Is your job making you depressed?

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Is your job making you depressed?

You’re having trouble focusing at work. You avoid chatty co-workers and struggle to finish your daily projects. You feel distracted and dread going to work each day. You find yourself hiding out in the bathroom or fighting off crying jags or panic attacks in your car before you walk in the door.

Are you depressed? Or is it the job? Can your job actually make you depressed?

Well, it’s complicated.

Most psychologists will note that while workplace issues can certainly trigger depression, it’s difficult to prove that they actually “cause” depression. The root causes of depression are complex. Clinical depression is often the result of combination of factors -  biological or genetic vulnerabilities, life stressors, personal history, circumstantial factors, and even medications you may be taking. It’s complicated, but, yes issues at work can be a significant factor in developing depression. 

For several years, I worked as a EAP (Employee Assistance Program) counselor for a large group of business and manufacturing companies. I listened to the stories of employees struggling to get themselves to work and to stay focused on the job while battling clinical depression. I listened to managers and HR professionals as they worked with those employees suffering from mental health issues. To be truthful, some managers did it well. Others, well, were not helpful, and at times, really made things worse. But it was clear that both internal and external factors related to work and the workplace contributed to the mental health struggles employees were facing. 

Think about it - we spend 40-80 hours a week at work. That’s over 2000 hours a year - or more! It makes sense to realize that when things are difficult at work, it can affect our mental health.

So -  is your job making you depressed? Here are some of the factors I have recognized that can contribute to a serious bout of depression. Are you struggling with any of these?

Internal or personal factors that can make you feel depressed

You feel like you are trapped. You hate your job and know that it is not a healthy environment for you; however, you can’t see a way out or forward. This is a big one. A study published in the journal Human Relations found that feeling trapped in a job and seeing no job alternatives made people more likely to experience emotional exhaustion or burn out, two conditions that can easily lead to depression.

Your job doesn’t fit. Your passion is making music or art or working with your hands crafting furniture but you’re spending 8-10 hours a day sitting in a cubicle working on spreadsheets. Perhaps you thrive in an outdoor setting but you spend every day in a windowless office. Your job doesn’t fit you  - your interests, your personality, your talents.

Your personal values and the values of your company aren’t a match. This can create an ethical discomfort that makes you wonder if you are selling your very soul for a paycheck. You may have a deep commitment to protecting the natural environment; but your company has no interest in recycling the reams of paper and plastic which it produces. 

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You’re a working parent. Working parents struggle with an often frantic schedule of keeping up with daycare pickup times, child care worries, school trips, and over-scheduled lives, not to mention the guilt over missing precious time with their children. While a job is crucial for financial security, buying groceries and, for many, a sense of personal accomplishment and fulfillment, it’s hard not to feel like you’re missing out on a large part of your child’s life. And when a sick child creates child care chaos, this parental guilt is amplified by the struggle to meet the needs of both your child and your employer. This chronic stress can contribute to feelings that you’re not doing a good job - as a parent or an employee - and can set you up for a depressive episode. 

Your balance is off - work life balance, that is. 60-80 hour work weeks are not uncommon in many professions. It’s hard to practice good self care, not to mention family care, when the demands of your job are continually increasing. How do you take time out for a healthy walk or exercise class when you’re at the office from dawn to dusk? How do you create healthy, supportive relationships when all your time is taken up with reports and spreadsheets?

You’re an introvert in an extroverted job. Or vice versa. Perhaps you’re a real extrovert who loves to spend time talking and working with people but your job consists of spending hours alone in front of a computer screen cranking out data. Or you’re an introvert who craves quiet time and solitude, but your desk is in a vast cubicle farm where you have no personal space or privacy. This mismatch of personality and work role creates a level of chronic stress that can lead you straight down the path to depression if not resolved or if other self care opportunities are not possible.

You’re worried about money. Money worries create more stress and often keep you awake at night, interrupting sleep patterns and making you more tired in general. Increasingly often, we are asked to do more work for less pay leading to time stress and $$ stress. 

External Factors:  Sometimes the job or company culture can create job environments that are unhealthy and can lead to burnout or depression. 

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Company policies and procedures are rigid and tightly monitored so that you feel like you have no control at work. You have no ability to make decisions or to change rules or procedures that seem senseless, time consuming, or just plain stupid. You have no sense of empowerment to improve work conditions or to create innovative solutions to problems. You’re just stuck following the rules and procedures as cited by the company manual. This is a front running cause of job burnout and, yes, can lead to depression.

Company policies and procedures are unclear. It sounds like the opposite of the above but can also create a stressful work environment. It’s hard to feel like you’re doing a good job when the procedures and expectations are unclear and not appropriately communicated. You’re not sure what is expected of you or expectations change daily - leaving you feeling confused and stressed. 

Your work load is unreasonable. As mentioned above, employees are continually expected to do more with less - and for less. You may find yourself in a job in which it is simply impossible to keep up - even with overtime and skipping break time. There really is only so much you can do in one day - no matter what the company expects. 

You never know when the next round of layoffs will happen. Job insecurity is a source of chronic stress and downsizing is becoming a routine part of company culture. I once spent an entire day, waiting at home for the phone call that would tell me if I was being downsized out of a job - or if I got to keep my job but would be picking up the responsibilities of another team member. Talk about a stressor!

There’s a bully in your workplace. You experience sexual or other harassment at work. An experience with harassment can trigger symptoms of depressions and anxiety and even PTSD. Employees often feel guilty or ashamed and worry that they somehow caused this harassment to happen. This is another big trigger for depression - but remember you do have legal protections from harassment at work. Contact a trusted supervisor or HR professional or contact a legal support agency in your community. 

You never know when the next round of layoffs will happen. Job insecurity is a source of chronic stress and downsizing is becoming a routine part of company culture. I once spent an entire day, waiting at home for the phone call that would tell me if I was being downsized out of a job - or if I got to keep my job but would be picking up the responsibilities of another team member. Talk about a stressor! 

Any or all of these factors can set you up for a bout of depression. I’ll be writing more about symptoms of depression, what to do if you’re feeling depressed and if and how to talk to your boss about your depression in future blogs, but if you identify with the factors on this list, here are three things to do now.

  1. Talk to someone. Find a friend, family member, therapist, minister - someone you can share your feelings with. I know this can be hard when you’re feeling depressed but it’s a first step toward a better future. Even when it feels impossible right now, there are options for changing your job and improving your life. Call me if you can’t find anyone else. 
  2. Call your doctor. There are excellent medications for depression that can help you think more clearly and feel better so you are able to begin making changes to your situation. You may have to try a couple of different meds to find the one that works best for you. Don’t give up - and if you don’t like your doctor, give yourself permission to find a new one! 
  3. Do one thing you enjoy - something that makes you feel good. Take your dog for a short walk. Watch your favorite Netflix show. Take a long nap. Don’t feel guilty for eating the ice cream. Find one thing you enjoy. Do it. 

That’s a good start. Stay tuned for more. 


Anita Flowers is a Board Certified career and life coach at Blue Sage Career Strategies. A little different than most life coaches, her background in clinical psychology and years of experience as a counselor gives her a rich understanding of human development and family dynamics. Her work history includes 13 years working with an international business company and 12 years doing individual and family counseling as well as career counseling. This blend of counseling and business experience gives Anita a unique perspective on the world of work and life. Contact Anita here to get started on your new career and life! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take the MBTI Step II and Be Your Best YOU

Are you an MBTI junkie? You know your four basic letters but have you taken the MBTI Step Two? Do you ever wonder why you don’t exactly fit your type? Want to learn more?

Or - Are you wondering what is the MBTI? How it can help you understand the DNA of your personality?

Keep reading…

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What is the MBTI? For the uninitiated, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of the world’s most popular personality tools. It’s simple, yet powerful, and provides a common language for discussing and understanding personality differences that are critical for making good choices about careers and life. The MBTI assessment and its process of self discovery gives you a framework for understanding your personality and appreciating differences in others. The MBTI identifies your preferred way of doing things in 4 key areas: your energy source, how you gather information, your decision making style and your lifestyle and work orientation. 

The MBTI Step II is a relatively recent addition to this powerful tool. This expanded version of the Myers Briggs Personality Inventory offers a more richly textured picture of your type and personality. 

