Wednesday, April 1, 2009

They know your salary history

I spoke today to a client who is probably about to get  an offer after a very good interview. They're calling his references. BUT...he's concerned that since they know his salary history (he had to fill out their standard application for the face to face meeting) that they'll cave because he's too expensive in this recessionary economy.

He wanted my advice on how he could let them know they could have him cheaper without looking desperate. Well, if they're calling his references, they can't be so dumb to have ignored the application with his last salary. All he has to do is trust that if he gets an offer, either they'll meet or beat his last salary or if they want to offer him less, they will. The last thing to do is interfere when the ball is already rolling in your direction.

The desperation of fear can pervade the thinking of so many in the job market. Make no assumptions unless you have hard evidence. There are many strong companies who know they have to pay for true talent. If you're one of them, relax until you're back in the hot seat.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Keith Keller - Career Coach, BLOG TALK RADIO Presenter & Online Job Search Specialist

Well, here is an unabashed plug for my friends, Keith Keller and his partner Annemarie Cross in Australia. His broadcasts are at 8 AM from Melbourne Australia's time zone and 6 PM eastern time in the US, Sunday evenings (Monday mornings in his part of the world).

It's called Career Communique Radio and they talk about finding real meaning and purpose in your work. They interviewed me live in Boston from Australia and he got emails back from other Bostonians.

To listen to next week's show, go to

You might even understand their speech. It's charming and not at all hard. They're good people with good advice.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Hydra of a Good Job Campaign

A hydra is a water animal that if cut into pieces, each section regenerates into a whole new animal. Humans are like hydras. How?

There is so much time and talent wasted on going only the direct route to job finding that we lose sight of the whole animal we are. We see ourselves as "cogs" to be plugged in somewhere to keep paying the bills, to keep the wheels spinning. Even worse is that the old job title, the skilled function we've practiced for so many years becomes our identity. Now it's serious.

Today more than ever we are invited to have portfolio careers. And it's about time. We're living longer and like hydras, there are whole parts of us that can be pressed into service, and the benefits are way beyond imaginable. We don't quite have to reinvent ourselves,  just our personal marketing. The talent has always been there. 

Most of us were born with multiple gifts, but pushed into silos, funnels of productivity to meet the needs of an adult life. What we haven't noticed is how those external needs change and how much we have to offer,  all stuffed into our subconscious, to meet those needs. This economic disaster is a great awakening. We don't have to stuff our natural gifts. We have to use them to pay the bills. 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

No Practice Interviews

I've heard people say many times over the years: I'm not interested in this job, but I'll take the interview just for the practice.

Why the charade? Interviews are serious face time between people. Scoring an actual interview with a hiring manager is a feather in your cap. Keep it real. If the commute for you would be 75 miles each way and you know you'd burn out in six months, don't fool yourself or tease the interviewer with your game. There's no such thing as a practice interview (except with a career coach). People see right through it and if they don't and make you an offer, you've wasted their time. The employment relationship is one of trust, or it certainly can be that way if you want it.

Don't practice with real interviews. Know what you want; it's easier to sell yourself when you're sincere.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Taking what you don't want

Don't do that! One of my candidates was thrilled to have an interview at a company only a few miles from his home, and the telephone screening had gone quite well, and the hiring manager was anxious to meet him, and he even had signaled my friend was highly qualified and could be a good fit.

But.... something else happened. The actual interview. The hiring manager would not shake his hand. He was a nice guy, but maybe he had a germ thing! Then my friend found out there had been high turnover in the area for which he could be hired. Then there were the hours: this is a 24/7 shop and there's a need to be on call. Remember Hillary's 3 AM commercial? My friend might not be that cool.

This talented candidate was disappointed with this interview. He's also afraid to turn down an offer if it comes in, but when he considers all the bombs that dropped during the interview, it doesn't look at all like a good fit.

Recession or not: don't grab at hell just for the dollar. At least put off a decision while you cultivate other potential offers. My friend knows he could be miserable and he and I both know that fear of scarcity is behind his rationalizing an acceptance. You're still you. Do all that you can to be authentic to your basic values and to your well being. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Energy, Passion

I have a candidate who worked for 23 years with a Fortune 500 company and loved the corporate culture there, which has always been notoriously nurturing, but she hated her job. Downsized and free at last, she wants to purchase and open a franchise. She came to one word for her newfound enthusiasm: passion.

