3 Bad Career Habits NOT to Carry Into the New Year

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Navigating alone from the safety of your computer
This is one of the worst habits to carry with you for another year. Especially if you’ve been in a job search for longer than 6 months or you’re not getting any of the right phone calls. It’s high time to start employing other options in your search. Things like recruiter engagement and people networking. I know you don’t want to feel like you’re using people…so don’t. Don’t just call people when you need something. Be more proactive and stay in touch with your treasured connections. If you need some help, download the free eBook How to Use LinkedIn in 15 Minutes Per Day.

Listening to bad advice
Like…your resume has to be one page, or NOT heeding wisdom that says your resume is not just a mere listing of everything you’ve ever done. It is, in fact, a strategic ad campaign that will help your future employers see the value of learning more about you in an interview. It should be custom. Every time.  

Continuing to think you can’t - letting fear stop you
Listen, I’m no stranger to fear, but I decide almost on a daily basis that I do have what it takes. I am enough. I do have enough intelligence, I can command that larger stage, etc. Whatever IT is, you are more than a conqueror and it’s time you start acting like it. Fear is clever. It will show up in the form of procrastination, submitting 1 application vs. 5, and coming up with a reason you can’t attend that professional function. Stay alert!

 FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
If you’ve been interested in earning a promotion or a pay increase, but it hasn’t happened yet (and you don’t exactly know why) then, Project 2020 may be just what the doctor ordered. There’s even a discounted early registration through Dec. 14th, 2018 and main registration is open until January 8th, 2019. Get all the details here at Project 2020.

Written by Brenda M. Cunningham: The one who will tell you like it is and help you get to where you want to be in your career.  To learn more about our career services, visit us at www.pushcareermanagement.com

How Your “Spending” Habits Impact Your Career

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As you may have guessed from the quotation marks, there is more than the mere spending of your dollars that I’ll be addressing here. Well, I’m currently reading Seize the Day: Living on Purpose and Making Everyday Count, by Joyce Meyer (one of my favorite spiritual authors), and she shared a very profound thought. Here’s her example:

“If we purchase something with money and we aren’t happy with it, we can usually take it back…and get our money back…but time is not like that. Once it is gone, it cannot ever be regained.”

WHOA!!! And since I’m wired to see things through the lens of careers, I immediately thought of you (those who pay attention to my writings). I was arrested by this thought as I recalled how many times my to-do list never got completed because I allowed numerous distractions to invade my time. I think about just the other day when I had a noble goal to attend to, but my precious time was lost in another round of pointless Facebook scrolling.

Then, I think of how much time I’ve wasted simply being afraid. Afraid of failing, afraid of winning, afraid of adverse reactions to something I said or did and so I would take refuge in the familiar dwelling of procrastination. This leads me to share some things you should be spending time on in order to see major advances in your career:

1. Planning out your day (before it begins)

2. Devotion (prayer, spiritual study, and encouragement)

3. Planning your meals (to include options that help you perform at your best)

4. Keeping your work area clean (clutter is a distraction)

5. Weekly (or daily) check-ins on your goals

6. Documenting major accomplishments in your work

7. Updating your resume (at least once per year)

8. De-cluttering your home

9. Reading / Professional Development / Current Events

10. Money Management

11. Exercise (whatever that looks like to you)

12. Personal / Family Healthcare

And as we are fully enveloped by one of my favorite months of the year, we are reminded to be grateful and…yes, your time is precious and limited, but you’ll rarely ever regret doing kind things for other people. So in the month of Thanksgiving, consider sacrificing some of your scrolling, binging, or mindless watching time to make a difference in someone else’s world. Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you enjoyed this perspective. Click here to schedule a consultation with me especially if you know you have gotten out of control with your time and it’s impacting your career.

Written by Brenda M. Cunningham: The one who will tell you like it is and help you get to where you want to be in your career.  To learn more about our career services, visit us at www.pushcareermanagement.com

OMG! The Things I Learned That Will Benefit Your Job Search and Career!

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First of all, don’t you just love Seattle? The fall foliage and changing colors are quite a welcome change from the desert brown that I’m used to in Phoenix, AZ. Although it was mostly raining and cold for The National Resume Writers’ Association conference, it was magnificent because I had an opportunity to reconnect with old friends and colleagues, impart new knowledge onto my peers, and gain some insights on what the future holds for your resume and career. I will be sharing my top highlights and takeaways with you because I still care about your careers, and I am even better equipped to help you navigate the competitive job search terrain. 

ONE | You as a job seeker can view applicant insights after 10 people have “Easy Applied” through LinkedIn. This can be very telling to see how you stack up.

TWO | Yes, resume software and templates do exist but know this…they cannot always help you win with resume scanning software (Applicant Tracking Software) and they most certainly cannot encourage you or extract the right details out of your stories. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is real, but human is still better. 

THREE | The top professions most likely to be taken over by robots in the next 20 years: Telemarketers(already happening), Accountant and AuditorsRetail Sales Professionals(i.e. Amazon), Real Estate Agents(Open Door and other streamline selling solutions). But don’t worry if your occupation is on this list shared by Ms. Prospero, just get busy understanding how you’ll contribute to the development of the technology, so you’ll stay relevant even when the robots come.

