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Promoting Yourself At Your New Job

16 Aug

A lot of my readers seem to come to this site via Google searches relating to new jobs, so I figured, in honor of my readers and to help those of you out that seem to be starting new jobs (which seems to be a lot of you), I thought I would discuss how to promote yourself at your new job. By promote yourself I mean get noticed and be seen by those around you.

So here is the scene. You landed a new, exciting job, and you just started or are getting ready to start.

First things first, remember that this transition into your new position is a chance to make changes and to prove yourself to your new co-workers. The spotlight will be on you for the first few weeks, or even months, with everyone always wondering what you are working on and how you are doing. Are you making a lot of mistakes? Are you catching on quickly to the new systems and protocols? Are you making connections with your co-workers and helping them get to know you?

Second thing to remember: the first day, week, or even month may not be that exciting. While I am sure you are ready to jump in and start working on everything, know that training and moving work to you takes time. So be patient. If you are slow, wait it out. I’m sure it will get better.

Ok, now that we have all of that out of the way I can get down to the meat and potatoes of the new job business.

Most of you know, I hope, that what you do in the first few months at your new job will either make or break you. It is in these first few months that you need to show your boss and your co-workers why you are such an asset to the company and that they should continue to invest time and money in you.

Here are some tips for promoting yourself around the office and making everyone know your worth:

HIT THE GROUND RUNNING

I know, I know, you might not be busy, and that’s ok. What I mean by “hit the ground running” is that you need to be ready and willing to get your feet wet and venture into various different tasks that you have never done before. If you find that you aren’t busy at first, go around the office and ask people for work or if they need help with ANYTHING. If you are busy, embrace it and do everything you can to keep up the pace. Your company is going to want to see that you can be productive and that you are benefitting them.

PROMOTE YOUR SKILLS

You can do this through the various assignments you have, at meetings, or in discussions with your co-workers or your boss. It is my advice to try to promote your skills – the skills that set you apart – at every chance you get. If you are a nurse and you are great with patients, make sure others notice this. If you are an attorney and are a great brief writer, volunteer to take a stab at writing a brief. If you are in sales and you are good at cold calls, make sure your boss recognizes this. While I don’t want you to go and tell someone every time you do something great – don’t be afraid to brag a little bit. For example, if you land a big client your first month on the job don’t be afraid to admit this in meeting when discussing the new account. If you don’t mention it, no one will.

GET INVOLVED

If your co-workers invite you to lunch, happy hours, conferences, etc., make sure that you go. They are inviting you because they want to get to know you and they want you to get involved. I know that going to social events with people you don’t know can be strange and awkward, but it is a part of establishing a career and expanding your network. Getting involved can even be as simple as joining the company softball team. The point is that you want to start building a connection to your co-workers right away.

UNDERSTAND THE COMPANY CULTURE

Every company has a very different culture. By culture I  mean anything from actual culture (my last company was primarily Indian dominated and so they celebrated many Indian holidays), office hours, where people eat lunch, how long they eat lunch, how people dress, whether people schmooze in the hallways, whether they go out for a drink after work, etc. Understanding all of the nuances of your new company will allow you to ensure that you are doing things in accordance with what everyone else has become accustomed to. You don’t want to be the Chatty Cathy if talking in the hallways is unacceptable.

If you are finding it hard to figure some of this stuff out, ask someone you feel comfortable talking with.

NEVER SAY NO

Even if you are slammed and have been asked if you can help out, DON’T SAY NO. Even if you have plans after work and have been asked to attend a speaking event or a happy hour or some other business-related event, DON’T SAY NO. While you don’t have to say Yes to everything the entire time you work at this new company, you need to say Yes the first few months you work there. Not only will saying yes show your dedication to the company, but it will probably give you a chance to build some relationships with your co-workers.

Hold On: One Day You Will Be Doing What You Love

9 Aug

How many of you know someone who is unhappy with their job? I know a lot of people who feel this way, and because of the economy I am sure you do too. When you ask these people why they don’t like their jobs, what do they tell you? If you are asking someone from Gen Y they are probably going to tell you that they don’t like their job because they aren’t doing something they LOVE. Am I right?

Well, for those of you out there who feel that you are stuck at a boring job doing something you hate and fear that this will be your life, I am here to tell you that if you hold on, get the experience you need, and move up the career ladder you will be closer to the job of your dreams than you think.

Here is one of my favorite stories about how the job you hate doesn’t have to be your last job.

