Monday, August 17, 2009

Knowing Who You Are

Ever wonder how others see you? Now someone at MIT has designed an application called Personas that will tell you how the internet sees you.

One of the most profound things that you can discover in life is to figure out who you are.

The funny thing is, Who You Are can change.

I have some clients who don't want to go back to what they had been doing. Who are ready to do something else. As one put it:

~ "I don't want to be that guy anymore."

This is not a trivial decision. It bears directly on one's identity. And sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Nor is this an easy decision. Nor is it without risk. Or cost.

And it brings a puzzle: if I am choosing to not go back to Who I Was, then Who Will I Be next?

Some people know what they want to do. My father was a cop. When he retired from the police department, we encouraged him to do something new, to keep busy. We suggested that he consult or teach. We were concerned that he wouldn't have enough to do. That he'd be bored.

He did not want to hear our ideas. I remember him saying, "I've worked enough. I'm done."

He was sixty years old. The year was 1984.

A lot has changed since then. Now people in their 50's and 60's are wondering, Do I really want to go back to what I was doing?

Some are asking, What will I do for an encore? Who do I want to be next?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, August 20, 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Add Some Spice

Has your job search gone flat? Add some spice:

SUPPORT - Reach out and lend your support to others. Ask, "How can I help?" at least once a day.

POSITIVE THINKING - Focus on your strengths. Work on your goals. Develop your value proposition.

IMAGINATION - Utilize your creative capacity to envision yourself in different roles, different organizations, doing different things.

COMMUNITY - Get out of the house and meet up with others. Join a group. Start a group in your area.

ENGAGEMENT - Undertake a project and get your mind and heart in gear.

One more thought: watch the series of short vids by Gerry Crispin on youtube. I like his idea of NEON.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, August 15, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Zen and the Art of Career Change

I came across a blog entry by Melissa Dutmers called Zen and the Art of Change Management where she writes:

~ "Zen emphasizes (that) wisdom and awareness are realized through meditation and mindfulness of daily experiences. Zen practitioners believe this provides insights which ultimately lead to enlightenment. For those of you that have tried to meditate and quiet your mind, you know that it takes practice and you realize your mind is difficult to calm."

Indeed. And when you have been downsized and are conducting a job search, it is supremely difficult to calm the mind.

So what is zen? Writer Stephen Warrilow says:

~ "Zen simply means present moment awareness - to be fully present NOW. To be fully present now, is to be fully conscious."

And it is something worth practicing. Dutmers offers some ideas for Change Managers that have applicability for job hunters:

~ Practice mindfulness.

~ Practice slowing down.

~ Practice reflection.

And Warrilow offers this insight:

~ The change is You.


Posted by Terrence Seamon, August 12, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Reinvention

The other day, in a brainstorming session with some fellow career coaches, we were talking about reinvention: the choice that some are making, in today's difficult economy, to make a change. To re-imagine, re-think and re-package themselves for a career change.

Then I came across Meg Giuseppi's blog on reinvention for Baby Boomers where she shares some points from career expert Brian Kurth, including:

~ Identify your passion. What have you always dreamed of doing?

~ Take a "vocation vacation", as Kurth calls it. Take some time to explore an interesting field. His Vocation Vacation "program connects career transitioners with mentors working in the exact job they want, so they can test drive the job of their dreams."

~ Find a mentor. Select someone who can give you a guided tour of a field that you are intrigued by.

How about an example. Say you always dreamed of owning your own bed & breakfast at the Jersey shore because you have long had a passion for running your own little business in a resort area. Kurth would say, find a b&b and go there. Stay awhile and go "behind the scenes" to find out the inner workings; find out what it really takes to run a b&bB. Seek out the owner for informal mentoring.

You'll come away with some rich data for making your decision about whether to move ahead, or move on to another possibility.

If you are seeking a roadmap to career reinvention, Kurth offers several points, including:

1. First, identify your strengths.
2. Ask yourself, what is the worst that could happen?
3. Set a goal and a plan
4. Find a mentor.
5. Test-drive the career option.
6. Network. Network. Network.