FOUR | Be a real person, not a grey box. It’s still super important to have a nice, non-selfie profile picture on LinkedIn (and wherever you are searching). 

FIVE | Not all recommendations are helpful. If you have old, irrelevant recommendations on LinkedIn that speak to an older profession…get in there and hide those so your more helpful comments can be highlighted. 

And…dun, dun, dunnnnnn...my favorite (paraphrased) quote by @Kendra Prospero was, “It’s time to up-skill so you never even have to bother receiving a pink slip. Stay in demand!”

I hope you enjoyed these, visit www.pushcareermanagement.com to subscribe to our mail list where I’ll be publishing even more helpful hints, and/or click here to schedule a consultation with me.

Written by Brenda M. Cunningham: The one who will tell you like it is and help you get to where you want to be in your career.  To learn more about our career services, visit us at www.pushcareermanagement.com

Update Your Resume Month - Part 1

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September is National Update Your Resume Month and I’m going to tell you how you can be prepared for it in this super short video. I’ll see you next month for part 2.

This episode: Why you should care and what ingredients you need to gather.

Thanks for watching, hope you enjoyed it and I pray that you are pushing yourself to do the work to make sure you’re always in the ready position.

ADDITIONAL NUGGETS: IT'S TIME TO UPDATE YOUR RÉSUMÉ WHEN...

When your car is broken, you know you need a mechanic. If you've got a persistent cough, you call a doctor. But you might not be able to recognize the symptoms of when your career is in trouble, or who to turn to when you need help.

It's time to update your résumé when...

  • Your current résumé isn't working. If you're not getting enough calls -- or you're getting calls, but they're for the wrong types of jobs -- from your current résumé.

  • You got a request for a current résumé -- and you don’t have one. If you’re contacted by a headhunter or prospective employer for a current résumé and you’ve never had one, or yours is not up-to-date.

  • You’re in the market for a career change. Especially if you’re not sure about how to position your transferable experience and skills.

  • You’re unsure of your market worth. If you’ve been at your current company for a long time, you might have lost touch with your value to an employer.

  • You’re in a rut. If you’re stuck in a position and need something dramatic to get unstuck, particularly if your salary is stagnant.

  • You need a résumé that stands out. If you’re looking for a position in a competitive field, like pharmaceutical sales or sports promotion.

  • You’re too modest. If you find it hard to identify and quantify your accomplishments to address employer buying motivators, it can be helpful for a third party to identify your value and express what a great find you are.

  • You don’t have time to write one yourself. Which format is appropriate? What do employers want? How do I format the résumé?

  • You’re self-employed and are looking for a “real” job. The “jack-of-all-trades” approach can be daunting for a prospective employer. Target your core skills.

  • You’re re-entering the job market after an absence. Don’t know how to account for that lost time? Unsure which of your skills will be attractive to employers?

  • You’re a senior executive -- and you have to look on paper like you’re worth that six-figure salary. If you’re good at what you do -- and your salary reflects it -- your résumé must match that expectation.

Written by Brenda M. Cunningham: The one who will tell you like it is and help you get to where you want to be in your career.  To learn more about our career services, visit us at www.pushcareermanagement.com

Be You or Fit In?

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**THIS MESSAGE IS FOR THE NON-VANILLA PROFESSIONALS OUT THERE AND THE COMPANIES THAT ARE UNSURE IF THEY SHOULD HIRE YOU**

Honestly, I’ve been avoiding this topic for a long time simply because I didn’t have an answer. Truth be told, I still don’t, but it came up AGAIN during an interview skills class I was teaching.   Since I know this is on the minds of many non-traditional looking professionals (whatever that is), I wanted to at least address it and perhaps solicit some of your feedback.  Hopefully you will begin to further shape my opinion on the matter.

The topic of personal style choice vs. fitting in to Corporate America has so many facets that I won’t even dare to address them all. But let’s focus on interview appearance and the concept of diversity.

For many years, the teachings on interview attire have been pretty simple. Wear clean, one-level-up attire. Some who are still holding on to pre-modern days are even advising ladies to wear pantyhose and navy blue or black suits (as if that outdated uniform is still available on most retail shelves). So if our clothing has caught up, why hasn’t society lovingly embraced diversity of style when it comes to hair and body art (tattoos)? 

Does the presence of bold, natural styles somehow disqualify an otherwise skilled professional? Do tattoos so blur your view of my skills that you would dismiss an extremely talented worker? Are you holding on to outdated views of what a professional looks like?

Corporations tend to boast about workplace diversity, but truth be told, the moment someone walks into an interview with purple hair and piercings their abilities are silenced by the deafening bias ringing in their ears. Then, the corporate players return to a more simplistic version of diversity (race and gender). But diversity comes in so many forms…it comes in diversity of character, thought, and creativity. And just a heads up, there are many innovation-focused brands out there who will scoop up these amazingly talented people in a heartbeat. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself in very bland company that only caters to customers who look and think like you do.

If I offend your customers by my very existence, do I really want to work for your company and could I ever be an effective ambassador for your brand? These are the questions (not answers) that I will leave you with. I welcome your comments as I’m still in search for the best answer too--do I have to tone down my unique appearance in order to land a position in today’s Corporate America?

If you need help with your interviews and you think your appearance may be a factor in job rejections, click here to schedule a consultation with me.