Take Emily Giffin, my favorite author (yes, I LOVE chick-lit books). Emily went to law school because she felt like she needed to get a “real” job before taking a stab at becoming a fiction writer. Does she regret going to law school? No. But she didn’t like the practice of law one bit. In fact, here is what Emily has to say: “I loathed the actual practice of law—at least the big firm culture. And I discovered that misery can be quite motivating. So very early on, I devised a plan to pay off my law school loans and then write full-time. Meanwhile, I began writing a young adult novel in my free time (and sometimes while at work!). Four years later, my loans were paid off and my book was completed. I was able to land an agent, but over the next several months, I received a dozen rejection letters from publishers. I seriously contemplated giving up and keeping my nose to the legal grindstone, but instead, I quit my job, moved to London and decided to try again. It was then and there that I began writing Something Borrowed.” Now, years later, Emily has 6 New York Times Bestselling novels, many loyal Facebook followers, and never has to step foot in a courtroom.

So, if you are stuck working at a job that you loathe, what can you do to make your time there worth while and make sure you don’t drive yourself crazy?

BUILD PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS

If you build relationships with the people in your office you won’t feel so alone. Now, I would be very careful discussing your feelings about your job with these people, because you would never want these feelings to get back to your boss. But there is no harm in being friends with your co-workers and going to lunch with them. Heck, these relationships could eventually lead to a job that you will LOVE. As my mom always told me – its not what you know, its who you know.

GET INVOLVED

Remember, if you are one of those people trying to move up and on to something better, getting involved in tasks beyond your skill level will help you build your resume and enhance your skills. This could be something that you work on with someone else, or it could purely be a project to help the company as a whole run more smoothly, operate more efficiently, or strive to solve some of the problems that co-workers have been complaining about. The more you get involved in than just those tasks that make up your job description the more you will grow professionally – and that never hurts.

MAKE SURE THAT THE JOB YOU WANT IS REALLY WHAT YOU THINK IT IS

It is one thing to think that being something sounds cool, but it is another thing to actually experience it. Take Emily for example. She went to law school, loved it, and then ended up hating the practice of law. She never would have known that had she not ventured into legal practice out of law school. So, for those of you who think that you want to venture into a certain type of job, make sure that the job really is what you think it is. How do you do this? Get a mentor that works in the field and ask them if you can follow them for a day, two days, or a week. Being able to see what they do on a daily basis will give you some insight into whether or not you will really enjoy that job.

HOLD ON – THE END IS NEAR

In the end, we all can’t be doing what we love right away. Getting to the top and getting where we want takes time and patience. So, while you are building relationships, building your skills, and making sure that your dream job is the right job for you – hold on. Eventually you will end up where you are supposed to.

Jobs Are Like Relationships – When Its Time To Move On You’ll Know

4 Jun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have all been in a relationship that starts out with so much potential that we start imagining ourselves living with a certain person forever. We dream of love, rings, wedding dresses, and children, only to find out somewhere down the road that you and the other person are not as compatible as you once thought. Either your personalities clash, your lives go in different directions, or you decide that you don’t want to spend the rest of your life with that person. We all know that breaking up is hard to do, but inevitably if we want to move on with our lives (without that person) we need to do it, right?

In a relationship there are certain deal-breakers that present themselves that ultimately show us that we are no longer supposed to date that person. For example, you date a guy for two years and find out right before you plan to get married that he has been lying to you about his finances and debt. Deal-breaker, right? Or you are dating a guy who forgets to tell you that he had a child with a crazy woman who is now stalking you. Deal breaker for sure!

In life, when these deal-breakers present themselves and show us who the person we are dating really is we find it easy to dump them and move on (at least I did). I mean who wants to be married to someone who can’t be honest about his money? Not me!

Just as in intimate relationships, deal-breakers present themselves in our working relationships and careers. The following are examples of career deal-breakers that I would not stand for:

  • Having a boss that constantly yells at me or demeans me, making me feel inadequate and stupid.
  • Having a job that causes me too much stress for very little gain.
  • Finding that your learning has slowed and your position is becoming stagnant.
  • Hearing rumors that your company is about to go under.
  • Being physically and mentally miserable at work for any reason.

I am sure you have other deal-breakers than the ones Ihave listed, but my point is that they exist. These deal-breakers find a way to creep through the very crevices of your happiness and make you feel unhappy and unsatisfied with your career.  While these deal-breakers occur in everyone’s career (no matter what anyone tells you no one’s career and/or job is perfect), it seems to me that people have a harder time leaving an awful job than leaving an awful mate. Why is that?

