It's good to be open to career insights from all kinds of sources.
As a career coach and radio host*, I have had clients use everything from numerology to astrology to figure out an auspicious time to launch a new career, website or business. I personally have also found color tests insightful.
These instruments assess your type based on the color choices you make from successive sets of different combinations. I even interviewed the author of one color test on my radio show because I found his assessment to be spot on in assessing my strengths and personality. I recently retook the Dewey color test and found it continues to hit the mark. Try the free color assessment for yourself and comment below if it hits home (or doesn't) for you!
Though they can offer insights, I have one major problem with asessment tests: They're limiting.
Knowing your strengths and personality are important factors in finding the career you're meant for but they're not only ones. I help my clients assess themselves in eight different areas as part of a larger Soul Search, Research and Job Search process. These elements include: your top interests, key motivators, skills you want to employ, ways you want to contribute/find purpose, your best qualities, the best work environment, activities you get the most enjoyment from, and salary & benefits. By working through exercises and self-reflection questions we prioritize what's most important to you and brainstorm career possibilities that match the elements of your ideal career. Answer this brief questionnaire if your career needs and goals include clarifying what you'd like to do.
Assessments also tend to shoehorn you into existing careers. After Soul searching, Researching and Job Searching with countless clients, I have found the ideal careers are most often new niche areas my cients can fill, or a unique take on existing careers. Often the right answer is combination of career options not previously thought of (and that wouldn't typically show up in an assessment).
There's no a magic wand for figuring out what you're meant to do with your life; but that doesn't mean you can't have fun investing the time and energy to reflect on who you are and what you came here to be. Opera Singer Bevely Sills said it best, "There are no shortcuts to any place worth going."
Most of us assume that the way to find a job is to see what’s available in job listings or to select a career based on someone’s advice, but these often lead to unfulfilling career choices. You only need to look at the latest job satisfaction surveys for how unfulfilled most workers feel. According to Forbes.com, the Society for Human Resource Management found only 29% of workers in the 31-to-61 age group were “very satisfied” with their jobs. The rest were either “somewhat satisfied” or not satisfied at all.
So what can you do to find job satisfaction and fulfillment while still making a great living?
It is in our hearts that we should seek guidance about finding career paths that lead to long-term success and happiness. So this fall, I'm excited to offer a new three-part series:
Simple exercises that help you listen to your heart and articulate your unique and powerful vision about your life purpose;
“Voice Dialogue” techniques that help you integrate head and heart; and
How to let go of limiting beliefs about work and career.
Register now. (Early bird rate expires September 14th, 2013).
Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They focus on their past successes, not past failures. They take the next step to get closer to the fulfillment of goals. They don’t get bogged down by the distractions life presents.
One of my favorite sayings is “if you do nothing, nothing will change.” it’s time to develop your overall career change strategy to get you from the career you’re in today to your dream job.
Always follow your dreams!
Believe in the best, think your best, study your best, have a goal for your best, never be satisfied with less than your best, try your best and in the long run, things will turn out for the best.
But before I do that, I want to thank all of you who took the time to share your career needs and goals with me. I was deeply touched by your personal stories and by your optimism to know that a better career and life are waiting for you. Because of that, I decided to not only give away a full Soul Search, Research and Job Search coaching package but also give away three additional coaching sessions as consolation prizes. My congratulations to the winners!
Winner of 9 sessions of one-on-one coaching on Soul Search, Research and Job Search: Mark from Texas! Mark wants to clarify what he'd love to do, find a new job, make a decision about options he's considering and explore options that relate to his particular interest(s)/talent(s. I'm exicted to help Mark achieve his goal of being happy with his work!
Consolation winners of one hour of one-on-one coaching: Megan who wants a steady yet creative career, Laura who wants to make a difference in the world while having time to raise her children and Christa who wants to make sure she's on track doing work she loves not just what she's good at.
What I respect as far as in myself and in other is the spirit of just doing it. For better or worse, it may work and it may not, but I'm going to go for it. Ultimately I probably prefer to be respected for that than...either winning or losing. -Hugh Jackman
I hope to be on Martha Radio and on SiriusXM in 2013. Just in case my show doesn’t continue there, however, you can always find me here at MaggieMistal.com. I want to take the opportunity now at holiday time to say thank you to those who've been tuning in, sharing their comments about the show via email and on Facebook:
Susan said: "Your show really opened my eyes to the fact that I get to create my own path. I don't have to be a part of a reality that was created by my family, teachers, or expectations from another time. I often hear the tagline for Martha Stewart Radio, "Learn something new every day." And every show you taught me something valuable...I'm so glad that you've been in my orbit every Friday afternoon for all these years!!"
