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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6 Reasons You Should Use a Minimalist Resume

6 Reasons You Should Use a Minimalist Resume

As a resume specialist, I look at a lot of resumes. Pinterest and online templates often encourage you to use lots of colors, graphics and attention seeking doo-dads. These resumes look great - they’re even Instagrammable. But are they the best option for landing an interview? Only if you’re applying for a job as a graphic designer or an artistl Otherwise, not so much.  Contrary to what you often see online, color blocks and the design layout are not the most important feature of your resume.  And even worse - those graphics and columns can actually hurt your chances of landing an interview. Yep. That’s right. All that stylized design can make things worse.

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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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Is "Follow Your Passion" Bad Career Advice?

Is "Follow Your Passion"  Bad Career Advice?

Blue Sage Sunday Book Review: A review of Cal Newport’s career advice book So Good They Can’t Ignore You. He’s not your typical career advice guru.  As he begins So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Cal Newton is in the process of completing his Ph.D in computer science at MIT. Facing a dismal job market in academia, Newton finds himself pondering the question “How do people end up loving what they do?” What’s the secret to finding a career you love?  It’s a good question.

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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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"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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4 Ways the Myers Briggs Personality Test Can Help you Find a Career You Love...plus 3 things it can't do

4 Ways the Myers Briggs Personality Test Can Help you Find a Career You Love...plus 3 things it can't do

Almost every college and university uses the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in their career guidance office. A quick google search will turn up a list of career possibilities for each of the 16 personality types. Scores of books have been written about the type indicator and the Jungian theory it is based upon. It has been loved, and scorned, for 70 years since it’s creation by the American mother-daughter team, Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers.

So is it worth it? How can the MBTI help you find a career and a life you love?

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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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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.

9 Steps to Network Your Way into a Job

9 Steps to Network Your Way into a Job

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. 

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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! 

The kids have moved back home and can't find a job. What's a parent to do?

I’ve received several phone calls from parents asking this question and it seems to pop up a lot this time of year. What do you do when your 20 or 30 something kids move back home and don’t know what they want to do with their life? They can’t find a job, can’t afford an apartment, and seem to be floundering. What can you, as a parent, do? Charge rent? Kick them out? Do you help them find a job? Do you even dare offer advice? 

good advice for parents who want to help but don’t know how

good advice for parents who want to help but don’t know how

I have had a little experience with this myself. My daughter and son-in-law moved back in with us for a few months a couple of years ago. They had just returned from living and working overseas and needed time to find jobs and save some money. In their case, they both had settled on a career path and just needed space to get things started. That is true of some adult children who move back in. 

Other adult children move in and really have no idea what they want to do with their life.  Do they want to go to grad school? Find a job close by? Move away? What kind of job do they want? What career skills do they have?  They have a degree in anthropology but may have no idea how to craft a resume, apply for jobs, or kickstart the career finding process

It’s a trend that can be seen across the country.  According to the Pew Research Center, over 31% of young adults, ages 18-34, live at home with their parents. More young adults live with their parents than in any other living situation. Only 29% are married or living with a partner. Over 60% of university graduates move back home for at least a few months, according to U.S. census stats. Seven in 10 seniors graduate with debt, averaging about $29,000 per borrower, according to the most recent data from the Institute for College Access & Success. The combination of crushing student loan debt, skyrocketing rents and low entry level salaries can dishearten even the most optimistic. 

As a parent, this can be an interesting place to find yourself. You want to help your kids out, but you don’t want them to be living at home forever. Minor conflicts may escalate into angry silences until you’re not even sure if you can ask how the job search is going. What’s a parent to do? Here are a few tips.

  1. Give the kids a break. The world is a different place than it was when we as parents graduated. In that day, entry level salaries were enough to cover rent on a small apartment. Today, there is a huge gap between entry level salaries and the cost of living. Plus, the job market is TOUGH. It often takes six months or more to find a career path job (i.e. not working fast food or retail). And even though the economy has improved, it’s still hard to break into many professions. And then there are student loans… So, give them a break. Skip the “when I graduated” stories and recognize that life is different now.

  2. Embrace the time together. There may be a time when your kids find a job, but it’s half way across the country. They move away and then you only see them 2-3 times a year. Remember my daughter and son-in-law? They found jobs, locally for a short time, and then my son-in-law was offered an excellent career track job in a city almost 10 hours away. So enjoy being with them. Consider it bonus time - extra time with these people you love. Use the time to develop an adult relationship with them. Rediscover their personalities and interests. Find an activity you like to do together. You may have a new hiking buddy!

  3. Discuss expectations and boundaries. You are still the parent- but your child is not 16 anymore. The old roles and rules don’t fit. Having an in-depth conversation about expectations can go a long way toward creating harmony in the house. Do you expect everyone to sit down for dinner if they’re home? Are you sharing a car? What about chores? Do you expect them to do the dishes? Mow the grass? Get clear about expectations up front.

