20 ways to prep for a career change in 2020!

Here are my 20 suggestions if you’re considering a job change in 2020. 

1. Be intentional with your networking.

You don’t have to fill your calendar with events to build new relationships. Consider researching on LinkedIn who you want to get to know because of their position, career path, current project or even something you have in common like college or major. Reach out with that interest and ask for 20 minutes of their time. 

2. Learn something new. 

Take a painting class, try hot yoga, or volunteer to read to elementary kids. A change in environment can spark creativity or help you meet others who could further your career path. 

3. Commit to ensuring you do something you enjoy each day.

Self care isn’t selfish. Figure out what fills your bucket because a job search, an unhappy work situation, and the thought of what’s next is stressful. I know this is easier said than done, but that’s why it’s said yet again! 

4. Know your “why.”

As Simon Sinek suggests, if you’re clear on your purpose, the thing that drives you, you will know which jobs you want to apply for or which interviews to take. You can trust your gut when faced with decisions about your career with confidence when you’re clear on your mission. 

5. Start before you’re ready.

Know you want to change career paths? Know you’ve hit your limit in your current job? Take action – even baby steps. Write that email to reconnect with a classmate. Update your resume. Set up a meeting with your boss. 

6. Identify your zone of genius. 

What activities are you doing when time passes quickly? When do you feel like you’re in “flow”? The zone of genius goes beyond what you’re good at and can do with excellence. The genius zone is where you will discover what you can uniquely contribute to the world. Steve Jobs gave us the iPhone because he operated in his zone of genius. 

7. Notice how often you operate in your zone of genius.

Gallup found that those who operate in their strengths everyday are 6xs more likely to be engaged with their work. If you don’t know your zone of genius, check out this podcast. 

8. Target everything.

In 2020, you absolutely have to customize your job application materials. Your resume and cover letter are scrutinized by Applicant Tracking Systems before human eyes even review them. And then that recruiter is spending about 6 seconds deciding about you! 

9. Ditch the templates.

Microsoft Office and Google may think they are helping you but please don’t fall victim to filling in your info in a template and think you’re doing fine. A resume is a marketing material and needs to stand out for the right reasons and fit in so as not to be eliminated too quickly. That balance is only found by taking stock of your accomplishments and articulating them effectively. More on that here. 

10. Expand your options.

Feeling trapped in your current job and hopeless about the prospects of that job in a new company? Realize that the world of work is expanding all the time. Jobs are being created everyday. Just think, a data scientist wasn’t what it is today just a few years ago. More remote work is becoming possible with technology and can allow you to live wherever you want.

11. Increase your comfort with technology.

Use YouTube to find tutorials on how to run a webinar or Zoom meeting. Ask a friend what tools she uses to share documents or what productivity hacks she suggests. Read an article on what social media the people in your industry are using. Consider where you’d work remotely if given the opportunity. Even if you’re not interested in being a remote worker, the tools used to replicate traditional office work are an asset in any workplace. If you’re the one contributing those ideas – you’re more valuable in that work environment. 

12. Create flexible options in your current work.

Consider pitching to your boss that you work a day a week from home or come in later in order to go to the gym first thing in the morning. Create a meeting to discuss the topic and come prepared with ideas on a trial basis. Keep the focus on an increase in productivity, not your satisfaction.  If you know that’s a no-go for your boss, be ready to negotiate this in your next job. 

13. Narrow your options.

Analysis paralysis can be such a barrier to action (see #5). If you feel like you can do anything and not sure where to start put some limits on your search. Want to move? Choose 3-5 cities to target your research. Want to try something new? Research alumni from your major on LinkedIn to see what they are up to and get ideas. 

14. Use the internet effectively.

Please put time limits to your online searching. Aim for the majority of your job search time to be focused on interactions with real people. When you are applying online run your resume and the job posting through JobScan to be sure you’re submitting a document that will get looked at.

15. Apply for less jobs.

This is because the ones you do apply for come through contacts,  not just clicking Easy Apply on LinkedIn. It’s tempting and I’m sure you’ll do it, but shoot for a 60:30:10 ratio for your job search time. According to Howard Figler, 60% of your time should be in relationships and conversations. 30% should be using the internet for research and whatnot. 10% is your application. 

