New Year Career Tips: 2021 vs. 2020

Do you need a few new year career tips for 2021–before the year is half over or more? If you want this year to look better than 2020 did, you need to do some thoughtful planning and action. You can’t expect better results to just happen.new year career tips to pursue

You could consider some simple basics, such as this advice from RobertHalf: “Get better sleep. Start a new workout routine. Practice mindfulness. As you make resolutions to improve your life, you might also find yourself setting some goals around your career, including exploring the employment market. But you can’t simply wish your way to a more fulfilling career. You have to work at it.”

New Year Career Tips to Start Off 2021

On the other hand, maybe your situation calls for a radical change of plans. This might require taking a long look at what you hope 2021 will bring and what you can realistically expect.

For example, an article on Vault.com says that “this past year has brought tremendous change for so many of us—including when it comes to our careers. From layoffs and furloughs to paycuts and pay freezes, not to mention figuring out how to juggle remote work and daily lives during a pandemic, 2020 has changed professional life in profound ways. Given how tied our careers are to our identities, prioritizing your professional life is a valid and important goal for the upcoming year.”

tangled mess of 2020Briefly, if you don’t want 2021 to match 2020, you need to take action. Otherwise, it could end up looking like a tangled mess.

The Vault article proposes six resolutions to consider. That is, “I resolve to…”

  1. Find a healthy work environment.
  2. Make time for myself.
  3. Stay organized.
  4. Set boundaries.
  5. “Go for it.”
  6. Avoid distractions.

What Will or Can 2021 Do for You?

Let’s back up for a moment. Does 2020 rank as one of the worst years in your life? If so, you could feel as if you’re caught in a maze with no way out. However, you can take steps to change that puzzling picture and move forward.

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Successful Executive Job Search Strategies

What do you need for a successful job search as an executive? For starters, you need executive job search strategies that can power your search in the most effective way. In other words, you need a strategically sound job search plan that allows you to fine-tune your focus .

How Do You Conduct an Executive Job Search?

First, you treat it as a cut or two above the job search someone would conduct at a lower level. You aren’t competing with as many people, perhaps, but you do face competition that’s more intense. You need to ramp-up your efforts with that added challenge in mind.

If you’ve reached the executive ranks, you know the value of strategic planning in business activities. According to Wikipedia, “strategic planning is an organization’s process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy. It may also extend to control mechanisms for guiding the implementation of the strategy.”Executive Job Search Strategies

That matches the approach to take for your executive job search if you expect it to produce a successful outcome–a new or better job. Online executive resource BlueSteps suggests one reason planning is important. They say “before launching your search, it is vital to develop a strategic plan to maximize your time and efforts: an executive’s two most precious commodities.”

What is the Value of a Planned Job Search Strategy?

Your search benefits from having a clear sense of direction and purpose. However, it also depends heavily on creation and execution of a job search plan tailored to your desired goal. Well chosen executive job search strategies form the foundation and structure for this plan.

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Grow Through Challenges–2020 in Review

Now that we’re finally near the end of 2020, a few questions have drifted into my mind and stuck there: Is this a time to regret what you’ve experienced and the career opportunities you might have lost? Or should you regroup and somehow carve out a better future? In other words, will you grow through challenges or just surrender and let them steamroller you?grow through challenges

I’m not pretending these questions are easy. They’re not. I also won’t tell you I have all the answers. I don’t. On the other hand, I plan to keep looking for answers because I could use some myself!

Do You Know How Challenges Help You Grow?

First, do you actually believe they help you grow? If not, you won’t find this post useful. Regardless of the size of the challenges you have faced this year–and may face in the coming months–growth opportunities exist. Sometimes that means you must make a choice. How will you respond to those challenges?

Whether you like it or not, challenges WILL come. The whole year of 2020 has proved that beyond question! What’s more, you don’t necessarily get to refuse any of them. If you don’t handle them–and wisely–they will handle you.

change your choiceSecond, you can focus on the challenges that have or could have the greatest impact on your personal life, career success, relationships, and more. Some challenges might represent less negative impact, and you could try letting them slide a while. However, taking on challenges can promote your growth and increase your sense of self-worth. So don’t postpone dealing with them unless you need to.