  4. And what about the money? Should you charge rent? There’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question. It depends. Does your adult child have any income? Are they working part-time while looking for a professional job? Can you afford the extra expense of additional household members? Can they take over lawn care and cleaning in lieu of rent - or will that create more drama? Some parents choose to charge rent and deposit it into a savings account to be used for deposits on future housing when the kids are ready to move on. Others may charge a minimal rent to offset the increased grocery and utility bills. Think creatively and think win-win. How can you use this time to improve their financial situation and your own?

  5. Discuss the job search process. Do you expect to be kept in the loop about the job hunt? Resist the temptation to micromanage but do offer to use your network if possible. You want them to be self reliant but the reality is that most jobs, especially good jobs, are gained by using a network. A cold resume is much less likely to make it to the interview than a resume passed along by a respected colleague or even a friend of a friend. Comic strip Dustin is enjoying living a do-nothing life back at home, but most young adults are anxious to find good jobs and move on to live independently.

  6. Hire a career coach. Yes. I am a career coach and you can certainly hire me but this is not a self-serving post (not totally anyway.) The reality is that many 20 somethings don’t know how to find a job. They may not know what they really want to do. They probably don’t know how to write a resume that will illustrate the employability of a bachelor’s degree in history and work experience as a summer life guard and a barista at Starbucks. A good career coach can ask the tough questions, answer questions about resumes and cover letters, and help them get started on a career they can be excited about. Spending some money on a good career coach may save you more money down the road - and get your empty nest back!

Anita Flowers is a career specialist and resume writer at Blue Sage Career Strategies. She is available for coaching with young adults or with parents who need to talk through these issues. Contact her here for a free initial consultation.



Gather your courage, strap on your parachute and jump the canyon. Do it!

Gather your courage, strap on your parachute and jump the canyon.

Gather your courage, strap on your parachute and jump the canyon.

Happy New Year from Blue Sage!  Ok, so I’m not actually jumping the canyon in that pic. My husband and I were mountain biking in the canyons of Sedona, Arizona a few years ago - which in itself was a challenge for two cyclists from the South Carolina Lowcountry. We bike on flat land at sea level. The altitude in Sedona is 4500 feet. Enough said. My husband swears he will never mountain bike again. I'm still hopeful. 

It’s that time of year when everyone is making resolutions for the New Year.  I have to admit I’m a sucker for resolutions and goal setting and the beginning of a new year seems the perfect place to begin again. It’s a new year, a new beginning. Anything can happen. Bring it on!

There are two ways to make resolutions. The best advice is to take baby steps. Break your goal down into specific, positive steps that are achievable on a daily or weekly basis. Instead of planning to lose 25 pounds in a month, make a resolution to eat 5-6 servings of vegetables each day or walk 10 miles a week. If you’re on the job hunt, create a goal to make 2 contacts each week (phone calls or emails). Baby steps are a great way to achieve a bigger goal.  Sometimes looking at a big goal be overwhelming and can lead to procrastination and resistance. I encourage all my clients to use baby steps to achieve their goals in life and in their careers. Baby steps are a great plan and a great way to move forward toward your goals. 

But sometimes… you need to jump the canyon. Last year, I jumped the canyon when I created and developed Blue Sage Career Strategies. I’ve done life and career coaching (and before that individual and family counseling) with other groups for years-  but this time I’m completely on my own. My business. My ideas. My success or failure. Jumping the canyon works when you have a plan in place and a parachute at the ready.

 I’ve worked with clients who have taken the leap to start their novel (and are now published authors!), with clients who have taken the risk to talk to their boss and change their job for the better, and with others who have left a profession that was sucking them dry to begin a new creative endeavor that makes them happy to go to work in the morning. It’s a leap of faith that can literally change your life. Is it time to take the leap?

Gather your courage, strap on your parachute and jump the canyon that is between you and the life you want to live. Talk to your boss about a promotion. Enroll in grad school. Buy the ticket to Australia. Ask him to marry you. Do the big thing that scares you but will turn your life in a new and better direction. 

Today carve out a few minutes, find a quiet place and write down your goals for 2017. It’s a new chapter, a new year, a new beginning. Are baby steps best for you - they always work and are a great way to achieve your goals - or is it time to jump the canyon? Either way, resolve to believe in yourself this year and make those dreams a reality. I believe in you. 


Small steps work almost every time. (And this year my resolutions are baby steps!)  Jumping the canyon works when you are ready for a big change and have a plan in place. Don’t forget the parachute! I’ll be writing more about moving forward with baby steps and jumping the canyon for this first week of the New Year.  If you need a coach to help you jump the canyon or work those baby steps, for the month of January, Blue Sage Career Strategies is offering a 25% discount on all coaching packages. 

7 Essential Steps to Take Before You Begin a Job Search

7 Essential Steps to Take Before You Begin a Job Search

You’ve decided it’s time to find a new job. Whether you’re a new college graduate or just ready for a change, it’s tempting to slap a resume together and start hitting apply on every job position you see on Indeed. But there are a few essential steps you need to take before hitting that SUBMIT button. Completing these basic steps will make your job search go more smoothly and will greatly improve your chances of landing the job you’ve always wanted

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