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You’re in a job you like, you can do it almost on autopilot, and your performance reviews are stellar. No need to update yoprofessional developmentur skills, right? Wrong!
Or…you’re in a job you hate, but, “it’s a job” and you’re so overworked or busy trying to keep that job that you have no time to even THINK about what’s next, let alone PREPARE for it. There’s just no way, right? Wrong!
Whether you like your job or hate it, keeping your skills and knowledge up-to-date and preparing for what’s next is a must. Here’s a “get real” process to help you get started.
1. Conduct an inventory. Look at your last performance review. Make a list of both strengths and development areas. Then think about what you want to do next. If you are currently working and want to progress in your career path, what skills and knowledge are needed to get to the next level? Add these to your list. If you are looking for a new opportunity, what are the requirements of your target position? Which ones are you lacking? Add these to your list.
2. Create a personal development plan. Select one or two areas from step one that you will focus on in the next three months. Do some research to find resources to help you develop in those areas. Remember, learning doesn’t only occur in the classroom. Create specific development actions for each skill/knowledge area. Don’t forget to include target dates on your plan!
3. Execute the plan. Post your plan somewhere visible – your calendar, your refrigerator, your desktop. Stay focused! Concentrate on the one or two areas you’ve prioritized – don’t get distracted by the other areas on your inventory list. You can work on them in your next plan. Take a melting pot approach. Keep your eyes and ears open for articles, blogs by experts, presentations, webinars, etc. on 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 have 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. Spend some time reviewing your plan and how it worked. Did you set reasonable goals? Were the resources worthwhile? Did you find additional/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 development goals.
Putting a plan in place to continually add to your abilities and knowledge is an investment that will keep your market value on an upward trend. And…you never know when that golden opportunity will come along. Be prepared!
“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” - Chinese proverb
Till next time,

Career, Learning, Professional development, Uncategorized

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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,

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

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October 15th, 2012

By: Karen Colligan

It’s time to brag a little bit. What are the chances you can do that? Of course, we all know people who brag a tad too much (so annoying)…and then there are those who don’t brag at all (even if they should)…As my Dad used to say to us growing up, “No one likes a show off.” Needless to say, that has wreaked havoc in my life over the years. Yes, another story completely! I will spare you the details!

We’re now at the point in our adventure through The Get Real Guide where we begin thinking about the (Triumphs) we have had in our work life. No matter what age we are, no matter what we do for a living, we have all had accomplishments that we need to be proud of, and be able to articulate clearly and concisely. When we are successful, it is often because we are applying our skills, natural talents and experience to achieve significant results. Analyzing your key accomplishments will help you understand the skills and natural talents that helped you achieve them.

Remember when I wrote about our Natural Talents and how important it is to understand what they are, and how important they are to our success? As we get ready to do our Triumphs exercise, we want to be certain we are acknowledging what those Natural Talents are. Let me explain.

Yeppers…it is time for some work. I know, I just can’t help myself, can I? I guess it’s the coach and/or nag (you decide your term) in me. As we walk through The Get Real Guide, we need to do some work along the way. Here goes:

Think back through your work life and your many accomplishments. List 5 of your most significant accomplishments. Now here is the important part – list the 5 significant accomplishments that you really loved achieving. We have all had accomplishments that –for many reasons-we do not want to repeat. Today let’s focus on those accomplishments you just nailed and loved doing. Think about them. Take a walk down memory lane. Smile a bit…remember who you were working with, the project, the environment, what were the deliverables? Why was it a Triumph?

Now, get your list and next to each accomplishment, write the skill/natural talent/trait required to achieve that item. Be very clear and concise. Take a look – what are the recurring patterns or themes? What are the skills and natural talents that are helping you be successful? Once you determine those…bingo…you’ve got the language you will need as you begin thinking about a job promotion or a new job. When you can articulate those skills and natural talents, the person you are talking to will be able to see and hear in your delivery the excitement, the energy, the confidence you have. People want to surround themselves with positive people. When you are talking about your Triumphs it is hard not to be positive.

Isn’t it fun just thinking about the good work you have done in the past? Go ahead…brag a little bit…just don’t tell my Dad!

Till the next time… Don’t Stop Believing!!!

Career, Performance Reviews with The Get Real Guide to your Career, Professional and team leadership

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Your Journey Begins

October 15th, 2012

By: Karen Colligan

Say it isn’t so! I actually am going to ask you, the reader, to begin doing some self-reflection. Don’t stop reading, please! Have some fun with it, and look at it as an opportunity to take some time just for you. We all know there is absolutely no time in this 24/7 environment for us to take time for ourselves. There are the kids, the partner, the parents, the work, the friends, the obligations. UGH…just thinking about it makes my head spin! My vote… take some time for YOU. Even if it’s only 10 minutes, at least you know it’s time for you and no one else. Heck, how are you going to determine what might be next for you in your career if you don’t take some time to work on yourself? I promise it will not be painful. Who knows, you might even learn something about yourself. Oh no! Say it isn’t so!!

