Subscribe to Women Working

Blog


Dressing Feminine in the Business World

Submitted by Womenworking on Tue, 08/04/2015 - 08:56

May I let you in on the fundamentals of executive dressing? This post is about successfully achieving a balance that is both feminine and professional enough to gain respect from the door. 

One style statement that is pretty tricky is feminine dressing. How does that translate in an environment primarily dominated by men? Can you or would you feel like you can be taken seriously if you are in soft florals or daytime lace while running a boardroom meeting or giving a presentation to higher ups? ABSOLUTELY!

Feminine Dresses: Take the first step in showing you’re a woman in touch with her femininity and you rock! There is a misconception that in order to be a BOSS you must emulate your masculine counterparts. You can absolutely be taken seriously while standing in your executive boss shoes. Trends in season like soft pastels or lace are great textures and colors to bring a little “zing” to ordinary and always figure flattering classics like the wrap or A-line dresses

Femininity can also be acquired in accessories. Wearing a classic look can be softened and sexy, yet serious with small touches like: peep-toe shoes, statement necklaces, brooches, striking shoe colors/patterns, sunglasses, and of course, handbags.

In order to be considered “great,” your dress choices need to be figure flattering… Rule #1. Tailoring is also vital when it comes to dresses. Make sure to alter any deep necklines that border inappropriate. If you think it might be too much; it likely is… Rule #2.

Here are a few feminine style pieces that are both feminine, yet classic and trend savvy: 

If you ever worry about buying into a trend and being stuck with it after only a few months, never to wear it again, the Midi-Dress is the anti-trend trend you have been waiting for. It’s a timeless classic that is perfect as a work-to-play convert. This trend was a highlight in summer and fall fashion shows so it’s a keeper for your closet through seasons change.

   

A solid navy is a great color choice to start with or you can do a patterned midi and have fun pairing it with demure footwear during the day and sexy stilettos for the night. By definition, midis are any skirt that falls at or just below your knees. Anyone who is petite should go maxi or pencil length; midis wouldn’t work for your silhouette. 

Now this one is from the 1960’s and as American as apple pie. The Pleated Skirt is a great silhouette for almost any shape. However again, I wouldn’t recommend for the petite woman (5’4 and under). This summer’s return to the classic skirt is an easy compliment to almost everything. Try it with a tailored blazer or fine-knit sweater layered over a collared shirt and heels. 

   

It’s all about the journey; finding the right mix for you is essentially the KEY TO LIFE. It applies to everything; from finding the right career, the right mate and even the right wardrobe for you!

Pamela Watson is an experienced stylist who currently works as the trend expert for Builders of Style, where she prepares A-list clients for red carpet events, music videos, concerts and award shows. Check our her fashion blog here. Have a question for Pamela? Ask below!

 


Easy Ways to Reduce Stress

Submitted by Womenworking on Mon, 08/03/2015 - 09:00

The topic of stress gets most people’s attention and for good reason. More and more people are complaining about their stress. They say it comes from their long commutes to and from work, difficult team members, a bad boss, long hours, problems at home and so on. But notice that all the above is pointing to a belief that stress comes from external events and situations.

Where does stress really come from? I’m not talking about positive stress (eustress) that moves us into action. I’m talking about the kind of stress that drains our physical and emotional energy and leaves us feeling frustrated, stuck, irritable and even angry. Where does that kind of stress come from?

You feel stress when the demands of life and work exceed your resources:

If you can lift a fifty pound weight and believe there would be a benefit to you doing so, you’d be motivated to do it, not stressed out. If you need to work a twelve hour day for two weeks in a row and you love your work and believe the extra work load will benefit you, you’d be fine. However, if you are being asked to do something you see little to no benefit in and feel like you can’t say “No,” most people would create a lot of stress over that.

In the last situation, you would be creating unnecessary stress—the situation itself wouldn’t be creating it. However, you would be doing it unintentionally and probably wouldn’t know you were doing it. You would think it’s the other person who asked you to do something you didn’t want to do. You might resent them and blame them because they’re “too pushy.” So you feel a lot of stress because you lack the resources to deal with that person. That’s something you can change (by gaining more resources) and end your stress.

You feel stress when you make things worse than they are:

If that sounds harsh, you can relax—we’ve all been guilty of making things worse than they are. The question is, “Are you one of the few who decides to learn how to keep things in perspective?” The challenge is that when we “awfulize” or “catrastophize” a situation we believe our perspective is just fine, thank you. We often don’t appreciate someone questioning our story of how bad something is and we can easily shut them out.

The problem is that in doing so we shut the stress in as well. One of the main reasons we feel a situation is worse than it is is because we don’t believe we can handle it—it’s just too much for us. However, when we accept no one is coming to the rescue and decide to learn how to handle it better we, in effect, end much of our stress.

You feel stress when you ask the wrong questions: 

It takes practice to learn to take the more challenging situations and ask questions that will give you positive energy and end the stress. Most of us have learned to blame outside sources or people when we’re going through a tough time. To end your stress, you have to look inside and ask, “What can I do to make this better?” 

Your challenging situation might not be your fault, but it’s always your responsibility (and opportunity) to ask questions such as, “What can I do to make this better?” That will give you dramatically different answers than asking the question, “Why is this happening to me? Learn to make your default questions “Who can help me with this?” or “How can I learn to deal with this more effectively?” The wrong questions lead to more stress but more empowering questions can enable you to end your stress. 

-Alan Allard, Executive Coach


Meet Our New August Coach!

Submitted by Womenworking on Sat, 08/01/2015 - 12:48

Hello! I'm Alan Allard, and I'll be your career coach for the month of June. This month will be all about you, but before we get started, you might want to know a few things about me as well.

I am a former psychotherapist, and for the past nine years I have worked as a consultant, executive coach, speaker, trainer and life coach. I help companies, teams, and individuals thrive by challenging the status quo and creating unprecedented success and fulfillment.  I am the author of Seven Secrets to Enlightened Happiness: Your Guide to the Life You Were Meant to Live, which can be purchased here. On a personal note, I am married to my high school sweetheart and we have two incredible daughters (as well as two equally incredible sons-in-law) and last July I became a grandfather for the first time.

Over the next few weeks, we'll be taking a look at what you can do to increase your success, fulfillment and happiness—both in your career and in your overall life. Please let me know in the comments if if there are any specific topics you'd like me to address. Thanks, and I look forward to another great month!

-Alan Allard, Executive Coach


What does JOY mean to you?

Submitted by Womenworking on Fri, 07/31/2015 - 08:16

JOY. What does it mean to you?
We asked the WomenWorking.com community and here are some of their beautiful answers. 
Tell us YOUR definition of joy in the comments!



SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel for more videos: http://bit.ly/1haz79w


Entrepreneur Smarts in the Office

Submitted by Womenworking on Thu, 07/30/2015 - 08:22

How many friends and family do you know of who have started a business lately? In recent years, entrepreneurship, freelancing, and consulting have really taken off as income-generating options of choice. Maybe you’ve been thinking about taking the plunge yourself, but are having are hard time letting go of the security of a steady paycheck and company benefits, as well as the many other risks associated with owning your own business.  

