Posted on August 3, 2019
[Note: As of today, I am starting to share posts from my LinkedIn company page, A Successful Career, on my website blog. These posts will not follow the blog format. Generally speaking, they might also be somewhat shorter than the blog posts. Occasionally I will add a bit of text to what originally appeared on LinkedIn.]
I’m not a farmer–for which I should thank my lucky stars. However, I’m know the food I eat depends on those people and they’re experiencing very tough times these days. (See below.)
If I encounter a business slowdown, I might struggle for a bit, until things pick up again. However, I also have some support behind me that can help me over the slow patches. Our farmers don’t have that, for the most part. My heart goes out to them, and I pray they begin to see a brighter future soon.
“Since trade tensions began in 2018, farmers have faced major financial challenges, since China was once a major U.S. agriculture buyer. And losing customers has become a major issue…. ‘All these countries went to different countries to get their grain,’ Nuylen said. ‘How are we going to get the relations back with them to buy our grain again and be our customers?'”
P.S. What would you do if the income from your job, career, or business suddenly dried up or at least dropped substantially? This is something to consider when you’re planning a job change or other key move that might affect your overall career success and financial well-being. Below is a short list of items to check out.
Posted on July 4, 2019
What does “freedom” mean in your work life? Do you have work-life freedom now? That’s not a rhetorical question. Think about it–how free are you to choose what you do for a living, what kind of career you set your sights on, etc.?
Let’s start with something basic-a definition of the core concept of freedom (courtesy of Merriam-Webster):
Some people have little or no choice in how or where they live, much less what kind of work they want to do or where. Hopefully, you’re not one of those! However, if you’re feeling trapped by circumstances related to your job or career, you probably want to change that feeling to one that gives you more sense of control. In other words, you want more choice about what your work-life freedom looks like.
For example, suppose your company resembles a pressure cooker–that is, pressure to perform nonstop is implied if not explicitly stated. This picture doesn’t suggest much freedom of choice, does it? What’s more, if you can’t make room for a life outside of work because your employer consumes basically all your time and energy, you might have difficulty seeing an opening to achieve some freedom.
Your choice could involve leaving the company. Understandably, you might think twice about making that choice. It’s not easy.
Posted on June 10, 2019
If you have a career outside the home, you probably have a professional reputation. The question is: Do you know what yours is and what it says about you?
A professional reputation contains two main elements: what you say and what you do. As automaker Henry Ford once said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.”
Did you enter this life with a professional reputation? Of course not! In fact, you didn’t start out with any kind of reputation whatsoever. A reputation–professional or personal–comes through experience.
You have to build your professional reputation over time. Furthermore, if you don’t consciously work to gain the reputation you want to have, you could end up with one you don’t like! Let’s say you want people to respect you as a wise leader and valuable contributor in the company. How do you achieve that? First, remember that people are more likely to respect you and follow your lead when you’ve proven they can count on you to deliver value. To do what you say you will. To keep your promises.
Posted on May 26, 2019
The short answer is: Maybe not what you think it does. No, I’m not about to give a lecture on time management and why it’s important to your career success. I’ve struggled with time management enough over the years to know I have no business preaching it to others! However, in researching what some experts say on the subject, I’ve gained food for thought. I’d like to share that with you in case you find it useful, too.
If you want to achieve career success–or success in any area of your life, for that matter–it takes time and effort. That doesn’t mean you can use lack of time as an excuse for not moving forward. Sure, you’re busy. We all are! (Most of us, anyway.) The question is, what are you busy AT?
Whether or not you want to admit it, you do have time. How you use your time is what makes the difference. When you know where you’re heading, you have to decide how much time you will devote to reaching that destination. Not just “can devote” but “will.”
After all, as Zig Ziglar puts it, “We all have twenty-four hour days.” Basically, every situation where you decide to do something other than work on your career success means you’ve made a choice that takes you in another direction.
Is that wrong? Maybe not, if you made the choice consciously and for a good reason. So it depends on the situation and why you chose what you did.
Posted on May 15, 2019
If you accept a job offer, what happens if another–possibly better–offer comes along almost right away? You might think, “Multiple job offers? I’d love to have that problem!”
