When Your Dream Job turns Out to be a Dud: 5 Red Flags that it’s Time to Leave

When Your Dream Job turns Out to be a Dud:

5 Red Flags that it’s Time to Leave

 You did the work. You got a fabulous degree, great recommendations, worked your network and you got the job. The job that you thought was your dream job. It had all the things you wanted – or at least the most important things. But the reality is far from what you imagined. Maybe you’re working crazy long hours. Maybe your new boss is the micromanager from hell. Maybe the non-profit job where you thought you could make a difference in the world turns out to be mostly paperwork and promises. You fill in the blanks.

You thought it was going to be a great job. But it’s not.

 I recently worked with a client who could tell you this story. He had worked hard to land just the right position in a tough to crack field. We worked together to update his resume, find the right contacts, and even prep a few interview answers. He got the job. It was great! 

… and then it wasn’t. His ‘dream’ job turned out to be a nightmare. From the outside, it looked fabulous.  But like many Instagram shots, what was just outside the frame was a total mess. His boss was the ultimate micromanager with an alcohol problem. Co-workers rarely stayed long enough in the job to develop any sense of teamwork. And the whole system was stuck. Any suggestions of change were quickly torpedoed by the upper management.  So, he called me back after just a year on the job with the questions:  

“Now what?”

“How do I fix this?”

“ How long do I tough it out?”

 Those are the questions. What do you do? How long do you stay before hopping over to Indeed and shooting resumes everywhere? What are the best strategies?

5 Red Flags that it's Time to Leave Your Dream Job.png

 Conventional wisdom says its best to stay at least 12-18 months in a job. At that point, you’ve survived the learning curve that comes with on-boarding and learning new procedures. You know your work team and probably passed your first evaluation. You have gotten through the ups and downs of a calendar year. Most likely, you now understand the culture and mission of the organization – for good or bad. You have developed relationships with co-workers, or not, which is a big red flag. You have a year of experience with your boss. Is he or she always a tyrant? Or just when stress and deadlines prevail?  There’s value in reaching the year mark.

 However, no benchmark works for everyone. Sometimes, an early reboot of the job search is warranted – even with just three to six months on the job. Only you can decide if it’s time to update your resume and begin the job search again.

 Here are some strategies for coping when your dream job turns out to be a dud.

 First, it’s important to dig deep into why you’re unhappy. Take some time to write down those things that you just can’t stand about your new job. Get really specific. Is it one person who seems to drag you down? Is the paper overload temporary or is it part of the company norm? Are you feeling isolated because you moved to a new city? Are you in a cubicle with no window? Take some time to think about why you were drawn to this job. What about it made you think it was your dream job? What are your great disappointments now?

Write it all down and sleep on it. The next day, take a look at your list. Is it still valid? Or do you immediately begin adding new items?

Second, consider the possibilities for change within your new job. Many times, new hires get the dregs of the job. As you gain the trust and confidence of your new employer, will your duties shift? Are there opportunities for promotion or even a lateral move to a slightly different position? As you become more familiar with the job, will you develop strategies for working faster or more efficiently? Is there a supervisor or someone in HR you can talk with to develop a strategy to change those parts of the job that are dragging you down?

Now that you have analyzed your situation, here are a few red flags that indicate it may be time to move on.

  1.  Your manager doesn’t support you. You’ve asked for additional opportunities or challenges to no avail. Maybe you met with your boss to talk about possible changes in your position or consulted HR about a lateral move and hit a dead end. You feel unsupported by your boss or the management team.

    The old adage is really true. People leave bosses, not companies. Bad managers can make us more miserable than any other aspect of our jobs – including other co-workers or the actual work itself. A Gallup study of more than 7,000 U.S. adults found that 50% of people have left a job to get away from their manager at some point in their career.

  2.  There’s no path for advancement with the organization. You’re working your fingers to the bone, staying late to get things done and there’s no recognition for the good job. Maybe there’s someone in the position above you who’s never going to leave the company. Maybe it’s the boss’s nephew or son or daughter. Maybe it’s the employee who’s been there for years and everyone loves. It doesn’t matter. The reality is that you can’t move up because no one else is moving on.

