Posts Tagged ‘Career change’

The New Job Didn’t Work Out. Now What?

February 17th, 2012

It was a whirlwind romance. They wooed you, you wowed them. Fine, you had a couple of misgivings, but you ignored them because this employer liked you. They really, really liked you. And who can afford to turn away an offer in today’s job market, right? You tell all your friends about your great new job. You let your parents/spouse/therapist know they can stop worrying about you. You buy new clothes, new must-have-for-the-new-job accessories.

But within the first couple of days of starting the exciting new stage of your career, your “uh oh” signals kick into high gear. This job isn’t quite what you were imagining it would be.

Maybe the corporate culture has some unhealthy undercurrents. Maybe your new colleagues or staff aren’t welcoming, or the small “p” political atmosphere is toxic. Perhaps the skills you thought you were “good enough” at or could learn on the job, they need you to be exceptional at from day one. Or the training you were promised never materializes. Or the challenges that were described as minor in the interview, turn out to be a huge cesspool of issues that will take more than one person to fix, and there is no corporate willingness to acknowledge this reality.

Whatever the reason, the job is a miss-fit, and you decide to leave, or you get pushed out.

You now face the challenge of putting yourself back into the job search arena.  It can feel overwhelming, and more than a little bit humiliating, to have to start all over again. Before you start recirculating your resume, take some time to take stock. There are valuable lessons in every career miss-fit.

 How to Find the Pony in the Pile of Fertilizer

  • With as much honesty and objectivity as you can muster, inventory what didn’t work, and what did work, in that job. Was the job different than advertised? Did they think that you were different then advertised – were they assuming that you had knowledge and skills that you didn’t have? Was it a culture misfit or a personality misfit?
  • Whatever the reasons are that the position was a miss-fit, own your share of it. Create a list of 10 to 15 “truths” or take-away lessons. Structure them as “I learned” statements. For example, “The position required me to do ABC. I learned that I need to get more training before I take a job that requires  ABC.” “The manager didn’t give me enough direction. I learned that I need to be clear at the outset in asking for direction.” “The position was completely different than advertised. I learned that I need to do more due diligence before I accept an offer.” “The position required me to develop strategy. I learned that I am better playing a tactical role.”
  • For each take-away lesson, create an action plan. What specific steps are you going to take now to help yourself feel more confident and successful if such as situation were to arise again? Try to make the action specific, measurable, and with a deadline. “I will take the Color of Communications workshop within the next three weeks so that I can better understand my communication style and learn how to communicate with people who’s style is different from my own. ” “I will practice asking the right kinds of questions in interviews so that I can better gauge culture fit.” “I will rewrite my resume to focus on my strengths as a tactician, and target my job search to positions that call for strong day-to-day leadership.”
  • Develop a communications plan. You are going to have to explain this misstep, not only to your friends/parents/spouse/therapist, but also to your network of contacts and perhaps to potential employers during job interviews (yes, there will be other interviews). Use the lessons-learned and action plan to craft a message that not only demonstrates that you understand why the job didn’t work out, but that you have the maturity and professionalism to own your share of it.
  • Decide how you will handle this position in your career marketing collateral. Will you feature it front and center in your resume, list it under “additional experience includes”, or exclude it altogether? What about on your LinkedIn profile?

Job Miss-Fits Aren’t Career Ending

There are any number of reasons why a new job turns out to be a bad fit, and it happens more often than you might think. One leadership study found that 64% of new leaders hired from the outside don’t make it past the first year. Another found that 35% of American workers quit within the first six months of taking a new job.

Hiring managers know that failure happens. They won’t judge you on the fail, they’ll judge you on how you handled it. “Weaker candidates are able to analyze failure, but they are more reluctant to acknowledge their role in it. Stronger candidates are able to analyze failure and success – and acknowledge their role in both.”

The good news is that you know you have a resume that gets noticed, and with some fine-tuning you can make sure that it is showcasing you as the perfect solution for the right kind of problem. You also know that you have the skills for managing a job search, even if you were hoping you wouldn’t have to do it quite so soon.  Armed with some new self-awareness and a plan of action, you can get back into the job search arena with confidence that you will be able to find the right-fit job for you.

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Afraid You’ll Be Laid Off? Don’t Be Passive, Take Control!