Finally, Kurth recommends some soul-searching: "What are your passions and interests? What activities give you a sense of purpose and satisfaction? The first step in any career transition is the opportunity to explore, experiment and discover your “great job” and what you can do to pursue it."

What is your "great job?"


Posted by Terrence Seamon, August 11, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Working On It

HR Blogger Mike VanDerVort had an entry over the weekend about summing yourself up in three words.

The idea comes from UK management consultant Colin Beveridge who suggests that coming up with your three keywords "can be a powerful exercise in critical self-evaluation."

Mike says: "Before heading into a job interview, you should take the necessary time and come up with a short three word description of what exactly it is that you do in your work life."

Mike offers a few from folks he knows:

- Learn from conflict
- Help people think
- Make information useful

A friend of mine asked me what my three words would be. My initial answer:

- Working on it

But thinking about it some more, maybe the question should be: What three words best capture your strengths?

In that formulation, my answer would be:

- Creating. Facilitating. Sensemaking.

What would your three word summary be?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, August 10, 2009

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Passings

A dear friend has died. Today is her wake. Tomorrow, her funeral.

She lived with cancer for many years. Though battling the disease dominated her life, it did not define her life.

She defined her life in a way that many of us do: Family. Friends. Faith. And finding ways to touch and improve the lives of others.

She understood that the point of life is living. And that we have a choice about how we live our lives.

At Mass this morning, we heard the scripture story, from the first book of Kings, of Elijah and the angel. Dejected, Elijah asks God to take his life, but the angel arrives with a message, saying to the despondent Elijah:

~ “Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!”

My friend carried the cross of cancer for many years, never complaining, always getting up and going on with her life's journey.

She has passed on now to whatever comes next. She will be missed. And she will be remembered.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, August 9, 2009

Friday, August 07, 2009

Transitions

Last week, I was part of a contingent of about 125 career coaches, volunteering to help our soldiers at the “Ultimate Warrior Career Workshops and Job Fair” held at the Fort Dix base. It was a great event.

I met with several soldiers, to review their resumes, and guide them in preparation for their transition from the military life back to the civilian world.

As my fellow coach Lisa Chenofsky Singer wrote at her blog:

~ "Assimilation back into civilian life is a tough transition for many. When a soldier returns from deployment, it’s typically the first six months that are the most vulnerable period. With the tight economy and high unemployment, recently discharged veterans are likely to face a tough time in this job market."

In talking about this with some of the other coaches who also were at the Ft. Dix event, I'm realizing (again) that today's job hunters and career changers need to become transitionists:

~ People who are "adept at transitions and more precisely, skilled at managing change." People who expect change; accept change; and see change as opportunity.

And so, when they encounter change, they ride it, like a surfer rides a wave.

So if you are a transitioning job hunter or career changer, how can you develop yourself as a transitionist? Here are a few thoughts:

Attitude: What is your attitude toward change? Do you resist it? Do you embrace it? Can you imagine yourself initiating change in your own life?

Dissatisfaction: What aspect of your life would you most like to change? Find your dissatisfaction points.

Vision: What is your vision of the future, the future You? What do you see yourself doing? creating? famous for?

Engage: Are you bringing your fully engaged energy, your "A Game," to this change project?

Next steps: What small steps will you start to take, right here and right now, that will overcome inertia, start the ball rolling, and impel you toward the change?

Transformation: Can you sense the wings that are forming in you, the wings that want to spread, the wings that will enable you to take off and fly?

The points above form the acronym ADVENT. I chose that word because advent means:

~ The coming or arrival, especially of something extremely important: the advent of the computer. (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

When you are making a transition, such as the soldiers I met at Ft. Dix, you are in the process of becoming something quite important: the future You.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, August 7, 2009

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

What's Your Branded Value Proposition?

Listening closely in a conversation with a job hunter, I started to get a clear picture of what he thought he was good at and where his greatest passion was located.

