AMA Career Smart

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Chicago’s American Marketing Association continuously offers high quality, valuable networking and enriching events for both job seekers and hiring managers within the marketing space. Their Career Smart events are no exception! I’m excited to be speaking at their upcoming Career Smart event taking place this Thursday, November 15.

2018’s job market is super competitive for both job seekers and hiring manager searchers. Whether you’re hiring for critical positions in the midst of the lowest unemployment yet–or thinking of launching a job search of your own, come join me in learning about effective tips, helpful trends, and valuable resources to help you stand out. I’ll be speaking with Jess Moyer, SVP of Marketing and Operations at Gibraltar Business Capital. Jess brings a fantastic career leading marketing initiatives from both large-scale organizations and mid-sized companies in the financial sector.

The event is at the IIT Stuart School of Business at 565 W. Adams on Thursday, November 15, starting at 5:30 PM. Members of the AMA can register for free and there is a charge of $50 for non-members. I’d love to see you there! More details can be found on the AMA Career Smart website.

Job Search FOMO

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What if you’re happy in your current job? You are satisfied with your pay…you make enough to cover your essentials, sock away for tomorrow, and even sign up the kiddos for park district activities. Heck, you even have the flexibility to coach soccer. You know the players on your team, you have seniority, and you’re quite, well, comfortable…but the rumbling freight train of today’s stellar job market shouts, “It’s a candidate’s job market!” “These are the highest salaries we’ve ever seen!” “It’s the lowest unemployment rate, in, like FOREVER!” If you’re not part of this action you may, well, feel like you’re missing out.

Reading the constant stream of New Job Alerts on LinkedIn can also really make you feel like you’re the jokester for not bailing from your great gig. You’re not rapidly applying for jobs but you may chat with a recruiter from time to time. You may entertain an interview for something that sounds really enticing but the next morning you realize you’ve got it pretty good so you stay put. You’re happy…but you feel a tug and are unsure if staying put is silly when there’s all this great opportunity out there. Is it OK to be OK in your role?

We hope–especially those of us who make our living in the staffing industry–that unemployment will forever stay as low as it is today, in October of 2018. It is thrilling to see so many folks gainfully employed while those on the market actually have roles to choose from…but will this high last forever?

Refer back to your list of priorities and be assured that the role you are in meets what you need to feel satisfied. Comparison is the thief of joy–revel in where you landed yourself in your career and allow yourself to feel satisfied in the path that you walked. When it’s time for you to take your next step, you’ll know because your list of priorities will shift, change, or flow–and when they do, I’ll be right here to help.

Retaining Your Team

People are your company’s greatest asset : How are you keeping your folks happy?

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People are a company’s greatest resource. Not the product a business creates, the membership it drives, or the apps it produces. The people who keep the machine running are the most critical asset of an organization. People are your company’s walking reputation.

The employment data that WunderLand has at its fingertips shows that it takes 64 days on average to open up a requisite and have your dream candidate start the job. That is over two months of sifting through resumes, conducting interviews, executing background checks, and too many tours of the office cafeteria. We all know it’d be much easier to keep the folks we have engaged, happy, and employed than to start the 64 day cycle.

There are two main reasons people share with me, time and again, as to why they leave a job: not being heard and not feeling valued. So what are some things you as a hiring manager can do to keep your employees happy?

  • Ask your team members what they truly think. This is the most critical thing. Job seekers constantly share with me that their managers don’t listen to them—either about an idea or the trajectory of their career paths. Employees who express desire to manage, mentor, or lead and are told that the organization doesn’t support it will leave. A round table meeting is held but only a few folks’ ideas are acted upon—they will get frustrated at not being heard and will leave.
  • Write down all ideas and listen. Listen to what your folks say and find ways where they can mentor, manage, and lead with or without a staff…open up discussions around leading by example. Help identify and enroll in classes, provide the ability to spearhead a specific project of influence. Make your team members feel valued…think creatively and respond.
  • Treat Others With Respect. Feeling respected translates into feeling valued. Valuing your employees is more about doling out raises, praise, and promotions. Instilling an open, trusting environment is paramount to keeping your employees happy and engaged. Permitting (or worse, participating in) gossip, G-Chat rants, and negative chatter can cause folks on your team to feel untrusting and unvalued. Think about how you respond and interact with your team members when they bring up concerns—or simply how you greet them on a Monday morning.

It’s hard to stop in the moment and give your employees the attention they may need—you are pulled in so many competing directions that taking a moment to connect can seem like a moment wasted. You hired these folks because you know they are the best ones out there—as good as they may be, they don’t always know they’re on the right track. Take a moment to tell them they’re doing a great job. Be proactive to keep  your office positive, trusting, and open.