Enter the “intrapreneur,” a plucky and savvy individual who has the same attributes as an entrepreneur… but who uses those competencies within an already existing company rather than starting her own. In fact, you may be surprised to find that you already have many characteristics associated with the title. 

What does it mean to be an intrapreneur? Any employee who sees a new opportunity within the organization (to do work in a better, more sustainable, or more efficient way) and pursues it is taking an entrepreneurial stance. Within organizations, the trend has been to call this type of individual (who reshapes the work that is done and the way it is executed) an “intrapreneur”. 

What does this mean for you? Take a look at the characteristics that define intrapreneurs. You may see several blazing similarities to traits you possess. 

Has anyone ever commented on your: 

  • Knack for identifying needs and developing creative solutions 
  • Ability to innovate and foster the implementation of ideas
  • Propensity to challenge the status quo
  • Ownership of your work
  • Leadership, resilience, adaptability, ability to take risks
  • Sense of passion and purpose 

If this sounds like you, you might be acting like an intrapreneur at work and not even realize it. Think about the actions you take at work and make note of all the times you’ve taken ownership of a project or brainstormed an idea and encouraged the other members of your team to support you in seeing it to fruition. Even spearheading your organization’s recycling efforts or a push towards flexible work schedules can qualify as intrapreneurship. 

Did you know there is even a League of Intrapreneurs? This organization supports change agents and people who reinvent business and solve problems using their intrapreneurial skills. The organization gathers “cubicle warriors” and helps them change their worlds and the companies in which they work. 

What change would you like to bring about at your organization? What challenges to the status quo would you tackle first and why? Who are the current intrapreneurs at your organization and how have they succeeded in what they do? Learn from those who have already been working at it, and use their experiences as a guide! 

Victoria Crispo, July 2015 Career Coach


How to Easily Become a More Valuable Employee

Submitted by Womenworking on Wed, 07/29/2015 - 08:45

“How to get promoted in 10 easy steps.”

“Why you need to toot your own horn at work… without looking like you’re tooting your own horn.”

These are some of the headlines we are bombarded with on a daily basis. (I’ll admit, I’ve written one or two of those types myself!) A large handful of them have merit-worthy advice. It is important to take responsibility of your career, go after promotions, and create your “brand.”

If you’re looking for a low-key way to improve your professional self that is simple and authentic, a good way to start is to ask yourself, “What kind of problems do I like to solve?”

Everyone appreciates the person who can save the day. So what are your most valuable “save the day” skills and characteristics? What types of things do your coworkers come to you for when they need help or advice? By “specializing” in this problem-solving skill, you can become the trusted go-to persona for anyone who needs that kind of support. 

Think about the following: 

What do I do well? 

This one is pretty self-explanatory. What do you excel at? Think in terms of problem-solving. What are the types of problems you can quickly and easily solve with great results? 

What do people come to me for? 

What kinds of problems do people ask you to help them solve? Remember that a “problem” doesn’t have to be a major disaster. It can your answer to, “Should I wear the black shoes or the blue?” variety. Perhaps you’re great at perceiving the thoughts and feelings of others, so your coworkers come to you to ask if your boss is really that upset or if it'll blow over. 

If you’re not sure what people come to you for, start taking notice! And if you haven’t been asked to help out with something in a long while, it might be time to head out of your cubicle every now and then and make yourself known. 

Find the common ground

Once you have your answers to the two questions above, start looking at your lists and finding where they intersect. Which of the things people come to you for are also on your list of things you do really well? If it’s not on your list—ask yourself why. Why did it not come to mind?

For example, you may have written down a related skill and not realized how it factors into solving a particular problem, so you left it off the list. Now might be the time to add it to your list and cultivate that skill even more. On the other hand, you may have intentionally left it out of the running because you don’t really enjoy doing it (even if you are good at it) which brings me to the next point: 

Choose to be known for things you enjoy doing 

Now that you have your lists and found common ground, for each interrelated item ask yourself, “But do I enjoy doing this?” If your answer is “no,” cross it off the list. For the “yes” responses, try to incorporate them into your life more! 

Put your problem-solving skills on the market

You may have identified 1-3 things that you do well and types of problems that you are good at solving. Make yourself available at work to solve those types of problems. 

How do I let people at work know what my problem-solving skills are? 

Listen closely to your colleagues. When they bring up challenges that you know you can solve with the skills you’ve identified, offer to help. You may even want to share an anecdote from your childhood or recent past. For example: “My preschool teacher always commented that I organized all the toy bins everyday… and I’m still into organizing everything!” Reinforce your coworkers’ confidence in your abilities through storytelling, a genuine interest in helping, and solid performance. Eventually, word will get around and people will start seeking you out. 

What if my skill isn’t related to my job?

That’s okay! In fact, it’s more than okay. Having another facet to your being makes you more intriguing and more valuable. Be sure, however, that you are not usurping someone else’s job with your skill. If you are a tech whiz and your company already has a robust IT department, it may make better sense to leave ito to them. But if your IT department is already taxed and your skill can be a helpful supplement, by all means go for it.

Can my skill pave the way for a side gig? 

Maybe your skill is appreciated in your office but not really essential for the company’s day-to-day operations. For example, maybe you’re great at picking out thoughtful, age-appropriate gifts, or you can bake a fantastic banana bread. These can still “count” in the workplace as things you are known for, plus they might be great ideas for a side business.

Now that you’ve put some thought into your problem-solving, save-the-day skill, how will you incorporate it into your daily life? Share in the comments below! 

Victoria Crispo, July 2015 Career Coach


Summer Self Care

Submitted by Womenworking on Tue, 07/28/2015 - 10:17

This summer don’t get so wrapped up in taking care of others, that you forget to take care of yourself. Here are a few of our tips for taking care of yourself when you most need it. 

Be more, not do more

Incorporate resting, reflecting, and spending time with yourself in your daily routine. Commit to new actions you intend to take. 

Say “no” and let go of guilt

What are some of the things you don’t want to do anymore? Make a point to say “no” the next time you’re asked to do one of them. If you need to, call a friend for support. 

Don’t take it personally

Come up with statements you can tell yourself the next time you are criticized and feel like reacting. Remember—it probably has nothing to do with you! 

Remain flexible

Recognize when you’re becoming rigid or a bit compulsive because you’re attempting to do something “exactly right.” Perfectionism robs you of living joyously. 

Adapted from Time for Me: Simple Pleasures for Women Who Do Too Much, by Helene Lerner, Simple Truths, 2015. 


Follow These Tips to Help You Relax

Submitted by Womenworking on Mon, 07/27/2015 - 08:38

Summer is known as a time to unwind, rest, and rejuvenate. Not all of us take the time we need to refresh and be ready to take on whatever responsibilities are left in the second half of the year. Why not try taking a Homebody Day? Give yourself a full day (or at least a solid, uninterrupted 12 hours) for some quiet time to yourself. Avoid doing chores or taking on a project—the point is to do something that you consider fun, relaxing, and reviving while not creating more work for yourself. 