He spoke of his ability to manage people, to drive change, and to improve the performance of organizations.

So I interrupted and said to him, "What you just said is your value proposition."

I recapped for him what I had heard him say. And then I recommended that he write it down and go to work on sharpening it.

In today's challenging job market, you must differentiate yourself. A way to do that is to develop your BVP, your personally branded value proposition, a pithy statement that says:

~ Who You Are
~ What You Do Extremely Well
~ And How You Bring Value to Organizations

In a blog entry from earlier this year, Silicon Valley talent marketer John Hyde said:

"So if you’re thinking about your personal brand in the context of landing that next great job, you may want to start by examining the value you provide to a potential employer (or your current employer). The value you provide to an employer is based on who you are."

Here's a little formula for defining your BRAND: Be relevant. Address needs. Deliver.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, August 5, 2009

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Your Career GUIDE

The other day, I had the pleasure of virtually meeting Hannah Morgan, the Career Sherpa, whose great motto is: "Expert in navigating extreme career terrain."

According to wikipedia, the term Sherpa refers to people who are employed as guides for mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayas. "They are highly regarded as elite mountaineers and experts in their local terrain."

Sherpa. I love that metaphor for those who assist job hunters! In the work I do with people in career transition, guiding them through difficult and often challenging terrain, I am a sherpa too.

As a guide, the process I follow has five elements:

Galvanize: I am a proponent of a fast start. Because many of those I work with have financial and family pressures to reckon with, I emphasize a Get Moving strategy that starts with Setting An Objective, Identifying Target Companies, and Working Your Contacts.

Understand: At the same time as we galvanize, we also have to delve into, and deeply understand, the Client, particularly her strengths, skills, accomplishments, interests, and values.

Imagine: Many of those I work with do not want to go back to what they were doing before. But they often have a very hazy vision of what they want to do next. So it's important to tap the power of imagining to envision possibilities based on their strengths, interests, and values.

Develop: We go to work right away on developing key tools that the Client will need in their search, such as a personal branding pitch, a resume, and a business card.

Engage: And the approach to the search is one that I would describe as proactive engagement, featuring networking, targeting companies, and self-marketing.

In the end, it's the Client that will find and land the next job, not the sherpa. But the sherpa's role is to be the strong and reliable guide through daunting terrain.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, August 2, 2009

Saturday, August 01, 2009

"My Confidence Is Shot"

A job hunter contacted me the other day and said, "Terry, My confidence is shot. Any ideas?"

I always have ideas.

The best way to boost confidence is to do something and do it well.

The trouble with that, however, is that job hunters are in a tough quandary: they are not doing whatever it is that they do best. Job hunting, for most of us, is an unnatural thing: unexpected and uncomfortable.

Even those who are conducting their second or third job search in their career --and who know the drill pretty well-- will sometimes feel their confidence crumble to pieces.

So here are a few ideas that may help you to give yourself the "shot in the arm" that you need to regain your confidence, boost your spirit, and face the job search again.

Support: Seek out the support of others. Family. Friends. Former associates from your last company. A job search support group that you belong to. Your church community.

Positives: Give yourself some positive strokes. Remind yourself of the skills you have acquired and the accomplishments you have achieved. Spend some quiet time envisioning what you want to do next.

Inspiration: Seek some inspiration. Maybe a good book. Or a movie. Go to church and hear a sermon. Go walk along a beach, or stroll through a garden. Listen to some transporting music.

Reinforcement: Strengthen yourself. Set a learning objective. Select a topic and research it. Find out the answer to a question. Read a book outside your field.

Initiate: Make a list of things you can start, things that will have some beneficial effect on your psyche and your soul. Start a support group. Volunteer some of your time. Pick up the phone and call a friend. Ask what you can do to help another person.

Tasks: Find one small task that you can do --and do quite well-- and do it. You'll feel the satisfaction that comes from doing.


Posted by Terrence Seamon, August 1, 2009