Your Career Path – Is It a Roller Coaster Ride?

Ideally, you might hope to have a career path that runs smoothly forward and has at most a gentle hill or two on the way to lasting career success. Just don’t count too heavily on that happening.

Unless you’re very fortunate or savvy–or both–your journey to career success might more closely resemble a roller coaster ride than a smooth path.

Why is that? For starters, life is seldom simple and straightforward, so it’s understandable that your career path might not be either, at least overall.

What Causes a “Roller Coaster” Career Pattern?

Actually, a number of factors can go into making your path to career success an up, down, and sideways route. For example:

  • You take a long time to make up your mind what direction you really want to go.
  • You change your mind multiple times during the journey, leaping randomly from one choice to the next.
  • You encounter unexpected obstacles that throw you off-course in pursuit of your career goal.
  • You reach a point in your career where you become deeply dissatisfied and decide a change is essential, although you know it will be difficult.
  • You find that your chosen career destination is no longer available to you or is becoming noncompetitive (made obsolete, etc.).

In each of these cases, you have to reexamine your choices and determine where to head next. It doesn’t always–or even often–follow a smooth, straight line.

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Career Disaster Preparation & Recovery Plan – Do You Have One?

If the company you work for were to experience a disaster, would you be prepared to handle the potential effect on your job and career? As I write this, I’m seeing reports about the terrible wildfire in northern California, including loss of life, homes, businesses, and animals. In such situations, it’s hard for us to fully understand what such a huge tragedy feels like , but we can at least make a good stab at imagining it and–if it’s within our power–do something concrete to help.

One problem is that you can’t fully anticipate and prepare for many of the major disasters that could devastate your personal and professional life. Often, you can only take limited precautions to prepare for the possibility, and you certainly can’t prevent it.

If, for example, your company location were wiped out by a fire, earthquake, tornado, or other natural disaster (not to mention man-made ones), you wouldn’t be in a position to stop that. If the disaster also destroyed the home you live in, you’d have a double-barreled disaster staring you in the face.

Job and Career Disaster – What It Means

I’m not talking about a mistake such as making a poor judgment call at work and putting your career success at risk. That’s a potential disaster, but not one you’d expect to be life-threatening or totally out of your control.

What I’m referring to is an actual physical disaster that hits when and where you least expect it. I think most of us don’t give much thought to that possibility or we somehow think it can’t happen to us. For instance, I’m naturally an optimist, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to decide I shouldn’t take basic precautions to protect my family, my home, and the business that supports us. So I carry insurance, as you probably also do.

However, insurance doesn’t take care of all the potential problems, so even if you have it, don’t think everything is under control!

What can you do to prepare for and recover from a disaster that jeopardizes your current job and future career success?

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Vanishing Job Offers – No Guarantees

Have you ever quit a job after receiving a written offer of a new job–only to have the job offer snatched away at the last minute? If not, congratulations. You might have dodged that bullet.

On the other hand, what if your turn is coming?

Vanishing Job Offers–How Do They Happen?

You might think you’ve taken enough precautions by not giving notice to your current employer until you have a signed offer letter and have accepted it. Not so fast!

As American statesman Benjamin Franklin once said, “…nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Job search has been compared to navigating a minefield. One of the mines lying in wait for you could be a job offer that vanishes. How can that happen?

The prospective employer might have said, “Yes, we really want you, and here’s the proof [offer letter].” Then maybe they had a change of heart or plans that were in flux finally came together but left you out.

Or it could be that the hiring decision-makers were unethical, if not illegal, in how they treated you.

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Career Seekers Summit–An Excellent Resource

This is a different type of post from what you will normally see from me. I’m departing from my usual format because I want to alert you to an upcoming, online summit that offers a wide range of career-related expertise. In looking at the list of topics and speakers, I think there’s really something for everyone in this event–whether you’re currently engaged in a job search, planning a future job search, or simply determined to arm yourself with as much valuable job search information as you can lay your hands on!

Career Seekers Summit–What It Is

This multi-day online event takes place July 16-20. It has been designed to provide job seekers with expert information on just about anything they might want or need to know about job searching. The speaker interviews last approximately 30 minutes each, and I think there will be around 4 or 5 of them each day. I’m very pleased to have been invited to participate–as of now, it looks as if my interview might take place on day two of the summit.

What the Summit Covers

Below is a sample list of the topics you can expect to find in the summit:

  • Making Yourself “The Perfect Fit” on Your Resume
  • Building an Awesome LinkedIn Profile
  • How to Get Results with a Recruiter
  • Rock Your Interview and Your Degree
  • Get Love from the Applicant Tracking System
  • How to Negotiate Your Salary

Registrants can sample the summit contents for 24 hours FREE.

What’s the “Catch”?

If you’re thinking there’s no such thing as a free lunch, you’re only partly correct. Once you’ve taken advantage of your 24-hour free review of the summit program, you might want to dive in much more deeply to some or all of the segments.

That deeper immersion, of course, will NOT be free. The summit organizers are offering a couple of options that require different levels of financial investment. However, you can sign up for and use the free pass without having to choose a paid offering. Hopefully you can gain enough value from the free level to make you glad you gave it a shot.

Easy Access to the Free Preview

In case you want to at least take advantage of the free offering, you can sign up here: CareerSeekersSummit.

Can You Get Paid What You’re Worth?

Salary is often a touchy and contentious subject in a job search, as well as after you land a new job. Like many job seekers, you’ve probably struggled with how to get a reasonable idea about what salary you should be targeting for the position you’re after. This is especially aggravating since employers seem to consider it a closely held secret on their end but something you should freely communicate on yours!

