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Why we get stuck and what to do about it

One of the reasons I became a coach is because I just love helping people break through imaginary limits they’ve placed on themselves. And yes, when I earned my coaching certification it was very much a case of ‘physician, heal thyself’. See, my whole life I knew I was supposed to be in a ‘helping’ profession that did not include a traditional 9-5 corporate office job. I imagined a life of coaching, writing, and the flexibility to accommodate my obsessive-compulsive approach to work and play as well as my desire to have kids some day and be present in their lives.

So of course, I became an HR Director (huh?). Now, to some, this is a wonderful career option and fortunately for me I served at an amazing company that actually did allow me a lot of flexibility and opportunity to help people in non-traditional ways. But for me, this was not what I was being called to do. I knew I was supposed to broaden my sphere of influence and use my gift of ‘being a catalyst’ as a coach/consultant. And yet I stayed in the corporate world for nine more years after becoming a certified coach. Why?

It’s simple, and most stuck people I encounter are stuck for the same reasons.

1)     Fear of the unknown

This is definitely the biggest obstacle for most of us. It’s so easy to convince ourselves that we are ‘safe’ in our current gig and that if we go ‘out there’ it will be less money, less flexible, less secure, less….you name it. I know for me, being a single person at the time with no one to help me with my bills, the thought of diving into a new career was terrifying. But you know what’s more terrifying? Not following your dream. I was lucky because at least as a coach I had learned to look more deeply into things and was aware of what I was doing. And I knew that every time I encouraged someone to follow their dream that that pang of regret about my own choices to play it ‘safe’ was telling me something. And, not to burst your bubble, but your corporate gig is NOT safe. A company can tell you seven ways from Sunday about how much they value their employees but chances are you are just a line item in the budget that they will cross off if your salary threatens the year-end profitability/C-level bonus.

2)    Lack of confidence

I’ve lost track of the number of people I’ve met who have a dream that is unrelated to their current profession. A lot of people tell me they want to be a writer or an entrepreneur and you know what? Most of these people have the skill and/or knowledge to do it. The ones that aren’t held back by fear are hampered by this sense of disqualification. They feel like they’re not ‘real’ writers, (or business owners, or you name it). I went through this when I was becoming a coach and with my writing. I remember my coach at the time telling me “You already ARE a coach”, or my writing group telling me ‘writers write’. So many times we are waiting for the world to give us permission to grab that gold ring, but the world is most definitely not going to do that. The difference between success and status quo is the willingness to just start.

3)    Lack of knowledge

Becoming educated on what it takes to achieve your dream is what will take you from hobbyist to success story. Michael Hyatt explains it best when he talks about the 3 P’s of Proficiency, Passion and Profitability. It’s not enough to just have a dream and a passion. There is a lot of legwork involved in building a successful business. You need to have a plan and you need to have realistic expectations about the financial requirements of your plan. When we launched our gym, it was after a full year of researching locations, building a realistic financial plan and ensuring we had the savings to bridge from point A to point B, and securing trusted advisers in areas outside our core strengths. We also had to learn how to use social media, what marketing strategies were effective in our geographic location and a myriad of other things. Without the willingness to be teachable, and the understanding of the time frame that was required, we would probably have quit or failed within a year. Instead, we hung in there and stuck to the plan and are now seeing the rewards of that.

So if you have a dream and are not actively pursuing that dream, ask yourself if fear, lack of confidence or lack of knowledge is holding you back. If they are, the good news is you can overcome all of those and start the road to living your best life today!

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Limitless HR Solutions, a Seattle-based management consulting firm devoted to helping business owners fall back in love with their businesses. A certified executive coach, seasoned Organizational Behavior Management Practitioner and Senior HR professional, Carrie can be reached for consultation at carrie@limitlesshrsolutions.com

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More job search tips; for the laid off and/or “overqualified”

Last week we discussed tips for your job search from a recruiting perspective.  I’ve received numerous comments and questions about this topic (in answer to the most common – Yes, I do offer career coaching and resume writing to individuals – just not to the individuals I encounter when I’m wearing my recruiting hat, because hello, – conflict).  Some of the specific questions and concerns I’ve heard from job searchers is a fear that they will be labeled as ‘damaged goods’ if they have been laid off and/or that they will be labeled the dreaded ‘overqualified’. So what to do?