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The MBTI Step I is very effective at illustrating the fundamental ways in which we differ and experience the world. The MBTI Step II takes this understanding a step beyond basic. The MBTI Step II takes each of the 8 scales from Step I and breaks them down into 5 sub-scales known as facets. This gives us not 4 ways in which we differ but 40! The MBTI Step II provides compelling information related to your communication and decision making styles, as well as insight into how you deal with change and with conflict.

Are you a methodical or emergent personality? Systematic or casual? What is your general organizational style and approach to planning? How do you connect with others? What kind of knowledge do you trust?  I find Step II particularly helpful in understanding the Sensing/Intuitive differences we find in ourselves and others. 

The MBTI Step II can help you uncover the DNA of your personality. It’s a fascinating, in-depth look into your personality and gives you critical insights for career decisions and professional development as well as enhanced emotional intelligence and self awareness.  It’s a great way to discover who you really are! 

Here’s a Sneak Preview! Take the MBTI Step II online now! 

In the next month, Blue Sage Career Strategies will begin offering clients the opportunity to take both the MBTI Steps I and II, as well as the CPI 260, at our unique, confidential online website. These personality tests are used by corporate trainers and psychologists in coaching leadership skills and career success so take advantage of this option to get ahead in your career and life. You can get a sneak preview and take the personality tests early by contacting Anita here. Each personality test includes an individual feedback session by phone with Anita to explore your results, confirm your personality type, and answer any questions you might have.

You will receive:

  • Step II Interpretive Report,
  • Blue Sage Career Interest Report
  • Plus a 30 minute individual Best Fit analysis and feedback session with Anita

Total Introductory Cost $115 (All charges in US Dollars. Contact Anita for Canadian pricing.)

The MBTI Step 1 is also available at a cost of $75 (includes Step I Basic Report and a 30 minute feedback session with Anita). 

 

Anita is a fully certified MBTI practitioner and has over two decades of experience teaching the concepts of the Myers Briggs and working with people to unlock their full potential. The MBTI Step II can help you discover your strengths, make career decisions and simply understand yourself a whole lot better.

Uncover the DNA of your personality! 

Need a career coach? Blue Sage is back!

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Many of you know that my husband and I recently opened our lives up to a big new adventure and moved to Nova Scotia. After wild ideas about moving somewhere "different" and looking at several options, we made the leap, well, the long drive, to Canada in December of 2017. It is different! Snow and cold replaced the mild winters of Charleston - even though winters in Nova Scotia are more temperate than much of the rest of Canada. We're enjoying a new culture and learning new things everyday - like curling and crokinole. If you're interested in hearing about our adventure, you can follow my blog, Ordinary Wandering.

And now, after consulting with cross border attorneys and accountants, Blue Sage Career Strategies is back in business. I will continue doing career coaching and consulting, resume assistance, and life coaching for anyone who feels stuck and needs some help finding their way into a new adventure. I work with everyone by phone or video chat so location is not an issue. I've worked with people in Europe and southeast Asia, as well as the US and Canada.

The blog is back and I'll be talking and writing about anything and everything career related.  Stay tuned for some new things coming. I'm working on a webinar with tips and strategies for using LinkedIn to power up your job search

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I have 2 new services that may be helpful for some of you. First, my new e-course "The LifeWork Project™ for Mid-Life and Beyond" begins April 16.  An adaptation of the popular LifeWork Project™, it's designed for those of us with a little life experience under our belt, but who are feeling bored or dissatisfied with our current life or career. It's a 40 day e-course that's available as a stand alone course - or with individual coaching to enhance the LifeWork you'll be doing thoughout the course.

If you're ready to start a new adventure, begin a new career, or even tweak your current life into something that feels new and exciting, give The LifeWork Project™ a try. You can find more information here - or give me a call and we can talk about what changes you want to make.

The second new thing at Blue Sage is a new structured coaching program for adults and college students with ADHD or those who simply struggle with chronic disorganization and procrastination. If lack of organization is slowing you down at work and in your career, this structured coaching program can help you get organized, beat the procrastination demon and get those projects finished on time at work and at home. I'll be writing more about that in a future blog post. For more info now, contact me and I'll be happy to answer your questions and get you started on a more organized, productive life. 

Where do you want to be in five years? What changes would you like to see in your life and career? Do you have a five year plan? a one year plan? It's almost spring time - a great time for new beginnings. Set some goals and make it happen!

 

 

 

Want to upgrade your career in 2018?

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Are you ready to make big changes in your life in 2018?

Want to upgrade your career?

Start something new?

Create work that is authentic and meaningful? 

This is your chance. The LifeWork Project™ is back! The next class begins January 8, 2018 and for the week of CyberMonday is available at 20% off. (No other discounts will be offered.) Sign up before December 3. You can sign up for the e-course alone or along with discounted coaching from Anita. Use the code CYBER20.  Keep reading to find out more...

If you’re ready to take some real steps to figure out what’s next for you, take a look at The LifeWork Project™. This e-course will include weekday emails delivered straight to your inbox with a LifeWork discovery reading and a question of the day to ponder. Each week you will be guided through a series of exercises, journal writing prompts, and other activities to assist you in discovering your personality, identifying your strengths and transferable skills, clarifying your values and creating a career design plan with action steps for moving forward. You will complete the full length Myers Briggs Personality Inventory (MBTI®) and receive a personality profile plus career information tailored to your personality type. You will spend time looking back and learning lessons from your past plus taking time to complete a frank and honest assessment of  your current situation. Finally you will design a plan for moving forward toward the career you’ve always wanted.

From a previous participant: 

I really enjoyed the LifeWork Project! It enabled me to unlock bits of truth that I'd been holding captive, mostly out of fear, thereby confirming the significance of those hidden bits of self and forcing them into the light. This was a great way for me to remind myself how well I know myself and to stop denying the significance of simple pleasures and passion, which are so key to long-term sustainability and overall life satisfaction. I understand and appreciate myself better -strengths, weaknesses, energy drainers AND gainers- and all. I'd highly recommend this to anyone who is feeling stuck, bored, restless, or who has goals and some idea about what one wants to do but needs a confidence boost and a bit of confirmation, and/or is struggling to formulate a plan to forge one's dreams into reality. ~ Katie W., Charleston, SC

Here's what's included: 

  • Daily emails (Mon-Fri) with a LifeWork Discovery reading and a question of the day
  • Weekly exercises, writing prompts and other LifeWork Discovery activities plus a weekend LifeWork Challenge.
  • MBTI Personality Profile, Best Fit analysis, and Career Information based on your type
  • The LifeWork Values Matrix 
  • The LifeWork Career Design Plan

Options for individual coaching throughout the process with Blue Sage Career Coach, Anita Flowers  are available at a discounted rate for LifeWork Project™ participants. Coaching can be done in person or by phone so the entire LifeWork Project™ is available to anyone anywhere.

For more information, check out The LifeWork Project™ here. 

Sign up today or contact Anita at 843-224-2025 or anita@bluesagecareers for more information or for a free consultation. 

   

10 Do's and Don'ts to Impress a Hiring Manager

 Photo by Olu Eletu on Unsplash.com

Photo by Olu Eletu on Unsplash.com

I recently spoke with two hiring managers who regularly interview and assess job applicants. One was the communications director and hiring manager for a large international business company. Another was a store manager for a large big box retailer. Both offered insight into what they look for in an applicant.  Every hiring manager is different but here are some of the things that would impress these two managers and help you land the job. 

