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Overcoming the Barriers to Your Success

August 29th, 2014

By: Karen Colligan

In this crazy world where we are so busy trying to get things done (due yesterday!) and, frankly, a tad stressed by the mostly bad news assaulting our eyes and ears via the media, it’s rare that we get a chance to sit down and assess where we are in our career and our life. I mean, does that even cross your mind these days? Well, let it. Take a deep breath, grab an ice tea, a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or whatever your fancy, find a quiet spot, and just think for a bit. Are you where you want to be, and if not, why not?

When we are able take time to do a self-assessment, we often attribute the “why nots” to external reasons – not enough or the right kind of education or training, lack of opportunities, too much competition, family or other responsibilities preventing us from daring to dream. But if we get really honest with ourselves, often the biggest hurdle to our success is inside, not outside. It’s those internal barriers, or as I like to call them “show stoppers” that plague our ability to get to where we want to be.

So here’s an exercise for you. Look at the abbreviated list of “show stoppers” below. Add any that you know about yourself. (Be brutally honest!). Pick 3 that you think have gotten in the way of your achieving the career and/or life you want.

o I have difficulty managing time
o I have difficulty selling myself
o I tend to be resistant to new ideas/people
o I’m easily distracted
o I have a fear of change
o I have a fear of failure
o I’m a perfectionist
o I’m not good at follow-through
o I can be controlling
o I have difficulty setting priorities
o I’m afraid my age will hold me back
o I have a fear of financial insecurity
o I tend to take a negative view of things
o I have difficulty making decisions
o I’m often disorganized
o I lack self-confidence
o I tend to act first, think later
o I procrastinate

Now rank the 3 you selected from 1 to 3, with 1 being the show stopper you most want to reduce. Recognizing your show stoppers is the first step. Now make a plan, including “strategy to overcome” and “by when” date. Enlist a close friend, colleague or loved one to keep you honest and on track.

And remember, don’t stop believin’.

For more tips on achieving the career you want, check out my no-nonsense plan for finding the work you want. The Get Real Guide to Your Career.

Till next time,
Karen

Career planning, Learning, Life, The Get Real Guide to Your Career

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Creating the Most Important Brand: Brand YOU

June 21st, 2013

By: Karen Colligan

Creating YouIn my last blog I talked about STEP 1 in your search for a new opportunity: Taking Inventory. Now that you’ve done that (and I hope you have…if not, what are you waiting for??) let’s talk about how to use that information to create the YOU that’s going to attract a new and wonderful opportunity.
STEP 2 in your search involves transforming what you learned about yourself in the Inventory step into a distinct vision and compelling messaging that clearly articulates your unique value.

There are four sub-steps to Creating You:
1. Define your vision. What do you want to be doing 1 year from now, 3 years from now, 7 years from now? Put yourself in an imaginary time machine to some point in the future. Where are you living? What sort of work do you do? What are you known for? What challenges have you overcome to get where you are? Putting yourself there and “looking back” will help you create your journey.
2. Identify your objectives. Both long term and short term. What are the work experiences you need in order to achieve your vision? What are the opportunities right now that you can pursue? Do some research and write down 3-5 opportunities that align with your skills, values, interests and experience, and that map to your vision.
3. Develop a communication strategy. Your communication strategy defines how you are going to position yourself in networking conversations, informational interviews and job interviews. It’s your “elevator pitch.” It needs to be concise and compelling. It needs to tell the listener, very quickly and very succinctly, who you are and what you are looking for. Your elevator pitch might change based on your audience, so practice multiple ways of presenting “who you are.”
4. Build a resume that reflects your unique talents. Your resume may be one of the most important documents you ever put together. If done effectively, it can attract an interview opportunity that may launch you on the path to your dream job. If not, it may end up in the proverbial “round file.” Make sure that your resume stands out from the rest by ensuring that it is focused, attractive, correct (no spelling or grammar errors), concise and achievement-oriented. Remember that it should be forward-looking, highlighting skills and accomplishments that demonstrate your ability to perform your target position.
You can find more information and helpful worksheets for your job search in The Get Real Guide to Your Career available in both hard copy and online formats.
Isn’t it time for you to TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR CAREER?
Till next time,
Karen

Career, Career planning, Job search, The Get Real Guide to Your Career, Uncategorized

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Taking InventoryStatistics show that a lot more of us are beginning to think about moving on - to a new job, a new company or even a totally new career.  Let me just say: Hold on a minute.
Before you begin your search for that next opportunity, set aside some time to TAKE INVENTORY. Get clear about who you are and what you want so YOU control your career rather than it controlling you. Think about what you bring to the table, what you like and don’t like, and what would be a fulfilling "next step."