Joseph Campbell, the anthropologist guru, is well-known for his advice to "follow your bliss". As a career counselor, I have struggled with that notion throughout my own career. I always counseled people to follow their bliss/do what you love and the money will follow. But rarely did anyone believe it was possible. You had to earn a living, and that meant find a job that pays enough to make ends meet or provide even a luxury or two. Being happy, passionate about the work itself was pure luck.

But we're in a new economy, and if the spirit of the entrepreneur isn't alive today, it never will have an opening like this one, at least not for a very long time. The way out of dreadful work and working your passion is to nurture that intuitive longing, perform due diligence on getting the facts, and then budget yourself well enough to confirm you have a fiscally responsible business mentality. Then take the leap. This difficult downturn may be your uptick. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Losers and Gainers

We hear about big companies laying off hundreds, but what we don't hear about is those same companies are hiring. They are even hiring back some of the people they just laid off. Why go through this rigmarole? 

Sometimes it's just the numbers: take a sweep and figure out what you need after you see the holes in your workforce. I spoke with a woman today who interviewed with her former boss for a position that's new in her old company, the one that let her go just six weeks ago. Now some have told me this happens when companies want to hire reliable people they already know, but it's all about relocation. They'll take you back but you have to get out of Dodge. Who knows?

I also spoke with someone today who was laid off from a company that a man I talked with yesterday was just hired by. And he's getting a six figure income.

The job market is about flow. There are losers and gainers (people aren't losers or gainers; the jobs are lost and gained). Keep that in mind. The economy is in terrific flux, but there are plenty of solvent companies ( maybe not some of the banks) and there is a stimulus that has some high focus, so don't believe that companies who are laying off aren't capable of hiring. They still are, even in this economy.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Who's too old?

One of my favorite candidates in my coaching work told one on himself the other day: "it's my age that will stop me". He's 64 and will be eligible for Medicare this coming June. The funny thing is that he admits he looks five or ten years younger, he's healthy and fit, and ordinarily does not feel old. So why did he say this now? It's Medicare. He let the word trigger an image he actually doesn't subscribe to.

What words are pulling you down? "The economy is going to get worse before it gets better". Then: "Nobody's hiring now". Well, the first sentence is probably true. But that doesn't mean your economy. Where do you live? What companies will benefit from the stimulus and do you know of any in your area? Do you want to know? What have you always wanted to do with your life? Have you sat down and done a thorough spending plan to get you through the coming months (year?)? Are you networking, seriously networking? Have you looked at your values and noticed where you may have overlooked them in the past few years while working yourself to the bone?

Age is not an excuse. I fear far more for the young. It's not too late to get going.

Monday, February 23, 2009

It's gonna get better

Oh boy, before we boil in our own oil fretting away the ongoing and upcoming course of our economy, let's look at how it's going to get better. Remember, I like to address the long-term here.

I just heard that the cell phone network providers are going to stop selling us these annual or biannual contracts and let us have it pay as you go. That's a good idea.! I'm about to turn over every one of my credit cards and live by my debit Visa all by itself.

This means there alway has to be enough money in there for me to spend, and that even means for business. Fortunately my business demands little capital, but still, some months it will mean more trips to bulky-ville shopping at Costco in order to have enough cash for my online advertising. Now that's what I call budgeting. What else good is coming? Post it!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Face Your Fear

No time has ever been more ripe to invent, to create, to take risks, to see things differently deliberately.  There is so much uncertainty, so much fear, that only a few brave souls are willing to release their fear of the future, of their attachment to the job they just lost, or of the the job they hate, but believe they might be  losing.

I talk to people around the country every day who are beginning to understand that networking is not a dirty manipulative game, but simply trusting others to open up and talk, to find out how to give, and discover how to ask for help.

One woman has dared to make herself uncomfortable by joining Toastmasters to face the discomfort of public speaking. This will pay off; she's stretching, learning, turning away from fear and into growth. It may or may not lead to a new job, but it will help make a new woman of her, and this way of skill building is almost free.

What are you doing to face your fears and stare them down? That's why I write a blog no one reads: to face my cynicism and to learn to write better.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

whew! finally I can do what I've dreamed of

This week I've spoken to two very strong, capable, professional women, recently "downsized" after twenty plus years in Fortune 100 companies and both came to a similar conclusion, but they told me like it was a secret. One wants to become a licensed practical nurse and the other wants to get her real estate license and work for herself.

Both know about the money issue, and both are prepared to deal with it for the sake of getting off the merry-go-round. Let's face it, the merry- go-round may be merrily coming to a grinding halt and everyone will have to get off.