How to Impress the Hiring Manager and Land a Job

  1. DO submit a short, impactful resume where your experience and abilities shine. One manager looks for a one page resume that highlights only the last 10 years of professional experience. Managers have limited time to scan resumes for the skills and experience needed for the job. In fact, in most cases, your resume has less than 10 seconds to impress the hiring manager. Bullet points that highlight your specific accomplishments and related experience make it easy for a manager to see the value in calling you in for an interview. 
  2. DON’T use a functional resume. A functional resume focuses on skills and experience, rather than on a chronological work history. It is often used by job seekers who are changing careers, who have gaps in their employment history, or whose work history is not directly related to the job. While these have become popular in recent years, the managers I spoke with felt they were being misled by these resumes and immediately assumed the applicant was trying to hide something. Their sage advice was to go with a more traditional chronological resume, highlight transferable skills and be prepared to explain any gaps in employment.
  3. DO spend time crafting a well written cover letter. Don’t just repeat your resume but impress the manager with why they should hire you. What is your motivation for applying for this job? Why are you a good fit for the job? Write a customized cover letter for every job application. It takes time, but a one size fits all letter will not impress a hiring manager. Focus on your skills and abilities that fit the needs of each particular organization. Keep it short, less than 3 paragraphs, and use 3-5 bullet points to highlight your skills and experience that are most relevant to the position.  
  4. DON’T forget to proofread. Always, always proofread. One manager immediately tosses any resume and cover letter with grammatical errors or typos into the trash bin. If you aren’t careful with details in your resume, it will be assumed that you won’t be careful with details on the job.  Have another person proofread your cover letter and resume to make sure you haven’t overlooked a typo. And don’t forget to include your contact information on the letter as well as your resume.
  5. DO clean up your online profile. Both managers noted that they ALWAYS checked people out on line and have eliminated people from the list of possibilities because of what they found online. Sign out of google (or even better, use a library computer or borrow someone’s laptop) and google yourself. See what shows up and begin the process of removing anything related to drug or alcohol use or any profanity in your online comments. Delete comments in which you bad mouth or speak negatively about former employers. Update your LinkedIn profile- you do have one, right? - and work on your connections and accomplishments. One manager noted that he looked for mutual connections on LinkedIn and then contacted them as a way to check out potential employees.
  6. DON’T BE LATE. Let me say it again. DON’T BE LATE. Be on time for the interview and on time means 15 minutes early. Allow for traffic delays, parking difficulties, apocalyptic zombies and any other obstacle that might prevent you from arriving on time. If you don’t show up on time for the interview, how can a manager expect you to get to work on time each day? You will not be hired if you arrive late. Enough said. 
  7. DO dress to impress. Research the company culture and dress appropriately. It’s always better to over-dress than to miss the mark completely. Wear a tie. Make sure your clothes are clean and well pressed. Shine your shoes. Carry a professional purse or work bag. Don’t wait until the last minute to figure out what you’re wearing. Spend some time creating a polished, professional appearance. First impressions count.
  8. DON’T be rude to the administrative assistants, custodial staff, or anyone else you meet along the way. It’s all part of the interview process. Make sure you are positive and professional in all encounters. If lunch is suggested as part of the process, treat the wait staff in a respectful manner. Use good manners. It’s ALL part of the interview. The manager is watching how you handle other people in every situation. 
  9. DO research the company and be ready to ask questions that show you have done your homework. You are more likely to be hired because you asked good, insightful questions that show you are interested and excited about the job than by simply answering questions you are asked. Come prepared with a couple of questions about the company. Think through your answers to regularly asked interview questions. When the interviewer says, “Tell me about yourself”, have a rehearsed answer that highlights your skills and relevant experience. Don’t babble on about where you grew up or your college years. Be ready to tell your career story in a way that showcases your fit for the potential job at hand. 
  10. DON’T forget to send a thank you note or email immediately following the interview.  A handwritten note will help you stand out from the crowd because they are rarely used these days but even a well-worded email is better than nothing. It gets your name in front of the manager once more and demonstrates your interest in the job and your ability to follow up on details. 

All hiring managers are different and may focus on different aspects of the interview process, but these tips will get you started on the way to a great new job. 

For more help with interview prep, contact Anita for coaching and resume help at 843-224-2025 or click here.

Part Three: 7 Elements of an Exceptional Resume

Step 3: Putting it all together

The third step in building a great resume is putting it all together. If you haven’t the first two steps in the Blue Sage Resume Builder series, back up and read Step One and Step Two. Here’s the third step. It’s time to get it all down on paper. Don’t worry about fonts or formatting yet. The main focus is creating solid content. Good, well-written content beats fancy fonts and templates every time.

Seven Elements for an Exceptional Resume

Here are the 7 sections for a resume that will highlight your skills and accomplishments. Begin by getting all this information listed in a document file. Don't worry about fonts or formatting or the number of pages yet. Just begin by making a simple list of all this information.

1. Personal and Contact information. This is the easy stuff. List your name, email and phone number. Most employers will be contacting you by email so make sure you have a professional email address that you check regularly. It’s time to lose the cute or sexy email addresses from your younger years. If your email address is still beersnbikes@anything.com or hotyogapants@stopnow.com, it’s time to get a new email. The best email address is some version of your own name, for example, Jsmith or smith.john@whatever.com. That makes it easy for the hiring manager to find you in an overflowing inbox when you respond. Don't use your current work email - you don't want these emails going through any kind of screening system at your present employment.

Your snail mail address is optional. It can actually be a detriment if you are applying for a job that will require you to relocate. If the job is local, it’s okay to leave it on.  Also, since you’re leaving a phone number, make sure you have a professional voicemail message for missed calls. What will the hiring manager hear when he or she calls to offer you the job?  Enough said. 

2. Summary of Qualifications. Add this section in the prime real estate at the top of your resume. These are the skills and accomplishments you want to highlight. In Step 2, I detailed how to create your summary of qualifications. Write 5-6 bullet points that highlight your accomplishments and qualifications. You can edit this section for each job you apply for - highlighting the skills and key words each job description lists. 

3. Professional Experience.  This is your work history, one of the most important components of your resume. Employers will want to know where you worked, your dates of employment, and your responsibilities in each role. Make sure your dates and work information are accurate. Employers do conduct background checks and bad information can cost you the job instantly.

List the jobs and internships you have held in reverse chronological order, with the most recent positions first.  For each position, include: job title, company, location, dates of employment, and a bulleted list of your strongest accomplishments for each job.

Verb tense should be present tense for your current job if you are employed, and past tense for prior employment.

3. Education. The Education section generally comes next. List your degrees earned, with the highest degree listed first. Include the name of the school, the degree earned, and the date you graduated. If you are a recent grad, you can place this information ahead of the Professional Experience section and include your GPA (but only if it’s above 3.5 - otherwise, leave it out.) If you’ve been out of school more than 5 years, ditch the GPA. 

4. Certifications or Licensure. List any relevant certifications or licensure you have earned which are current. If you don't have any certifications, just leave this section out.

5. Awards or Achievements. Here’s your chance to shine. Don’t back off or try to be modest. List any achievements you’ve been given. It can be anything from Top 10 Sales for 2016,  Employee of the Month, or Non Profit Angel of the Region.  List the Award, company and date. Another option is to include these in the Professional Experience section as a bullet point under that work experience. That can save space, and also makes sense if you have only one or two to list.

6. Publications or Presentations. This is an optional section but definitely include this if you have written a book or paper in your field of expertise or have been a major presenter on a topic. List the title or topic, Publication and date. If you have a long list of publications or presentations that are relevant to the job at hand, you can create a separate document and attach that to your resume. 

7. Additional Skills. Here’s your chance to highlight any skills that are directly related to the job you are seeking. Employers typically list required or preferred skills in job listings when itemizing the qualifications for the position. List your most closely related abilities here, using a bulleted list format. You can include technical computer and software skills, foreign language proficiencies, and any other skills related to the job position. If you are using acronyms, be sure to also write out the name to prevent confusion. For example, you might write a bullet that reads: Proficient in CMS ( Content Management Systems).  Again, you can include these in the Professional Experience section or Summary of Qualifications if you only have a couple to mention.

For more resume building tips, you can also check out the list of what NOT to include on your resume here.

How To Build a Powerful Resume That Will Land You an Interview - Part Two

How do you highlight your accomplishments and skills so they are upfront and center when someone looks at your resume? Try using a summary of qualifications.

A summary of qualifications

After your name and contact information, that prime real estate at the top of your resume needs to be filled with a summary of qualifications. A qualifications summary is a customized tool that lists key achievements, skills, experience, and your qualifications that are most relevant to the position for which you are applying. It’s designed to draw the attention of the hiring manager and also helps to get your resume past the computer robots of the Applicant Tracking Systems if you’re applying for a job online. 