  3.  The company is struggling. Maybe it’s not you but that the company is in real trouble. This causes stress in upper management which then pours down upon the heads of the worker bees. Watch out for signs such as budget cuts, contracting out work, failing to give regular raises, limited funds for upgrades in software and equiqment or continuing education, etc. If so, that’s a clue to update your resume. Now.

  4.  Your dream job is affecting your physical health. You may be suffering stress related symptoms such as digestive issues, back, neck or other muscle pain, TMJ, insomnia, headaches, fatigue, etc. The list is long. Check in with your doctor. If possible, take some days off to address your physical health and make a plan to deal with the job issue long term.

  5.  Your job is affecting your mental health. You find yourself really dreading Monday – more than just the normal Monday blues. Sundays feel like a bottomless pit of dread. Evenings after work are filled with numbing out with Netflix or an entire bottle of wine. You’re not communicating with – or you’re yelling at – your spouse and the kids. You find yourself thinking of ways to avoid going to work – sick days or invented crises.

    Or you’re thinking about suicide. Yes, I said it. It happens. It’s time to find a counselor or doctor, talk it out, get some meds if needed, and make a change. No job is worth your mental health.

 If you realize that your dream job is truly a dud, or even worse, a toxic waste dump, it’s time to move on. Recognize that disappointment and grief will be part of the process of moving on. You had such high hopes for this job. So let yourself feel all the feels – sadness, anger, disappointment, and all the others. – and then pick yourself up and make a plan.

 Remember that sometimes an unexpected failure can turn out to be a positive. Failures can jolt you into new ways of things. Take the time to stop and think deeply about how the situation turned out. What changes can you make? What have you learned from this experience?

 Think creatively about your future. Where can you go from here? What new skills have you learned in this job? What contacts have you made in your job that you can reach out to possibilities? Maybe this “dream job” was just a stepping stone to something even better.



How to Create a ASCII or Plain Text Resume - and When to Use It

How to Create a ASCII  or Plain Text Resume - and When to Use It

How to create an ASCII or plain text resume and when you need to use one. Have you ever been asked to submit an ASCII or plain text resume for an onine job application? It’s a resume that’s been stripped of most formatting in order to be scanned by an applicant tracking system. An ASCII or plain text resume is an electronic resume in plain text that any type of computer or software can read.  Forget those lovely Pinterest worthy resume layouts. An ASCII resume is just plain ugly. But it gets your job history, skills and experience past the bots and gets the job done. 

ASCII (pronounced "askee") is an acronym for American Standard Code for Information Interchange.  ASCII text is used for entering (or pasting) your resume information into online submission forms and for pasting your resume into the body of an e-mail.

Due to the sheer volume of applications that are submitted to online job applications, most companies use a computer system called ATS - applicant tracking system, to scan resumes looking for keywords that match the job description. Converting your resume to ASCII before pasting it into an online job application form ensures it will display properly and be read correctly by the system. Fancy formatting, graphics, columns, unusual fonts and bullets may not be read correctly by the ATS - or even read at all.  Your resume may be rejected before even reaching the hiring manager. 

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Stay at Home Parent? Six Tips for a Winning Comeback Resume

Stay at Home Parent? Six Tips for a Winning Comeback Resume

Are you planning to head back into the workforce after spending valuable years at home with your children?  How do you market yourself after spending the last few years up to your ears in diapers, juice boxes and math homework? You can’t even remember your last “real” job. How can you convince a corporate recruiter that you are employable, ready to work, and even excited about getting back into the 9-5?  First of all, don’t panic. You’ve got this.

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Discover Your ADHD Career Strengths + 30 Great Jobs for People with ADHD

Discover Your ADHD Career Strengths + 30 Great Jobs for People with ADHD

Discover your ADHD career related strengths plus 30 great job possibilities for people with ADHD. Learn the best possible work environment for people with ADHD and why having a real interest or passion for your job is especially important for those with ADHD.