To say thank you, I'm offering an unprecedented Follow Your Dreams giveaway. For all who enter starting today through 1/31/13, I will be choosing at random one lucky winner to receive a full 9-session Soul Search, Research and Job Search coaching program (a $5000 value).
How To Enter the Follow Your Dreams Giveaway:
Go to MaggieMistal.com, sign up for my newsletter (see bottom left of homepage) and then use the Contact button to share why you’d love some help with your career.
I’ll randomly choose one winner from all the entries.
You have until Jan 31, 2013 to sign up for my newsletter and contact me with your career needs and goals.
I’ll let the lucky winner know via email on Monday Feb 4th, 2013.
All are eligible to enter including people who don't subscribe to SiriusXM.
Even if you don’t want to participate in the giveaway, you can still sign up for my newsletter & get on my mailing list. This way we can stay connected and I can share with you my latest tips on how to Soul Search, Research, Job Search and keep the right mindset, while also highlighting trends in the marketplace, and career success stories. I’ll be sharing some new audio tips in 2013 too!
Happy New Year! Here's to you being inspired to not settle and instead, create your dream career in 2013.
Always follow your dreams,
"The foolish man [or woman] seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his [or her] feet." - James Openheim.
If money were no object, most people would be in different careers. At least that has been my experience coaching clients one-on-one and taking listener calls on my SiriusXM show. Ironically, following the money doesn't offer the comfort people seek. Can they pay you enough to do a job you don't like?
Good thing there is an alternative. You really can make a great living without selling your soul. In fact, you will find a more sustainable income when you listen to yourself and follow-through on the thoughts and ideas that come to you. Look at Facebook, Google, Apple - all of these companies started with an idea, a thought, a vision. The founders of these companies took these ideas seriously - they valued their genius and used that as the cornerstone for making a great living.
I read the back stories on successful people all the time - very few if any succeeded because they were trying to get rich quick. Instead, they had a mission, a purpose to their work - they were trying to make life better for others and money (lots of it!) was the natural offshoot to products or services that did just that. If you don't believe me, read Patricia Aburdene's new book Conscious Money. Patricia is a best known for spotting mega trends. Her first best-seller Megatrends 2000 sold over 14 million copies worldwide. Since then Patricia has noticed a new trend: Conscious Capitalism. It's an approach that continues to grow even during the recent Great Recession. Companies that have a higher purpose beyond profit, who treat their employees, customers, the environment, etc. well are outperforming companies focused on only profit alone. It's a revolution I for one am excited about!
To make it in this new age, Patricia points out the Creativity is our most valueable skill. Innovating new ways to doing things is something everyone now has the power to do, not just experts or a certain powerful few at the tops of companies or governements. CEO's are recognizing this too and 1500 of them cited creativity as their most sought after talent in employees in a landmark IBM study. So what does this mean to you? It's time you start cultivating your ow creative R&D as Patricia calls it.
Make space/time in your life for just being, not doing. Filling your schedule up with to do's is distracting. Allow for quiet time during your work day. Patricia recommends starting a mindfulness practice like meditation or yoga.
Notice where you get your most creative thoughts. For some it's the shower, for others, it's a long run.
Harvest the ideas you get from this practice. Keep a notebook or smart phone handy. Inspiration can come in a brainstorm and you'll want to be ready to capture it.
I have never felt more strongly that we all have the answers we need inside of us. It's the basis of my Soul Search work. Put yourself in the driver's seat of your career. Follow the inspiration that comes to you and you'll soon see that your own creativity is the best and most sustainable source of income you could imagine.
You can meet some of the best people through work. Recently, I reconnected with a wonderful Canadian couple on their family trip to NYC. My husband and the other gentleman had worked together years ago during our Arthur Andersen days. Great people – very smart, fun, and loving with two beautiful children who just loved Mercer.
Of course, the conversation led to career (with and without some prompting from me). Here's what I found interesting…
Our friend had shaved his head as part of his three-week vacation. Talk about letting your hair down. His workplace up north was too conservative and such self-expression wouldn't fly. So for three weeks he got to look the way he wanted and was ecstatic about it.