Now dumping the grind is not new. And we've all been told only one in five new businesses survive five years. But that's old news. We're in an economy now that demands out of the box thinking (the box has collapsed). It also demands new ways of looking at our former comfortable consumption. I cannot tell these women what to do but I can applaud their independent thinking. Is creativity and work satisfaction finally on the table?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Grinding Up an Elephant to Produce a Hamburger

My husband coined this phrase a few years ago, when he was working as a consultant to businesses that are now struggling to stay alive, but were then (merely) wasting away their personnel, shredding their talents and energies, to get to the bottom line.

Today I talk daily to some of these same good souls who labored in a system they hated and are now holding on to a short severance, an unemployment check that may last till the end of 2009, thanks to the stimulus, and a new lease on life. This doesn't mean they're not scared, but they're open to the truth.

One woman yesterday was panicking because her husband wanted to know her Plan B. Her plan A is to fulfill a lifelong dream of owning a franchise. Plan B as the corporate grind is so far out of the picture she can taste it. Another woman today, same big industry, wants to get her real estate license and be on her own (finally). "I'll never go back. My closest friends know how miserable I was for at least the past five years." 

We're in for a painful transition, but many of us with the courage to face the truth about the wasteful use of our time to produce so little of any merit will come out ahead. You have one life. Use it well.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Conventional Thinking is Dead or Dying

If there's one thing I would encourage everyone to do: get off the couch whether unemployed right now or just fearful of the axe that may be coming, and sit with like minded people, friends and people you just click with, and brainstorm everything you care about that needs improvement, re-invention, re-thinking. Let it all blow out and get it on the table. Beware of saying anything cynical: we've all been there far too long.

Tom Friedman in the New York Times today has an article about two young American graduate students in India, who formed a partnership with an Indian entrepreneur woman and are testing a solar powered car. Yes, it's a developmental piece, but innovation and venture capital will open up: it has to, or we all go down really fast. We will come out of this and we will be poorer (and more sensible) before we stabilize, but we will leave a better world for our children and their children. If we can elect a black president, we can re-invent our economy. We can better educate our youth, work against global warming, take better care of each other as full, deserving human beings. Now is the time to put it all on the table; conventional thinking put us in a trance. This is the wake up call we've been waiting for.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Turn and Learn

What it will take from here on out is to be able to turn and learn. I speak to people every day who are enrolling in training programs, investing in more education, pressing themselves to advance their computer skills---anything and everything they can do to make up for the lack of career development they missed in the workaholic economy we've been living under for so long.

One woman today told me that when she interviewed three years ago she was still working for her mega-bank and the interviewer told her she was too intense. Now laid off for two months from that bank, she has a different spirit, more relaxed, less wound up in the "machinery" of big business and perhaps ready to be comfortable with a smaller business and working with people in a more relaxed atmosphere.

We need to be able to turn away from what we were doing that wasn't working in terms of our lives and our health, and re-examine our priorities. Maybe a little less money and a lot more play time is in order. It may be what we get, whether or not we even want it.

Friday, January 30, 2009

It's all about trust

If trust is what we've lost in the banking industry, Wall Street moguls and their bonuses, and how the TARP funds are managed, trust is what we must restore in each other and this is how we will rebuild our economy. 

Build trust from the bottom up. If you have  a choice to hire someone whose reliability and professionalism you can check out on Angie's List versus the nice brother-in-law of your next door neighbor, I suggest Angie over Mrs. Puddlewump, even if you love her toy poodle.

When people trust your word, your work and the company you keep, including paying customers who recommend you, they will hire you, and you will contribute to the economy--yours and everyone else's. Before we used money for exchange we bartered. The man who traded his chicken for your pair of size 12 shoes knew he could walk comfortably while you ate a good hen. The world has changed in our transactions, but not in the basics. It's all built on trust and it's up to us to rebuild it, each one of us at a time.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Portfolio careers

It used to embarrass me that I had three careers, three unique careers: university teaching, wedding officiating and career counseling (the former and now out of fashion word for coaching). Today it looks like not such a bad idea, at least in theory. 

We are in an economic free fall and it's directly affecting jobs and industries and functions within the tiered industries which have kept America producing lo these last fifty years or so. As an active career counselor (coach) every day I speak with people who have industry experience that will not translate back to their weak industry (bankers, for example). We work together to find all transferable skills to make them ready to cross into new industries and apply skills that could move them into the economy again. This is in effect their portfolio of applicable talent.