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Job Layoffs Looming

Are job layoffs looming in your corner of the world? As you probably know, COVID-19 has taken a huge toll on our economy as well as our safety. Companies have vanished or at least cut back badly, causing massive job layoffs.job layoffs

Unfortunately, recent news suggests we’ll see more job layoffs–maybe large numbers. These layoffs could impact people in higher-paying positions, not just those in lower-income jobs. If that fits your status, you could have cause for concern.

For one thing, our government still struggles with how to do another relief round. In other words, if, when, and how much should be done? This adds a layer of worry to an already daunting picture.

What Can and Should People Do When Facing Job Layoffs?

If the ax hasn’t fallen on your job yet, you might have time to take a few useful actions. On the other hand, what if you’ve already gone through the layoff? In that case, see if you can quickly put remedial actions in place. Regardless, brace for the worst but keep an open mind about both the challenges and the options you might consider.

I won’t waste time listing all the steps you should take, such as review expenses for cut backs. Do those to help buy time and soften the near-term blow, but don’t expect magical results.

Why have Job Layoffs Hit So Hard–and We’re Not Done Yet?

layoffs increase

Layoffs can happen in the best economy–and ours was fairly good at the start of 2020. However, the pandemic sent our country to a place it’s never been before–and many businesses into a tailspin. With no end in sight and the numbers soaring, you have a challenge you couldn’t foresee in January.

With winter coming, experts predict a bleak picture for both health risks and the economic impact. What’s more, you might have little or no control over some of the factors. For instance,  you can’t force others to take commonsense steps, such as wearing a face mask and avoiding too-close contact. You also can’t decide whether your company schedules more layoffs and, if so, which employees it lets go.

So, if the outlook seems grim, is there hope? Yes. We’ve received encouraging news about vaccine availability that could come sooner than first expected. Other hopeful changes might occur that we can’t envision yet. My best advice: Focus more on what you CAN control than what you can’t. For example, if you’re already working from home, can you find new ways to add value to your company’s business strength?

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Age Discrimination in the Workplace–Are You “Aging-Out”?

Whether or not you’ve encountered age discrimination in the workplace (AKA ageism), you need to realize it’s possible. The information supporting this view stems from confirmed reports, not just anecdotal feelings. We often experience difficulty in proving intent to discriminate because many companies have gotten savvy about hiding it.old-age discrimination

(The following is a 2017 statement about the problem of ageism in the workplace from the AARP. Its premise remains valid.)

“Ten years ago, a Supreme Court ruling made it harder for workers to prove age discrimination….Age discrimination in the workplace is wrong, and it threatens the financial security of older workers….”

Of course, with the newest addition to the US Supreme Court shifting the court’s ideology, we don’t know what might happen in such a situation today. However, it’s important that you stay on top of events like these and plan your actions accordingly.

Even if you’re only “30-something” now, you might have a vested interest in how such issues play out down the road!

Key Age Discrimination Facts and Figures

  • Most important: Age discrimination in the workplace is illegal. Moreover, this fact holds true from hiring through promotions, raises, and layoffs.
  • Employers and prospective employers can ask your age and graduation date. Although you can try to make this data less visible, you can’t keep employers from asking.
  • Not getting hired is the most common complaint (19%), followed by missing a promotion (12%) and being laid off or fired (8%).
  • You could file a lawsuit or EEOC complaint. However, this can prove costly in more ways than one.

Can You “Fight” Age Discrimination in the Workplace–and Win?

fighting age discrimination in the workplaceSome people certainly believe you can. Moreover, at least a few of them have proved it for themselves.

Blasting ageism out of your career path might be hard, but you do have some actions you can take to overcome or avoid its effects. In an article on Ask The Headhunter’s blog, Don Harkness shares what worked for him. Briefly, he makes several points that are worth exploring.

  1. The personal-contact method is the best and most manageable way to go.
  2. Damn right, there’s ageism.
  3. If you want social justice and to eliminate ageism, bless you.
  4. Ageism swings both ways.
  5. Re-tool.
  6. Focus.
  7. Leverage your age. Pursue smaller companies that value expertise.
  8. Decide what you need.

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What is a Zoom Interview?

Recently I posted an article on “How to Ace a Zoom Interview.” This time I want to answer a more basic but important question: “What is a Zoom Interview?”