P.S. And no, you cannot touch my hair!

Written by Brenda M. Cunningham: The one who will tell you like it is and help you get to where you want to be in your career.  To learn more about our career services, visit us at www.pushcareermanagement.com

Try, Try Again

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Lately, I’ve encountered several great companies (with great marketplace reputations) that seem to have employees who only became employees after several attempts. There seems to be a positive stigma around persistence and they don’t frown upon professionals that keep trying and finding alternate methods of getting a foot in the door.

Now, this could be seen as hubris on the part of the company, but it could also mean opportunity for you since you are now aware of this fact. It has become not only ok, but almost expected for you to keep trying to gain access to your target companies.

You no longer have to accept “no” as the end result, but rather as a speed bump in your job search journey.

So please do return to companies that have previously said no and inquire about additional opportunities. Also seek out people that you know that could/would advocate for you within those brands. Recognize that it could take as many as 6 attempts, so don’t give up too easily. This approach is certainly an acceptable and effective way of stepping into your targeted companies. #KeepPushing

If you need help with your confidence or network building, click here to schedule a consultation with me and get your job search in motion.

Written by Brenda M. Cunningham: The one who will tell you like it is and help you get to where you want to be in your career.  To learn more about our career services, visit us at www.pushcareermanagement.com

Salary Tune-up

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That mean green! Some people got to have it! Oh, sorry…I was starting to get carried away with those song lyrics. Well, if we don’t work we don’t eat. But why are some people in the same job eating so much better than others? It’s because most likely you need a salary check-up. You make sure your body is still functioning with a wellness exam. We even take our cars for tune-ups…so why is it so out of the realm of normalcy to check in on our paychecks?

Here’s how you can perform a self-salary check:

  • Research - You must know what you’re supposed to be earning. Perhaps you looked a long time ago…but I encourage you to take another peek. It doesn’t matter if you are currently working or unemployed. Having the right salary targets in our sights can help us to bypass the whole situation of being underpaid. I suggest referencing three (3) data points to find where the data overlaps:
  1. www.onetonline.gov 
  2. www.glassdoor.com
  3. www.indeed.com/salary

 

  • Self-evaluate your performance - Do you even deserve a bump in pay? This sounds harsh, but more money is not a right. It must be earned.  Just because you’ve been doing the job for 30 years doesn’t mean you’re still doing a great job. Either way, start now creating and documenting your major wins, new skills, and credentials. Prove that you deserve more (if they don’t already know it).

 

  • Ask these Questions:
  1. Have you recently taken on more responsibility?
  2. Have you relocated from a lower-cost-of-living area?
  3. Do more people report to you now?
  4. Did your boss agree to revisit your pay following a probationary period? Has that time come?         
  5. Is your income congruent with the work you’re doing, the value you’re bringing, and the revenue you’re generating (or retaining)?
  6. Do you have other amazing benefits that may be compensating for a lower-than-average salary?

If you’ve reached the conclusion that your salary is well aligned, good job! If not, it’s time to have that conversation with your boss. It may sound something like…”I’ve conducted some research and it turns out there is a gap between my current salary and the industry standard for this function. What can I do to demonstrate that I deserve to be closer to $____ by _____date? Or What can be done internally to move the needle?”

If you need help with your conversation, consider a Salary Negotiation Session.  Click here to schedule a consultation with me and get your raise in motion.

Written by Brenda M. Cunningham: The one who will tell you like it is and help you get to where you want to be in your career.  To learn more about our career services, visit us at www.pushcareermanagement.com

Your Style of Accountability Isn’t Working…Why You Need to PUSH!

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Stop being so easy on yourself and start taking accountability seriously. I know it feels like I’m scolding some of you, but perhaps that’s exactly what you need. Up to this point, we’ve made ourselves feel better by claiming an “accountability partner” but the moment you miss a deadline, you give that person some generic excuse and poof, you’re off the hook. But that is NOT Accountability! Here’s how you can PUSH yourself to remain truly accountable to someone.

  • Put your money where your mouth is… don’t simply change partners when your counterpart calls you to task. Putting something tangible on the line can help you feel the sting of missed deadlines.
  • Unless someone is dead or dying, kick your excuses out the window. Having a sore throat is not a good reason to skip out on what you committed to YOURSELF to do. (Sometimes you are truly sick and need to take care of yourself, but if the same bug keeps biting you, bite back by doing the work anyway).
  • State your weekly or daily goals in advance so we know what to hold you to. Don’t do the after-the-fact review…State your intentions up front.
  • Hold yourself to the highest possible standard and stop setting the bar so low. The bare minimum may get you there, but your race is almost certainly going to be slower than necessary.
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Accountability is a brilliant strategy when you’ve decided to implement certain changes in your life but you haven’t yet developed the discipline to execute it. But we truly must start taking accountability seriously. Let it prompt you and ignite a fire in your rear end to get stuff done. Even if it means staying up late!

As a society, too often we take the easy path. We divorce (but not because of infidelity or abuse…rather because we’ve grown tired of our spouses). We are quick to throw in the towel and slow to put in the work.  Now, I’m not suggesting that you perpetually stay in hustle mode and grind it out from dusk til' dawn, but do put in that extra needed effort if and when you want to see different results. I am a very nice person, but sometimes you need tough Brenda to come out and play so you can get it done.

