To others, it appears you have begun to wilt. In truth, that petal has not fallen off. To tug it is to become aware of the strength of the bond you still have.
Letting go of what no longer serves you is a choice. When you are ready it will happen.
Career satisfaction is also a choice. It is the fulfillment of arriving at a decision in which you feel at peace. You are where you are meant to be in this one moment. You can choose to lean into your current destination or into the journey of becoming who you know you were meant to be.
What aspects of your career are you preparing to let go of in order to become more satisfied?
There are a couple of ways in which I feel like we can get across our ideas of what it means to be a fast learner. Often, either when I am working with somebody or writing a resume, I see I am a quick learner. I love to learn and I am committed to learning. That is all great to say, but to really get a point across, I think it is helpful to not just say it, but then give an example about it immediately afterward.
Everybody is on the same page regarding what you mean by that. When it comes to fast learning, there are a few examples I could talk about.
As I was having a conversation with a person I asked ‘What do you mean when you say fast learning? How long does it take you to learn?’ The reply was ‘Well, I can start going through a bunch of YouTube videos.
First thing in the morning, I am introduced to a concept. I am going through the videos. By the time I come back from lunch, I can apply it in some ways, just so I can get this task done.’ We could say that this is being a quick learner because it happens over four hours. They are going to get it done.
When I asked the question to that person, they gave their example and it was over months. However, this long period may not sound or feel like fast learning to others.
Then, some of it is context. Therefore, fast learning could mean not that you have mastered it, but that you have learned enough for you to be able to apply it. A valuable skill is knowing your ability to figure out what is the necessary minimum needed to use it for a certain task. Maybe, you will go back and be able to learn more later, but applying something, a tool or a skill, is different than mastery.
If you have to spend 10,000 hours on it, you can then get to the point of mastery. A lot of times when we need to learn quickly or adapt on the job, hours, days, and sometimes weeks could be a long time, depending on whether or not you are working with a startup. That is why giving examples, and giving the context is going to be important.
Another good example that you could use is how you learn. The importance of learning is critical. So, your ability to learn is your approach to learning or how you learn. If there is a tool or skill people keep talking about or you are being asked in an interview, you can walk the employer or the interviewer through your approach to learning. You may not know something right now but you have an idea of how that tool or that skill is similar to this other thing that you know. This will show your approach to learning is to go do X and then Y and then probably watch some YouTube videos. Afterward, you are going to go around and start to test and learn what you can do with this new tool or skill. Therefore, by talking through your approach to learning you will be able to show that you can adapt because you embrace and you understand the process.
You have a process for learning. For example, the process of memorizing a script is probably why I cannot be an actor or an actress because there was a time when I had to deliver a certain message on cue for a role that I was in. I had to record myself saying it and I would listen to it over and over. A part of my learning process is, in fact, auditory. I also have to map things out and highlight key words and have slides. Then, another part of my learning process is visual. For instance, when I thought through my script, and I remember precisely delivering a talk on the future of work, I saw in my mind three keywords. I walked through the script out loud as it saved time, simultaneously visualizing these words so that I know I can hit these key points.
So with that, as my process or as my example, I can talk somebody through how I can internalize a message and be able to deliver. Nevertheless, sometimes I do not, I just think off the top of my head. The benefit of being able to learn is great. Now, it is about communicating in a way where it shows up as the asset that it is. It is great that you recognize learning and being able to learn quickly and taking about all of this new information as an asset. It is very important to be able to communicate how that asset comes into play or how you are able to do it as well.
To sum up, I completely agree that loving to learn and being committed to lifelong learning is indeed a strength. It is a key aspect of the way that we need to go forward and work. I agree with that. I am on board with that. Then, the other thing is to be mindful of how we articulate and describe that in order to help others understand what it means when we say that we are a quick learner or that we are committed to lifelong learning. We bring in those examples and that way everybody is on the same page.
While there may be moments of joy, I am mindful that change also shows up like a caterpillar dissolving in a cocoon, reshaping itself into a butterfly before breaking through to fly free.
Change is beautiful. It is also birth.
Job searches are change. It is a storm of activity that transforms who you are and redefines what is possible. If it were easy, we would not wait until we are uncomfortable before we start. To change THE world and OUR collective worlds is an epic feat of endurance, persistence, and hope.
You are my greatest hope.
There is part of me that wants to say, “I got you.” I am not just a coach but a cheerleader for the best parts of ourselves. I understand wanting better. I am the incarnation of hard work for a moment, a lifetime, and a generation. I am aware that I am part of what our ancestors have fought for. It is my mission, my purpose, to help as many people as possible by being a light in dark places.
While I cheer for you, I have also been introduced to the term ‘empathy fatigue’ so I want to take this moment to acknowledge that while I am able to say, “I got you,” there is a team of people, a village, that have not only said “I got you” but are doing the work to deliver on that promise. Cheers to the people who are hope made real!
Now, I have gotten the question: When do I need a cover letter? Do I need one? My short answer is yes. My longer answer is yes too because it shows an effort. It’s about the strategy in how you wish to indicate that you want the job.