Taking a time-out can help you make better sense of your internal dialogue so you can stop spinning your wheels and clarify the messages that you tell yourself… and the rest of the world. Whenever you’re feeling overrun with mental chatter, take some time with activities that will help you quiet it. 

Use these ideas to rest and recharge in the security and nurturing comfort of your own home:

Prepping for your Homebody Day 

  • The day before, set up your meals so you don’t have to worry about cooking or ordering takeout. Know what, when, and from where you’re ordering and schedule delivery times. (It’s going to be nice to not have to worry about this tomorrow!)
  • Make sure your alarm is not set. Jolting up from a sound sleep is not rejuvenating.
  • Write a list of all the tasks and mental chatter that has been clouding your brain space. 
  • Shut off any mobile notifications that could potentially cause you stress or frustration, or remind you of any part of the world outside that you want to forget for the time being. You can shut off your phone entirely, but it’s your call. If being unreachable is going to cause you added stress, it might not be worth it. 

Rise and Shine, your Homebody Day Has Arrived

  • If you’re energized enough to do so, get up (as in, out of bed) when you wake up. Or not. Stay in bed another 15 minutes... or an hour or two. 
  • Change out of your bedclothes. You can put on something just as comfy, but it should be fresh and clean. Think about it—you probably won’t feel rejuvenated during the day if you’ve been wearing rumpled, grubby clothes. 
  • Eat breakfast. Savor the tastes, colors, and textures. Eat your other meals at times that suit you, taking the time to savor them. 

Activity Time 

  • Take part in something at home without feeling like you’re really doing anything. No need to produce anything today. Anything you do today shouldn’t feel like work or a chore, and avoid picking any activity that will require a lot of follow-up (or clean-up) once the day is over. For example, you may enjoy working on a craft project or creating a vision board, but if it’s going to create a mess that you’ll have to find time to clean, it might not be as rejuvenating as other activities, like reading or binge-watching TV. 
  • Make sure whatever activities you do pick are low-maintenance, fun, and feel like “play.” Remember that whatever you are doing, the second it stops feeling like play, STOP the Nactivity and move on to something else. 
  • You can focus on one activity for the whole day or try out several. 

Reflection

  • Now that you’ve experienced your Homebody Day, take some notes based on your experiences. What did you like about taking this time? How did it help you? During what part of the day did you feel stressed, guilty, or like you should be doing something “more productive”?
  • Would you schedule another Homebody Day for yourself in the future? Why or why not? What elements did you find most helpful and how can you incorporate them into your day to day life? 

The Homebody Day should be a welcome, low-key respite from the demands of an overactive world. I hope you find some enjoyment in taking some time to unwind and recharge. 

Victoria Crispo, July 2015 Career Coach


What Makes a STRONG Woman?

Submitted by Womenworking on Fri, 07/24/2015 - 08:29

We asked the WomanWorking.com community what makes a strong woman. Here are some of your brilliant responses!

Video Editor: Elizabeth Marino


Almost Time to Leave Your Job? Spruce up Your Resume!

Submitted by Womenworking on Thu, 07/23/2015 - 08:34

You may have already heard the advice to keep your resume updated even if you’re not looking for work. It helps to be prepared when the time comes, and also, it’s a good idea to take inventory of your accomplishments and new responsibilities, especially before your performance review. You want to expertly articulate your recent triumphs as well as past achievements that are still reaping benefits for the company. 

In addition to serving as a retrospective in preparation for your professional evaluation, use what you find as a way to brand yourself for your next position—whatever it might be. Even if you’re not actively seeking work, set aside time each year to explore what you might want to do in the future. If it’s vastly different than what you do now, start a version of your resume that targets that new opportunity. Remember that this will just be a sketch to help you get started. The bulk of the work will come when it’s time to apply, but there are a few steps you can take now so you’ll be a few steps ahead later. 

Here’s how to get started: 

Read job descriptions
Even though these jobs are unlikely to be available two or more years from now, the purpose of looking now is to gather information. What jobs look interesting to you? What are the core competencies required and of those, which do you already possess? Which of your accomplishments will present you as a rock-star candidate for these types of positions? 

Review sample resumes
What do resumes for these types of positions look like? What do you need to add to yours in order to be a competitive candidate? If there are any skills you lack or need to brush up on, how might you gain the skills? 

Update your document
Start a “working document” that outlines the changes necessary. Remember that before you actually send this new resume out for a job, give it another read with the actual job description next to it. Use the keywords and lingo from the description and fill in any blanks if you meet more qualifications than your resume shows. 

Show your resume
Know people in the field? Ask them to review your resume. The beauty is that you’re not actually looking for a job right now, which takes a lot of the pressure off both parties. You won’t have nervous expectations while wondering whether they actually gave your resume to the hiring manager and what that person really thought. They don’t have the discomfort of passing your application along and not knowing what to say to you if the hiring manager doesn’t give it a second glance. You are asking strictly for opinions. Keep in mind that your friends in the field may actually be more candid with you since it’s a work in progress, so use this to your advantage. A good question to ask them is, “After reading my resume, what type of job would you think I’m going after?” If they are way off, it may indicate that you need to be more explicit on your resume or give it more focus. Ask your friends if they were a hiring manager for the position, would they hire you—why or why not? 

Reworking your resume can be a job in itself, but by getting started during a time of less urgency, you’ll set a good foundation for times when you’ll need to move quickly. Give it a try! 

Victoria Crispo, July 2015 Career Coach

 


Navigate the New Job Market

Submitted by Womenworking on Wed, 07/22/2015 - 08:56

This month, I’ve been writing about ways to improve your career, manage work/life balance (and understand how to identify your personal definition of the term), and explore how your hobbies can enhance your work. 

Today, let’s consider ways to help support others who might be struggling with a job search. Many of us have friends or family members whose education levels or skillsets may not be advanced or up-to-date. Job seekers with limited or outdated skills face extremely difficult blocks to overcome when looking for employment. Without a current resume (both electronic and hard copies), the ability to navigate the internet, and a savvy approach to interviewing, your loved one may never get a second look. Below is a brief overview of some of the scenarios lower-skilled workers may be in and how they might affect them. 

When going through the list remember that lack of advanced education, high-level skills, or technical competencies do not equate to “lacking intelligence” or “unemployable.” Sometimes the skillset is small yet specialized, and your loved one may very well have the chops that are sought after in his or her field—it just may be a matter of packing them in a more effective and up-to-date way, or a slight attitude adjustment might be necessary when it comes to their interactions with employers. 

Below are some of the issues that might be playing a role in the job seeker’s job search, as well as some tips outlining how you can help. As an added bonus, I’ve included ways to apply the suggestions to your own professional development: 

Skills are limited to one type of work and are not easily transferable to an alternative career path.