First, let me state that these are legitimate concerns and there are several dynamics at play.  It is still the general expectation that as one progresses through one’s career, one consistently takes on more responsibility or challenges and that one’s pay increases commensurate with this.  It is also true that in the last five years, layoffs are more common than previously.  Consequently, people find themselves on the market after losing very high paying and prestigious jobs.  These people have the option of trying to find something similar to their last position or trying a new career avenue.  Sometimes, they find themselves in a place of applying for jobs below their competence or desired pay out of desperation or because they feel they are running out of options.  Ironically, when someone decides to ‘settle’ by applying for less than ideal positions and salary, they can often become even more discouraged by a lack of response from employers. If they do hear anything, it’s the dreaded ‘overqualified’. What to do?

First, the layoff question. Sad to say I do have some employer clients who still believe that valuable employees do not get laid off, (even though they often do).   If you have been unfortunate enough to be laid off maybe you question your own value.  After all, in years past it was pretty well accepted that you never let your most valuable people go, no matter what.  Let me reassure you, it happens.  It happens when the business structure changes, it happens when the business model changes, it happens when new leaders are brought in and then they bring in their cronies from their previous organizations and it happens when you’re at the top of the salary band and the company is struggling to pay its bills.  My advice is to be as honest as possible about what happened, without being disrespectful or negative towards your previous employer.  Explain the decision making process behind your situation and, if you were a senior executive, the role you played in the strategic decision to eliminate your position.  It is possible to salvage this.

As for being overqualified. If you are using your COO resume to apply for a General Manager position then you probably are being labeled as overqualified, but I would actually label you as a somewhat lazy job searcher.  If you really think it’s necessary to downgrade your career aspirations at this point (and maybe it is, but don’t be too hasty) then create a General Manager resume that focuses on those skills.  And ask for pay suitable for a General Manager.  This will greatly, greatly reduce the risk of being labeled overqualified.    

Some people use lay-offs as a platform to enter an entirely new career.  This is more typical when there has been a significant severance but not always.  When this happens you often do need to start from scratch.  In this instance, I’d suggest a functional resume, where you take any transferrable skills you can and re-purpose them to your new endeavor.  There is a reality here that you may need to scale back your compensation expectations if you are not trained or experienced in the new line but this is often just a temporary situation, as you do have life experience under your belt to help you learn new skills quickly.

If you haven’t been on the job market in a long time, you do need to know the landscape has changed.  Here are some very general Do’s and Don’ts to get you started with basic resume/online etiquette. 

 DO

  • ·Proofread your resume and follow these generally accepted standards
    • Keep it to two pages or less
    •  Ensure there is [sic] absolutely no typos or grammatical errors
    •  Use attractive and consistent formatting
  • Include a cover letter every time and tailor it to the job for which you are applying
  • At least try to determine the name of the hiring manager
  • Do some research on the company.  LinkedIn and Google are the bare minimums.
  • On that topic, make sure you regularly update your LinkedIn profile and your resume…AND that they match each other
  • Join as many relevant networking groups as you can (more on this to follow)

 DON’T

  • Do not allow job search boards to create a canned resume for you.  They look terrible and generic.
  • Don’t use the same resume and cover letter for every job for which you’re applying. 
  • Don’t address your cover letter “Gentlemen”.  This actually happened to me this week.  This is a terrible idea for many reasons.  As it happens, I was recruiting for a woman-owned business, which is very apparent if one does the bare minimum homework. 
  • Don’t use your personal email if it is unprofessional or hints at illegal or unethical activity
  • Don’t apply multiple times to the same posting.  It makes it look like you are not paying attention

Hopefully this is helpful.  Please reach out with any questions to carrie@limitlesshrsolutions.com