the reason for the email)
  • Make a SPECIFIC ASK. (“Would you have 15 minutes to chat via phone over the next two weeks? I am available <insert 3-4 times here>”)
  • State your plan for follow up. (e.g. “If you have an assistant you’d rather me go through, please connect us and I’ll take you out of the scheduling!” or “I know you might be busy with X, so I’ll follow up in a couple of weeks if I don’t hear from you”
  • Take care with your language. In other words, saying things like, “I was wondering, if you had any time at all, I’d really love to meet with you, and will work entirely around your schedule.” You want to be available but not sound desperate. People often forget they have a LOT to offer an employer and as a result include timid language in their outreach. Stop!

Richele. Mindset. It’s important to be in the right mindset when it comes to networking, guys. Understand how to reframe it from an ‘icky’ snakeoil salesman kind of thing and more toward mutual benefit can really help. Also thinking SPECIFICS in terms of what you want to get out of the meeting or info interview ahead of time will really help you plan your meeting accordingly. It can be daunting to networking in a new field as you’re going through a career change so this is especially important in those scenarios.

Even if you weren’t at the meeting last week, what other tips for networking events and informational interviews have worked for you for your career change?? Leave it in the comments below?