Do you need help staying motivated during an extended job search? Do you need support staying focused so you can prepare for that certification exam? Maybe it’s not related to your career at all and you simply want to lose 10 pounds. Whatever IT is…it is high time to truly get accountable. It may be time to schedule a consultation with me and get this party started.

Written by Brenda M. Cunningham: The one who will tell you like it is and help you get to where you want to be in your career.  To learn more about our career services, visit us at www.pushcareermanagement.com

10 Professionals You Need to Follow to Keep Your Life On Track

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There is nothing magical about reaching 500+ connections, but having the right people in your ear can truly help you move your life in the direction you’d like it to go. I’ve seen far too many people float through life without any clear sense of where they’re headed. They are on autopilot. But for those of you who choose to live intentionally, here are 10 types of people you need to follow to keep you on track in life:

1. A FINANCIAL EXPERT - Being able to choose your path in life often requires a level of financial security. You definitely want to have a trustworthy, non-fee-seeking money manager in your corner. You can’t follow everyone’s buy-sell-hold strategies. Know when to make needed moves based on trusted advice from a qualified professional who keeps up with changes in the financial markets.

2. THOUGHT LEADERS FROM YOUR OWN INDUSTRY - Who are the superstars in your field? Wouldn’t it behoove you to know what they’re paying attention to and what they’re doing?

3. HR/RECRUITER FROM YOUR INDUSTRY - Staying abreast of opportunities in your field can be as easy as staying connected to the people who hire.

4. A NEWS REPORTER THAT FOCUSES ON YOUR PROFESSION - Perhaps you have all the time in the world to read the entire newspaper. That was me being sarcastic! Of course, you don’t have that kind of time. So, why not follow a known source for information that matters to you and your industry?

5. PEERS THAT YOU LOOK UP TO - It’s not about comparison, but perhaps your co-workers are attending a conference that could benefit you.  Following them can help you stay in the know about the options that are helping them to advance their lives and careers.

6. COMPANIES THAT YOU WANT TO WORK FOR - When you truly want to work at a certain place, it’s good to have a long-term view of their behaviors. Why are they in the news? Is their CEO under investigation? Have they stayed consistent with their initiatives? Do they have layoffs every year? Are their employees receiving promotions? Being celebrated? Have they acquired other brands?

7. A CAREER MANAGEMENT COACH - Well, of course you’re already following Push Career Management! But this is because you care about your career. You want to stay engaged with someone who will keep you informed about career best practices, resume update reminders, and someone who can help you navigate the brutal world of job search and career advancement.

8. THOSE WITH THE POSITION YOU’RE EYING NEXT - Watch what they are doing because soon, it will be you. Learn from their mistakes and record their successes so you won’t need to reinvent the wheel when it’s your turn at the helm.

9. SOMEONE TO KEEP YOU GROUNDED - Maybe a spiritual advisor (like a pastor), someone that connects you to the larger universe and reminds you that your life is bigger than just you. Motivational speakers are also a perfect fit for this type of connection.

10. OTHER PERIPHERAL FUNCTIONS THAT MATTER IN YOUR WORLD - If you have children, perhaps, follow youth program leaders. If you are married, link up with marriage counselors or how-to-stay-married groups. Get it?

Yes, I am a huge advocate for LinkedIn and it’s easiest to identify these individuals through LinkedIn, but use whatever source you choose to follow these pros and ultimately your life will be in a better position to go exactly where you’re meant to go.

SOME RECOMMENDATIONS TO FOLLOW:

Financial - Jordan Jobe /Raymond James Financial Advisor

Financial - Channika Daniels - Tax Preparation Professional

Financial - Ericka Young - Budget Coach

News Reporters - Your Local Business Journal

Career Management - Me! Brenda M. Cunningham at

Written by Brenda M. Cunningham: The one who will tell you like it is and help you get to where you want to be in your career.  To learn more about our career services, visit us at www.pushcareermanagement.com

Spring Out of Job Search Depression

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I don’t need a lot of “Likes” to know that this post will help some VIPs (Very Important Professionals). This is for those of you who feel like you’ve been forgotten.

Before we begin, please note that I am not a doctor or a therapist, and this should not be perceived as medical advice.

THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU!

Sudden job loss can thrust the best of us into the unfamiliar terrain of depression and feelings of unworthiness. This is normal and I repeat, there is nothing wrong with you if you feel this way. Similar to the way soldiers battling PTSD aren’t expected to simply tough it out, job-loss-related depression is real and you can’t always shake it off.

But there are some very practical things you can do to loosen the grips of post-layoff depression on your life:

1. GET BUSY - Brian Tracy says in his book, No Excuses, that “the more you discipline yourself, the greater is your sense of self-respect and personal pride…the better is your self-image…you think about yourself in a more positive way.” I know how terribly difficult it is to initially snap out of it, but doing so will begin a momentous journey of returning to your former glory. Starting a new routine is hard (ever tried convincing yourself to get back to the gym?), but once you start, each subsequent step becomes a little easier. I’m not asking you to conquer the world, only to begin by getting up.

2. GO AT YOUR PACE - Some job seekers may be able to put in 13-hour job search days, but you may need to start with four hours. I often have to convince myself that slow progress is still progress. Baby steps are worthwhile.

