Saturday, February 10, 2018

Confidence Builders

What is keeping you from taking the steps necessary to have a better life? Why do you remain in a job that is not fulfilling? Why are you still coming to work each day and wondering why you are there?

I'll tell you why. It is because you lack confidence. Lack of confidence can mean the difference between having a six figure income and not. Lack of confidence can stop you from doing something new. Lack of confidence makes you hide your talents. Lack of confidence makes you afraid of success and failure at the same time.

How do you overcome a lack of confidence? You overcome it by surrounding yourself with confidence builders. Where can you find confidence builders? I would suggest joining a club like Toastmasters. A club where you know most people are there because they lack confidence. Toastmasters was built to provide encouragement to those who were afraid to speak and to this day that is exactly what they do.  People get together at least once a month to support and encourage each other through one of their greatest fears- public speaking.

I joined Toastmasters almost two years ago and since then I was able to finally publish a book that I'd been working on for three years. I have also started offering more workshops which has increased my income. I have not reached my goal yet but I am well on my way and I know it is a direct result of the encouragement I receive in Toastmasters. To find a Toastmasters club visit There is a fee to join but if it successfully helps you to a point where you are making six figures, I would say that it's well worth it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Seven Creative Ways to Fill Your Downtime at Work

If you have been employed for more than three years, you have probably experienced a period of time at work that was really slow. Translation: You have absolutely no work to do. Now, one could only hope this type of slowdown at work does not take place too often. Why, you say? I like being paid to do nothing. The reason you don’t want the slow period to last, is because a slow period could quickly turn into a layoff period. And we all know that layoff is simply another word for being fired. Having been employed a number of years at various types of jobs, I have experienced quite a few slow periods and even a layoff. As a result, I have come up with this handy dandy list of Seven Creative Ways to Fill Your Downtime. Be careful, depending on your job situation, some of these may not be appropriate for you to do in your workplace.
  1. Read a Book
  2. Reading a book is always seen as a productive endeavor because it strengthens your brain and allows you to appear intellectual, as long as it is the right type of book. Please refrain from reading the wrong type of material at work. We are trying to get you through a temporary slow period- not get you fired. The best types of book to read at work are those that are related to your job or the business of your employer. If you are not able to find a book related to your business, then select a book that is relative to business in general. Any type of leadership, management, or career enhancement book should suffice. If you are unable to find a business related book, then a self-help book is the next best thing. Find a book on being organized, improving your writing skills, or enhancing communication. If you can’t think of a book, post a request and I’ll name a few.

  3. Reorganize
  4. One of the tried and true ways to fill any type of downtime at work is to organize your office. Since you have probably already done that a few times, how about reorganizing your office. Move the file cabinet to the other side of the room. Switch the phone to the left side of your desk. Switch your photos to a different wall. Change your computer desktop or background. Give yourself a new view of the world!

  5. Learn a New Language
  6. Learning a new language is almost always on a list of things we would like to do. Well, now is the time to try it. If you have access to the Internet at work via your personal tablet or phone, you can sign up for an online course. If you are not a fan of taking online courses, you could always pick up a How to Speak___ book from your local library or bookstore. If you’d rather, I am sure you could purchase language DVDs for just about any language you would want to learn. When it comes time for your yearly review, you can include learning a new language as something you did for improvement. This really comes in handy if you work at a place where there is a large contingent of non-native English speakers.

  7. Start a Blog
  8. Most often the reason given for not starting a blog is that there is not enough time. Well, that excuse is no longer valid, since we are in a slump at work. This is a prime opportunity to put your writing skills and maybe sense of humor to use. Take some time to learn about writing a blog and then get to it. There are quite a few websites that give you hints and tips on starting a blog.

  9. Write a Book
  10. Remember that book you always wanted to write? Here is your chance to at least get started writing it. There is a writer screaming to get out of most people. If you at any time in your life felt like you might want to become an author, now is the time to do it. Just start writing about anything. Write a story about what happened yesterday on your way home from work. Write about what happened at yesterday’s staff meeting. The most important thing is to write. Author J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame had boxes filled with her writings. She didn’t write Harry Potter in one fell swoop and neither do most authors. Most authors simply write whenever and wherever they can. You should write about anything and everything. You never know when that little note about the incident at the restaurant will come in handy.