Delivery drivers, forklift operators, assemblers, or line cooks may find difficulty illustrating how their skills and job functions can be applicable to other careers. For job seekers who have been doing mainly one type of work, it can be difficult to find jobs beyond or outside of that area without additional training.

If they want to venture into a new career area, it will be imperative for them to develop and showcase their skills in the field they’d like to work in next. If they are interested in sales or marketing, for example, it’s a good idea to create a means for developing skills related to those job functions. Some ways to start developing those skills include working on a child’s (or grandchild’s) school bake sale, participating in a community fundraiser, or signing on as a distributor for a favorite direct sales brand (such as Avon, Stella & Dot, Tupperware, or Man Cave). 

How you can help: 

Suggest ideas that will allow them to start building their skills. Also work with them to identify any responsibilities that may relate to other types of employment. For instance, if they drove a delivery truck but had regular face-to-face interaction with customers, they can use it to demonstrate customer service experience on their resume.  If they have been recognized for having great rapport with customers, they can include this too. 

Apply it to your own professional development:

Assess your own skillset. Are you lacking any skills that would be beneficial in your own job or a desired promotion? Discover ways you can practice the skills you’ll need, whether at work or in your professional life. 

Lacking knowledge of current hiring practices.

Do you know of any job seekers whose last interviews were 20 years ago, or are accustomed to hand-delivering a resume and receiving an on-the-spot interview? Perhaps their resume is the same one they created on an electric typewriter. 

The organizations that allow for unannounced visits are few and far between, and most require job seekers to apply through their automated online system. This can prevent challenges for job seekers without access to computers or the internet, or who don’t have the savvy to navigate through the online application process. 

Job seekers who have not been on interviews in a couple of decades will probably be surprised at how intense the process has become at many companies. Gone are the days of an interview being “just a formality”. 

How you can help: 

Let the job seeker know that the resume does not get them the job, but the interview. Share with them that even the jobs that appear to be lower on the totem pole require enthusiasm, interest in the company, and demonstrated commitment and a positive work ethic. If they do not demonstrate this during their interviews, there are 50+ other candidates in line behind them waiting for the chance.

Apply it to your own professional development: 

Take a moment to review trends in hiring at your own organization or in your industry as a whole. Perhaps there is a trend toward group interviews or case assignments that will be used to evaluate you. Also take the opportunity to review the skills needed for the job one steps above yours. Do you have the skills and how you will demonstrate this on an interview or at your next performance review? 

Salary expectations.

When you’ve been doing the same job for a couple of decades and are forced to put yourself back in the applicant pool, you may be surprised and angry that you can’t command the same salary you had at your last job. Salaries or hourly rates do not necessarily follow you to the next company, especially if your skillset is not up to par. 

In some cases, a job may now require additional skills or expertise that they do not have. If for example, a driver at a technologically progressive distribution or delivery company is required to have computer proficiencies that the job seeker does not have they probably cannot command a higher-range salary or hourly rate. It is important that they don’t make this frustration evident during or after their interviews. 

How you can help:

Work out the numbers with them. Would taking a job at a lower hourly rate for six months put more money in their pockets than if they made no money because they were not employed that time? Does the job offer benefits that can help support the job seeker? Encourage them to identify ways in which to fast-track their wage increases once they are hired. Also show the current starting salaries for the job so that know they aren’t being cheated.  

Apply it to your own professional development: 

Take a look at starting salaries and skills needed for jobs like yours. Have you recently participated in a training or certification program? Is your own salary still on par or is it time to negotiate for a raise? 

Attitude issues.

A propensity towards negativity comes with the territory when someone is out of a job. It’s a vicious cycle: you’re unfamiliar with the new “rules of the job search” and your skills are not current, so you’re confused, insecure, and already feel inferior. This prevents you from doing well on your interview, which means you don’t get the job, further increasing your lack of confidence. 

How you can help:

Be empathetic to the job seeker’s struggles but also offer practical recommendations for the right. Remind them that it’s not all about their needs but rather the hiring company’s. While they don’t have to take a job if the environment appears to be abusive, share with them that their emotions can cloud their impressions of the situation. Strive to help them get a realistic look at the situation. 

Apply it to your own professional development:

You’re not off the hook on this one—how’s your attitude been lately? Have you been secretly wanting to kick the ever-living daylights out of one of your coworkers, or been frustrated about working for “the man”? If you’ve been feeling aggravated by your work responsibilities or quick to make judgements, you might want to entertain the idea of an attitude adjustment yourself! 

Victoria Crispo, July 2015 Career Coach


Are You in the Wrong Job

Submitted by Womenworking on Tue, 07/21/2015 - 08:57

Asking yourself whether you are in the “wrong” job may seem like something that newly-graduated, entry-level employees do. However, even if you’re a seasoned mid-level professional with years of experience in your field, don’t be surprised if you too discover that you’re in the “wrong” job. As your field, company (and even you) evolves, you may find yourself disenchanted with your work and yearning for a change. Or perhaps you’re getting a sense that something is not quite right, that things aren’t jiving at work the way you’d like them to, but you’re not exactly sure what the problem is. 

I use the phrase “wrong job” loosely as I am not really a proponent of the word “wrong.” Sure, there are instances when it is appropriate to use—your company has shady or downright illegal dealings, you’re facing bullying or discrimination, or another similar scenario. 

What is “wrong” about your job can be: 

  • A drastic change to your responsibilities that your current skillset does not support
  • A change in responsibilities that you are not excited about or don’t feel motivated to take on
  • The “same old” responsibilities are starting to feel rote, unchallenging, or otherwise unfulfilling
  • You are experiencing a personality clash with a new manager or coworker
  • You see no room for advancement
  • You’re desperate for a change or have already identified a new career that you want to try

The list goes on and on, and there are many more possibilities. And in some cases, you may have been doing the same work for years before realizing it doesn’t thrill you. Again, this is not unique to newer members of the workforce who are “trying on” a job. It’s very possible to discover this even after you’ve been going to the same job day after day for years. And that’s okay. 

We grow, evolve, and gain new competencies. It’s natural to want different things at different stages of our lives. It’s okay to embrace it! 

So when reflecting on whether you are in the “wrong” job, look at it with the thought that your current work situation might need a once-over, not that you are actively looking for “bad” or “wrong” things about it. 

Some questions to ask yourself: 

  • What tasks do I enjoy doing at work? 
  • Which of my responsibilities do I always put last on my list? How essential are these tasks to my work? How would I feel if I never had to do them again? 
  • What would an ideal work day look like? 

This last question might be difficult without some probing follow-up questions to help guide you: 

What are the things you enjoy doing? Don’t limit yourself to work tasks—you can also turn to your hobbies. If they don’t translate to things you can do at a job, looked deeper for similarities that relate. For example, if you love to crochet, you probably won’t find a job crocheting that will sustain your basic living expenses. So think about what you’re doing when you are crocheting that might translate to useful information for your new career. For example, do you like to crochet because you: 

  • Are working with your hands? 
  • Are creating something beautiful? 
  • Are creating something useful? 
  • Find it relaxing and comforting? 
  • Like working with color and/or patterns? 

