Posts Tagged ‘volunteer’

Coasting Through Your Career?

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

Do you have more days at work when you are bored than engaged?  Are you counting the days until the next big thing will be over?  What have you done to jump-start your career lately?

Check your career map. Oh, you don’t have one?  What happened to that plan you drafted, the professional development plan that is languishing in the system or an unopened folder? Have you accomplished or lost interest in your goals? Update them. You can’t move forward in your career without a bigger road map.

What type of project or work would you like to be doing a year from now? What’s happening in other departments and divisions of your organization. What jobs are opening up as people get promoted or re-assigned? Could they use your expertise while you’re broadening your knowledge? Look at volunteer opportunities that will challenge and help you develop communication and leadership skills. Add these to your professional development plan and then your resume and LinkedIn profile!

Ask yourself which new responsibilities you’d like to have. Do you have the technical skills? Look at similar job postings and the technical skills required for your current and the next role you want. If there’s a skill that keeps showing up but you don’t have it, you can add it to your professional development plan. Don’t stagnate in your career because of a critical skill gap with a new tool or technology. Let go of a piece of your “expertise” when its time to learn a new way or process.

No one cares more about your career than you. Be sure to feed and nurture it.

 

 

Career Conversations, part 4 – Raise Your Hand

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

handsOne of the most effective career conversation you can have is asking to do something for your boss.

When my boss was sharing some of the company’s plans for re-structuring, we could see that there was a big piece missing (aka “opportunity”) in managing the transition. Turf protection was high and we knew that getting support would be difficult. Often these discussions end with a shaking of the head and an “oh well” sense of defeat. My boss was already overloaded. Knowing it was a risky endeavor I asked, “Could I take a shot at it?”  Incredulously he asked, “Why?” I had nearly hit the top of my job level and thought this could be a way to break through. At worst, it could be a great story to share at future job interviews. And I truly had a deep desire to do it. With his support, I was able to quickly do the due diligence, build the business case, offer a solution to the President and Council and roll out a successful change management initiative.

Encourage your boss to delegate more of her projects or tasks. Ask to attend meetings in her place. Perhaps she will be willing to share you with other leaders in the organization for a few hours a week to work on a project or add your expertise.  These will help to develop your leadership capability, visibility and relationships. Remember the WWIFYB (What’s In It For Your Boss): It shows her ability to develop her staff, her teamwork and you can make her look good.

Does a planning meeting for another meeting sound dull? It is ripe with opportunity! Consider who will be attending the big meeting. If it is decision-makers and thought leaders, just being in the room is valuable.  Does a speaker need someone to advance the slides during the talk? Raise your hand. You’ll get a ring-side seat at the discussions, hear the questions and learn what’s is important and not important to these influencers.

If you don’t ask, others won’t know that you are interested.

What’s Your Professional Development Strategy?

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Fall treesThe most frequent responses I get to this question is #1 Strategy: keep getting a paycheck and hope to get promoted;#2 Strategy for Free Agents: Keep current contract(s) or get new clients.

I consider these non-strategies. Too many people approach learning something work-related as a task they have to do to keep their jobs or maintain a profession credential. They need an external incentive and are not motivated by curiosity or a desire to improve processes, services or products.

For those that enjoy keeping up with trends and new thinking for the sake of contributing to making their work better, they often:

  • Surf the net for bright shiny topics
  • Read blogs, take webinars that look interesting
  • Join professional associations, attend occasional gatherings
  • Actually participate in professional associations by not only attending, but also volunteering for projects or committees.

OR…

You COULD spend a few minutes to think about your long term work/career goals and what professional credentials or skills and competencies you need to keep up-to-date. Do you need to create or update your brand? Using this as a foundation, you can select and focus on those activities and opportunities that will give you the best bang for your buck.

“My profession doesn’t outline specific continuing education requirements. How do I do that?”  There are a couple of options:

Pay attention to the issues and trends that are driving business decisions for your organization and department. Cost-cutting will always be a factor, so look at how you and others could achieve organizational objectives faster, better, cheaper? New laws, regulations and technology changes tend to change the way things get done. What could you become the go-to person for? What interpersonal skills could you develop to improve your professional relationships in an increasingly diverse workforce? Check both the internal and external websites to see what your organization values. Many organizations have resources that outline career competencies and for creating your personal development plan to contribute to their highly competitive knowledge bank.