Maybe leaving your job (and your steady income) seems scarier to you than pushing someone who brings you negative energy out of your life. Maybe the thought of being unemployed, which often has a bad stigma attached to it, embarrasses you. Maybe you feel as if you won’t be able to get another job making comparable pay.

There are a lot of reasons people may feel trapped at their jobs. Trust me, I understand what it feels like to be trapped. I used to spend hours on the internet searching for a way out of my old job, but never actually had the guts to quit. It ultimately took me about an entire year to find another job before I even thought about quitting a job that left me unhappy a lot of the times. 

You may be wondering how you know if something is a deal-breaker.  There is no definition of a deal-breaker, but trust me, when something is a deal-breaker you will know. You will know because whatever it is will make you unhappy. My advice: just use your intuition, you always know what is best for you.

What can you do when a deal-breaker presents itself at your current job?

  • Start looking for another job. Utilize social media and your contacts to see if there are any jobs out there that match your skills.
  • Try solving the problem by talking to your supervisor. If the deal-breaker is something that can be fixed, try being honest with your boss and see if he/she is willing to accommodate your requests.
  • Talk to other people in your field to see if the deal-breaker is common. Finding out if this deal-breaker will present itself at another job is important to know before you leave your current situation. For example, if you are a lawyer and hate having a billable hour requirement you will want to make sure that a different job won’t present the same issues for you.
  • Reevaluate your career path. If you find that you dislike multiple things about your current job you may want to reevaluate your career path. For example, if you went into sales and discovered that you hate having to drive around and service client maybe you will find a sales supervisor position more suitable to your personality.

Remember, just because you took the job doesn’t mean you have to stay there for the rest of your life. We live in a culture where it is more acceptable to go from one job to another, and a large reason for that is because Generation Y does not stay at a job they dislike.

So if you are stuck in a bad working relationship then breakup and move on.

What are your career deal-breakers? Have you ever left a job because one of them presented itself?

Things You Should Never Do or Say When You Quit Your Job

5 Mar

Quitting your job can be exhilarating, fun, and even down right refreshing. Most of us who have quit a job have done so because we have found something better. Something more exciting. Although giving your two weeks notice can be nerve-racking, once that is over with you can focus on the new beginning you are going to have, the new people you will meet, and the pay increase you will likely be getting. Sure, saying goodbye to your fellow co-workers that you have formed close relationships with can be hard, but it is all a part of moving on to bigger and better things. Despite the excitement of leaving a job for a better opportunity, there are certain things you should never do or say when you quit.

1.  Never Bash Your Former Employer.

This is a no brainer, isn’t it? We all know that talking badly behind anyone’s back can cause drama, but talking badly about a former employer is downright rude and tacky. Sure, maybe you and your former employer didn’t see eye to eye or had clashing personalities, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve to be talked about once you leave. If you need to get certain things off your chest do it in the confines of your own home. Do not tell your new employer how awful your former employer was, don’t tell people who know your former employer how awful it was working there, and most certainly don’t post anything online about how awful it was to work for your former employer.

2.  Don’t Tell Your Boss That You Hate Him/Her.

In most companies an employee that is leaving will go through an exit interview process. This is generally the time where the employer will ask you about your experiences and if you have any suggestions. No matter how much you hated your boss or working with some of the other employees, don’t say it in the exit interview. The best thing to do is leave on a positive note. You may feel the need to tell the company about certain “problems” they have within the organization, but that is really not your place. You can offer general comments, but don’t say anything personal about any of your co-workers or bosses.

3.  Don’t Call All of Your Clients And Try To Steal Them Away.

At my former job there were a few people who got terminated for various reasons. After one such individual was terminated we discovered that he was calling former clients and business partners to tell them bad things about our company and was trying to take their business from us. In the end the only thing this did was make him look stupid and make everyone at the company hate him. Certainly this was bad for his reputation considering the fact that the industry is small and everyone knows everyone. The bottom line is that if the clients or business partners want to follow you when you leave a company, they will. Calling clients and business partners to badmouth your former company only makes you look bad.

4.  Don’t Leave Things A Mess For Your Replacement.

Any time you transition from one job to another knowing what to leave for your replacement and what to finish yourself can be tricky. When I was transitioning out of my old position into the one that I currently have I made a lot of notes for the new hire and left things organized so that he could easily come in and continue doing the work I left. I even offered to answer questions he had after I left, which seemed to put him at ease with the transition process. The worst thing you can do is give your two weeks notice and then stop performing and caring. Sure, you are excited to get to your new position and you may lack motivation, but leaving piles and piles of disorganized work for your replacement will only make them talk badly about you to your former boss. If you are having trouble organizing things for your replacement, then talk to your boss to see if they can help with the transition and ask your replacement if they can come into the office a few times before you leave so that you can go over everything with them.