A warped double-standard, if there ever was one.

So what about sources that purport to provide you with worthwhile information to help you determine what the going rate might be, such as Glassdoor.com?

Unverifiable Salary Information Worse Than Nothing

According to Nick Corcodillos (Ask The Headhunter), Glassdoor.com provides information that’s basically worthless, and he doesn’t expect you to take his word for that. Here’s what he recently shared on his blog, including a direct quote from Glassdoor:

“Glassdoor itself is clear in its Terms of Use that it doesn’t stand by anything posted by users or employers — that is, all its salary and company reviews:

“Because we do not control such Content, you understand and agree that: (1) we are not responsible for, and do not endorse, any such Content, including advertising and information about third-party products and services, job ads, or the employer, interview and salary-related information provided by other users; (2) we make no guarantees about the accuracy, currency, suitability, reliability or quality of the information in such Content; and (3) we assume no responsibility for unintended, objectionable, inaccurate, misleading, or unlawful Content made available by users, advertisers, and third parties.”

Wow! And yet job seekers continue to check this unreliable source for data they can base their job search and salary negotiations on!

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How Much Time Should Your Job Search Take?

Sometimes prospective clients ask me how long their job search should take? That is, how long do I think it will be before they get calls, interviews, and job offers? If I knew the answer to that, I’d be independently wealthy and gainfully unemployed!

Seriously, as the saying goes, “There’s no easy answer.” What you really need to do is figure out what your employment goal is, identify the essential steps to reach it (if all goes well), and then dive in.

Note: This might be one of my all-time-short blog posts, because I’m not going to “gild the lily”–even if you’re a senior executive or candidate for that level, certain basic elements remain the same.

Free Yourself from Time-Limited Job Search Thinking!

Unless you have a can’t-change deadline for concluding a successful job search, start by stopping. In other words, stop thinking in terms of “how long” and instead “how little” time you can spend on the search productively.

A week’s worth of time that focuses on essentials beats a month or more of time wasted on actions that don’t produce desirable results–because they couldn’t from the outset.

Minimize Your Job Search Time with Careful Planning & Execution

  1. I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating: Know where you want to go before you begin–and make sure you have your ducks all in a row (resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and so on).
  2. Check out the job possibilities you’re interested in and do your homework on the ones that look most promising, desirable, etc. This is not a random process. Use carefully selected criteria to decide which positions are appealing enough to be worth spending extra time on if needed.
  3. Determine what your most productive times might be to work intensively on the job search and block out chunks of that time as much as possible before you launch your job search.
  4. Head off potential distractions as much as you can–anticipate and manage those you can and try to postpone those you can’t prepare for. Don’t let yourself get stuck.
  5. Weigh each action you’re considering by asking yourself, “Is this critical for my job search or is it something I can put off?”
  6. Evaluate your progress periodically to see if you’re drifting off course without realizing it and make course corrections as promptly as possible if you find you are.

Whether your job search ends up “short” or “long” might be impossible to know at the start, but if you approach it wisely, it will almost certainly be more productive–with the kind of results you need–and isn’t that what really matters?

Does Your Career Success Depend on Education?

Does lack of a degree get in the way of your career success? What if you earned your degree 15-20 years ago? If you have a bachelor’s degree, do you need an MBA or other advanced degree?

One or more of these questions might hold significance for you. Let me break it down into chunks.

Does a nonexistent degree hinder your career success?

As with many things, the answer is, “It depends.” Your career goal often influences how far you can progress without a four-year college or university degree. For instance, if your chosen career field is flooded with competitors who have a degree, companies can pick and choose. That makes it tough for you to compete.

Notice I said “tough,” not “impossible.” If you’re motivated to acquire expertise and skills that are in high demand, you can significantly boost your professional qualifications and “must-have” factor in the eyes of potential employers.

You need to put your value message on a strong foundation and work assertively to get it out to employers. And you need to work hard not to let a feeling of inferiority undermine the confidence you project to those employers.

“Old” degrees–how much do they matter?

One reason I don’t list dates for degrees in the 1980s and early 1990s these days is that I don’t want employers to zero-in on my clients’ age or how long ago they earned the degree. The experience they’ve acquired since then can and should tell their story in the most compelling way. Read More

Don’t Let Workplace Stress “Do You In”!

You worked hard to get where you are, but now you’re drowning in a hectic sea of work that threatens to overwhelm you completely. In fact, the stress you’re experiencing on a regular basis could actually, at some point “do you in.” Ever hear someone say, “The stress is killing me!”? Maybe you’ve even said it yourself.

How Did Your Workplace Stress Get So Bad?

You might start by blaming the modern trend toward trying to do more and more while seemingly having less and less time to do it in. Many companies (or their management) bear a sizable portion of the guilt on this score. They demand that you base your hopes for career progress on dedicating a huge percentage of your time and energy to the company that pays your salary.

While a fair amount of dedicated effort is reasonable to expect, it’s not reasonable for your employer to require slavish devotion to the company and expect you to always put it first in your life (at least, in my not-so-humble opinion!). If you go along with that unreasonable demand, you need to accept your share of the responsibility for the workplace stress you’re getting hammered by.

On the other hand, if the stress-load sneaked up on you over the years–that is, didn’t clearly announce its arrival and growth to you–you might feel it was understandable that you didn’t realize how bad it had gotten. And you’d be right, but that doesn’t mitigate the severity of the professional crisis you’re now in. You need to do something, but what?

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