In the past, most resumes started with a career objective. The applicant would write a two-sentence description of the job they were seeking and their main qualifications for the job. However, resume formatting has changed due to online applicant tracking and the diverse pool of job seekers. Career objectives no longer fit the new resume model. It’s now much more functional (and necessary) to begin with bulleted summaries that cover your main achievements, qualifications, and skills that qualify you for the job. 

The qualifications summary can be the hardest part of writing a resume but is incredibly useful. You can use it to highlight your accomplishments and skills on your LinkedIn profile and memorize it to use when you need to give a quick spiel about your job qualifications.  

How do you write a summary of qualifications?

In your summary, you can include bullets with:

  • Years of experience in your field/area of expertise along with functional specialty or job title
  • Professional achievements, strengths, expertise and specialization (If you finished step one in the how to build a resume series, you can use your results to complete this task.) 
  • Educational degrees and specific coursework related to the job
  • Skills and abilities (software, hardware, languages, etc) 
  • Licenses and/or certificates you’ve earned related to job position. (Tip: Use both acronyms and spelled out form for best key word optimization). 

To enhance the effectiveness of your qualifications summary and resume, read each job description carefully and use specific keywords and phrases the hiring manager has used. Customize your resume for each job application. That increases the chance that you’ll be hitting keywords and phrases that the ATS targets. However, keep the copy smooth and readable - you don’t want it to sound contrived.

Here’s an example for a sales manager:  

  • Fast track 17 year sales and management career in competitive industries and markets (publishing, computer systems sales, commercial real estate)
  • Earned distinction as #1 sales producer in three distinct markets
  • Adept at recruiting, coaching and motivating dynamic sales teams
  • International skills and cultural understanding: lived and worked in Beijing and Tokyo for five years; multilingual skills include fluent Spanish and conversational Mandarin and Japanese.

Or another example for a non - profit executive director:

  • Nationally recognized senior non-profit leader with 17 years of professional experience in community development.
  • Developed creative strategies in donor relations through implementing needs assessment and service programs, Increased donor list by 22%.
  • Created collaborative community networks to address multiple needs of underserved communities
  • Proven record of hiring highly qualified staff and recruiting volunteers to undergird the work of staff
  • Engaging public speaker and teacher, dynamic and persuasive with diverse communities. 

It's worth spending some real time and energy to create a dynamic qualifications summary that highlights your best skills and achievements. It's like putting your best foot forward in your resume and letting yourself shine. 

 

Keep reading: How to Build a Powerful Resume that will Land you an Interview: Part Three - 7 Elements of an Exceptional Resume

How to Build a Powerful Resume that Will Land You an Interview: Part One

How to build a powerful resume that will land you a resume: change your mindset

So you’re looking for a job? Maybe, it’s your first job out of college. Maybe, you’ve decided it’s time for a career change and are ready to move on. Maybe your company downsized and you no longer have a choice about finding a new job. Whatever your personal scenario, you’re going to need a resume.  

It's time to change your mindset about resumes. 

Most of us think of a resume as a list of all the jobs we have held in the past, each listed in reverse chronological order with a short description of duties and responsibilities. While your previous jobs will be listed, it’s time to change your mindset about resumes. A resume is NOT just a personal history of jobs. It’s time to begin thinking of a resume as a marketing document. You are selling yourself to a potential employer. It’s a unique one-of-a-kind advertisement - for you. 

The ultimate purpose of a resume is to land an interview. That’s it. You want your resume to impress the hiring manager enough that he or she will take the next step and contact you for an interview. So how do you do that? 

This is the first in a series of blog posts that will detail 5 important steps for building an impressive resume that will land you an interview. 

Writing a resume is a tough job to do well and something I find most people dread tackling. People don’t want to brag about themselves and have trouble organizing their accomplishments and hard earned skills into a cohesive, easy to scan document. They’re not sure what to include and what to leave out and where to put things. In these blog posts, we’ll walk through the process of organizing and formatting a killer resume designed to land you an interview.  Here’s your first assignment.

Step One: We’ll start with that list of previous jobs - your employment history. Write down all the jobs you have held previously. Write down the job, beginning and ending dates of employment, and a basic description of your job duties and responsibilities. That’s the part everyone thinks about. For each job, you can include 4-6 bullet points describing your job responsibilities. It will look something like this:

Marketing manager, Magic Money Sales Company, June 2013-April 2016

  • Organized marketing material
  • Wrote and published marketing material
  • Analyzed market trends.
  • Led team of marketing specialists.

Pretty boring, right? Let's make it better. 

Step Two: Here’s the most important part. For each job in your employment history, write down a list of your most important accomplishments in that job and answer these questions. 

  • What were you the most proud of in each of those jobs? 
  • What awards or recognitions did you receive? 
  • When you look back at each of those jobs, what do you want to tell people about? 
  • What did you enjoy? 
  • What were your 3 most notable accomplishments or achievements? 

It’s helps to quantify your achievements if possible. For instance, you could write increased attendance by 10% or achieved a 15% increase in sales. Using numbers improves readability and draws the eye of the recruiter. In life in general, I tend to object to quantifying things about people, but on a resume, it’s a great selling point. List your accomplishments and achievements. Even if the job was stocking lettuce at the local grocery, what were you proud of? What did you accomplish? 

When you finish, your next list might look something like this one from our fictional marketing manager:

  • Created original copy and digital content for 9 marketing campaigns, resulting in a 12% increase in sales annually.
  • Headed a dynamic brand strategy team of 10 marketing specialists.
  • Awarded Company Leader in Creative Innovation for 2015.
  • Enjoyed learning and proficient in XYZ software for use in publishing marketing content.
  • Enjoyed camaraderie of team building and the challenge of leading a diverse and creative team.

Makes a difference, doesn’t it? It’s much more dynamic and interesting to read. Which person would you hire? What does your list look like?

Why do I include the question “What did you enjoy?” 

We might not write the words “enjoyed” on a resume - but including that as part of this resume building exercise will give you strong clues to the type of job you want to be searching for. You don’t want to create a list of accomplishments that you did well - but absolutely hated. Highlight the parts of your job that you looked forward to. What responsibilities did you enjoy? What skills did you relish learning and honing? From our example above, you can see that this person enjoyed team leadership, creativity, and learning new skills. Now, he or she can target jobs where those qualities are needed and utilized. It can be helpful to work through your job history all the way back to high school, asking yourself these 2 simple questions about each job. What accomplishment am I proud of in this job?  What did I enjoy? 

It's all about changing your mindset. Identify the parts of your previous jobs that you loved and want to do more of. Find a way to highlight those as accomplishments and achievements. Target jobs where those skills and abilities are listed as part of the job description. You will be on your way to a job you love! 

Take your time and complete both steps thoroughly. The results can be surprising! Leave me a comment and share your highlighted accomplishments. You'll be ready for the next step. 

Keep reading: Part Two of How to Build a Powerful Resume that Will Land you an Interview: Creating a summary of qualifications


 

 

 

 

 

 

9 Steps to Network Your Way into a Job

 Did you know that 75% of job openings are never advertised? 

It’s often called the hidden job market. About 75% of all job openings are never advertised. While job sites are great places to look for jobs, it pays to remember that the majority of jobs will never show up there. An estimated 70-80% of jobs are never published on a job search website like Indeed or Linked In, in the newspaper or even on the company website. 

The reality is that the vast majority of jobs are filled through personal and professional connections. So what’s a job hunter to do?

It’s a word my clients hate to hear. 

Networking. 

It’s all about networking - making connections. It’s knowing - or getting to know someone who knows someone who knows about a job. Yes. That old truism is true. It’s WHO you know that gets you a job. 

Most people spend their job search time surfing the internet - searching job sites and sending in on-line applications. Most companies receive hundreds of resumes for each job posting and those are only the ones that make it through the resume scanning robots that are the site of first rejection for many applicants. While job sites are still an important part of the job search, job hunters need to be spending even more time making those personal connections that lead to real and unadvertised job possibilities.

Why should you use your network to find a job? Here’s another statistic:

Referred applicants are five times more likely than average to be hired, and 15 times more likely to be hired than an applicant from a job board, according to a 2017 study by Jobvite.