3. GET DRESSED - Just being clean and presentable can make you feel better. Get out of those PJs and put on some work clothes because you have work to do. But don’t stop there. Wear bright, energizing colors because they do absolutely affect your mood and outlook. While you’re cleaning yourself up, you may want to pay attention to your space. If your house/workspace is a mess, it will be worth the initial time investment to tidy up. Having a clear, de-cluttered area can/will help you focus and feel good about yourself.

4. TAKE BREAKS - Maybe you can’t stay in the zone for longer than 30 minutes at a time. So take a break. You would have taken plenty of breaks at work, so why demand more of yourself than any employer would? We are not machines and we need to regroup and get recharged. So, if you need to, take a walk, a run, mindlessly watch a little TV, read a book, or perhaps play an app-based game on your smartphone. Distractions can be good, but keep these in check. For me, having someone check on me helps. I’ll tell my hubby to call me in 30 minutes so I can be accountable to someone.

5. STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP - Just because your search isn’t moving as fast as others, that is not your problem. You are dealing with an added layer of complexity that they may not be facing. Run YOUR race.

6. DO FOR OTHERS - As I often say, doing things for others (volunteering, serving, holding the door open for others, offering to put someone’s grocery cart away, etc…) can give you a brief moment of pause where you forget about your own woes. Give it a try. No bad can come out of giving!

As I said in Crush the Pink Slip: Get Back to Work in 60 Days, my own depression was very real. Lying on the couch for months was my story following my own layoff…I aim to help you change your narrative if you feel stuck, unworthy, or otherwise rejected in this harsh, new job search climate. You are not alone and there are resources that can help you:

1. Open Phones - click here for information 

2. Free Consultation - click here to schedule

3. If you’re in the Phoenix area - Career Connectors

4. Job Search Ministries in your area. - click here to find resources close to you.

You haven’t lost who you are; only a mere title was removed from your life. You’re still the same awesome person you always were.

YOU WILL GET BACK TO WORK!!!

Yes, you are dealing with mental hurdles, and although you have no real knowledge of how to conduct a modern job search…the good news is, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!  You are better at your job than me, and I’m better at my job than you. So schedule your free 30-minute encouraging, get-back-to-work strategy session with me. Click here to begin and I’ll talk to you soon.

Written by Brenda M. Cunningham: The one who will tell you like it is and help you get to where you want to be in your career.  To learn more about our career services, visit us at www.pushcareermanagement.com

Make Sure You Love Your Job and It's Not Just a Habit You Can't Break

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Your job loves you? It loves you not? More importantly, do you love it?

I recall a conversation many years ago with my boyfriend. I asked him and myself if we were simply together out of habit? Was this comfortable for us or was our relationship truly going places? I’m glad I asked because that boyfriend is now my husband of nearly 17 years. But how do you know? Talking with another human being about a relationship is one thing and evaluating if you and your job are still suited for one another is a very different matter. Here are some questions to ask yourself…

  • Am I mindlessly doing my job?
  • Do I get antsy on the way to work, because I dread going to “that place?”
  • Do I know I’m capable of more?
  • Am I challenged (in a good way) at work?
  • As I take a pause, is this even what I want to be doing with my life?
  • Do I go home angry and miserable because I hate the work I’m doing?
  • Am I underpaid and overworked?
  • Do I have a great relationship with my boss?
  • Is there a position that’s a much better fit for me? My skills? My interests?

Answer honestly and…

If you’re good then… keep up the great work, but don’t forget to periodically come back and revisit these questions. Just set a reminder for six months from now and roll through them again. You can repeat this process until the day you retire. And if you truly love your work but want to be viewed as a highly valuable contributor…read up on how to influence your professional perception

If you’re not so good then…be empowered to do something about it! It may be as simple as having a conversation to right-size your salary. It may involve a little job-board research to identify the type of work you should be doing and then aligning your resume to achieve it. It might also include you re-reading this article to snap out of it and realize you are in the wrong place.  Honestly ask yourself, “am I just too scared to take action and get out of this job I know is not a good fit for me?” If so, then you need to schedule a free 30-minute encouraging, strategy session with me. Click here to begin and I’ll talk to you soon.

Written by Brenda M. Cunningham: The one who will tell you like it is and help you get to where you want to be in your career.  To learn more about our career services, visit us at www.pushcareermanagement.com

Establish Your Professional Perception

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This post will be revealing, so if you don’t want to see behind the curtain…stop here.

OK, you’re still here. I want to share some of the specifics that I’ve done to create a professional perception for myself. As a former engineer, it was critical that I helped people to see me as a qualified “careers” expert. Since this is my livelihood, it was important that I did it quickly, but since there are no magic potions I had to embrace the fact that it would take some time. So…

I INVESTED IN MYSELF

When I saw myself sort of floundering and hitting various plateaus, I invested in coaches. I sought out a business coach who would help me see myself as a qualified expert. Then I attracted a wardrobe consultant to help me look the part. As much as we’d like to think that our appearance doesn’t matter…it does. And I needed a trained eye to help me find my best style. The look that made me feel like a boss. Thank you, @Malissa Davis.