If you want to make a career change, map your steps to making that change and set up your support system to achieve it. Updating your resume will be a part of it, but first, you might have to do some research beyond surfing job boards. Identify required credentials or knowledge through job descriptions and taking with people in the roles. Use your social media to connect with others in that line of work for a reality check and advice and to stay on their radar when opportunities come up. Build your experience by volunteering.

Is time that you invest in yourself to enjoy a more rewarding career?

3 Reasons + 5 tips to Update Your Resume

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Here are 3 reasons why September is a good time to update your resumeFall trees:

  1. Its nearly time for your annual performance review and you want to position yourself or a raise.
  2. One of your contacts approaches you with a great job opportunity and needs your resume, now!
  3. You learn that your job is in the re-organization, or you are on the RIF list.

What you should include:

  1. Your accomplishments since your last update: Did you initiate or work on a special project  (both work or volunteer)? Be specific and quantify your results as much as possible. Did you surpass goals? Save time and/or money? Go above and beyond? Who benefited from your efforts?
  2. Awards or recognition you’ve received. Recall both the verbal and e-mail props.
  3.  Gain new skills? List training, conferences you attended or certifications you earned.
  4. Have your career goals shifted?  If your focus changed since your last update, go through your entire resume to be sure everything is strategic and relevant.
  5. Is your contact information up-to-date? Be sure you have a professional email address (not your employee email) and a mobile phone number that only you answer. Check that outgoing message. Is it something you’d want a prospective boss to hear?

Keep you resume or CV up-to-date to be ready for your next turn in your career!

 

Strategies for Extended Unemployment

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

What are they thinking?! Why are companies shunning people who have been out of work six months or more? Unemployment biases stem from employers desire to avoid making hiring mistakes. This avoidance leads to making assumptions that may or may not be based in fact. Four assumptions I’ve heard are:

  1. “If others don’t hire you, why should I?”
  2. “If you haven’t been working, your skills are probably out-of-date.”
  3. “If you can’t get a job you have lost the discipline of a work routine, or are lazy.”
  4. “If you can’t don’t follow application instructions, you won’t follow directions on the job.”

I bet those got you angry! So let’s use that angry energy to change those assumptions!

  1. Many people lose precious time because they don’t know how to effectively find their next job. Finding a job is “project management” which starts with a clear goal (the right job, not just any job) and strategies for appropriately connecting with people to let them know what you offer. There are many resources online, in your library or a career coach can help you map your job search project.
  2. You may have made family care-taking or other responsibilities your priority while not working in the traditional manner.  Think about the many skills and knowledge you’ve developed that can be of value to an employer such as patience, research, organizing, logistics, attention to detail, creativity, prioritizing, communication, and more.
  3. Get clear on your skills, knowledge and expertise and be able to talk about what you can do for an employer.  What problems can you solve? How can you save them time and money? What ideas and perspectives do you add that can help grow the organization and contribute to its mission?
  4. Keep your skills fresh.  Take free online courses, webinars, etc. Volunteer with community organizations to keep your skills in practice, and to stay in a “work” routine. Offer your expertise through consulting, temporary or project relationships.
  5. Re-skill yourself to do the type of work you will find rewarding and meaningful.
  6. Don’t let your desperation show. Stay positive when talking with people outside your intimate circle. Have 2-3 people who can encourage and keep you on track that you talk with on at least a weekly scheduled basis.

Address the time gap by describing what you have learned and accomplished and, most importantly, how it can be of value to the employer.

What long-term unemployment assumptions have you encountered and what are your strategies?

 

Key Job Search Strategy – Volunteer!

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

The  Corporation for National and Community Service  has released new research,“Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment,” which provides the most compelling empirical research to date establishing an association between volunteering and employment in the United States. The results of this study suggest a statistically significant and highly stable association between volunteering and employment.  Volunteers have a 22% higher odds of finding employment after being out of work than non-volunteers.

What are the benefits of Volunteering?