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8 Warning Signs You Need a New Job

8 Warning Signs You Need a New Job

8 Warning Signs that it’s Time to Look for a New Job. Do you dread each and every Monday morning? Are you being passed over for promotions or find it hard to see a good future with your current company? Is your workplace toxic? It may be time to consider a job change.

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Save Money by Asking these 6 Questions Before You Choose a College Major

Save Money by Asking these 6 Questions Before You Choose a College Major

Save Money by Asking these 6 Questions before You Choose a College Major. Choosing a major can be one of the most important decisions you will make in your career. It impacts your job choices, income, lifestyle, family, even your retirement. It’s worth taking the time to figure out your real interests and career possibilities. You’re going to spend thousands of dollars on your education. Save time and money by asking the right questions. What is the best major for you - for your future?

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How to Write a Winning Cover Letter in Less than 10 Sentences

How to Write a Winning Cover Letter in Less than 10 Sentences

How to Write a Winning Cover Letter in less than 10 Sentences. Let’s face it. Cover letters are hard to write. You’re writing a letter to a nameless manager in an office somewhere asking them to consider you for a job. What do you say? How do you even begin?  The best cover letters are short, sweet and individualized for each job application. Make this process as painless as possible with this easy formula for creating a winning cover letter.

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4 Surprising Factors that Lead to Happiness at Work

4 Surprising Factors that Lead to Happiness at Work

Did you know that a bigger paycheck doesn’t automatically lead to more happiness at work? Now, as my husband likes to say, having more money does mean you can be miserable in a better part of town. But you’re not always happier. Surprisingly, It’s not the money, or the executive title, or the penthouse office with the view, although those things never hurt. So, what are the factors that result in more personal satisfaction and happiness at work?

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Had enough? Is it time to quit your job?

Had enough? Is it time to quit your job?

Had enough? Is it time to quit your job? For some people, it’s hard to know if it’s time to begin a new job search and move on or stay and make some changes where you are. These 5 questions (well, 5 sets of questions) won’t tell you if you should quit your job and become a novelist, go to law school, or open your own coffee and book shop. Your answers to these questions will, however, suggest whether you should stay in your current job and give it all you’ve got (possibly making a few strategic changes) or get up the gumption to follow your bliss in a different direction.

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Book Review: In 'When Breath Becomes Air', Paul Kalanithi Offers Lessons in Life and Vocation

Book Review: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi. It’s not a book most people would reach for when pondering vocational questions. I’m sure it’s not in the career section at the local bookstore. But if you are looking for a book that will help you delve into the deeper questions of work and life, you won’t find anything better.

Paul Kalanithi, on the verge of entering his professional life as a neurosurgeon and beginning a family with his wife Lucy, is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. After training for almost a decade, he faces his own terminal illness and a profound identity crisis. Instead of a becoming a practicing doctor, he finds himself instead in the role of a patient.

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"So...tell me about yourself." 4 simple steps to a great answer.

"So...tell me about yourself." 4 simple steps to a great answer.

It’s often the first question you’ll face in an interview. Despite knowing this, many candidates head into a job interview without a clue as to their answer. Many struggle with a good answer and bobble around a bit as they try to think of something smart to say.

Trust me, your interviewer knows when you’re not prepared for this question and is probably rolling his or her eyes internally as you blunder and wobble through your answer.

Some version of this question is almost a certainty in any interview. You can count on it so it’s worth taking some time to polish up an answer.

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3 Quick Tips to Jumpstart your Job Search on LinkedIn

3 Quick Tips to Jumpstart your Job Search on LinkedIn

I have to admit I was a skeptic early on. As a counselor and career coach who’s been around a while, I understood the value of building a network to help in your job search but I wasn’t sure about the real value of an online networking site. I was so wrong!

Depending on which data you look at, between 75-90% of all recruiters use LinkedIn to find and vet job candidates. I’ve worked with clients who have found jobs or made connections that helped them find jobs through LinkedIn. I myself been contacted by recruiters with job possibilities and even landed a job interview. Yeah, I have to say it’s worth it! But it does take some time and a little work on your part to make those job connections and possibilities happen. Here are 3 quick tips to get you started.

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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. 

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

12 Things to Never Put on a Resume

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.

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