So, my original approach when working with job seekers has been this: if you want the job and there’s an opportunity to put in a cover letter, definitely do that. This extra effort is your chance to stand apart and also to show that you want the job. I frequently see some of the rejections that different candidates get. Recruiters state they’re looking for applicants who make that additional effort, which many times can be an indication to put in the cover letter.
If the cover letter is not required, that could be another bonus point. You never know when a hiring manager does want to see a cover letter and just didn’t put it in the job description to see who would go the extra mile. However, if the cover letter is required, you want to attach it since part of your evaluation process is that you can follow directions.
The exchange and the testing to see if you want this role and if this is going to be a good fit begins with this application. Something else to consider is whether there’s no opportunity to add a cover letter. Don’t worry, you’ve got that opportunity to put a profile statement or a summary at the beginning of your resume, which can be very helpful in introducing yourself.
When you think about it in real life, when we’re all face to face and shaking our hands, asking for something just seems rude. I like the idea of introducing myself in that situation. And that’s what that resume summary or profile statement says to me: it’s a mini cover letter that affirms ‘I’m not just going to bombard you with all my gifts and talents and what I can offer. I want to get to know you and connect with you.
With all the different career maneuvers that I have been doing over the years, I realize I do not like waiting by the phone for somebody to call, so, what are some ways that I could be empowered? The idea is to feel confident and empowered and not like a victim or a passive target. Find ways in which you can do different things to be ready for that opportunity that shows up. One could be reaching out to people and getting more information. Another may be that way that can inform your application or the interview when you get the callback. It can also be taking X amount of time to fill this role and sit on that application.
I am going to keep looking so that I may or may not be here by the time you are ready to reach out to me.
A lot of different career specialists compare job searching to dating. That is what I think about also when it comes to sitting and waiting by the foam. Mothering is as demoralizing as waiting for somebody to call who you think should have called by now.
But also it comes to knowing your value by considering how precious you are. The time that you have to spend on different things may be used to put your application out there. They can take all the time in the world they need, but you are not going to wait there. You are going to keep looking, keep applying, and keep building that momentum. Then, you can be in the best position possible. Momentum brings confidence and confidence keeps building that momentum. From there, the job search tends to accelerate to the point where it can be uncomfortable when you have multiple opportunities or multiple offers at once.
Know that this is a good position to be in because you do not feel it is an all-or-nothing proposition where if you do not take one opportunity, nothing is going to happen. Due to that reason, a lot of what I might recommend has to do with owning your power, seeing the value in what you offer, and holding that sacred.
The one question I ask in a mock interview to help clients prepare is, ‘What do you wish I had asked you?’ The reason why this is important is, I get to find out what they were hoping to say but didn’t.
It turns out you don’t have to wait for a question to be asked before you give important information to an interviewer. This is key because you cannot guarantee the person will know to ask you that particular question.
Instead, say what you think is most important in your response to ‘tell me about yourself’ That way if you’re interviewing on Zoom and the internet goes out, they have all the information they need.
FEAR. It is what holds many people back. I say this because I talk to them. The people, not their fears.
FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real
Facing FEAR is not easy and feeling FEAR makes things harder. While I feel like I grew into the professional I am today because I had Joyce Meyer in my ear whispering, “Do it afraid,” it changed my life to think of FEAR as an acronym: FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL. False Evidence. FEAR is real. It is a necessary part of survival when you consider the fight or flight response, but what if take a moment to ask ourselves “Is this real or am I getting worked up for nothing?”
What has been the false evidence in my life? That I couldn’t do something. They told me I couldn’t do it, whoever they are. My first career was as a video editor, and it began when the Weekend TV News Anchor turned and looked at me and asked me if I wanted to learn. I said yes. Honestly, I am never not learning. That Anchor began showing me how to edit video for broadcast news and before I knew it, a job became available. I applied and the technical skills assessment was to put together a SOTVO which is a Sound-on-Tape of natural background noise followed by trailing video that the Anchor could voice over. I crafted that piece, full of excitement and nerves, and I handed it in.
No. It wasn’t good enough. As if I knew I would be a Career Coach someday I asked, “Could you please let me know what I could have done better?” I was told I was a slow learner, and that the VO should have continued with natural sound at a low level. I didn’t know. It wasn’t that I couldn’t learn or that I was slow to learn, it was literally that I was so new I didn’t know what was possible. I was wounded on many levels. Clearly. This was eons. I don’t know if I needed to tell that story or you needed to read it, but the world is filled with things we don’t know. Is ‘not knowing’ enough to stop us or can we take a step and do it afraid?
FEAR: Forget Everything and Run
There is another side to fight and flight and that is the flight part. FEAR could also stand for FORGET EVERYTHING AND RUN. Is this THAT time? The time when you should drop what you are doing and take off in some direction to get away from what you FEAR? No one can legitimately decide that for you. We can validate that you have every right to feel the FEAR that you are feeling.