Once you have your responses, start researching jobs that might allow you to work with your hands, be creative, or have repetitive, physical tasks to complete. That’s a pretty simple example, but use it as a guide to help you explore. 

What are your favorite books? See what your favorite types of books and themes might tell you about a possible career. What careers do your favorite main characters have? For any interesting ones, start researching them, see what’s involved and how you might break into that type of career. 

Are you a morning person or night person? Rather than go against your personal alarm clock, find a job that works with it. 

Do you prefer solitary work or do you thrive on working collaboratively on a team? Think about the jobs you’ve held and which category they fall under. Then assess whether you’ve been pursuing the right types of jobs all along or if you should go after a job with more interaction with your coworkers, or one that keeps you in your own office most of the time. 

What skills do you want to learn, use, or enhance? While we may grumble about work, the beauty of it is the opportunity to learn new skills or enhance the ones you’ve already got. If you want to learn new skills and your current job is not providing you with that opportunity, see how else you might gain and master the skills that are important to you. You may first want to take a class or seminar so you have some chops to show, and then learn the rest on the job. 

Do you want a management role? Not everyone wants to manage or lead. If that’s you, don’t go after roles with a supervisory or management component. While it may seem like a “next step,” it might not be the “right” step for you. Search for jobs that allow you to work at a high level but don’t require supervisory responsibilities. 

Are you looking for a remote/telecommuting position? Think about this and other logistical questions when figuring out what would make the “wrong” job the “right” job for you. Telecommuting is becoming more and more commonplace, so as you search for your next gig, decide whether this is an important factor for you. 

Reflection by using these types of questions is only one piece of the puzzle. Exploration and information gathering can also play a role. A couple of ways to do this: 

Review job listings
Looking at job listings is a great way to get quick information about the types of opportunities that are available. There are many online sites that serve just this purpose. You can also look directly on the “careers” pages of the websites of companies that are of interest to you. 

Schedule informational interviews or informal chats
Look to your network: friends, family, professional contacts, and former colleagues. Set up informational interviews, or if that’s too formal a structure for you, set up time to chat so that you can ask about their current jobs in a more free-form conversation. Also ask about their full career path—how they got to where they are today, what recommendations they have, what worked for them when they were making a career change or switching jobs. 

In addition to learning about their jobs, you might find comfort in learning that you’re not alone in desiring a change. A transition that sounds unlikely or “pie in the sky” might feel more attainable after hearing someone else’s success story. Learn from others, take the tactics that work for them and figure out a way to implement them that works for you. 

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, uninspired, or antsy at work, you owe it to yourself to find out whether your goals and needs have changed and your current job is not meeting them. Do what you can to discover ways that your employment can better match your changing needs. 

Victoria Crispo, July 2015 Career Coach


The Secret to Breaking Bad Habits At Work

Submitted by Womenworking on Mon, 07/20/2015 - 09:19

Bad habits at work can be just as hard to break as bad habits at home. Bad work habits can be especially detrimental, both to yourself and your reputation at the office. So how do you break them? In stages, of course! 

First, Realize the Change That Needs to Happen

Before anyone can break a habit or create a new one, they have to accept and realize the changes that need to occur. This often includes hearing about the change, considering it, and making plans to accomplish it. There are some things you can just jump into, but you’ll have a better shot at successfully breaking the habit by getting a plan together.

Replace Old Habits With New Ones

Working in an office means much of your day boils down to routine. So you’ll need to find something to replace your old habit, or risk falling back into it. Perhaps you like to gossip with a coworker while getting your morning coffee. You could alter your routine to bring coffee from home and go for a quick lap around the building instead. 

Recruit Help

If you’re breaking the habit on your own, your version of help might be post-it notes with reminders about what you’re trying to accomplish. You could also place pictures of what you do or don’t want the end result to be, whichever one you consider more motivating. 

Other methods for help can involve your coworkers. Most habits have certain triggers, either a stressor you often encounter or a pleasant activity you might participate in a little too often. Find those triggers and ask the coworkers who are likely to be around when the triggers occur to keep an eye out for the habit you’re working on. Sometimes a gentle reminder from a friend is all you need to keep yourself under control.

Stay on Track

Now that you’re on the right track, you have to maintain the new practice. Since 50% of your everyday life is habitual, old habits are easy to fall back into, meaning the upkeep is important. Everyone falls off the wagon now and then, but the key is to get right back on. Creating a strong alternative to your original pattern is paramount to breaking the cycle. 

Since you’re working so hard at this, take time for little celebrations. They don’t have to be big, but be sure the merriment won’t take you back to your old ways. In other words, don’t celebrate healthy eating by going out for fast food! 

Once the new habit is well established, you have to stick to it. Your celebrations will get farther and farther apart until you don’t even need them anymore. Once you’ve reached this point, the occasional break back to old ways doesn’t even pose a threat, because you’ve officially broken your bad habit!

Remember, no one likes change, but it’s still good for us! Don’t let your bad habits ruin your office life—create habits you’re proud of, and your work will reflect your positive changes.

---

Sarah Landrum is a marketing specialist and freelance writer trying to balance her career and writing with a social life and staying healthy. She is also the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to sharing advice on all things career. Subscribe to her blog or follow her on Twitter @SarahLandrum for more great tips.


How to Bring Your Soulmate into Your Life

Submitted by Womenworking on Fri, 07/17/2015 - 08:49

Orna and Matthew Walters are expert relationship coaches who know firsthand what it’s like to struggle finding love. Luckily, both realized what was standing in their way and they found each other. Now they’ve formed Creating Love on Purpose and have advice on how you can bring your beloved into your life. 

You often use the term “beloved” interchangeably with “soulmate.” Why is this?

Matthew: We shy away from the term “soulmate” because there’s the implication that a soulmate is destined. This puts the power outside you and into the hands of fate, which is the opposite of our work. We call our work “creating love on purpose.” 

Who exactly is our “beloved”?

Orna: Your beloved, or soulmate, is someone who inspires you to grow personally and spiritually. The bond pushes you both on track towards your highest and best self.

You often reference a “love imprint.” What is that?

Matthew: Your love imprint is how you learned to receive love from your family. When you feel sudden, “accidental” attraction, you’re acting on your love imprint. This isn’t necessarily the right person for you. Many people struggling in their relationships find they’ve fallen for the same person again and again. 

Orna: Part of recognizing your love imprint is also recognizing any limiting beliefs you have. A possible limiting belief you may have is, “All the good ones are taken,” or “I’m destined to be alone.” We encourage people to discover what their subconscious blocks to love are. 

If someone doesn’t realize they are blocking love, what’s the best way to narrow down those limiting beliefs?

Matthew: Chart out the patterns in all of your relationships. What were some of the problems? What worked well? Be aware that you are the common denominator in your past relationships. Once at an event, a woman came up to us and said, “Oh I don't have a problem with men, I just need to stop meeting the crazy ones.” She didn’t yet realize that there was something in her that was attracted to the “crazy ones.”