Here are some areas to consider:
Skills. What are the skills and competencies that have helped you succeed in your career so far? Which of them are transferable skills that will help you contribute regardless of industry or position? Write them all down.
Values. What are the things you MUST have in a company, a position, a leader to be happy and do your best? What motivates you?
Natural talents. What are those innate abilities that keep coming up in compliments and performance reviews? “You’re a natural at…” Fill in the blank.
Interests. What do you like to do? Think large on this one. You never know when an interest you haven’t really focused on so far may lead to a new opportunity…
Job Satisfiers. Or, as I like to call them, “the good, the bad, and the ugly.” What are the factors that have made your past work situations rewarding (the good), boring or frustrating (the bad) or something you never want to repeat (the ugly)?
Barriers. Here’s where you really need to “get real.” What are those internal blocks that have kept you from being all you want to be? Write ‘em down. Recognizing them is the first step in eliminating them.
Key accomplishments. Think back over your career and other areas of your life. What have you done that made a difference for your team, your department, your company, your community?
Salary requirements. In today’s job market, this is often one of the first questions asked, so it’s good to start thinking about this early. Consider what your basic expectations are and then, when you’ve determined your target market, do some research to validate your expectations.
Completing these inventories will take some time. However, you will be amazed at how much you’ll learn about yourself, and how the resulting personal career snapshot will guide you to “what’s next.”
Want to know more about how to “Get Real” about your career? Check out our online guide.
Whatever you do, don’t stop believin’.
Till next time,
Karen

Career, Career planning, Job search, The Get Real Guide to Your Career

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Career Stalled? Spiff Up Your Skills!

October 15th, 2012

By: Karen Colligan

This whether you are currently employed or among the many who are “between opportunities,” keeping your skills and knowledge current and relevant can mean the difference between moving ahead and lagging behind.

What’s next for you? Is there a promotion you’ve set your sights on, or a job that’s just slightly out of reach? Now is the time to “get real” and put a plan in place to increase your skills and knowledge, improve your marketability, and build your confidence. Here’s a 5-Step Plan to get you going.

1. Take inventory. Get a piece of paper and make a list of your strengths and your development areas. Think about what you want to do next. Do some research to determine the skills and knowledge required to get you there. Is there anything you’re currently lacking? Add it to the list. Is there a certification or license required that you haven’t earned yet? Add it to the list.
2. Create a personal development plan. Determine which of the skills/knowledge you’ve identified in step one will most contribute to you successfully attaining your next career goal. Select one or two you will focus on in the next three months. Seek out resources that will help you develop in those areas – classes, a coach, book learning, volunteer opportunities. Create specific development actions for each skill/knowledge area. Commit to paper a plan that includes:

1. Skill/knowledge to develop/enhance
2. Resource
3. Target completion date

3. Execute the plan. Post your plan somewhere visible – your calendar, your desk, your refrigerator. Stay focused! Concentrate on the one or two areas you’ve prioritized – don’t get distracted by the other areas on your inventory list. Take a “melting pot” approach. Keep your eyes and ears open for articles, blogs by experts, presentations, webinars, etc., related to your focus areas. Learning comes in many forms, from many places. Capture it! Be accountable and/or enlist someone’s help to keep you accountable. Reward yourself for completing your development goals.

4. Update your resume/personal “infomercial.” When you’ve gained proficiency in the skill/knowledge area, add it to your resume, if appropriate. Practice incorporating your new knowledge/skill into your interview discussions. Blend it into the evolving “you.”