So, what do you do once you have had that feeling you identify as FEAR? I am writing this, realizing that I must live in the “I don’t know what I don’t know” world because the story that comes to mind for me now is when I took an assignment to train Australian Broadcast Company (ABC) teams to use video production software. It was a six-month contract that had me in a new city every 3-4 weeks for six months from Melbourne and Adelaide to Perth and Darwin. I had three weeks to pack up my life in Seattle and go. Of course, I went. The best, most ignorant thing I ever did because I didn’t realize how hard it would be.
After an intense day of configuring the first classroom and labeling every single wire for every single computer terminal, I used up all my pre-paid mobile minutes to verbally meltdown on the phone to the Program Manager. He was astute to know that I was exhausted having been plucked from my routine and in a foreign land beginning an epic journey, so he let me vent. When I was done, I picked myself off the floor, went to my flat, and prepared my curriculum for the first class. The Project Manager that had the brilliant idea to label every cable so I could set up the classroom by myself, didn’t carry on. There were times when no one could find him. While it seems that I am resilient there is a part of me that I swear doesn’t know any better! While apparently, it is in my nature to run to hard projects just to see if I can get it done, it is also a valid response to not take that on if you don’t have to. What will you do in the face of FEAR? How do you want to show up?
FEAR: Forgive Everyone and Reset
In discussing the FEAR of leaving a toxic situation with someone I wondered aloud if what was holding them back was the need to FORGIVE EVERYONE AND RESET what they were trying to do with their career. The key to forgiving everyone is that it includes ourselves. Forgiving, in this context, was a way of letting go so they could move on. I have found it difficult to leave both wonderful and toxic work situations because of the FEAR of the unknown. Who are we apart from these situations? Sometimes we cannot know until we that the first step and the waters part and we begin to see our way forward.
When I returned home from that six-month contract in Australia it was to The Great Recession with a diminished set of job prospects and a new level of exhaustion from constantly being on the move. To reset my life and career I had to forgive myself for the things in my personal and professional life I avoided dealing with and take more control over my career path because no one wants to work with a person who is running from something when they can have the person running to them. I dusted myself off and joined the Office Envisioning team as a Microsoft vendor and redefined what was possible for myself, including constant public speaking in front of business leaders.
What is FEAR holding you back from? What are you going to do about it?
One of the things I address with clients is what box they’re in.
There are three different categories that I realize factor into how we become stuck or get ourselves unstuck. The first box that seems to impede progress would be the box of buildings. Part of my background is a study of ecopsychology and looking at our relationship with the rest of the earth and how we care for ourselves. So, if we’re feeling stuck, part of what we can do is get grounded and even go for a walk outside.
The other box that I typically look at is the boxes of expectations and routines, by walking outside we can typically disrupt our routine so that we can look at things from a fresh perspective. Sometimes it can be a matter of recognizing we may no longer be a morning person.
The third box is the box of expectations. When I started this practice about 10 years ago, it had a lot to do with other people’s expectations and how that weighs on us. Over the years I have come to realize the expectations we have for ourselves can also weigh heavy on us.
When we address those aspects of what has us stuck, we can break ourselves free because once we recognize what is holding us back, we can then free ourselves.
There’s a saying, well, actually there’s a song that said something about ‘don’t take it personal.’ If I could sing I would put it to the words ‘don’t take it literal…’
I keep thinking and talking with people about their job search, not to take things so literally when the job description says a certain number of years of experience. I’m seeing people count on their fingers, the number of months and years that maybe they have experience with certain skills, tools, or roles.
I remember starting out my career doing that and being made fun of by a co-worker. It’s not a bad thing. It just turns out that things aren’t just that cut and dry.
Instead of saying, okay, I only have two months of experience, think about all the other things that you know, that you bring to the job and share that. It’s important to not forget where you came from, who you are, and what got you here so that you can explain that and share your gift with the world.
In my discussions with different people the question came up, what can you negotiate when salary is not a factor? Either the money meets the market demands or has already been deemed non-negotiable.
While there may be different thoughts and camps on what to negotiate, you could talk about a signing bonus, which apparently, is not just for the sports industry anymore. This can be a way for a company, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, to lock in your commitment.
Relocation payments or reimbursement could be part of the package, as can be office equipment or expenses if you are working from home.
Some of the people I talk to do not have an issue with the vacation time on the table, some companies in the tech industry even offer unlimited paid-time-off (PTO), but if that is an option you could put that on the table.
With the tech trends being disrupted at an accelerated pace, outside the speed of Moore’s law, could a training stipend or reimbursement policy be factored into your job offer negotiations? For some, that training could also include career coaching to help you navigate new role demands.
Training is one idea that is definitely worth considering because you don’t want to be just a viable candidate for right now. You want to stay ahead of the curve and keep being viable into the future.
Training is one idea that is definitely worth considering because you don’t want to be just a viable candidate for right now. You want to stay ahead of the curve and keep being viable into the future.
These are a few ideas that I have discussed with others, and if you have any, feel free to post those in the chat or reach out to me and let’s have a conversation about it.