After recognizing your internalized blocks, what’s the next step?

Orna: Don’t judge yourself harshly. As you begin to notice your own behaviors, just say, “Isn’t that interesting?” Be like a detective, without emotion, without judgment. We tell clients to “date to discover,” but the discovery is on you. Observe how you act around this person. Is it positive or negative? 

Matthew: After a date, are you beating yourself up and saying “I should've said this” or “I shouldn't have done that”? Or are you feeling the emotion of the moment, the attraction, and the excitement?

When should someone write off a relationship?

Matthew: We always say, don't eliminate people unless they have exhibited a deal breaker. You’ll know what your deal breaker is if you wouldn’t let your celebrity crush get away with it. 

Orna: For me, my deal breaker is smoking. So when I saw Ewan McGregor on the cover of GQ Magazine with a cigarette, I was like, “Oh crap. Total deal breaker!” Get clear on your values and what your deal breakers are.

What’s the number one mistake people make when looking for love?

Matthew: Making a choice based on the past, as opposed to choosing what your true heart's desire is. Due to an ex cheating on you, you may say you value honesty and fidelity. But you aren’t really acting on that, you’re acting on the anger, hurt, and sadness driving your choices. 

Orna: I would say the number one mistake people make is believing that love is something you get from another person. We don't get love from another person! We share love with another person. And it's actually the love we have for ourselves that is reflected back to us in our beloved's eyes. The key is really transforming your relationship with yourself.

How can you recognize when your beloved comes into your life?

Orna: It’s different for everyone. Often people say, “Oh it’s like a spinning in my stomach, I’m excited, but off balance, and I can’t stop thinking about him.” But that’s a love imprint match, not necessarily love. My relationship with Matthew made me feel completely grounded. It felt like my feet were firmly on the Earth and like I had roots. But I also felt like I had wings and I could take flight whenever I chose.


Want To Improve Your Work-Life Balance?

Submitted by Womenworking on Thu, 07/16/2015 - 09:11

If you’re like most working women, you’re at your job at least forty hours a week, maybe even more. Then you’ve got your time for sleeping and eating, commuting to and from work, and an assortment of other activities—some habitual, some unexpected. You may feel like you never have enough time to do all you have to do, and feel unfulfilled when you can’t move on to enjoying the things you want to do. 

There’s been a lot of discussion about time management and work/life balance, and countless how-to check lists that promise to help you get your life back. There are few “one size fits all” solutions, if there are any at all (my money is on “no”). However, that does not mean there is no value in any of these systems. Quite the contrary, it’s just a matter of picking and choosing the parts that work best for you. 

First, try making a list of all the activities you do and responsibilities you have, along with the amount of time it takes you to do them. Do this for 1-2 weeks. Start with what takes up the largest chunks of your time each day: work, sleeping, child rearing, fitness goals, cooking, etc. Set a timer and time them for a concrete figure. For tracking your sleep specifically, you can use a sleep tracker, or you can use an old-fashioned stopwatch, or a phone app in order to get a more accurate assessment. And if you’re a napper, be sure to record your naps, too! 

Outline your family time. Take note of how much time you spend actively involved with your kids (if applicable), significant other, and other family members. If your children are of school age, track the time you spend helping them with homework and preparing for the next school day. A fun idea is to make it into a game with them by giving them the responsibility of starting and stopping the stopwatch to record their “mom time” each day. While you’re not likely to sacrifice quality time with your children, you may discover some chores that are appropriate to pass along to them, providing both more “quality time” activities together and giving them a sense of responsibility and pride in their work. 

Record big-ticket responsibilities. Remember these vary from person to person. Some have longer commutes and some walk to their home office right next to the bedroom, some order takeout while others cook a three-course meal, some are in bowling leagues while others knit at home. Whatever the activity, write it down and record how much time you spend at it each day. Keep a log for 1-2 weeks. 

Don’t forget the time in between. It’s essential to get an accurate count, so if you meet with your bowling league for two hours but it’s a half hour drive each way AND you spend about an hour chit-chatting with your team afterwards, you’d best be recording four hours for the whole shebang, not just the two for your league’s games. 

Categorize your activities. If, for example, the hour that you spend after bowling games feels like quality catch-up time rather than just “killing time,” categorize it accordingly. When you reflect on how much “friend time” you may want, perhaps you actually have more than you expected, if only you categorize it as such. So instead of four hours total, it might be bowling: 2 hours, travel: 1 hour, friend time: 1 hour. 

Don’t forget other hobbies and responsibilities you have. If you haven’t been keeping up with your hobbies on a regular basis, first just record the amount of time you actually spend on them. Put a note on the side of your list for the amount of time you’d like to set aside for them in your schedule on a regular basis. Once you complete your time tallying, you’ll want to go back to all the activities and responsibilities you listed and prioritize. 

Account for the little stuff. One of the tricky parts in taking inventory of your time is noting the little things. For example, brushing your teeth, selecting your outfit each day, getting dressed, preparing breakfast, your nightly skincare routine, even how long it takes you to actually fall asleep. It might sound extreme to be recording all these details every day, but remember this is temporary, just to get a baseline. 

Prioritize your activities and responsibilities by reflecting on the value, purpose, and necessity of each. You can also use the following set of questions to help you: 

  • How much do I enjoy this activity? 
  • How essential is it that I do it, or can I outsource it (and do I have the finances to do so)?
  • Can I find alternative ways of getting it done more quickly and efficiently?
  • What do I most want to do in its place? 
  • How can I feasibly rearrange my schedule? 
  • What value (financial, spiritual, emotional) do I get from this activity? 

Give yourself flex time. Save room for incidentals or unexpected activities and responsibilities. Perhaps, for example, you receive last-minute invitation to dinner with some old friends. First determine how this will alter your schedule before you say “yes” and regret it because you needed to tackle other responsibilities. 

Don't forget downtime. This may sound silly, but blocking out time specifically for “relaxation” or “doing nothing” can do a lot of good, especially for so many of us who are feeling frazzled and strapped for time. If you don’t block out the time for relaxation, are you likely to ever do it and give your body and mind the rest they need? 

After getting a strong framework for where your time goes, keeping a schedule that works for your needs will become easier to master. Remember that you can allow flexibility in your calendar. If something comes up that is imperative to take care of, by all means do it—but don’t overwhelm yourself. Be sure to have a healthy balance of downtime, responsibilities, and activities that work for your lifestyle. 

Victoria Crispo, July 2015 Career Coach


Feeling an Itch to Create Something New?

Submitted by Womenworking on Wed, 07/15/2015 - 08:39

In one of my recent articles, I introduced the idea of making plans for a transitional period before you leave a job. One of those components is a reflection you’ll probably want to give a whirl whether you are thinking about leaving your job or not—how to spend your free time in a way that makes you feel fulfilled and rejuvenated. Maybe you actually enjoy your job. You find it satisfying while you’re there, you’re challenged and enjoy your work, but you’re looking for more in other areas of your life. 