Before we begin our journey through The Get Real Guide to Your Career, let’s get something clear up front. As I coach people who are looking for new work, I often hear them say, “I want to find my passion,” or, “I want to absolutely love my work,” or, “I want to wake up in the morning and jump out of bed because I can’t wait to get to my work.” Now, this may come as a surprise to most; however, my response is, Why? Don’t get me wrong…if people can find their passion like Bruce Springsteen and others have, I am all for it. That’s a gift, and very difficult to get. Only a very small segment of the population can claim absolute love and devotion to their work. So why set yourself up for failure right from the beginning?

What’s wrong with truly liking your work AND liking your entire, full life? If Oprah heard me say this I am sure she would not be very happy with me. She has been very fortunate to find her passion and to create her entire life around that passion, and to do wonderful things along the way. Good for her!!! With that said… I get tired of hearing: find your passion and the money will come or, once you find your passion, your life will be complete or, live your passion and success will follow. Are ya kidding me?

How about finding work that is very satisfying, and uses the skills and natural talents you have and want to use? I am proposing that you can actually look at your work as only one aspect of your life. Don’t forget about the other parts – your relationship with family and friends – your health and fitness – your fun time – your spiritual self – your ‘you’ time – your volunteer time – your hobby time – your whatever-you-want time. Let’s face it, there are more things in life than our work. My guess is that when you are ready for the final roundup, you won’t be wishing you’d spent more time at work. My hope is that you can allow yourself to have a full life with a rewarding career that enhances your life and doesn’t detract from it.

Let the journey begin…

As we begin our walk through The Get Real Guide, keep in mind that we want you to do these exercises from the perspective of where you are today. Think of it as starting from a fresh place. Many of you will have done some of this work in the past and may think, why should I do it again? The reason is…because you are at a different point in your life now. As you go through these exercises, think about your future, and the possibilities that lie ahead. Don’t get stuck in what you’ve done, or what has happened in the past. Look at this as a new adventure – one that will provide you something new in your life. Have some fun with it, and please don’t stop reading…

Okey…dokey…first things first…your values. Feeling fulfilled and happy in your work has a lot to do with whether that work aligns with your values. What are values? Your core beliefs. The things you must have in order to be your best. Some examples – trust, harmony, excellence, innovation, fun, risk-taking, collaboration, connection. Take a moment and list your top five values.

What are those things about which you will absolutely not compromise? Yes, it is hard. And yes, it is worth it. If it is tough to list just five, list as many as you can and then review and evaluate them. Then narrow your list down to your five core values.
Why is it so important to define your values when looking for new work? As you meet with new people and consider new organizations, it is imperative that you are able to determine whether your values are in sync. Think about it, have you ever worked for an organization where your values and the values of that organization were no longer aligned? What happened for you? Eventually, the realization is so clear that it is difficult to come to work and do your job in the best way possible. This is exactly what happened to me, and why I hold so strongly to this belief of mapping values.

I worked for a large organization for 13 years and probably stayed 2 years too long. When I joined, my values and the organization’s values were completely aligned. It was about doing whatever it takes to get the job done. It was about feeling connected with my colleagues and challenged to always do the best possible job. People truly were the number one asset for this company and they were treated as such. It wasn’t just a cliché. As the organization grew, the values became diluted. It was still a good organization, I just kept wondering, why am I not as excited to come to work each day? I couldn’t figure it out. I couldn’t imagine what was going on for me. Of course, I attempted to ignore it, thinking it might go away and that I was reading something into the situation. Isn’t it fun to do that? Well…eventually it was obvious. I was so sad, too. I left an organization where I thought I would spend my entire career. I didn’t want to believe it. And, as I said, I probably stayed 2 years too long. So, pay attention to your values.

Be certain that your values are a key factor in your decision to accept an opportunity and join an organization. Or you can do what I did…and just start your own business. Now if my values don’t map to the values of PeopleThink, I am in deep trouble!! Tee-hee…tee-hee…

I’d say this is enough for one sitting. I’ll see you soon, when we look at the skills you want to use…and the natural talents you must use.

By the way, I would love to hear from you on the passion topic. Do you believe people have to find their passion in their work to have a successful life?

Till the next time…Don’t Stop Believing!



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