I READ LOTS OF BOOKS

Since I was young, I’ve prided myself on not loving to read. I would say “if it’s good enough they’ll make it into a movie.” But they don’t generally make movies out of John Maxwell’s How Leaders Think or Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. So after watching other successful entrepreneurs talk about the latest books they’d read, I knew I had to get busy. So I pushed through my lack of desire to read and began to make this a habit. How can you be a well-rounded expert if you’re only quoting yourself and your own limited experiences? Choose books relevant to you, leadership, and your industry.

I DID IT FOR FREE

I wanted people to believe that I knew what I was talking about, but they hadn’t witnessed it for themselves, so they were unlikely to pay me just because I thought they should. I had to be willing to do it for free to demonstrate I had the skills I knew were worthy of a check. This is true in the workplace too…we think we’re ready for promotion but no one else knows it…be willing to do it for free (for a time) to show them what you’ve got. Stay visible. Stay relevant.

I POSTED CONTENT LIKE CRAZY (AND I STILL DO)

Not asking for the sale, but again proving to my audience (which started very small and is growing slowly but surely) that I knew what I was talking about. Find your platform whether it be LinkedIn, Facebook, or a company newsletter and share your knowledge without worrying about giving too much away. Once you realize it would literally take years for a novice to know what you know…you won’t be concerned with giving away the farm.

I KEPT MY LANGUAGE CONSISTENT

Establishing a brand is a long-haul investment. So I kept using the same words (careers, resumes, interviews, networking, job search, etc…) so that people were not confused about who I was and what my specialties were. The key here is to make sure you know what you want to be known for; then don’t deviate from that specialty so people have time to know you for that brand.

These are the action steps I took and they helped me. I pray that these approaches ignite something in you to get busy creating the perception that you want for yourself. As Carla Harris says in her book, Expect to Win, “perception is the co-pilot of reality”. What other methods can you share that will help others create their desired perceptions in the workplace, in business, and in life? We can’t wait to hear your suggestions.

Written by Brenda M. Cunningham: The one who will tell you like it is and help you get to where you want to be in your career. Click here to schedule a complimentary consultation. pushcareermanagement.com

The Aftermath of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

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A few weeks ago I was listening to a new radio station (KJZZ-Phoenix), which I’ve started to love because they go deep into news-making topics. They shared an interesting perspective about the fallout of all these harassment claims being launched. From Hollywood leaders to politicians, and now, Matt Lauer! Not the golden boy of daytime news TV!! How the mighty have fallen, but there are still some victims being affected, although they’ve never said a word or made a claim.

It’s the women who are part of certain male-dominated fields.

KJZZ pointed out the systemic repercussions against women. There may be no concrete damage done when the male colleague tells a dirty joke in a staff meeting, but the problem emerges when the woman in the room reacts. If she is not accepting, then her career and the perception of her could be at stake. If she is no longer seen as a team player because of her unwillingness to go along with the crude office humor, somehow, she is viewed as a threat to the system. Hence the cards may be systematically stacked against women.

This is not an excuse for women (or male victims -- who may be the minority in a female-run organization) to not be social, do their best work, or to participate in below-board humor. It is simply an awareness for those of you who may not understand the pain behind the headlines that a lot of women are facing in the workplace everyday.

Yes, there are plenty of great organizations where this has never been an issue (and I’m fortunate to have gone relatively unscathed during my 9.5-year corporate career) so please don’t think I’m male bashing here. There are decent men and women too.

The re-emergence of sexual harassment issues into the limelight is one of the many dimensions that will be discussed during Project 2020. If you haven’t checked it out, be sure you do.

Written by Brenda M. Cunningham: The one who will tell you like it is and help you get to where you want to be in your career. Click here to schedule a complimentary consultation. pushcareermanagement.com

What Are You Saying About Your Career?

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It’s nearly the end of the year and by now most people have counted themselves out. They’ve reached the conclusion that there is no way that their goals (career or otherwise) will be achieved this year, so they’ve checked out and started thinking about 2018. But reminder…

YOUR WORDS HAVE POWER!

If you’ve caught yourself saying any of the following, this message is for you:

1.     No one is hiring this time of year

2.     I just can’t take any more rejection

3.     I don’t know what more I can do, I’ve tried everything

4.     I just can’t afford that

5.     No one is willing to help me

6.     No one can see my value. All they see is ________.

7.     It’s a shame no one cares about all the experience I bring to the table

I could go on and on, but you get the gist. Now, let me give you some truth to combat the falsehoods you’ve convinced yourself of.

1.     Actually, the holiday season is a remarkable time of year for hiring activity. Some businesses intentionally slow down around this time and that allows time to map out business needs for the upcoming year. Hiring actually peaks around December and January.

2.     Rejection is hard, but perhaps instead of viewing a “no” as rejection…try to see it as crisis averted. You don’t want to be in/at a place where your skills aren’t valued and you are not accepted.

3.     If you haven’t talked to me yet, you have not tried everything. Typically, a free 30-minute consult can help rejuvenate you and re-ignite your energy for your search. Reach out to me (click here) or an expert in the area you’re struggling with before you call it quits.

4.     If I had a dollar for every time someone said they can’t afford something (that they absolutely needed), I’d have like $50,000. The bottom line is we invest in what we deem a priority. Whatever investment(s) you need to make, understand the nature of investing is to give you a return.