If you’ve been feeling an itch to create or learn something new, don’t brush it aside like a non-essential. You may find that discovering something new to do that sets you alight and excites you, is not only personally fulfilling, but also a great way to maintain your stamina in your professional life as well. 

We all get stuck in routines sometimes, feeling like every day is a carbon copy of the next. When this happens, having an outlet can be really worthwhile and instrumental in changing the course. Also, there are many ways to take seemingly unrelated activities and use one to find meaning in or solve a problem for the other. 

Let’s say for example you take up stone carving as a hobby. You’re hitting one particular area of a large stone with your biggest, heaviest tool and it’s not breaking in the way you want it to. It may not even be making a crack at all. Try as you might to hit with harder force, it just won’t budge. 

Might there be a task at work that you’ve been hammering at voraciously but to no avail? What if you were to use a different tactic for both your work situation and the stone carving. Perhaps by taking a smaller tool and making gentler, more precise taps to the stone, you can get the result you want. What detail might you have been missing in an attempt to obliterate that work problem? Perhaps if you take the same approach—a lighter touch and more attention to a smaller detail, you’ll get the result you really want! 

Some hobbies and activities can have very practical, tangible by-products and uses. If you register for a sewing class, you might start creating a new work wardrobe for yourself. You can fuel your hobby as well as have more creative control over the designs and styles you wear. You knows? You may even be able to build a side business with it. Imagine seeing other people wearing your own designs! 

Whatever activities you do choose, be mindful of the effects that engaging in them will have on you overall. If you’re enjoying your new hobby but constantly feel stressed due to the time constraints it leaves in your schedule, revisit your plan and find a way to incorporate it into your calendar in a more stress-free manner. The point is not to add more “have tos” to your list but to explore your desires and whims through creating and exposing yourself to new activities. 

Enjoy your time to play! 

Victoria Crispo, July 2015 Career Coach


Dress Like a Boss in Business Casual

Submitted by Womenworking on Tue, 07/14/2015 - 09:06

Dress codes have relaxed at many companies, especially during the summer months. Business casual has become the “new normal” in many workplaces every day of the week. I hope this article helps many navigate through the blurred lines of what business casual looks like as many people have no idea what this means. For the record, business casual means skipping the traditional looks at work (like a suit or suited look) for a more relaxed version of professional attire like slacks and a pullover top or jeans with a blouse or sweater. 

Much of the misconception comes from the word “relaxed” clothing at the office. The primary issues with most business casual looks are that people dress for the office like they would for a lazy Saturday afternoon at home or what looks like they were taking a quick run to the corner market.  Key to the success of appropriate casual attire is asking yourself, “Is what I’m wearing appropriate if… a last minute meeting with a client springs up?” or if you have to drop by an unscheduled evening event with your boss/colleagues. 

Here are a few pointers to keep you happily casual and professionally appropriate:

 

Everyone runs to denim when you think business casual. I think there are so many options for great casual work wear, you should add more variety. Try limiting your denim pieces to no more than 2 days a week. Wednesdays and Fridays are always great days for those looks; hump day and the end of the week feel celebratory to me but choose what you like. 

Pair with almost any type top/blouse or keep it monochromatic and wear a denim shirt. Denim doesn’t automatically mean jeans. Denim skirts are just a comfortable, stylish and a great day to night convertible piece for evening. Denim is a great blank canvas for your style statement as well. Pairing it with simple or standout statement necklaces, flats or heels is totally your choice. That’s effortless styling at its best. Make sure the jeans are clean, pressed (no middle crease ever) and if you do distressed keep the holes small with little exposed skin; too much skin in risky places can offend so stay clear of oversharing your body parts.  Less is more!

As for the rest of the week, go for styles like: 

Cropped pants  

Flowy tops, fitted button-up shirt or tanks

Khakis (not just pants anymore; try skirts, blazers and cropped cargos) 

  

Sweaters (wear as a layered piece; great for cold workplaces). If you wear a bold color sweater, balance with a neutral, navy or classic primary color and if sweater is neutral, navy, black or classic primary color make sure to counter the pant, shirt underneath or shoes with pattern and color. It’s all about the balance.

T-shirts are a great way to “pair down” a suit pant or slacks that you would normally wear to work and still be cool and appropriate without much effort or added cost. Graphic tees are great ways to add whimsy and fun to your look. Be careful to pick an image or saying that is neutral and non-offensive to others (nothing alluding to race, religion, sex, politics, etc…). There are tons of great solids tees with V-neck collars in bright bold colors which are easy winning combinations with any traditional suiting as well. I like V-necks better than other necklines because they leave a little more exposed skin which is the perfect amount for clavicle exposure or simply space for accessories without the interruption of fabric. 

Blazers there are tons of choices in colors and cuts for blazers. Always have one with you to add polish to a casual look 

Black or neutral colored heel also another perfect go to in a pinch when needing to quickly upgrade your casual look for a last minute meeting. 

Paramount to anything mentioned above; make sure the FIT is FLATTERING and of course FASHION FORWARD. Enjoy your summer!

Pamela Watson is an experienced stylist who currently works as the trend expert for Builders of Style, where she prepares A-list clients for red carpet events, music videos, concerts and award shows. Check our her fashion blog here. Have a question for Pamela? Ask below!


Are You Applying to the Right Jobs?

Submitted by Womenworking on Mon, 07/13/2015 - 08:34

“Should I apply to this job?”

When your job search has been long, tedious, and unfruitful, it may seem like this question is a moot point. If you aren’t getting results, you may think your best course of action is to apply to as many jobs as possible. 

In reality that’s probably not the case, especially if your application strategy has been to use one staple resume and click the “apply now” button on every job that sounds right. A better use of your time is to strategically customize your application documents, and since it takes longer, it may require you to apply for fewer jobs. Taking the approach of quality over quantity can really work well however, and save you many clicks of the Submit button—an activity which probably has had you wondering if your resume goes not to the employer but that infamous “black hole”. 

The following clues, many of which are right in the job description, should help you decipher whether or not you should apply for the job: 

When was the listing posted? 

This little bit of information can really save you a lot of time. My rule of thumb is to focus on the most recently posted jobs first. Anything over three weeks should have lower priority. I say this after learning about the findings of a report by Indeed and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR), which states that about 43% of vacancies are filled in about 30 days. The listings you see on the job sites are likely to stay active until they expire (they paid for them to be live for a certain time period, after all), even if a hiring decision was made. Knowing this, it makes sense to start with the jobs that are most likely to still be available. If you find one over three weeks old that you’re really excited about, try to find out if the company is still seeking applicants before you use your precious time applying for an opportunity that may no longer exist. 

What are the job responsibilities? 

Many job seekers hone in on the list of qualifications first and if they see a match, they just apply right away. Try taking a different approach. Before applying, read through the entire listing, especially the job responsibilities. What will you be doing in the job? Is it work you are familiar with and are not only able to do, but want to do?  Also use this information to figure out what parts of your previous experience are most related to the position – these are the ones you should highlight on your resume. 