So, how do you become a referred applicant? 

9 Steps to Network Your Way into a Job

1. Make a list of everyone you know. The reality is that you know more people than you think. Use your email contacts list and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, etc, etc… and make a list of everyone you know. Seriously. Write them down. You can use an old fashioned notepad or create an Excel spreadsheet. Think about people you know from former jobs, high school and college, or your neighborhood.  Also think about people you’ve met through your close connections: your brother’s co-worker; your college roommate’s boss; your co-worker’s spouse, friends of your parents and aunts and uncles. Don’t forget to include people like your doctor, accountant and yoga instructor.

2. Figure out what job you want before you start networking. Don’t waste time applying for jobs that aren’t a good fit for you. You’ll be much more successful when you have specific career goals and can tell your contacts “This is what I’m looking for.” It can be tempting to leave things wide open - but that leaves your contacts guessing at what kind of jobs to be looking out for and produces little results. Spend some time dreaming and outline what your ideal job would look like - including job title, responsibilities and company environment and culture. Be honest with yourself about those things you don’t want to do vs. those things that give you energy and that you want to do more of.

3. Create a list of companies that fit your criteria and that you would like to work for. Research these companies and work to find contacts within them. Ask everyone you know if they know anyone who works for those companies or organizations and then ask for an introduction. Use sites like Linked In and Glass Door to find potential companies and connections.

4. Start with your references and targeted contacts. Highlight those people on your list who have connections to your industry and companies you would like to work with. Contact them and let them know about your job search and your career goals and ask for their assistance. Take the time to make these connections personal and long-lasting. Focus on building a long term relationship so that your network becomes stronger over time and will be there when you need it. Make sure to send thank you notes and keep them posted on your progress. 

5. Ask for advice, not a job. Don’t put your contacts in the awkward position of having to turn you down. Take some time to catch up, if they’re an old friend. Fill them in on your career goals and targeted positions and ask for advice in making connections or finding job possibilities. If the connection is a person you don’t know well, respect their time and keep your conversations brief and to the point. 

6. Optimize Linked In. Yes. I’ve said it several times but if you are searching for a job, you need to be on Linked In with a fully completed professional profile and pic. Recruiters love Linked In but you can also use it to make connections with others in your industry. Join Linked In groups for your interests and industry. Joining groups on Linked In makes you more visible to recruiters and helps you add contacts. If you find a job opening you like, try to find a connection within that company and contact them rather than (or along with) an online application. Ask for a referral through that contact. 

7. Join professional associations and organizations. Go to the meetings and conferences if possible. This is real networking at its best. You learn more about your industry plus you make connections with people doing the job you want to be doing. This also helps with resume building. You can add these memberships to your resume which increases your professional standing and helps recruiters see that you are invested and involved in your profession.

8. Make connecting a habit. Call your contacts and take them to lunch. Use Facebook and Linked In to touch base and keep people updated. Make 5 new contacts a week - or one a day. Make phone calls, send e-mails. Even after you land your dream job, keep the connection habit. You never know when you’re going to need it again. And that leads us to the last point…

9. Find ways to help others. Successful networking is a two-way street. That means giving as well as receiving. Send a thank-you note, ask about their family, email an article you think they might be interested in, and check in periodically to see how they’re doing. Help others along in their job search through your network. You are creating a professional network but it is also your community - a strong network of people who can support each other and share advice, connections and ideas. Make it authentic.

Tired of the same old thing? Ready to find a new job?

Are you feeling like you just can't face another day in your current job? Feeling stuck in your career or just burned out? Are you ready for a change  - but you’re not sure what steps to take next? Are you still trying to choose a career path but not sure what direction to take? Are you excited each morning to get out of bed and head off to work or do you drag yourself out the door just hoping for Friday to arrive? 

Ready to find a new and better career? Need help with the job search? 

Now is the time. It's time for a change, time to hit the refresh button on your career, or to begin the process of finding a career you love. Maybe you’re bored out of your mind in your current job and you’re looking for a new challenge that better fits your life and dreams. Maybe you’ve been out of the job market for a while - in school, at home caring for others or just can’t seem to figure out what’s next for you. Maybe you just need a change. 

It's not too late to sign up. The next class of The LifeWork Project™ begins July 10 and there are still a few spots left. 

Here's what previous participants have written about The LIfeWork Project™: 

"I really enjoyed the LifeWork Project! I understand and appreciate myself better -strengths, weaknesses, energy drainers AND gainers- and all. I'd highly recommend this to anyone who is feeling stuck, bored, restless, or who has goals and some idea about what one wants to do but needs a confidence boost and a bit of confirmation, and/or is struggling to formulate a plan to forge one's dreams into reality."   ~Katie C. Charleston, SC

"After just 2 weeks of The LifeWork Project™, I felt more confident about choosing a new career path that looked exciting and full of potential. I had been feeling very bored and stuck in my old job and now I have a plan to find a new job. Now, I'm more prepared for the job search and have all my accomplishments lined up for my resume." ~ Steven R. Greenville, SC 

Career coaching for the rest of us

If you’re ready to take some real steps to figure out what’s next for you, take a look at The LifeWork Project™ - a 40 day e-course designed to help you find the work of your life - work that leads to a lifetime of challenge, satisfaction and success.  The e-course will include weekday emails delivered straight to your inbox with a LifeWork discovery reading and a question or assignment of the day to ponder. Each week you will be guided through a series of exercises, journal writing prompts, and other activities to assist you in discovering your personality, identifying your strengths and transferable skills, clarifying your values and creating a career design plan with action steps for moving forward.

You will complete the full length Myers Briggs Personality Inventory (MBTI®) and receive a personality profile plus career information tailored to your personality type. With individual email support from Anita, you will be guided through the Best Fit process for your personality type and career. You will spend time looking back and learning lessons from your past plus taking time to complete a frank and honest assessment of your current situation. Finally you will design a plan for moving forward toward the career you’ve always wanted.

The LIfeWork Project™ includes:

  • Daily emails (Mon-Fri) with a LifeWork Discovery reading and homework for each day
  • Weekly exercises, writing prompts and other LifeWork Discovery activities plus a weekend LifeWork Challenge.
  • MBTI Personality Profile, Best Fit analysis, and Career Information based on your type ($59 value)
  • The LifeWork Values Matrix 
  • The LifeWork Career Design Plan
  • Options for individual coaching throughout the process with Blue Sage Career Coach, Anita Flowers, MA are available at a discounted rate for LifeWork Project™ participants.

The next LifeWork Project begins on July 10 and registration is now live. Space in each class is limited. Take advantage of this low pricing on The LifeWork Project™ and sign up here today.

Get help with the job search and find a job you love.

Contact Anita if you have any questions or need more information. 

The 3 Best Job Search Websites + The ONE Thing That Really Helps You Find a Job

It’s a question I’m asked by every career coaching client I work with. What job sites should I use to find a job? There’s a long list out there - Monster, Simply Hired, LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, Career Builder and many, many more. Which is the best? Job searching takes a lot of time. Which job site is worth spending your valuable time on?

Where can you find your dream job? 

Based on my experience with job hunting clients along with a great in-depth analysis from reviews.com, here are my top picks for job sites that might actually land you an interview.  These are in no particular order - but I think they are the best of the bunch. 

The 3 Best Job Sites

  • GlassDoor. GlassDoor has the most new postings each day, according to reviews.com. In a 2 week test, GlassDoor had 30% more new posts than the competition.  GlassDoor allows you to search by job title, key responsibilities, company and location. It also provides anonymous company reviews on the corporate culture and salary information. It’s a great site if you want to research the company that you might be working for. It’s also a place to check out career fields if you’re not quite sure what your next move will be. 
  • Indeed wins for the best coverage. Lots of jobs that are posted in niche job boards and other places will show up here. Employers can post on Indeed for free - so that ups the odds that jobs will be posted here. It’s a Google-like search engine for jobs and pulls in information from job boards, company listings and news sites. 
  • Linked In - Recruiting and hiring managers stalk Linked In. I have been contacted by recruiters with job possibilities for myself - and I’m not looking for a job! On Linked In, you can search for jobs and then see people in your network who have connections to that company. That's pure gold for networking! Posting a profile is free and you can find friends and others to connect to.  Online networking works if you take it to the next level. 