You and I have multiple talents and skills, hard and soft. If you haven't started looking directly at all this, start your portfolio now. If you want help, email me at

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Boston Career Coach: Time is Not Money

The Boston Career Coach: Time is Not Money

Time is Not Money

Many of us work in jobs where there is a quota to be reached, where the numbers must be met at the end of the day. At times these metrics diametrically oppose quality service. But our paycheck depends on the bottom line, so we overlook or bury most of the bigger issues and quietly burn out, finding our idealism and passion for the job we took waning and eventually buried.

Remedy? We must work carefully and courageously with how we think and then with what we do, and how we act. Taking the time to discuss one snafu in the system, to offer a large idea that could deliver better quality and ultimately reach the bottom line, would revitalize our passion and un-bury the slowly developing rage that leaves us going home every day exhausted and burned out from the treadmill of the bottom line. Find your voice and use it. If your immediate boss can't hear you, go above her. American businesses need yours and my voice more than ever.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

We Launched The Boston Career Coach

We finally put it up, the new website announcing our career coaching and performance coaching programs for the Boston area. We're excited to get it advertised and to keep adding programs as we grow our services. 

Next to come is a "flex res" product, the flexible resume that is updated for every single job target. It's an affordable service and most importantly, it's a flexible product, a worthwhile exercise. Precise customizing is more important now than ever before and cover letters don't do the whole job; the resume itself has to be focused as well, not just by industry, not just by function, but by every single job.

We should have this up within a week or two. Meanwhile, I hope to hear from you soon. URL is

Monday, January 5, 2009

Eckhart Tolle: "I'm Unemployed!"

Tolle is quoted from his latest book on the ways we can detach from suffering. 

He describes a man who's lost his money in the stock market and who states: "I'm ruined". Tolle suggests there's another way to say it: "I have 50 cents left in my bank account." The latter means there's a fact I can face, a quantifiable reality I can begin to take action to change. But  in the first statement we have a story, a narrative of disaster. These are tempting kinds of  narratives, as they go around continuously in every circle of conversation, picked up from a wide variety of news sources and other fictions. 

Think about it for a job seeker in a down economy: "I'm unemployed." This implies a permanent state or at least a stagnant one. In fact if you're looking for new work, you are indeed employed in a project. You are even probably funding it yourself with your unemployment and savings. How different is it to say: "I'm talking to a variety of people about new job prospects." The unemployed statement is passive stagnation and the job prospects statement is active self-assertion. 

This way of speaking can actually change the feeling. For starters, it's true. Try it on. We need a constant renewal of confidence, and how we speak (about ourselves and others) matters.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Creativity Kills Fear

Want to get ahead of the oncoming fear game? It's not oncoming for you; it's ongoing? 

Well, here's some out of the box thinking: every day do three things to combat fear of job loss, of work stagnation, or of a business drought.

  1. Name the fear (ex: business is slow and I may be fired, or I may lose the business I own)
  2. Create a vision (I will be performing at my peak and help what business we have)
  3. Do one thing to improve yourself, your performance, or to validate the good work of others. Do it, no matter how small or routine. Do it. 
We are in a phase of not only economic recovery, but also of true reinvention. That's the good news. If all the stimulus packages from Washington are meant to create consumer confidence, one thing each of us can do for ourselves is create personal confidence. 

Why is this so important? Because without confidence we stagnate. We atrophy. We shrivel up and fear eats away at us from the inside out. I'm not speaking of normal healthy fear: see a doctor when you have a persistent cough. I'm talking about the daily news, the large layoffs, the gloom and doom thrown at us day in and day out. 

Every act based on the best possible picture is creative. Each creative act lifts human energy. Enlivened human energy begets confidence, even in the face of no certainty as to outcome. Fear kills creativity. It's time to turn that on its head.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Trust Your Gut

After an intense speed networking  session about three weeks ago, I made a phone date with a recruiter and a coffee date with a writer. It made perfect sense to speak with the recruiter, but the writer? He was so interesting on the phone in those five allotted minutes, I said yes to meeting up with him.  I pulled another friend in and we all three met this afternoon for a little over an hour. In the process of rambling through many facets of our varied combined talents, (he kept speaking of trust building), I started to understand how relationship building is always about letting yourself go where your instincts lead you. And even if this meeting had proved less productive, it was a good idea to take the internet meeting to the next level, meet in person and begin to test the water.

Sooner or later we have to face our own demons. The person looking at you is as human as you and I are and is interesting if we bother to find out. Anyone building a career must always learn that it is who you know, not what you know, that advances your prospects. Or, what you know is only worthwhile when you let the right people in on your magic.

As corporations get smaller or consolidate more, people need effective networking more than ever. I've known this long before the internet and speed "everything" was invented, but I'm still  learning more everyday, and I trust my gut.