  11. Take Up a New Hobby
  12. Have you always wanted to learn how to program computers? Maybe you want to learn how to bake or cook or sew. Slow time at work is a great time to embrace a new challenge. Even if you cannot actually do the hobby at work, you can certainly read about it or watch videos about it in order to learn how to do it. There are online videos that will teach you how to do just about anything. If you have no idea what a good hobby for you would be, there are web pages listing the best hobbies for men, women, young, and old. If you are like most of us today, you have a cell phone that can access the Internet. You don’t have to concern yourself with using company resources to view things on the web.

  13. Take an Extended Lunch Break
  14. I am not advocating anything sinister. Ask your manager if it would be okay to take an extended lunch, perhaps later in the afternoon, and not return to work. You won’t believe how rejuvenated you will feel by taking off a couple of extra hours. You can use those hours to get in some much needed reading, go to the park and have a nice leisurely lunch or go home and take a nap. However you use the time, it will be time well spent. Of course, you cannot do this every day, but perhaps your management is nice enough to allow it once a week during the slow time.
Whatever you decide to do with your extra time, make it count. Do something that will build you up and make you a happier person. Don’t just sit around and whine that you don’t have any work to do. Quite frankly, we spend enough of our time in servitude to someone else, doing something we would not do, if we were not being paid. When this opportunity of downtime presents itself, view it as a present. Unwrap that present and celebrate! Get creative! Do something fun! Do something for you! How do you spend your downtime?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Job Hunting for Stay-At-Home Moms

Recently, one of my former clients, Sharon W., contacted me to create a couple of new resumes for her. Sharon is a stay-at-home mom who recently separated from her husband. Due to her new change in status, she realized it would be necessary for her to get back into the workforce. Surprisingly, unlike many people in her situation (out of the workforce for 5+ years, never finished college, two children to raise, etc.), Sharon was not feeling at all hopeless. She seemed to be invigorated by this new challenge. You are probably thinking, “That’s a healthy outlook!” and you are right. It is a healthy outlook, but despite how healthy the outlook, it is not the view that most of us would have in her situation. Typically, we would be in search of company with whom we could share our misery. After all, “What am I going to do with 2 kids, no job, no education, and limited experience?”

What made Sharon view this new life as a challenge that she could overcome? Why wasn’t she falling apart at the thought of having to start all over? I’ll tell you what and why knowledge. As I mentioned before, Sharon was a former client. Over the years, she had taken a couple of my workshops and also participated in my group career coaching sessions. As a participant in those programs, Sharon was well aware that her value as an employee was more about how she packaged herself in alignment with the needs of her future employer. She realized that as a stay-at-home mom, she was developing and sharpening skills that would be useful in any field (transferable skills). Additionally, she knew that networking was her best path to a new job and had already begun reaching out to friends and former colleagues. Sharon was not about to sell herself short, because she made the choice to be a SAHM.

Here are a few examples of the skills I was able to extract from Sharon’s years as a stay-at-home mom:
  • Sharon had started a non-profit organization for girls, which made use of leadership, fundraising, communication, researching, organizational, and event planning skills.
  • As a mom of two, Sharon was tasked with finding appropriate educational curriculum for her children, one of whom was special needs. This increased her knowledge of educating special needs children and strengthened her research skills. It also required a lot of networking, since she had to reach out to other parents and suppliers to obtain needed information.
  • Another hat worn by Sharon was that of field trip organizer. As a field trip organizer, she had to adhere to deadlines, manage funds, negotiate costs, and ensure appropriate human resources were available.