Here’s a little info about niche job boards - which are most helpful.

You need to check out niche job boards. These boards exist for every industry. Check out your national association or google 'your industry + job board'. For example, if you’re looking for a job in nursing, google “nursing job board” and you will find nurse.com or nursingjobs.com. For retail, you might look at workinretail.com or AllRetailJobs.com.  I'll write more about these later. 

And finally….

What actually helps you get a job 

This leads me to the last step. Again from Reviews.com: Steve Dalton is a program director for Daytime Career Services at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and the author of The 2-Hour Job Search. Here’s his quote about job search sites. “It’s the black hole everybody thinks it is. For every one person hired through an online job application program, 12 are hired by an internal referral, according to a 2012 hiring study at the New York Fed.”

Yep. This fits with my experience as a career coach. What gets you hired is “who you know” - also known as networking. An internal referral means a person that the company trusts gave your name and resume to HR. Internal referrals can be a friend, or a friend of a friend or a friend of a friend of a friend on LInkedIn. Use the tools above to research job opportunities and find out what companies are hiring. And then check your network.. and then your extended network on Linked In to find anyone you know connected to that industry. Contact them. Take them to lunch. It really is what works. 

Check out the websites. Create a network. Join your local association of whatever. Create a profile on Linked In and work it. Call your uncle and your friends and that person you met at the restaurant. Call me if you think you don’t have a network. I’ll help you find one. And call me if you want help sorting out the online job search sites. We'll work it out. 

How to Re-Kindle Your Passion for Life and Work

Cooler temps are not the only thing to look forward to in the fall. Our second e-course is in the works. The working title is How to Re-Kindle Your Passion for Life and Work - A Guide to Mid-Life Transitions. It’s designed for anyone who’s feeling discouraged and a bit beaten down at mid-life.

Maybe you’re tired of your same old job  - or the never ending routine of your life.

The things you once enjoyed now feel blah and hum drum.

You’re feeling anxious and washed up already. It’s too soon for that.

Whether you’re feeling tired of your same old, same old job or have simply lost your interest and passion for life, this e-course is designed to rekindle your excitement for life and work. Through questions, readings, and assignments, you will be guided through a structured path to create positive, actual changes that will make the next stage of your life more rewarding and fulfilling For a further boost, optional discounted coaching is available to give you a chance to talk through your reflections and make a specific plan for change. 

Break through that mid-life slump and discover what’s next for you. 

Sign up here for more information or to reserve your spot! 

Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’
’Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older, too
— Stevie Nicks - Landslide

3 Steps to Tame the Frenzy of a Disorganized Life

 3 Steps to Tame the Frenzy of a Disorganized LIfe

Creative Strategies for the Disorganized Life…. That’s the name of a workshop I offered recently at a local workplace. I had given the employees a choice of several topics and this is the one that generated the most interest. It’s how many of us feel, isn’t it? We feel that our lives - and our minds -  are disorganized, chaotic, too busy, overwhelmed. Some of us have been diagnosed with adult ADHD and struggle with organization and productivity. Many more of us suffer from OBLD - Overwhelmed by Life Disorder. Or, as I often call it,  “too much $#!* to do” syndrome!

You’re not the only one. In his book, Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life, Dr. Paul Hammerness reports that 43% of Americans categorize themselves as disorganized and 21% have missed vital work deadlines. Nearly half say disorganization causes them to work late at least twice each week. 48% report that their lives have become more stressful in the past five years. We all feel it at times - stressed, disorganized, out of control, frenzied. 

The first stage of feeling overwhelmed is frenzy.  We get caught up in our emotions and feel frantic to get things done. Maybe we’re running late… again…. and find ourselves lashing out at ourselves.  “Why can’t I get it together?” “I’m so stupid!”  “How did I get this far behind?” “Why can’t I be more like _______?”  We blame ourselves - or others close to us - for the disorganized state of our life.  As Dr. Hammerness suggests, the first thing we need to do when we are feeling overwhelmed is to “tame the frenzy.” We have to step back and calm those angry, anxious, frantic feelings so we can make good choices and move forward in a positive way. 

The first step in taming the frenzy is to pay attention to your feelings. Dr. Hammerness notes that simply naming the emotion you are feeling enables your prefrontal cortex to become aware of the emotion and then begin to let it go. Try it sometime when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed and stressed. What is the emotion underlying the frenzy?  Is it anxiety about how you are doing or how you are being perceived? Anger at yourself or others for not “having it all together?” Sadness about how your life is going? Irritability? Disgust? Discouragement? What are you feeling? Be specific. Naming the emotion clarifies it and helps you release it and move forward with your life with less stress and move positivity. 

Make it a practice to check in with your emotions on a regular basis. I do it as a part of my daily meditation practice. After a few calming breaths, I scan down my body, starting with the top of my head all the way down to my toes, to see how it’s feeling. Where am I holding tension in my body? Usually, it’s in my neck or between my shoulder blades. Are my shoulders tightened up until they are almost as high as my ears? I take a moment to simply notice where any tension. Then, I check in with my emotions. What is my general emotional state of the moment? Am I calm or feeling anxious? Worried? Sad? Discouraged? Excited about the day? Grateful for my life? It’s just a check in - not a judgement. It’s an acknowledgement that this is how I’m feeling today. No beating myself up about it or feeling like “I should be….”  All those emotions are part of our emotional palette. It’s okay.

The second step to tame the frenzy is to begin to notice the moments when you are calm. Reflect on your experience of calm. Think about times when you don’t notice the frenzy and feel less stressed and relaxed. What does calm feel like to you? What does frenzy feel like? Find metaphors to describe them. Draw a picture of them. To me, frenzy feels like a tornado - out of control and destructive to everything in it’s path. Calm is a cool gentle breeze breathing life back into my soul. Become aware of your patterns of frenzy and calm. You may want to create a graph of your weekly patterns of stress and calm.

The third step is to “own” your role, to become aware of your responsibility and your ability to increase calm and decrease frenzy. Are you completely burned out - feeling almost always frenzied? Or is it more sporadic? When are you feeling most calm? If you could wake up tomorrow feeling calm, how would that feel?  Look at your patterns of frenzy and calm and brainstorm some ways to reduce the frenzy. 

The quickest way to de-stress is to move your body. Go for a walk, stretch, exercise, do some jumping jacks or march in place. Even five minutes of movement helps. Other ideas include short meditation breaks, talking to a friend, eating healthy, non-inflammatory foods, or taking a short “time-out” from the situation. Go outside. Look at a photo that makes you smile. Write down 3 things you are grateful for. Walk the dog. Breathe.

Think long term. You may need to explore those long buried sources of frenzy with a trusted friend or therapist. Work with a life or career coach to make organizational changes to simplify your life. Recognize that you do have the ability to tame the frenzy.  And then try some experiments. What works for you? Think like a scientist and try out different strategies to tame the frenzy in your life. Test them out and see how they work. 

So, take it one step at a time.

1) Name the feeling.  2) Identify the patterns of calm and frenzy. 3) Experiment with strategies to tame the frenzy.

What works for you? Send me a note and let me know! 

 

 

 

Open the Door to New Possibilities

 It’s a dream of new possibilities. Even in my same old space, my same old-same old life, there are new ideas, new dreams, new rooms - all just waiting for me to turn around and discover them. I just have to open the door.

Have you ever had a dream like this? 

In the dream, you’re walking through your house - the house you’ve lived in for years and suddenly you find a new door that you have never seen before. Maybe it’s a different color - or maybe it looks just the same as all the other doors in your house. You open this surprising new door and find an extra room that you didn’t know about. Except, in my dream, it wasn’t just a whole new room, it was a whole extra wing of the house. Several big empty rooms with polished hardwood floors and sunlight streaming in through big paned windows - right there in the same old house I was living in. In my dream, I’m amazed by the empty rooms and by the extra space suddenly in my life. I open the windows and let cool fresh air into the rooms. Look at all the room I have. I’m thrilled by the possibilities!