Our friend's wife felt great about the steady nature of her job but not the content. With a sigh at one point, she said she wished her husband would get promoted so she could quit her job.
Are these feelings you share? Do you feel you can’t be yourself at work? Would you rather not work at all?
I can't help but take to heart these insights. Yes, they were shared quickly and in passing (not sure my friends would even remember saying them as part of the long and very fun conversation.) But to me these are critical clues that something is amiss and further exploration (dare I say it, Soul Search) is warranted.
Coincidentally, I was contacted by a talented writer from Forbes.com to weigh in on an article about what to do when you hate your job. If you know me, I believe there are no coincidences and everything happens for a valid reason. It was an honor to be quoted and the article is full of great advice. However, my point about Soul Search wasn't included so I want to share it here.
Why people remain in jobs in which they’re unhappy:
From my experience working with thousands via my coaching practice and SIRIUSXM show, people often stay in jobs they don't like because they don't realize what else they CAN do. They haven't taken the time to identify what makes them happy or where their talents lie. They haven't clarified their values and thought about how they'd like to use their abilities to make a difference and align their work with their purpose. Too often people assume work is supposed to be a chore so they don't even look for anything other than that when embarking on a job search.
If you hate your job, what you can do about it:
The number one thing you can do is Soul Search BEFORE you Job Search. Look back on your life and career to those projects that you did enjoy. Delve into each situation and get to the important details such as the role you played, the skills you used, the outcome you produced and anything else about it that made it fun/engaging for you. You can also ask others about your best skills, abilities and talents. This is a great way to stop taking your strengths for granted and to articulate what it is you do for others that is so special.
I have found that when looked at from this perspective people come up with more exciting, more rewarding and more fulfilling career possibilities than when they just scour the job boards and shoehorn themselves into what's out there.
I find people desiring a career change also don't have the proper mindset. It is easy to look at what is wrong, what you disdain, and what doesn't work, but it is more beneficial to look at what is working and to be appreciative of the aspects of the job that can enable your next career move.
I've learned that offering unsolicited advice doesn't work out for the best, eh? So I didn't share these insights with my friends. But if you or someone you know feels they are wasting time in the wrong job, feel free to pass this along or better yet, tell them to call in for advice on my weekly SIRIUSXM radio show. Living fully while on vacation is a good start, living fully everyday is what you were meant for!
Recently I was asked to share my advice regarding personal business cards (not the one from your employer, but one you create yourself.) I recommend everyone have a card that truly expresses who they are. if that comes from your day job, great! But if not, a personal card is the way to go. Here's why...
Why It's Important to Have a Personal (Business) Card:
It gives you a way to professionally exchange contact information with connections who are relevant to interests or ventures outside/apart from your day job.
A personal card is a way to expand your network to cover more facets of your life and/or life's work (especially if your day job isn't your dream).
it's great for building & adding legitimacy to a side business or hobby or volunteer project or for making affiliations generally taboo at work like political affiliations.
Most importantly though, a personal card will boost your own confidence in moving forward with a new venture or project because the card takes an idea and makes it real, tangible. There is something about creating a businesscard that makes you feel legitimate and validated. I have found that a tangible business card enables a very important part of any transition which is "acting as if." A card convinces you that you are legitimate which is key if you are going to convince anyone else.
When I decided to pursue my dream of being a cabaret singer, I invested in singing lessons and in a personal businesscard. My card had my stage name and title, a specially created email address and phone number, a microphone design, sultry red color, and my take on a George Bernard Shaw quote.
I gave the cards out to the musicians I wanted to work with and the owner of the club at which I wanted to sing. My cabaret cards showed I was serious and professional to the people who would ultimately help me make my cabaret show called, "Follow Your Dreams" a reality.
We are all unique and when you express yourself with a personal businesscard, you/it will naturally stand out. Put meaning behind the design or color or quote and you will be naturally more memorable especially to those who resonate with your message!
Read on for practical, strategic advice from Troy...
Turning a Layoff Into a Promotion
Q: What would you say were the crucial steps to your amazing transition?
A: For me the most crucial steps were to remain focused, patient and methodical in my approach to my job search. It is very easy to let your emotions get the best of you and become distracted from what you are trying to accomplish. I wanted my unemployment to turn into real opportunity, but that required diligence, and there were many days when searching for the right opportunity I got distracted by the pressures to just find a job, any job. Having a plan I could focus on and routine work to do was a good distraction from the emotional rollercoaster. It is only natural to fear the uncertainty so my advice is to make sure you focus on those things that are in your control.