Those are just a few examples of what I was able to glean from Sharon’s years as a SAHM. If you decide to use some of these examples, please remember that these are to be listed under your skills section or if you have a sufficient quantity of items, you could create a section in your resume that contains volunteer and/or leadership experience. Please do NOT list your time as a stay-at-home mom as a job. Most employers would not take it seriously and your goal here is to get a job not to give potential employers a few laughs.

Hopefully, this has got you thinking about how you can package yourself for your new job. Be strong, be confident and have faith in your abilities. By the way, I mentioned earlier that Sharon needed a couple of resumes. The reason for that will be saved for another blog posting. Until then… Peace and Blessings to you!

Friday, July 4, 2014

It Pays to Know Someone

I was at work one day, when I was handed what was supposed to be a resume. I say supposed to be, because it was far removed from any other resume I had seen in the past ten years. I was truly taken aback by what had just been placed in my hand. As career development professionals, we are always telling our clients that a resume should have at least one-inch margins, have a format that is eye-catching and eye pleasing; use bullets sparingly, limit your timeline, include only relevant info, etc.,etc. This resume threw all that out the window. Additionally, this candidate arrived for the interview in a print dress. When did the rules change and how did she get past the gatekeepers?

I’ll tell you how. She knew somebody. It’s as simple as that. Although this candidate had qualifications, the qualifications were for some other type of position-not the one for which we were hiring. Regardless of this fact, she was still called in for an interview. As a matter of fact, not only was she called in, but by the end of the day it became apparent that this person was being hired regardless what kind of negative feedback was provided from the team. The company was desperate for someone-anyone.

Is this fair? Of course not, but it is one way this game is played. I can’t stress enough how important it is to put yourself out there and make it be known that you are open to employment. Networking is the key. If it doesn’t get you a job, it will almost always get you in the door. After that, it is up to you to impress them. This goes for those of you who are currently employed and those who are unemployed. Make contacts several times a week. Give an old friend a call. Join a group. Take a class. Do whatever you can to make connections. Don’t make the mistake of discounting how valuable an inside contact can be.

By the way, please ensure your resume is solid and you dress to impress. You cannot always count on the employer being desperate for a warm body.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer Substitutions

Many who work as substitute teachers, full-time or part-time, are always at a loss with regard to where to work during the summer months. Most, it seems, want to be gainfully employed, out of necessity for life or just simply to avoid being bored out of their minds. Regardless the reason, finding some type of temporary employment is usually at the forefront of their minds this time of year.

Well, summer is upon us and if you still have not found that lucrative sweet spot of a job there are still a few options available to you that perhaps you have not considered. To aid you in your last minute job search, I have developed a list of possible “Substitutions” for your employment.

Note: Before you decide to belittle any of the below suggestions, know that this was made from actual jobs that people hold. They are legal and the pay can be sufficient to offset summertime cash lows. The more effort you put into them; the more money you get out of them.
  1. Merchandising: Places like Hallmark and Crossmark are always hiring part-time merchandisers. If you are able to move around boxes of cards or magazines, and can read a plan-o-gram, this may be the job for you.
  2. Ice Cream Truck: It’s a seasonal business that allows you to still interact with children and be home before dark.
  3. Baked Goods Sales: Many of you are excellent bakers. If you price your items appropriately, you should be able to cover the income from substituting, without trying too hard. Look for church craft fairs, bazaars, flea markets, etc. as potential sites to make sales. Post your treats to Facebook or on Instagram to give even more people an opportunity to purchase your luscious delights.
  4. Babysitting: Parents are still working, even though the children are not. Rent yourself out as a babysitter. This not only allows you to practice your teaching skills, but also gives you a nice comfortable place to work.
  5. Children’s Party Service. Since most substitutes have an affinity for children, we are in tune with what makes them smile. Use that knowledge and your access to Pinterest to become a party provider for children. Connect with another substitute who bakes and you could even provide the cake.
  6. Concierge Service: Are there any new big businesses in your area. If so, they could be sources of significant income. Men and women who work daily and long hours seldom have time to take care of the everyday things like taking clothes to the dry cleaner, scheduling appointments or even buying birthday gifts.
  7. Tutoring: This is always an option year-round. The connections you make throughout the year can be profitable in the summer. Make the most of them. A teacher is not just a teacher during the school year. You could even combine tutoring with babysitting to make a unique offering.
  8. Staffing Agencies: Sometimes we forget about the obvious. Staffing agencies are not just for full-time employment. Many staffing agencies have employment available for 3 months or is a good source for finding short-term job possibilities.
  9. Offer a Course: Do you have a particular skill that is marketable? Perhaps you do woodworking or are exceptionally good at line dancing. If so, your neighborhood recreation center wants you. The rec center offers numerous courses that cover a variety of topics. Contact them to see if you can get on the summer schedule.
  10. Landscaper:Everyone cannot afford to pay the expensive landscaping companies for their small jobs. Offer to prune bushes, mow lawns, plant flowers, etc. You would be surprised how much work you can find just by being at your local home improvement store.
  11. Deckwasher:This is a pretty messy job, but anyone who owns a deck must also maintain it. Referring back to the concierge service, most people do not have the time for this. An inexpensive power washer can be purchased for $100-150. If you'd rather do it the old fashioned way, pick up some scrub brushes, a hose, and deck wash solution.
I will leave the rest to my cohorts to add more suggestions. Finding employment during the summer months takes a bit of thinking outside the box. I am certain you are up to the task. The sky really is the limit.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Ten Tips to Revive Your Job Search