July 31st, 2010

I came across a couple of interesting surveys this week. The first one, an employee attitude survey, indicated that nearly 1 in 5 people who are currently employed fear that they will lose their jobs due to corporate downsizing. The second survey, from Mental Health America, indicated that 82% of people, when faced with a stressful situation, turn on the television or rely on other forms of distraction. There are probably few things in life more stressful than facing a real or potential layoff, but this is no time to be passive or numbed out. If you think your company may be considering layoffs, take control.

  • Make sure that you remain a superstar in your current position. Without being a total sycophant, demonstrate through your performance how you add value to the company, and how you contribute to the big picture.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to participate in special projects, especially projects involving other departments. The more people in the company who know you and can attest to your strengths, the easier it will be for you to remain gainfully employed, regardless of which side of the retain/layoff tallysheet you end up.
  • Psychologically and emotionally prepare for the worst (or for some of you the best) case scenario, that you will be let go.
  • Get your home front in order, which includes preparing and sticking to a tight budget.
  • If you haven’t been doing it all along, start putting together a portfolio of your success stories, the projects you’ve worked on, copies of your performance reviews, any emails or letters that you’ve received with positive feedback on your performance.
  • Take an inventory of the strengths and expertise you have to offer – your value proposition in today’s job market. What kinds of problems are you good at solving, and who currently has those problems? This will help narrow down the target for your job search for your next career move.
  • Get your networking tools up to date – names, titles & contact numbers of suppliers, clients, industry associates, company colleagues. This is easier to do while you are still in your job.
  • Implement a networking plan that should include online-connecting with at least a couple of new people per week and warm-connecting with people in your current network.
  • Start researching companies that you would be interested in moving to, and see who in your network of contacts might have leads into these organizations. Consider current suppliers, clients, consultants and competitors as likely candidate companies.
  • Find niche job boards in your field/industry. Set up alerts to let you know when new jobs are posted that fit your target criteria.
  • Identify reputable recruiters who specialize in your field.
  • Once you have a target for your job search and know what and to whom you are marketing yourself, prepare your resume and LinkedIn profile. For the investment of less than a few day’s salary, you can enlist the services of professional who can help you create a distinctive, targeted career marketing package.

The more you take control of your career now – before you receive notice – the less likely you are to feel paralysed with fear about layoff decisions over which you have no control.

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Jobseekers, Don’t Put All Your Eggs in the Social Networking Basket

December 16th, 2009

egg basketAs with many of my blogs, I will begin with a true confession. I’m a Twitter junkie. I enjoy exchanging banter and ideas with industry colleagues around the world. I use Twitter instead of RSS feeds to find interesting articles, blogs and people. I have lists of hundreds of recruiters and career services professionals that I follow daily. I am also on LinkedIn, and have a Facebook page for my business. So the advice I’m about to give may seem strange coming from me. But here goes.

Jobseekers, Get off the Computer Already!

The media is abuzz with news on social media, and a day rarely passes when some headline grabbing article doesn’t tout social networking as the next miracle cure for your job search. Don’t drink the kool-aid.

As somebody who is old enough to remember, it has the same hyped-up do-it-now-or-die, if-you-aren’t-doing-it-your-out-of-the-loop feel as the late 90’s when financial advisors pushed dot.com companies as must-haves in your investment portfolio. Sure, there are stories of people who social-networked their way to a new job, just as there used to be stories of dot.coms that actually made money. But now, as then, genuine success stories are few and far between.

On the job search front, you will find that the social-network-to-success stories tend to have a few things in common. The position for which the job seeker was hired had Social Media somewhere in the job title, or at a minimum in the first paragraph of the job description. More often, the job seeker actually found the job through connections they cultivated offline, but social networking helped to strengthen their credibility.

The real risk of social networking is it’s capacity to suck up hours of time in a blink of an eye, and at the end of a day spent entirely on the computer, you may be no closer to your job search goal.

Does that Mean You Should Abandon Your Social Networking Efforts? Absolutely not!

Social Networking is a useful tool in your job search arsenal. When somebody Googles your name, you need to be findable, and not just in your cousin’s wedding pictures. When a recruiter Boolean searches keywords in your area of expertise, you need to rank high in the search returns. The contributions you make to online conversations, the information you share, the contacts you make can go a long way to cementing your reputation as must-hire candidate.  Some of the contacts that you make online can evolve into strong, positive connections in the real-world.