Q: You Soul searched and Researched before you Job searched. Did it make a difference in the quality of the new job you've found? in other ways?
A: Most definitely. Had I not soul searched or researched I would have been lost when I needed to be the most focused and strategic. Without the confidence in knowing myself and my goals I could have easily entered into another role that was very similar to the one I had previously. It was difficult to think broadly and rely on what I had soul searched. Friends, family colleagues, all wanted to help me get back into the same role I had. They all knew me in one particular way and I’m sure they thought they were most helpful if they helped me do what I had been doing. I needed to rely on my internal understanding of my soul search and remain focused on my research. It helped me sort through the well-intentioned offers and the myriad of online postings and recruiters who needed to fill particular roles. My soul search and research served as my north star to keep me focused and ultimately the job I landed would have not have been on my radar if I had gone the traditional job search route. There is a lot of information online and you need tools like soul search to sift thru otherwise you can be pulled in a million different directions and not be very productive. So yes it helped land a better job that was more in line with the qualities that make me happy at work.
Q: What role did networking (online & off) play in you being sought after for your new job? Were some online sites/tools more helpful than others?
A: Networking is critical. But I had to learn to do it. I had a lot of preconceived notions of what it meant to network and I was wrong on all of them. It is not about calling someone or talking to someone at a cocktail reception and asking for a job. It’s about sharing with everyone you know where you are in your career and where you want to go. There is nothing to be afraid of when you are talking about yourself and knowing who you are, instead it becomes a fruitful discussion about you your skills, capabilities and interests and not and awkward conversation about asking for a job. Once people I knew understood what I wanted and what I was interested in doing the suggestions and offers to help were more meaningful. Gone was the obligatory “let me know how I can help” and instead there were real offers to connect me with people who could help me reach my goals for a new career. By networking I was able to talk to more people who were in positions to hire.
I found LinkedIn to be amazing! It became an obsession. Instead of playing “words with friends” I played on LinkedIn. I challenged myself to find the connections in certain companies and found innovative ways to start conversations with individuals whom I did not have a connection with. I used the linking tool to get a conversation started. It also broke down the traditional barriers to networking. Everyone on the site was willing to make a connection or discuss what they knew about a company, job or industry.
I made a promise to myself to keep networking, even with a new job, and that is twofold. First, it took a lot of effort and people were gracious enough to help the least I can do is keep them informed and second I want to make sure and be available to help the next person going through this process.
Q: Given your recent experience, what helpful tips or advice would you give to others who've been laid off?
A: Don’t be afraid to talk to everyone about who you are and what you are trying to do, whether it is a new role in a new industry, starting your own business or getting a similar job in another company. There is NO shame in being laid off, it is not your fault the company reorganized, or had to close down or sent jobs overseas. I was initially afraid of how I would tell people that I was unemployed and I was surprised how it was not held against me. People are getting laid off in every industry and you should not be ashamed about it. Instead tell everyone about the skills and capabilities you have and how you are using this as an opportunity to find that job that is fulfilling to you and how you will make a meaningful contribution in your next role.
Finally I would say don’t forget to keep in touch with everyone who is helping you along the way. You want to make sure you don’t just contact them when you need something. Your network includes trusted friends and advisors and should be treated as such. They will continue to be invaluable.
Taking time to manage your career leads to better opportunities. As you can tell from Troy's advice and experience, getting on the path to your ideal career starts with your own Soul Search and getting clear on what you'd love to do, the skills you want to utilize, and your work preferences.
I hope his experience inspires you to be optimistic about your next opportunity even if your last job ended in a layoff. KNOW there is something better out there for you just as there was for Troy - you just need to Soul Search and Research BEFORE your Job Search to find it.
If you've been laid-off or dream of a better career, share your vision below. Let's help each other do work we love!
On air and off, I've been asked many times about where to find opportunities to work from home and avoid job scams.
To answer this question, I enlisted the help of CEO & Founder of FlexJobs.com Sara Sutton Fell.
She says experts estimate that as high as 98 percent of work-from-home job listings are scams.
If you’re serious about finding legitimate work-from-home opportunities, read on...