What is the name of the organization? 

Did you miss this other important piece of information in your haste to apply? Always know what organization you’re applying to, and before you send in your application, research the company and find out its mission and core business. You may also want to identify their competitors, newest products and services, and other details that can help you craft your application. For example, if you’ve worked with products similar to the ones the company manufactures or will be launching in the near future, you can play this up on your resume. 

To whom does the role report? 

Not all job listings will include this information, but when they do, use it to your advantage. Knowing the job title of the person you’ll report to can help you get an idea of the company’s organizational structure. It may also help you determine how quickly you can anticipate a promotion. Lastly, if you know the manager’s title, you might be able to search for a name and contact information so that you can follow-up directly with the person who will be making the hiring decision. 

How is the listing written? 

Is it written with fun words and flair or is it staid, straight-forward content? Think about your personality and the type of environment in which you most thrive. If the listing is putting you to sleep, how likely is it that the job will excite you? Review the language used to figure out what type of organization it is, how they might treat their employees, and assess whether it’s a good fit for you. 

What about your mission? 

After you’ve read the company’s mission statement, take a moment to reflect on whether it resonates with you. Is it a cause or goal you can really get behind? 

In addition, think about your personal mission and goals. From what you see in the listing, will this job afford you the opportunity to carry them out? If not, what else is motivating you to apply for the job? What other outlets are available to you in order to meet your goals or fulfill your passions? 

Remember that there is no “right” or “wrong” answer. There are many ways to determine a job’s value and whether it is “right” for you. The list provided is simply a starting point to give you food for thought and make informed decisions in the application process.  Best of luck!  

Victoria Crispo, July 2015 Career Coach


What to Do before You Leave Your Job

Submitted by Womenworking on Fri, 07/10/2015 - 08:51

Lately, the issue of “burnout” has been on the minds of many professionals as they feel overworked and overwhelmed. Many career experts have addressed how to identify the tell-tale signs that it’s time to leave your job. You’re not sleeping well, you’re feeling anxious and stressed, you’re lashing out and impatient, and your outlook is cynical. Your health—mental, emotional, and physical—is probably suffering, and your relationships could be, too. 

Once you’re convinced it’s time to leave your job, what do you do? While it may be appealing to just walk away, it’s a good idea to have a plan for “in the meantime.” Unless you have already set the wheels into motion, it’s unlikely that your next opportunity will come overnight. It’s a good idea to set yourself up for success before you put in your notice. Here’s how! 

Make financial preparations

Don’t just quit without a plan for meeting your financial obligations. Do you already have several months’ worth of expenses saved up? What are alternative ways for you to generate income while you are out of work? Three months of living expenses is a common recommendation, but I would try for six or nine. Also consider emergencies and other unexpected expenses. Decide how you will manage them should they come to pass. If it turns out that you will be scrounging for your next meal, now might not be the time to quit and remove your financial safety net. 

Decide where you’ll go next

Will you start a business, try your hand a freelancing, or search for another traditional job? Whatever you decide, be sure you map out your plan for achieving your goal. Whether you start a business or a new job search, some of your activities will be similar: reaching out to your networks, identifying the skills and resources you need, and creating a support network. If you decide to start a business, you may want to get a business coach or use some of the free resources accessible to you (such as your state’s Small Business Services center). If you’ll be transitioning to a new field, allot for extra time to help you navigate through that process. Figure out where to look for jobs, how to revamp your resume, whether you’ll need to freshen up your skills, and who you can reach out to during your search. 

Figure out if you need to enhance your skills

Identify any skills you’ll need to improve before you leave your current job. The reason is twofold. One, if there is an opportunity to gain the skill at your current job, jump at the chance. Two, if your new career requires a certification or additional studies, you may need to revisit your financial situation and see how feasible it will be for you to take on the added expense. 

If you can stomach remaining at your organization for a few more months, use the time to be mindful of the work that you do and the accomplishments you achieve at work. Take notes and include anything relevant on your resume. 

Cement your work relationships

You may have lost touch with some people you used to work closely with at your job. Before you leave, reconnect in a way that feels authentic. You can rely on your contacts’ networks and resources, but you’ll want to manage your relationships in such a way that your friends and colleagues don’t feel used. Reconnect and show your coworkers your interest in them as people, not just coworkers. Don’t let the next time they hear from you be on LinkedIn with a request for a recommendation. Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot and act accordingly. 

Ask around

Start putting out your feelers and ask questions. Turn to your networks and contacts, even people who are not in your desired career field. You never know who knows someone who knows someone. Ask questions that will help you get a view of different landscapes throughout your field and related career areas. What are the top skills that are sought after among new hires in your field? Are there any new skills you’ll need to gain entry into your career area of interest? You can (and should) continue these inquiries even after you leave your job, but it’s a good idea to get started as soon as possible. 

Develop a schedule

As part of your exit plan, be sure to coordinate a schedule for how you’ll spend your days when you no longer have a job to go to. You don’t necessarily have to set it in stone, but blocking out your time will give you a sense of purpose. Many people find out all too quickly that having nothing on their schedules day after day leads to quite a lot of time spent in pajamas, binge-watching favorite shows, and eating ice cream out of the gallon container. And that tends to lead to… inertia, which doesn’t get you far when you need to find a job. 

Reactions to new-found time after leaving a job can vary greatly. Some people may already have a ton of ideas for using their time for professional pursuits and pleasure. Others may panic. Once the thrill of not having to set an alarm wafts over you, there can be the sinking feeling of not knowing what to do with all the time you now have. When your routine is gone, you may feel unsettled with nothing in its place. Have an idea of how you will structure your time. 

Factor in time for rest and rejuvenation

Let’s face it—your job was taxing and zapped your energy, otherwise you wouldn’t have left. Definitely take the time you need to get back to your very best you. You deserve time off, but temper it with the action plans you created so that you can keep momentum up and find your next opportunity on your own timeline. Apathy tends to breed more of itself, so make a conscious effort to maintain your stamina and keep your momentum up. Time for rest and relaxation is a part of the schedule you’ll be creating, not the only thing on the roster. 

Set up alternative methods of learning new skills

Consider volunteering, taking on a side project, or setting up a pro bono project. While you’re not working, it’s essential to keep your skills fresh and gain new accomplishments to add to your resume or professional bio. Also identify opportunities for coursework, seminars, or certifications. 

The decision to leave a job can be a difficult one. It may feel daunting to stick it out a few extra months when it’s already been taking its toll, but by setting your safeguards in place, you can get to your next step with more confidence and a great sense of security and control.

Victoria Crispo, July 2015 Career Coach


The Secret to Having a Best Friend

Submitted by Womenworking on Thu, 07/09/2015 - 08:29

A NEW video about best friends!

We asked the womenworking.com community to describe their best friend in one sentence. Here are some of their wonderful answers. 

Video Editor: Elizabeth Marino