But Social Networking needs to be one arm of a well thought out and executed job search strategy that includes cold calling companies (read Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0 for innovative ideas on how), conducting industry research so that can identify and even create opportunities, attending industry events, lunching with former colleagues and clients, and giving back to the community.

My Social Networking Recommendation for Jobseekers

Schedule time for social networking, and when the time is up, have the self-discipline to push away from the computer. Spend time each day working on the real-world connections that result in job offers. If you don’t, then chances are that while your job search competitor is being on-boarded for his new position, you will be trying to unglue eyelids that have lost the capacity to blink.

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Considering a Job Change Once the Economy Picks Up? Be Proactive

August 24th, 2009

I had lunch last week with a senior HR Manager who was contemplating leaving her job after more than 20 years with a large corporation. “I’m having trouble living with the disconnect between what the company claims are its core values, and how it is handling staff relations during this recession.” She went on to describe a litany of incidents, from a service agent who was terminated after revealing she had cancer, to an entire team that was being laid off so that the division director could meet his cost-cutting targets for his performance bonus.

In a recent LinkedIn Q&A, Jeff Lefevre, Managing Partner and Founder, JTL Services, posed the question: “Over the past 6 months employees have seen a drastic attitude change from their managers. This attitude of ‘well be happy you have a job’ is wearing thin. Have you noticed this change?”

I responded that, based on what I’m hearing from my clients and contacts, there is going to be a tsunami of job searching once the economy picks up, and some of the most active job hoppers are likely to be HR personnel who are disgusted with how companies have chosen to treat their staff.

More than a few people, from both HR and non-HR backgrounds, contacted me directly to applaud my answer and reiterate my observations. In one contact’s words, “a huge changeover in staff is coming, and I don’t think management understands exactly how deep into the organization this discontent has spread.”

If you are considering making a career change once the economy picks up, be proactive.

Don’t wait for a “tipping point” incident. Take control now by mapping out your career plans for the next six months to two years and equipping your job search arsenal.

  1. Take some time to think about your personal and professional values. I can’t emphasize the importance of this enough. It is much easier to figure out whether a new company or position is going to be a good fit for you if you are really clear about what is important to you.
  2. Go through your files and start collecting the material for your resume: projects, positive feedback, performance reviews, KPI reports, anything that you can use to support your success stories.
  3. Define your value proposition – what are the key strengths, expertise and experience that you have to offer.
  4. Investigate companies that you would like to work for. Go beyond the financials. Listen to what current employees are saying. A good source for getting the inside scoop on how employees feel about their company is the anonymous reviews in the www.glassdoor.com.
  5. Look at who is hiring in your target job market, and what qualifications they are looking for. Determine whether you need training or credential upgrades in order to be more marketable.
  6. Create at least two versions of your resume. I recommend having a detailed resume that can be easily customized to apply for specific job openings, as well as a one-page high-impact synopsis that is better suited for networking.
  7. Get a non-business email account, if you don’t already have one.
  8. Bring your LinkedIn profile up to date, and claim your web identity on Naymz and ZoomInfo.
  9. Identify and join the LinkedIn groups and industry associations that will best support you in your career transition. Start following the discussions. Stay current on the key issues, news, and trends in the industry. Find out who the “people to know” are.
  10. Make networking a priority. Find time in your calendar to make at least one new contact per week. Focus not on what they can do for you, but what you can do for them.
  11. Reconnect with colleagues from the past. It is much easier to network and reconnect when you don’t have the pressure of “need a job right now” hanging over you like an invisible sign.
  12. Not comfortable with networking? Learn how. Consider seminars such as Breaking Down Silos, where you can get some practical tools and strategies for successful networking without feeling like a snake oil salesman.

Taking control of your career plans has two positive benefits. One, it can help to minimize the sense of powerlessness that comes with being stuck in an unfulfilling job. Two, it will ensure that, when the right opportunity comes along, you have the tools in your arsenal to land your next great job.

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Meet Karen Siwak

An award-winning Certified Résumé Strategist, Karen has crafted top calibre career transition packages for thousands of clients. Her specialty is helping people identify and articulate their unique brands and value propositions, and she is passionate about empowering clients with the tools, strategies and confidence to take control of their career search. Read more...

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