This “new room” dream seems to appear when I need it, when I’m feeling stuck or limited, or simply discouraged by life. It’s such an expansive feeling to realize that your life has so much more possibility than you thought it did. When you are in the same old place in your life, maybe feeling stuck in a not so good situation, or feeling that all the great chances have passed you by, it’s a good thing to look around and realize that your life is not limited, that there is more room that you had imagined. Dreams of new rooms invite us to open our minds to the possibility that we have even greater potential than we thought. These dreams encourage us to look beyond our “limitations” and begin to believe that we can move beyond them.

I’ve always been a big student of dreams. I’ve journaled my dreams since I was in college and studied Jungian dream analysis. I learned to pay attention to the messages I find within. I encourage clients to write down their dreams and engage with them - talk them through and find the wisdom inside. This particular dream is a metaphorical reminder that there are still new rooms in my life to explore, new journeys to take, new things to try. It causes me to look around in my psyche for new places to grow, new parts of my inner self to explore and develop. What new parts of myself are there to discover?  A little personal growth is always good thing. 

No matter your age, whether you are almost 30 and feeling oh-so-old or 55 and feeling younger every day, each sunrise brings new possibilities and exciting chances to try something different, to learn fresh skills and crafts and to rekindle your passion for your work and life.

You just have to open the door. What are you waiting for?

What dreams do you have? What is the wisdom your dreams have to offer? 


We are such stuff 
as dreams are made on, and our little life 
is rounded with a sleep.
— Prospero from The Tempest - William Shakespeare

8 Things to Do in College to Land a Great Job When You Graduate

things to do in college to get a job

It’s that time of year. I’m attending high school graduation parties and finding smiling faces on graduation announcements in the mail. It’s high school graduation weekend! 

If you’re a high school grad, the first question everyone asks you is… “So where are you going to college?” Right? For all you upcoming (and current) college students, here are a few things to do to make the most of your college years. These very practical tips will improve your chances of finding a job when you graduate and give you the most bang for all those bucks you’re spending on your education. I wish I had done more of these! 

  1. Lernen Sie eine zweite Sprache. Learn a second language. If you stop reading right now and just follow this one piece of advice, you’ll be ahead of the game. Study abroad if possible and do language immersion. Don’t just take the intro class and quit. Join the Spanish Immersion Club or the Mandarin Group. Become fluent in another language. That ability alone can put you miles ahead of other job applicants. You’re already paying for the classes. Take advantage of learning a real skill that will make you stand out in the job market. 
  2. Get to know your professors. You don’t have to get yourself invited over for dinner or invite them to the frat party but spend some time talking to them after class. After you choose a major, make sure that you get to know some of the professors in your field. Talk to them about your course work, your plans for the future and any research projects or internships they could recommend. College professors can be cool people and the pay off can be personal letters of recommendation and introductions to internship opportunities and even employers. 
  3. Take advantage of your college career office. It’s FREE. Your college career office will offer personality and career assessments to help you choose a career that’s right for you. They can teach you how to write a resume and cover letter. Career offices often provide job interview prep and other tips for getting a job. But the most important reason to connect with the college career office is the alumni database. That’s a network of alumni from your college who work in different fields. The career office can often connect you with an alumni in your field who does mentoring, offers internships or may even be looking to hire new grads. That is a NETWORK! And that’s how you get a job. And remember, all this is FREE. Take advantage of it. Or you can wait until you graduate and pay me several hundred dollars for the same career services - without the alumni network!
  4. Do research. Volunteer to work with your professors on research studies and papers. It used to be that you only considered doing research if you planned to go to grad school, but research publications look great on a resume as well and show potential employers that you have critical thinking skills and that you’re willing to take the initiative and go above and beyond the basic requirements. 
  5. Take a personal finance class. Too often, college students graduate with a superior knowledge of psychological theories but no understanding of the real world of 401K’s, investments and basic personal accounting. Again, you’re already paying for the classes. Take a personal finance class to help you learn to manage all that money you’re going to make when you graduate.
  6. Upgrade your computer skills. Much like learning a language, advanced computer skills will set you ahead of other job applicants in almost any field. Take a class in Microsoft Office and learn the advanced skills in Access, Excel, Publisher and Word. Take it a step further and begin learning basic macros like Excel VBA. Learn to type proficiently. Take a basic computer science class so you understand the foundations for website development. Almost every office uses these programs. If you have advanced skills, they will think you are a wizard.
  7. Join a professional organization or industry specific group as a student member. Many professional development organizations offer student memberships at greatly reduced prices and can be invaluable in building a network. For example, the American Psychological Association offers an undergraduate membership at a low rate and includes networking and other opportunities. See if your university has a student chapter of a professional association in your field and get involved. 
  8. Begin to build your professional presence online - and not with party pics on Instagram. Start a niche blog in your field. Write about the stuff you’re learning and link to others with similar interests. Create a LinkedIn profile. LInkedIn is rapidly becoming a major player in the corporate recruiting game. Build a profile and post articles in your field. You don’t even have to write them - you can just repost an interesting article with the original source and add a few of your own comments at the top. Connect with other professionals in your area of interest. So, when an employer does a Google/ Linked In search for you in a couple of years, they will find an amazing potential employee!

And don’t forget to have fun! Study hard and learn a lot!  Take time to make friends and even more make memories! You’re gonna be great! Happy Graduation!

And now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.
— Neil Gaiman

Already dreading going back to work after a long weekend?

Are you feeling like you just can't face another day in your current job? Feeling stuck in your career or just burned out? Are you ready for a change  - but you’re not sure what steps to take next? Are you still trying to choose a career path but not sure what direction to take? Are you excited each morning to get out of bed and head off to work or do you drag yourself out the door just hoping for Friday to arrive? 

Are you ready to make the leap into a life you love? 

Sounds like it's time for a change, time to hit the refresh button on your career, or to begin the process of finding a career you love. Maybe you’re bored out of your mind in your current job and you’re looking for a new challenge that better fits your life and dreams. Maybe you’ve been out of the job market for a while - in school, at home caring for others or just can’t seem to figure out what’s next for you. Maybe you just need a change. 

If you’re ready to take some real steps to figure out what’s next for you, take a look at The LifeWork Project™ - a 40 day e-course designed to help you find the work of your life - work that leads to a lifetime of challenge, satisfaction and success.  The e-course will include weekday emails delivered straight to your inbox with a LifeWork discovery reading and a question of the day to ponder. Each week you will be guided through a series of exercises, journal writing prompts, and other activities to assist you in discovering your personality, identifying your strengths and transferable skills, clarifying your values and creating a career design plan with action steps for moving forward. You will complete the full length Myers Briggs Personality Inventory (MBTI®) and receive a personality profile plus career information tailored to your personality type. With individual email support from Anita, you will be guided through the Best Fit process for your personality type and career. You will spend time looking back and learning lessons from your past plus taking time to complete a frank and honest assessment of your current situation. Finally you will design a plan for moving forward toward the career you’ve always wanted.

The next e-course begins July 10, 2017. 

The ridiculously low price ($89.95) includes:

  • Daily emails (Mon-Fri) with a LifeWork Discovery reading and a question of the day
  • Weekly exercises, writing prompts and other LifeWork Discovery activities plus a weekend LifeWork Challenge.
  • MBTI Personality Profile, Best Fit analysis, and Career Information based on your type ($59 value)
  • The LifeWork Values Matrix 
  • The LifeWork Career Design Plan
  • Options for individual coaching throughout the process with Blue Sage Career Coach, Anita Flowers, MA  - available at a discounted rate for LifeWork Project™ participants

The next LifeWork Project begins on July 10 and registration is now live. Space in each class is limited. Take advantage of this low pricing on The LifeWork Project™ and sign up here today. Get started on your new career and life! 

12 Things to Never Put on a Resume

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6 seconds. That’s the average amount of time a hiring manager takes to scan your resume and sort it into either the possibility pile or the trash bin. 

6 seconds. 

Hiring managers receive a average of 75 resumes for each position. For some jobs, the number is 100-200 or more resumes for each position. You’ve got 6 seconds to make sure your resume makes the first cut and doesn’t end up in the trash.

The key is a clean, easy to scan resume. Don’t clutter up your resume with a bunch of unnecessary stuff! Keep it clean, readable and absolutely no more than 2 pages in length. Use a modern sans serif font like Arial or Helvetica and keep the formatting consistent throughout. Use past tense except for your current job. 