Sara's three keys to avoiding scams and finding real jobs:
Know the typical scam jobs. Perhaps without even knowing it, you’ve already come across a job search scam. Common work-from-home scams include repackaging or shipping products, survey taking, envelope stuffing, data entry, pyramid or sales schemes, wire transfers and money movement, and craft or product assembly. Any of these should raise a red flag and put you on guard. Be careful of the keywords you use to search. "Work from home" is a phrase associated with lots of scams and pyramid schemes. Instead, try safer words like "remote work," "telework," and "telecommuting." The likelihood of a job being a scam also dramatically increase if there is a promise of easy money for easy work, if they require you to "invest" or pay a fee to get the job, if they ask you for personal financial information such as bank or credit card numbers, or if they use all capitalized letters or lots of !!! and $$$ punctuation. E-mails from unknown sources that promise work-from-home jobs should be ignored completely, and of course deleted.
Use legitimate sources for work-from-home jobs. If you’re currently employed, you might start right there. Employers are more open to telecommuting as a means of work, and if you approach your manager with a proposal to telecommute which lays out how everything will work, you might not have to job search after all. A company called Work Options helps professionals convince their wary bosses by preparing a detailed telecommuting proposal. If you want to find a new job and are exploring job search websites, keep in mind that the biggest job boards don’t pre-screen their job listings, so a scams can – and usually are – mixed in with the job listings (as well as in ads typically integrated on the sites). Another way to find a new job is to go directly to a company’s website. Think of small and large companies you admire and would like to work for, and visit their career websites to see if they’re hiring for any remote jobs. The search process for a work-from-home job is going to be more time-intensive than a traditional job search, but the end result is worth it. On the other hand, there are premium sites like FlexJobs that specialize in providing legitimate work-from-home jobs and pre-screen every job and employer to ensure they aren’t scams.
Do your research. Once you’ve found a job listing that allows telecommuting, do some follow-up research to ensure it’s a legitimate work-from-home opportunity. Does the company have a working website and phone number? Are they a member of the Better Business Bureau (and be sure to click on the logo to check their rating with the BBB)? Have they been covered by any major media outlets (and if they claim so, be sure to read the article to make sure the claim is true)? Try doing a web search for the company’s name and the keyword “scam” or “rip-off” to see if any of the search results raise an alarm. You can also use the FlexJobs Guide to the Best Companies for Flexible Jobs, a free resource featuring thousands of pre-screened and verified companies that have offered telecommuting or flexible jobs in the past. If your research turns up only good results, it’s probable that you’re dealing with a legitimate company.
Working from home can be the answer to many common work woes. You’ll be rid of the daily commute, save money on gas, car maintenance, and your professional wardrobe, and you have more time to spend with your family, friends, hobbies, and even yourself. By keeping these tips in mind, you’re bound to create a safer job search experience for yourself, and ultimately end up with a legitimate work-from-home job that can help make some of your biggest work woes disappear.
Many thanks to Sara for sharing her spot on advice! Have a tip for working from home? Share your comments, suggestions and questions. Here's to having both the work and life you crave!
Recently I attended Monster's Innovation Day to gain a sense for what's happening in the world of online job posting and recruiting.
Glad I did.
I learned new technology is enabling a few very helpful improvements to the matching process between employer and candidate.
If it works as well as it's described, submitting your resume to a corporate site won't be the black hole it is today. And more impressive, companies will also better be able to manage talent internally. They'll know more about the talent they have inside the company walls today and potential matches for the business needs of tomorrow. This will directly influence investments and training.
It all has to do with semantic search which unlike Boolean search, enables content and context to be utilized and analyzed to find results. No longer is it just about key word searches on resumes when companies want to find the right candidates eternally or externally. The latest tools can actually sift through databases of employee & candidate information in seconds & provide intelligently ranked results.
Crazy? Not really. Think of it this way, when you do a google search now, you get thousands of pages of results and not all quality. Well, with semantic search you get quality not just quantity. Did I mention Google just announced they are moving to semantic search?
So what does this mean to you?
Your chances of being found for the right job are increasing as technology gets smarter. You also won't have to agonize over resume key words like and sorry, you won't be able to "game the search systems" with creative uses of white space.
Overall it still comes down to managing your career to be found for the opportunities that fit the elements of your ideal career. You still need to find your passion and work to get those relevant skills and experience on your resume as you work towards your ideal career. But, we can all be glad technology is on our side in finding a match made in heaven (or on Monster.com.)