Today’s job market is ripe for the picking—create an environment of value so your star folks stay with you. It’s as easy as stopping to listen.

How you treat folks who are interviewing for your positions is another way you can set the tone for your business’ reputation…watch for those tips in a future article. Meanwhile, I’m always here to help you should you want to break out in a new direction or you need to help your staff develop their skills into a new role.

Be 35% Better

Starting a new job typically brings a monetary increase–what if you applied that money to personal growth?

alone-back-view-blonde-247195You got the job. The one you applied for on a whim at midnight after you reached your breaking point. Well, they called you back. And you went to three onsite interviews. And you got the job. Along with that job came a whopping 35% raise. That job is paying you 35% more than you were making in your current job. Let that sink in for a moment and then think about how you can be 35% better as a person when you walk through those new doors.

Leaving a job to start another gives you the chance to redefine yourself. Negotiating that pay bump isn’t just about adding to your take-home pay. Think about translating that bump into creating a more enhanced version of you.

A Crafted Life

Starting a new job, at a new company, means more than swapping out one Keurig for another. You’re embarking on meeting a whole batch of new people, navigating an entirely new commute, and figuring out the Office Politics Dance. There’s a reason that folks who jump to new jobs typically net an increase—it’s to help pad the stress and offer enticement to wandering into new territory.  Starting a new role is your chance to jumpstart a new habit, pick up a new tool, or modernize your appearance. People you worked with for five, six, or seven years knew you. Your predictable one-liners were always good for a groan at lunchtime. They knew your commuting backpack, your schedule, your routine. Now is your moment to choose to craft a New You. Instead of sitting at your desk every day glued to CNN while scarfing down lunch you can be the one making healthy choices that truly benefit you in the long run, like running off to the gym or going for a walk.  What an opportunity! Visualize a new way to present yourself to the world. Your habits, image, conversational ability, stress management tactics—pick an area and give yourself the gift of reflection to make yourself that much better.

Don’t stress about piling up a mound of debt registering for costly certification programs to help you realize your reinvention. Plenty of free options exist including  downloading thought-provoking podcasts that present new, timely perspectives. Checking out a book from the library on a current trend or new communications style is another way to flex your transition muscles.

A day, week, or short span of time is enough to download a new Podcast, pursue many of the fabulous, inspiring TED Talks,  or to visit Lynda.com to peruse numerous courses on business leadership, communications, and tools. Shifting your focus to enhance your skills instills a strong sense of accomplishment and confidence as you bust into a new office wondering who do I sit next to at lunch?

Reinvention is Free(ing)

Whether your overhaul is cosmetic, spiritual, or toolbox -oriented, you can control its cost and financial output. Maybe you were in your last role for over ten years—your choice of outfits and self-care was on auto-dial as you knew all of your colleagues and felt very comfortable in your decade-old desk and office environment. However, breaking out of that mold is a great time to yank open your closet doors and pitch the outfits you hated or the pants that really never were quite the right length. Get things tailored, shop sales, pitch items that didn’t work and come up with your unified closet that puts your best foot forward. You don’t have to run out and drop a ton of cash to realize your modernized outward presentation. Tossing outdated pieces and tailoring what you already have are great ways to modernize without breaking the budget.

Revel in YOU

Finally, look your next transition squarely in the eye with confidence. Yes, this new role may seem (several) ladder steps above your comfort zone. Yes, this new commute weaves you down unchartered highway lanes. But you got the job! An entire panel of experts brought you in and in today’s uber-selective job market that is amazing! Revel in the knowledge that YOU ARE THE ONE THEY SELECTED and face this new experience with confidence.

Take a few moments to remember why the company hired you. Jot down those reasons in a place you can quickly visit when you feel challenged or doubt that you have what it takes to be 35% better. You are who the company needs. This is the right job for you—you are exactly where you are supposed to be. And, you’ve got a new pair of boots to, well, boot!

I’m always here for you to help you navigate this exciting—and daunting time as you get situated! Good Luck!

 

 

Sharon’s List: Top 5 Quiet (Enough) Places in The Loop

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Nothing’s more awkward than scrambling to find a quiet (enough) spot to conduct a phone interview. Duck into a Starbucks and you’ll compete with the baristas’ Dave Matthew’s playlist. Dodge into a hallway and sure enough, your boss will end up strolling right past. Working in the ‘burbs may afford you the luxury to retreat to your car cocoon–but if you work downtown it’s tricky to find a quiet place to chat. Well I’m here with the rescue–check out my list of top 5 places to have a phone interview in Chicago’s Loop!

Set Time to Walk Your Path

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How often do you pause to reflect on your career or job search path? The momentum of 9-5 and post-work duties can easily overshadow time to reflect on possibilities or envision your Next Step. Setting a date to walk your path will bring vision—and action—to the surface.