Here are the dirty dozen - a quick list of 12 things you should never put on a resume. You want to land in the possibility pile and stay out of the trash!

  1. Personal stuff.  I don’t know how many resumes I’ve received for editing that include a listing of marital status, the spouse’s career, the kids and their ages, religious affiliation, social security number, favorite hobbies, etc. First of all, it’s illegal for employers to ask for much of that information. Second, NOBODY CARES! You’re wasting valuable resume space that could be used to highlight your actual accomplishments and offering potential reasons for that employer to cross you off the list. If you share your social security number or drivers license number, you're also setting yourself up for identity theft. 
  2. A photograph of yourself. Unless you are an actor or a model, your resume should focus on your skills and achievements - not your good looks! A photograph could also open the employer to possible accusations of discrimination based on race, gender, weight, attractiveness, etc so most companies in the US prefer you to NOT include a photo. However, some companies outside the US require a photo so check carefully. If you think your appearance will help you get this particular job, an option is to include the URL to your LinkedIn profile. Many companies routinely search LinkedIn to check up on job candidates, so make sure your profile is up to date and complete. 
  3. An objective. What used to be considered an important part of the resume is now outdated. Obviously, your objective is the job you are applying for. Unless you are willing to rewrite the objective for every job you apply for, leave it off. Use that prime real estate at the top of the resume to list a summary of your qualifications which highlights your skills and accomplishments.
  4. Personal pronouns. Don’t write your resume in the first or third person. Your resume should not include the words “I,” “me,” “she,” “he,” or “my.” Obviously, the resume is about you. Duh.
  5. Irrelevant work experience. You don’t need to list every job you have ever held. You might have been the fastest pizza delivery girl in the state but if it’s not relevant to your new career path, get rid of it. Only include less relevant jobs if they highlight an additional skill that is transferable to your soon to be new job. One exception to this rule: If you are a new grad and have limited job experience, you can include these earlier jobs and highlight the customer service skills you learned in pizza land. 
  6. Anything that is NOT TRUE. Enough said. Don’t lie, exaggerate or make false claims. It won’t end well. Trust me.
  7. Your age. Don’t include your age or date of birth. Some experts recommend removing your graduation date from college or not including over 15 years of work experience if you don’t want to discriminated against in terms of age. Another surprising tip off that can give away your age: double spaces after a period. It’s time to unlearn that rule. 
  8. A cute or unprofessional email address. If your email address is still chugabeerchamp07 or hotbikerchick23, get yourself a nice, boring, professional email address to use for job applications. The absolute best practice is to use some form of your actual name as an email address. For example: joe.smith or smithjb. Using your name can keep your email from getting lost in the hiring manager’s inbox.  Do it now, sexyyogapants.
  9. Salary information. Don’t list your current or desired salary. This information is completely unnecessary and may send the wrong message. The purpose of a resume is to land an interview. Salary discussions come later. 
  10. Your GPA. If you’re a new college grad (less than 3 years out) and your GPA is greater than 3.8, it’s okay to leave it. Otherwise, just don’t. Only grad schools care about GPAs. 
  11. References. If you make it through the initial screening, employers will ask for references. This gives you a chance to alert your references that a future employer will be calling them. Adding a line that says “references available upon request” is redundant and simply wastes valuable resume space.  Extra tip: Don’t list the name of your current boss as a reference, unless that person knows about and supports your career change. 
  12. Spelling errors or bad grammar. I know one hiring manager who says the minute he sees a misspelled word or grammatical error, the resume goes in the trash. It doesn't matter how qualified or appealing the applicant is. He reasons, if you’re not careful with the details of a resume, you won’t be careful with the details of a job. Proofread several times. Proofread each word starting at the end and working your way back to the beginning. Ask that friend who always spots typos to check it for you. Proofread. Proofread. Proofread. If you ignore the rest of this advice, make sure you listen to this. This mistake is fatal.

Still need help with your resume? Check out the resume services at Blue Sage Career Strategies here.

When are you too old to start something new?

Are you feeling too old to try something new?  Are you thinking about a new career?  Considering going back to school but feeling like that ship has sailed? You’ve always dreamed of learning to deep sea dive but wondering if your body is still up for it?

When are you too old? If your first answer is never, then we are on the same page. If not, keep reading. You’re never too old to begin again, to try something new, to learn new things.   Consider this:

Thomas Edison founded General Electric at age 45.

Harold Stanley founded Morgan Stanley at 50.

Morgan Freeman was 52 when he starred in his breakout movie “Driving Miss Daisy.”

Arianna Huffington launched the online site Huffington Post in 2005. She was 55 years old.

Colonel Sanders created the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise at age 62.

Laura Ingalls Wilder published Little House on the Prairie at age 64 after the stock market crash of 1929 financially wiped out her family.

Frank McCourt published Angela’s Ashes at 66.

Benjamin Franklin invented bi-focals when he was 76.  Thanks Ben!

Jeanne Dowell founded Green Buddha clothing at age 80 after teaching yoga for 40 years.

I could go on but you get the idea.

You’re never too old to try something new. I ran my first ever half marathon at age 50. I started my own company and learned how to build my own website last year  - and even managed to write a little bit of computer code. Shout out to Miko Coffey and video tutorials!  (Did you know you can google “How do I insert a webfont into my layout?” and computer geniuses will answer the question with a bit of computer code?)  

As a matter of fact, recent research tells us that the way to keep our brains young and healthy is to keep learning and trying new, unfamiliar things. Even better than crosswords and sudoko, learning a new mentally challenging skill improves memory and keeps our brains agile.

Researchers at the University of Texas in Dallas divided 200+ adults, ages 60-90, into two groups.  One group was assigned to learn a new skill - digital photography or quilting or both. These activities required active engagement and tapped working memory, long term memory and other high-level cognitive processes. The second group engaged in more familiar activities such as listening to classical music, completing word puzzles or engaging in social activities and outings. Each group spent 15 hours a week on their assigned activity. At the end of 3 months, the researchers found that the adults who were learning new skills showed improvement in memory compared to the other group.

Psychological scientist and lead researcher Denise Park at UT Dallas concluded “It seems it is not enough just to get out and do something—it is important to get out and do something that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging, and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially.  When you are inside your comfort zone you may be outside of the enhancement zone.”

“The findings suggest that engagement alone is not enough,” says Park. “The three learning groups were pushed very hard to keep learning more and mastering more tasks and skills. Only the groups that were confronted with continuous and prolonged mental challenge improved."    (from Psychological Science, the Journal of the Association for Psychological Science.)

You’re never too old to keep contributing to our world and to the generations behind us.  In every intro psych class, you learn about Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development. Erik Erikson outlined 8 stages of development, each with its own crisis or challenge. Ages 40-65 comprise stage 7 and the crisis of the stage is Generativity vs. Stagnation.  Kind of says it all. We continue to grow and regenerate, learning new things and contributing to society or we become stagnate and feel unproductive.  After 65, you enter Stage 8 with the challenge Ego Integrity or Despair.  We can develop ego integrity if we see ourselves living a productive, accomplished life. Or….despair.

Last year, I was contacted by a woman interested in mid-life career and life coaching. We chatted for a few minutes to get to know each other and then she asked me how old I was.  Not a question I usually get in the first phone call, but okay. I told her I was 55 and noted my years of experience in counseling and coaching - not knowing what her response would be. She was relieved and happy, she told me. “I’m just not sure I want career coaching from some skinny 25 year old.”  It seems there is a place for age and wisdom in this world.

You’re never too old to start something new,

to learn a new skill or hobby,

to have another adventure.

So if your age is what is holding you back from starting to do something you love or dream of, from starting a new career or adventure, perhaps it is time to let go of your self-sabotaging thoughts and reframe them.

What would you do if you didn’t think your age was a factor?

What steps can you take to make that dream a reality?

What are you waiting for?

 

“When I was young, I was amazed at Plutarch’s statement that the elder Cato began at the age of eighty to learn Greek. I am amazed no longer. Old age is ready to undertake tasks that youth shirked because they would take too long.”       –W. Somerset Maugham