5.     Stop…people are willing to help. But they expect you to do your part. Don’t ask people to pass along your resume when you haven’t even proofread it. It’s full of errors and typos, but you want them to stick their necks out for you? Get honest with yourself and self-evaluate.  Phone a friend/accountability partner to get clear about how you may be standing in your own way. Check out this article for more insights on why you’re not being referred.

6.     Sometimes ignorance exists in the decision-making process.  Consider yourself lucky to not be called in to work for someone who, if not for their desperation, would have otherwise chosen someone else. Focus on your skills and what you bring to the table. The right person in the right time will see your value and not measure you against stereotypical biases.

7.     We do care about your experience, but it is your job to know that we mostly care about your recent, relevant experience. If you’re stilling holding on to your flagship project from the early 80’s, then we may have a problem. What have you done lately? Focus on that!

Keep gratitude in your heart during this season of Thanksgiving and keep these scriptures in your mind as you set out to change the words you’re speaking over your life, career, and other situations you may be facing right now.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue…Proverbs 18:21

I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life… Deuteronomy 30:19

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Written by Brenda M. Cunningham: The one who will tell you like it is and help you get to where you want to be in your career. Click here to schedule a complimentary consultation. pushcareermanagement.com

Do You Have a Vision For Your Career? 6 Questions to Ask Yourself

 (Photo by  Daniil Kuželev  on  Unsplash )

(Photo by Daniil Kuželev on Unsplash)

When we hear the term visionary, it’s often applied to leaders, but who’s leading your career? Isn’t it you? And if that’s the case, then don’t you need to have a clear direction or vision for where your career is headed?

This past week I’ve spent some intentional time just thinking about the future of my business/career and it was very eye opening. Someone asked me once, what help I needed (or how they could support my business) and I realized in that moment (a few years ago) that I had no idea what they could do for me because I hadn’t thought about where I was going next and what resources it would take to get there. Since that day, I knew I needed to start getting clear on what the future could look like for me (notice I said COULD, because we must stay flexible and open). But here are some of the questions I asked myself:

1. What do you want to do now, next, and in the next 5 years?

2. Why do I want to do this?

3. By when do I want to achieve it?

4. What will it mean for me when it becomes reality?

5. What obstacles are between me and my goal (real or perceived)?

6. How will I measure/track my progress to know when I have achieved it?

I encourage you to take a few moments and think through at least one goal you want to accomplish in the next year and one goal for the next 5 years. Then follow this series of questions to guide you through planning it out. Too often, I see the “where do you see yourself in 5 years” question come up during interviews and too many stumble over their responses because they’ve never actually thought about it. As always, I am your proactive career navigator and this is another important element to your career journey. Comment (or email me) and let me know what challenges you’re facing, otherwise, keep pushing!

Written by Brenda M. Cunningham: The one who will tell you like it is and help you get to where you want to be in your career. Click here to schedule a complimentary consultation. pushcareermanagement.com

Are You Wired for Your Work?

 Photo credit by Randall Bruder on Unsplash

Photo credit by Randall Bruder on Unsplash

A fish may consider itself a failure if it can’t climb a tree. But it wasn’t wired that way, so why would it hold itself to a completely unreasonable standard? It was never meant to be a tree climber!

Many years ago my pastor said something to this effect and it really opened my eyes to the fact that we’re all wired or designed for a specific purpose. Much like how hammers are designed to drive nails into the wall, we have a reason to be here. And just because a hammer also happens to be a good paperweight…that’s not what it was built for.

I think about how difficult it was for me to fit into my role as an engineer. Don’t get me wrong, I did my job well but it did not feel effortless. I always had to ask questions, do significant research, and review my notes; I often second-guessed myself. It didn’t seem intuitive to me.  Then once I was laid off and I had quiet time to reflect on what I should be doing (vs. what I had been doing out of sheer habit), I realized I was doing the wrong work. Now that I’m in the career management space, things just come naturally. I tend to just know what to do even without reading a lot of heavy textbooks. You could say I’m a natural. And I believe this is what it’s supposed to feel like when we’re doing the work we were wired to do. Even normal activities, things like (classes, sermons, reading books), I hear messages in the context of careers. It’s kind of scary actually but it’s more validation of my wiring.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m good at many things…but I strive to be excellent. Just because I’m good at washing dishes, doesn’t mean I should be a dishwasher. Just because I’m good at arguing my point, doesn’t mean I should be a lawyer. And just because you’re good at what you’ve been doing, doesn’t mean it’s what you should continue to do. (Although, sometimes you should).

Consider this an encouragement to not beat yourself up for not being the best at the work you do. Instead, honestly ask yourself if you’re doing the right work. Back to the fish… I’ll bet if you put it in the ocean, it would show you all the wonderful things it was capable of.  Are you where you’re supposed to be?

Written by Brenda M. Cunningham: The one who will tell you like it is and help you get to where you want to be in your career. Click here to schedule a complimentary consultation. pushcareermanagement.com

Why You Aren't Being Referred

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“Hello connections, I am seeking a new, full-time opportunity where I can leverage my skills in operations, leadership, and customer satisfaction. I would greatly appreciate any referrals or recommendations you have  (1).png

It’s paraphrased but it’s still very familiar. The problem with this type of message is…

We have absolutely no idea what type of work you’re looking to do. Do you have any idea how many industries have operations leaders? This type of outreach does at least attempt to connect with one’s network (which is a good thing), but it does not give your network the critical information they need to actually help you.