5. Review, revisit and revise the plan. How did your plan work? Did you set reasonable goals? Were the resources worthwhile? Did you find additional or alternate ones you’ll use next time? Revisit your inventory. What are the skills/knowledge areas you’re going to work on next? Create and execute a revised personal development plan that reflects your new focus areas and goals.

Too often when we’ve “got the job” we become complacent and/or too busy to think about what’s next and prepare for it. Putting a plan in place to continually add to your abilities and knowledge will keep your market value on an upward trend.

And remember: Don’t stop believing!!

Till next time,

Karen

Career, Career planning, Job search, Performance, The Get Real Guide to Your Career

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Your Job Search Elevator Pitch

October 15th, 2012

By: Karen Colligan

Picture this. You’re at a networking event (as part of your job search strategy) and someone says to you, “what do you do?” Or, you’re in an interview and the first question is, “tell me about yourself.”


How do you respond? If nothing immediately comes to mind, then it’s time for you to prepare a personal “infomercial” or elevator pitch – a concise, informative statement that describes your key competencies and tells the listener what you’re looking for. You can use it when you’re looking for a job externally, or even when you’re looking for a new opportunity internally.


Your infomercial should include a brief summary of:



  • Your profession/level

  • Your capabilities and unique qualities

  • The type of opportunity you’re seeking



If you’ve done the job search inventory work that I talked about in an earlier post, you should have this information readily available. The key is to shape it into three or four short sentences that you can state in about 30 seconds. Here’s an example:


I’m an experienced learning and development professional with expertise in leadership and communications training. My particular strengths are curriculum development and facilitation. My career has spanned a number of industries. Right now I’m looking for contract opportunities in companies that want to enhance their leadership development.


As you create your infomercial, think about your potential audience. What are some key words that will resonate with them? Use visual, descriptive words that paint a picture of who you are and the unique value you bring to an organization. Be specific. The clearer you are about what you want, the easier it will be for someone to help you.


You may need to create multiple versions for different audiences. Practice each version until saying it is as natural as stating your name. Then get out there and use it! You never know where you might meet the person who has the perfect opportunity for you.


Going up?


Till next time,


Karen


Ready to “Get Real” about your career? Check out our online guide here



Get Real About Your Career – Start by Taking Inventory

October 15th, 2012

By: Karen Colligan

The start of the New Year is typically when we “resolve” to make changes: eat less, exercise more, learn something new, change careers…
If a career change is on your list this year – whether it’s moving to a new career, finding new work in your current field, or creating more work/life balance – an important first step is figuring out where you are today. This is what I call Taking Inventory. Clarifying who you are and what you want will help you define, communicate and achieve your career goals. Here are 8 key areas for your self-assessment.


  1. Skills. What are the skills and competencies that have helped you succeed in your career so far? Which of them are transferable skills that will help you contribute regardless of industry or position? Write them all down.


  2. Values. What are the things you MUST have in a company, a position, a leader to be happy and do your best? What motivates you?


  3. Natural talents. What are those innate abilities that keep coming up in compliments and performance reviews? “You’re a natural at…” Fill in the blank.


  4. Interests. What do you like to do? Think large on this one. You never know when an interest you haven’t really focused on so far may lead to a new opportunity…


  5. Job Satisfiers. Or, as I like to call them, “the good, the bad, and the ugly.” What are the factors that have made your past work situations rewarding (the good), boring or frustrating (the bad) or something you never want to repeat (the ugly)?


  6. Barriers. Here’s where you really need to “get real.” What are those internal blocks that have kept you from being all you want to be? Write ‘em down. Recognizing them is the first step in eliminating them.


  7. Key accomplishments. Think back over your career and other areas of your life. What have you done that made a difference for your team, your department, your company, your community?


  8. Salary requirements. In today’s job market, this is often one of the first questions asked, so it’s good to start thinking about this early. Consider what your basic expectations are and then, when you’ve determined your target market, do some research to validate your expectations.





Completing these inventories will take some time. However, you will be amazed at how much you’ll learn about yourself, and how the resulting personal career snapshot will guide you to “what’s next.”

Want to know more about how to “Get Real” about your career? Check out our online guide here.

Whatever you do, don’t stop believin’. ‘Til next time, Karen.

Career, Career planning, The Get Real Guide to Your Career

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