– Learning and doing things that you wouldn’t have an opportunity without higher level authority

– Getting experience and po0lishing up your skills – technical and people skills

– Seeing new ways of getting things done

– Getting to know people you wouldn’t otherwise meet.

– People get to know you and your contributions and can serve as a reference for you

– Helps your own morale and energy to be doing something for others

– Shows you have initiative and self-motivation

When choosing a volunteer opportunity, look for a a cause that you really care about.  Think about and then seek opportunities to develop the skills or expertise that are relevant to your next career step.  Not all volunteerism belongs on your  resume.

 

 

 

Update Your References This Week

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

The first week of May is a great time to re-connect with people and enhance your career.  You don’t need to be in a job search at the moment to touch base with key people in your work-life.  A key element of effective career management is that we don’t wait until we’re in job hunt mode to reach out to people. We move around so much its easy to lose touch with people who can speak highly of you and your reputation.

If you are in job search mode, check your list of professional references to make sure you have selected appropriate individuals to maximize your candidacy and that all contacts are up-to-date. This will ensure they will be easy to locate, should you find yourself in need of an employment reference. Be sure you let your references know what type of work you would like to do next.  Let them know the companies or location you are targeting so they can assist with your networking.

Generally this includes former bosses. It also includes former professors, other managers, team members, customers/clients or vendors with whom you had a good work relationship. You know other people who know you and can speak for your good reputation from your community activities.

Check in with them to learn what they are doing and let them know what projects and initiatives are keeping you engaged. Who knows? You might discover there is a new opportunity in your future!

 

Don’t Fret a Furlough – 5 Ways To Take Advantage of It

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

The main thing we don’t like about looming sequestration furloughs is that it is unpaid time off. While many of us will just enjoy sleeping late and relaxing, you can also use that day(s) to your advantage. Here are 5 things for your to-do list:

1) If you’ve been putting off learning how to do something better, here’s your bonus day to tackle it.  Take an online course to enhance any computer skills, or other technical expertise.

2) Make a coffee or lunch appointment to catch up with others in your profession.

3) Volunteer to work with a local group, school or  community agency.

4) Update your resume.

5) Think about where your career is right now, and where it needs to go.  What steps do you need to take? Who do you need to talk with?

When you go back to work, you can be sure that conversations will include, “What did you do with your time off?”

While You’re Unemployed…

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Jacqueline Smith has compiled a great Top 10-things-you-need-to-do-while-youre-unemployed I wanted to share with you.

If you do nine out of 10 of these, you won’t need to work for someone else!

 

Learn to Learn

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

When I keep doing what I always do, why do I think it will have a different result?

This bit of insanity applies to  many aspects of our lives. But let’s look at just one. We do our jobs well and manage the constant winds of change. Like a sailing a boat we know how to stay upright and navigate the personalities and glitches of the day.  But we often don’t see the storm clouds on the horizon until it’s too late.   A common competency found in most public and private sector organizations involves being able to see what knowledge and skills will be needed to handle the future storms of opportunity.  If we don’t learn new skills (not only technology, but those related to your organization’s work and mission) then we’re not ready to step up to the new challenges.  I worked with several organizations that  are shifting from mechanical to digital arenas.  This means that the skill sets of  people working with machines and parts will need to include computer skills. Look at automobile maintenance that now requires a computer read-out.  Even our money is now being printed digitally now.

Don’t wait until your next performance assessment to have a conversation with your boss.  Tell her what types of interests or aspirations you have for moving up or around in your organization.  Ask her what she sees as the most valuable skills your organization needs. If your boss isn’t available to have this conversation, step back and take a look at the hot issues impacting your organization or profession. For example, if the demographics of your customer base changing, you could learn a second (or third) language. Take a course or seminar; get some training to contribute solving these issues.  Volunteer for committees or task forces to practice your skills and knowledge so you don’t lose what you just learned.  Technology has made a lot or resources available to us that we just have to tickle the keyboard to find. And many are free or low cost.  Your organization may have a training or tuition reimbursement budget you can tap.

Derrick Dortch talks to federal workers encouraging them to get some training in order to advance in their careers and offering some places to start.