Some common questions job seekers ask include the following:

What is a Zoom app?

According to Google, “Zoom is a web-based video conferencing tool with a local, desktop client and a mobile app that allows users to meet online….” You can install Zoom on your desktop computer, tablet, or cell phone if you plan to use it regularly. However, if an employer has scheduled a Zoom job interview with you, you shouldn’t need to have Zoom already installed on your system. Just choose the download option and sign into the call.

What are the key differences between a person-to-person interview and a video interview?

person-to-person intervierwI touched on this point in my previous post; however, I will recap briefly.

First, I need to refer to the original question above: “What is a Zoom interview?” A Zoom interview is not an entertainment performance! Focus on what you know you need to communicate—your value to the prospective employer. All other factors must support that key goal.

Second, understand that you lose some advantages in a video interview versus a person-to-person interview, but you also get trade-offs. You can sometimes pull body language, voice, and energy cues from a face-to-face session that don’t come as easily via Zoom.

On the other hand, once you gain a certain comfort-level with Zoom, you can pick up some of the same cues as from an in-person interview. You simply need to pay attention–closely. Stay focused and don’t let your mind wander when the hiring manager asks interview questions you have to answer.

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How to Ace a Zoom Interview

For a Zoom job interview, how should I set up my interview space?

woman in Zoom interviewRemember it’s a professional activity. Whether you schedule a Zoom interview or an in person interview, the interview space must reflect professionalism. Avoid visually distracting elements that could divert the interviewer’s attention from you.

That said, I offer these interviewing tips regarding the interview space:

  • Recognize the importance of good lighting for your Zoom interview. You might prefer natural lighting. On the other hand, if you don’t have a good natural light source, you can choose from artificial light options. For instance, use a ring light.
  • Make sure your light source placement doesn’t cast shadows on your face or obscure it. The hiring manager/interviewer needs to see your expression when you answer questions.
  • Provide a business-neutral background. For example, you can choose from virtual backgrounds in diverse colors and designs. Just remember to minimize distractions. You might dream about a Paris vacation, but that doesn’t mean you should show the Eiffel Tower behind you. By the way, Zoom’s virtual background feature requires a green screen–often placed on a tripod to hold it steady and in the best position.green screen for Zoom interview

How should I prepare for a Zoom interview?

In some respects, you prepare the same way you would if you were there in person. For instance, make sure you look presentable and aren’t chewing gum while talking with the interviewer!

Always do your homework–for any job interview. If you need to keep referring to information you should have reviewed beforehand to help you answer questions, you send a poor message. In effect, you’re saying, “I didn’t prepare for this.”

However, a virtual interview does involve differences from one that’s in person. For one thing,  you don’t have the in-person “vibe” to help you judge how things are going. That means you must pay careful attention to other clues, visual and audio, and adjust your actions to fit the situation.

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Career Resilience in Uncertain Times

I suspect most of us think of resilience as the built-in ability to “bounce back” from problems, setbacks, etc. So what is career resilience? It is defined as the ability to adjust to career change as it happens and…adapt to what the market demands. The possibility of an unexpected job loss should not be the primary motivator for individuals to take stock of their careers.” (Excerpted from a Careerminds blog post) In other words, take the smart course of action and start planning before you have to.

“On Career Resilience in Uncertain Times” provides insight into key points to remember as you navigate today’s quick-changing, uncertain conditions. Those conditions can present daunting challenges to career-minded professionals, including reluctant job seekers (forced to do an unplanned job search). [From CFA Institute, Enterprising Investor]

“To stay resilient in an era of continuous and fast-accelerating change, we have to become more agile and adaptable. … The present crisis, with its abrupt shift to a new normal, has forced us to face this reality head on. We can only expect more of the same. The work roles, skills, and environments that are needed and how they are valued will rapidly shift as business practices evolve.”

How Does YOUR Career Resilience Look?

Let’s start with resilience. For instance, what do you bring to the table now, and what could you add to that? Resilience encompasses at least these 9 traits:Career Resilience

  • Optimism
  • Self-belief
  • Self-control
  • Adaptability
  • Flexibility
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Emotional awareness
  • Social support
  • A sense of honor

Next, make a not-huge mental shift to how you apply career resilience. Most if not all of the above traits match well to career-related situations.

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