However, what if the second job offer surfaces after you’ve started your new job?
Recently I read a post on Ask The Headhunter titled “Should I quit Microsoft after a week to join Facebook?” (I obviously can’t quote it all here, but it’s worth clicking the link to read the whole item.)
In his post, Nick Corcodillos makes several key points. These two stood out to me in particular:
I love how Corcodillos puts it regarding employer loyalty–or lack thereof:
“Sometimes employers make a new hire walk the plank early or even before they start the job — it’s a business decision.”
In other words, the company that hired you could decide next week to let you go–and as far as I know, you have no recourse in an employment-at-will state. [Caveat: I’m not a lawyer!]
So what should you use as a guide to making a decision?
Posted on May 4, 2019
Your employer value proposition matters hugely. However, you might also have to contend with this attitude: “What have you done for us lately?” That’s true whether you’re conducting a job search or preparing for a performance review. You need to do what it takes to stand out in the eyes of employers.
You probably recognize the saying above. It has been around for decades, and sources attribute it to different individuals. I particularly like this version by tennis great Arthur Ashe:
“I tell myself that it is crap about how you’re only as good as your last game. I tell myself that my record stands. I tell myself there is too much emphasis on winning. But I must watch that I am not just telling myself these things to explain my losing lately or to excuse myself from not trying hard enough.”
In other words, avoid making excuses for weak performance in your job or career. Your employer value record needs to stand on solid ground. Furthermore, it must tell a compelling story about why the employer should hire or retain/promote you.
Virtually every business needs a competitive advantage if it expects to succeed. It must offer value its target customers can use–and do it in a way that prompts them to invest hard-earned cash in the product or service.
Your long-term career success also depends on competitive advantage, unless you’re the only person in the world who fits a position’s requirements (unlikely). Employer value represents a critical piece of your advantage. Why is that?
Posted on April 11, 2019
Optimism can produce a powerful impact on your next job search. In a world where frustration and pessimism appear to dominate the scene, that’s important to remember. Hence, optimistic job searching can be crucial.
This blog post will “read” somewhat differently than my usual entries. That’s because I’ve grown tired of reading and hearing mostly negative news. I figure it’s time to do my share in spreading optimism to counter that trend.
Am I being a Pollyanna? No, I don’t think so. (“When you put a positive spin on everything, even things that call for sadness or discouragement, you’re being pollyannaish.”—Dictionary.com.)
I prefer to call myself a realistic optimist. That means I know life can get difficult, but I don’t buy into the notion that it has to stay that way or that we don’t have choices. For example, if you look at your work life and decide you need to launch a job search, do you start by looking at all the discouraging aspects? Maybe a better—and more productive—choice would involve noting possible challenges but refusing to let them block your progress.
In fact, I urge you to focus the lion’s share of your attention and energy on identifying factors in your favor. What do you have going for you that employers need to know? The value you can bring to prospective employers should provide a firm foundation for your job search. If you have trouble clearly identifying your value, correcting that problem would make a good starting-point.
Posted on March 29, 2019
Job satisfaction and career progress sound like great goals, something to pursue eagerly. However, what happens if you think you’ve done that and then discover what you’ve achieved isn’t what you wanted? Maybe you “wake up” one day as you’re preparing for work and think, “I don’t want to do this!”
How did that happen?
One possibility: You started with unrealistic expectations (your own or other people’s). The world would be your oyster, with a pearl inside. Your career trajectory would resemble a rocket blasting skyward.
Guess what? Only a handful of people achieve that type of career take-off and sustain it. When you begin with high assumptions about your career prospects that aren’t anchored in reality, you set yourself up for disappointment. Also, we can probably all think of people whose career did take off like a shot and flopped badly later. Would you like to be one of those? I didn’t think so!
No one should guarantee you will always achieve job satisfaction and career progress. If they do, run the other direction fast! They’re promising you the moon–something they can’t deliver. Only a few astronauts have ever reached the moon; most of us remain earthbound.
So there’s no job satisfaction guarantee and no assurance of permanent career progress. Where does that leave you?