At times our career paths are very well defined. They may be well defined by a clear rank and file or by the yearly goals you set with your manager. One step on the path clearly leads to another. But what happens when we feel stuck? Or directionless? That uneasiness can permeate through months or even years of our professional lives. Our life circumstances may begin to dictate, or interrupt, our next steps. Taking time out of a busy day to “soul search” may feel like wasting valuable time along your career path. Oftentimes, soul searching becomes “Indeed.com searching” involving frantic, urgent keyword searches on the train to work or while you eat your sandwich at your desk which quickly leads to feelings of defeat or shoulder shrugging as if to say, “Well, there’s nothing better out there.”

Set Sites on Priorities 

The New Year/New Start mantras we see through our LinkedIn feeds are either highly motivating or highly stifling. The endless scroll of opportunities, job descriptions, and off-track job titles is very daunting. In these times of uncertainty, reflect (or build) your Priorities List. I’ve touted the importance of a strong Priorities List before—the priorities list is your quick, 3-5 non-negotiable life and career pillars that work for you now, in this moment.

Making Strides

If you crafted your priorities list over the summer it’s a good time in this New Year to reflect and see what has—or could—change. Here are some tips to initiate change:

  • Build time into your routine during a commute, five minutes before bed, first thing in the morning, whatever works to give yourself time to meditate or contemplate (some might even say “pray”) over your priorities and visualize yourself feeling fulfilled, content, and motivated.
  • Ask for your vision to materialize. Why don’t you mark a date in the new season of spring, a date that feels right to you, to realize your manifestation of what is your right move.
  • Devote the time to yourself to take control of feeling stuck and take a step toward what’s next.

Change your New Year into a New Season.  You can do it and I’m always here to help.

Your Parachute Plan

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No matter if you are happy in your current role, faced with unemployment, or foresee organizational restructures looming, the New Year is a great time to define your your path for what’s next…your parachute plan. Individuals with decade-spanning careers have common threads: they stay relevant and are hands-on. Spend some time contemplating your talents, wishes, and capabilities to prepare your plan.

A parachute plan prepares you for the unexpected and helps you strive toward your goals and aspirations. You will breathe a bit easier in facing obstacles and frustrations with a fresh perspective knowing that the 9-5 isn’t your only game. If you do need your parachute plan, you pull some strings and you’re free. Here’s some tips:

  • Seek out company-provided training (typically free) or certifications within your financial reach. Online certifications are less expensive than intensive MBA programs. Local libraries are treasure troves of relevant software and business training—you’d be surprised.
  • Look for ways to contribute beyond your assigned role. Volunteer to run lunch and learns to share your expertise (you’ll grab experience in Keynote), write blog posts to share your expertise and perspectives (you’ll build up your social profile), mentor fresh new hires (what a way to stay current….), or develop training materials. Being creative in thinking of ways to offer and contribute your talents will build and enhance your skills.
  • Think of how you present yourself. If you’re feeling trapped in a negative work atmosphere because of your salary, flexibility, or benefits the organization provides to you or your family, write down new ways to shift your perspective to the value you provide your organization. Companies tend to hire (and promote from within) those with a positive demeanor.  Any scent of negativity you cast during your tenure or job interviews will be detected.
  • Craft case studies and use those as a framework for a new, digital, relevant portfolio. WordPress and SquareSpace are awesome sites to venture into and explore if design isn’t your forte. Portfolios are not just for creatives. Marketing executives who include visual samples and case studies on their LinkedIn profiles are effectively translating their hands-on communications abilities.
  • Play up and accentuate your hands-on capabilities in your resume and LinkedIn profile. While it’s absolutely valuable to discuss your high-level strategy, budgetary experience, and team leadership abilities, demonstrating your ability to be hands-on and produce positively monetizes your background for your current and future organization.
  • Mock up a business plan. If you haven’t professionally freelanced or comprised an income based on independent contracting, carve out some time to consider what you would need to bill on a weekly basis to cover your budget. If optimizing blog sites is part of your parachute plan, think about how many sites you’d need combined with how many billable hours you’d require as an independent contractor to make a viable income. Putting some Excel behind your plan helps you understand your plan’s viability.
  • Stay in trend with fashion and appearance. It’s uncomfortable for me to write that without feeling trite or cliché—but our industry is appearance focused and it’s certainly important to stay in step to your comfort level with what is out there.

Developing a parachute plan is a powerful step as your career progresses. Taking ownership of your destiny is a route to empowerment and unshackling yourself to an organization. Setting your path helps you feel in control. Let’s discuss your strategy—I’m here for you!