5.  Never Say Goodbye In a Mass Email.

Saying goodbye in a mass email is ok if everyone already knows you are leaving, but simply sending a mass email on your last day is never a good idea. Generally if you have worked in a particular position for a few years you have grown close to your co-workers. They would appreciate it, just as you would, that you tell them in person. Remember, it is always important to keep in contact with people in your industry. You never know when you are going to need them. When I left my former company everyone knew I was leaving, but on the last day I sent out an email to the higher up executives telling them how much I enjoyed working with them. Part of the reason I did this was because a lot of the executives worked in offices outside of the state, but I also felt that it was appropriate because they all knew beforehand that I was leaving.

6. Don’t Pull A Jerry McGuire.

We all remember the infamous scene where Tom Cruise as Jerry McGuire says,” “Don’t worry, I am not going to do what you all think I am going to do, which is flip out.” Jerry then goes on to criticize the executives at the company for not treating people with manners and complains about being let go from a company that he helped build. Ok yes, Jerry was laid off and you weren’t, but the point is that you should never leave a company screaming and yelling about how bad the executives are, how awful they treated employees, and how you hope the company goes under.

The Worst Career Mistake Anyone Can Make

19 Jan

Recently I wrote a post about Gracia Martore’s journey to becoming a CEO. If you read the post you will remember me saying how disappointed I was with her story. Mostly I was annoyed with the fact that Martore said she got to where she was by just keeping her head down and not focusing on her future. What kind of advice is that? And, might I point out that it took her 26 years to get to where she currently is.

Martore aside,  today I read a fabulous article by Kathy Caprino entitled The Worst Career Blunder You Can Make. According to Caprino, the worst career blunder you can make is “keeping your head buried in the sand, refusing to look up and see what’s barreling down the pike towards you, and sticking fast and furiously to the status quo.” If you couldn’t guess, Caprino literally took the words right out of my mouth.

In this article Caprino gives some great advice. The best piece of advice Caprino gives is to remind all professionals that nothing in their career is secure, except for yourself of course (hopefully). By this Caprino means that just because you are doing well at your job doesn’t mean that your job will always be there. Who knows, your company could fold under economic pressure, decide that they are eliminating your position, or hire someone with more (or less) experience. Because your job is not secure, a professional cannot simply keep their head down and focus on the status quo. Where would that leave you when your company decides the don’t need you anymore?

This leads me to Caprino’s second point, that a professional needs to continue growing and expanding upon their knowledge. Think about it this way, there is a reason why certain professionals are required to received continuing education each year – it is so they can stay above the curve and be aware of all of the changes being made in their particular field. Because your field is likely constantly changing, it is important to continue to expand upon your knowledge and skill set. No one wants an employee that stays stagnant and has no motivation to learn. So get out there and attend as many leadership development seminars or field specific seminars you can go to.

Caprino also advises professionals that they should understand exactly what their employer wants from them, and they should always remember to keep up their professional relationships. I agree 100% on both of those pieces of advice, so I am not going to elaborate on them.

Caprino’s last piece of advice is to suggest that if you are unhappy, make a change. My article from yesterday regarding Gen Yers and their constant job hoping should make you understand that I am not in favor of leaving a job without trying to either salvage that particular job or without having a backup plan. However, I do agree that if you are not happy you should make a change. This change could be a complete career change, i.e. from a teacher to a lawyer. This change could be switching your specialty in a particular field. This change could be with a different company that has some of the same goals and morals that you do. There are many changes that one can make in their career and I am fully supportive of those changes (heck I recently made a change myself). I know from experience that working at a job that you hate is no fun at all. If you are thinking of making a career change, Caprino provides some great advice. She states, “Address your challenges, fears, insecurities, and problems before you get a new job or launch a new career.  Otherwise, the problems will follow you in the next chapter of life and work.  Do what you must to stay afloat, while planting seeds for your future career visions.  Don’t wait.” If you are hanging on to your current job until you find a new job (which I highly suggest doing), reach out to those people in the field that you desire to be a part of. Ask them about their daily responsibilities and what they like and dislike about their field. Ask them if you can shadow them for a day. Ask them anything you want, but most importantly let them know that you are interested.

Remember, it’s not what you know, but who you know. The worst thing anyone can do is stay in a career they are unhappy with, but the stupidest thing anyone can do is leave their job before they have a backup plan.

Are you thinking about changing careers? What did you do to make the change?