What needs to be included is:

  • Your specific, targeted job title(s) - a clear message. What exactly do you want to do and what is it called in the marketplace?
  • The industry you’re looking for. Are you looking for something in financial services, manufacturing, or government? They’re all very different.
  • What bottom-line impacting skills will you bring to the table? Are you a $100k P&L leader or a $2B P&L leader? There is a difference.
  • Another helpful hint…consider sending these outreach letters to specific people that actually know you well enough to refer you (in a private mail). Because regardless of how well written your appeal is, professionals should never refer you if they don’t know you. You must be able to demonstrate your ability to do the job. Be honest with yourself.

Keep in mind…changing professions/industries is a much more difficult sell. You must put in the time to demonstrate how you’re qualified to perform in the new function or industry. This takes work and your examples of cross-functional success can go a long way with your network audience.

Once you craft your more-focused appeal, and you send it to specific people that can vouch for your actual performance, give them a little grace. You don’t know how busy people are or if they’re dealing with personal matters. Just because they didn’t respond in 24 hours doesn’t mean they hate you.  Sometimes they just have other stuff going on. So allow them time to respond and you take ownership of the appropriate follow up (1-2 weeks).

If you’re still struggling to get your network to help you, you may need someone to tell you the truth. I’m very good at that, especially when it helps you to stop spinning your wheels.

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Written by Brenda M. Cunningham: The one who will tell you like it is and help you get to where you want to be in your career. Click here to schedule your complimentary consultation. pushcareermanagement.com

How to Prepare for Your Resume Update

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Next month, September, is National Update Your Resume Month. And in expectation of its magnificent arrival, I want to give you some practical nuggets to get you in position for your resume update.

If you’re anything like me, sometimes you sit down to tackle a project and then you get frustrated because you don’t have everything you need. Then one hour later…you’ve run out of time. Vow that this resume update project will be different, and get busy pulling together these items:

1.     Start thinking about the next step in your career plan. What is it called? What skills are required to achieve it? Does it pay what you thought it would? Start referencing job postings to see what employers are looking for.

2.     Review your past performance appraisals. What were some of your major accomplishments? What was the financial value of the projects you’ve worked on? How many patients did you care for at one time? How much did you save your organization (time or money)? What were the customer retention numbers before and after your arrival in the role?

3.     Pull any letters of recommendation you’ve received and/or ask to be recommended. Using LinkedIn is a great way to get a formal recommendation and let it be known to the world. It’s one thing to think you’re awesome…it’s another thing entirely for someone else to say it.

4.     Document your trainings. How have you stayed sharp within your profession? Did you deliver any classes? What conferences did you attend? Think about lunch-and-learn workshops that exposed you to new skills. Don’t discount online trainings that your employer offered. Not everyone cares enough about their career to keep developing, so make sure you’re giving yourself credit for the amazing things you’ve done to stay relevant.

Update Your Resume Month does not mean you have to hire a professional writer, but if you know that writing and articulating your accomplishments is not your strength…then do not hesitate to schedule a free consultation with me to build a strong, effective resume for you.

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Written by Brenda M. Cunningham: Career Transition Specialist at Push Career Management, LLC. Whether you are unemployed or ready for more in your career, she builds powerful portfolios that capture attention and coaches professionals to land their ideal positions at their ideal pay. www.pushcareermanagement.com

Company Layoffs: (Employers) Act Like You Know

Heads up employers!!! When you have employees who do a great job for you day-in and day-out, then your company falls on hard times…it is critical that you support these individuals who have given so much of their lives to you.

You know, like I know, that you hired them and paid them based on a 40-hour workweek, and they consistently put in 60-80+ hours for you. Since they were paid a salary, they didn’t even receive overtime pay!

You also know, like I know, that these employer-rating sites like Glassdoor.com are rapidly emerging as one of the first places prospective candidates will go to find out about your company culture. And what’s being said about you matters to your future hiring endeavors.

Finally you know, like I know, that providing quality outplacement support is the right thing to do when you have a sudden need to restructure or reduce your workforce. This is especially true for your long-term staff who haven’t looked for a job in 10+ years.

I remember my own fateful day, just like it was yesterday. I was called into a room and essentially told my services were no longer needed. I think I was surprised because I thought I was doing a great job. Nonetheless, suddenly I had no job, and only a glimpse of the confidence I once knew. But there was one silver lining…my company provided me with something called outplacement services and I was told that this outplacement company could help me with finding a new position.

The big-box outplacement services I received was helpful on some level, but lacking in other areas. For example, they provided resume assistance, but not resume development. They offered job search suggestions, but not a job search plan/strategy. They offered a place to make phone calls, but didn’t advise who to call or what to say. And this is why Push Outplacement Services was born. I knew it was time to offer a more comprehensive and practical solution to these shell-shocked and loyal professionals who had just lost their job.

So employers, act like you know and do things differently from here on in. If you are facing layoffs, be sure to secure a quality, people-and-results focused outplacement services provider.

 

To learn more about outplacement services, and how Push Outplacement Services are different (as well as how you can partner), complete the form to download your free resource, Outplacement: The Ultimate Win-Win, Reputation-Saving, Risk-Avoiding, Employee Benefit

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