As a career coach, I often encounter people who are frustrated with their job search. In this economy, people might have literally been applying for jobs for several years with no positive results. Times like these are when I reach in my sack and pull out my creativity hat. I want to provide guidance that might be different from the usual rewrite your resume and network. Of course these things still need to be done, but I try to think outside of the norm, when making suggestions. Hopefully, these will provide the sufficient kick start needed to maintain or generate enthusiasm for the continued job hunt. Some types of things that I have encouraged in the past are listed below. I would love to hear what others have done to rejuvenate themselves or their clients with regard to the job hunt.
  1. Change your hairstyle: Your self-esteem is often tied to your appearance. Changing your hairstyle or buying a new interview outfit can give you a fresh outlook about yourself, which will in turn open your mind to new job possibilities. For a low cost option, visit a beauty school or vintage clothing store.
  2. Write a story: Writing a short story about an instance in your life that was particularly fulfilling will provide you with pieces of useful job searching information. You might be reminded of a skill or a passion that had long been forgotten.
  3. Join a group: Yes, we all realize networking is the key to a successful job search these days, but this is not about networking. Join a group that relates to something you love to do in your spare time. This will allow you to relax, relate and release. Sometimes you need to let your guard down, before you can allow something or someone worthwhile to enter.
  4. Take an assessment: We are often not successful in our job searches, because we are searching for the wrong thing. We often search for the job we had (where we were miserable) instead of the job that matches our abilities, values and skillset. Taking a career aptitude assessment can help you see jobs that you might never have considered. You can search for free online career assessments. Alternately, you can find a career coach who is certified in career assessments.
  5. Start a job club: No, this is not supposed to be a “woe is me” club. Talking with other job seekers can provide a wealth of useful job hunting information. Remember, they too are looking for jobs. It is likely they have seen a listing or know of a job that might fit you. A job club is simply a club for sharing job seeker information and providing job seeker support. Your job club connections will multiply your networking capability dramatically.
  6. Volunteer: I always say volunteering is the best medicine for depression. When you put yourself in the position to help someone else who has fallen on bad times, you leave little to no time to dwell on what might not be going so well in your life. Additionally, volunteering provides an ideal opportunity to not only give back, but to also increase or strengthen your skillset. If you are an out of work art teacher, perhaps you can volunteer at the local senior center once a week. If you are an unemployed programmer, offer your services to update the antiquated database at one of the local shelters.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Alternative Employment and Your Unique Value Proposition

Adrienne Dillard of Gig Bliss and Pat Troy Brooks (author and workforce expert) discuss finding your passion and alternatives to traditional employment.