16. Every interview is a new opportunity.

If you tried finding a job in 2019 and have some negative experiences, remember, that next interviewer doesn’t know that. Give yourself a little pep talk and avoid the bitter resentment that can creep in when you’re desperate for a new position where you can thrive. Give a secure and confident handshake at the beginning and end of the interview. Thank the interviewer by name. Ask for the next steps. Remember, a no isn’t a no until the door is closed. 

17. Up your communications game.

Emotional intelligence is a hot topic among HR folks in 2020. Pay attention to your emotions and what triggers your bad mood or negative self-talk. Way easier said than done, but worth the investment of your time to figure these things out. Even that increase in awareness of yourself will positively impact your interactions with others – a new team or a prospective employer. 

18. Reinvent yourself anytime.

2020 seems like a good time to make a change. Why not? The average American will have 5-7 careers in her lifetime. If you’re not using your skills in a way that’s fulfilling anymore – look for ways to pivot.  

19. Know who’s in your corner.

Do you have a personal board of directors? Tell the people in your life they are important to your career success. Ask for advice from a variety of people. My personal board includes peers, mentors, connectors, cheerleaders and critics. Once your board is set, make sure they know your goals and ask them to brainstorm with you. Follow up and thank them for what happens next. 

20. Take in the good!

What we listen to, watch and talk about drives our thoughts. Hang out with positive people and be one who finds and celebrates the good things that happen even in the midst of job stress. Listen to podcasts that challenge, expand and encourage your perspective on a job change. Here are some of my favorites. 

 Which of these ideas resonate with you most? 

Happy Birthday to me! Want to celebrate with me?

I love celebrating birthdays – my own and others.

In fact, it’s been one of my favorite parts of being a mom – 2 new people to celebrate well. For my own birthday, I’ve embraced having one in December – sometimes celebrating Christmas as part of my own birthday. Last year, for example, we did Wine and Design. 

So this year for my birthday on Dec. 14, I want to do something new – celebrate with you my new “business adventure” (that’s what I’m calling it) Career Savvy Linda.

I’ve really loved being a career coach and counselor for over 10 years. I’ve worked with countless people to help them take the next step in their career, articulate their strengths to create their own path, and grow in confidence to secure meaningful work. 

Becoming a mom and feeling my world get smaller was a struggle. I didn’t want to miss out on my own career trajectory, but I was also unsure that path made sense anymore. I pulled back and reassessed with these key career questions. Perhaps they could help you too. 

  • What are my skills that I enjoy using most? 
  • What do I care about with regard to my work life?
  •  What are my core values that I need to have met in my work and life? (only top 3) 
  • What am I interested in and want to learn and grow in? 
  • What is my work style, personality quirks and lessons learned that clarify what I need in a work environment? 

My own journey led me to leave full-time work in a physical career center.  I got a job working remotely and part-time still in higher education doing coaching and programming for graduate students. We moved our family closer to my parents and siblings. And now that I’m out of the newborn stage of parenting, I’m launching out on my own to work more with moms who’ve experienced something similar and want to examine their own work, reevaluate what work looks like and are ready to make a transition either to part-time, contract, full-time with flexibility, remote work, or something else. If that’s you or someone you know – let me know! 

So to celebrate my birthday – will you help me launch of this business adventure?

Time to Rise and Shine

As part of the Inspiration Lab in Wilmington, NC I attended the annual conference this week and needed to share what stood out to me!

Stephanie Lanier is the founder and provided some context in the morning as to why she chose the theme Rise and Shine. Stephanie changed the connotation I have with that phrase.

I would usually think this: 

or this:

But she shared how important shining is for women to thrive. She explained that as women we have a proclivity toward dimming our light when things are going well for us. I attribute this to our empathy and humility which are great qualities to possess as women, but in this instance can get in the way. 

So she suggests instead of downplaying our accomplishments, successes or things that are going well right now – we shine just like a lighthouse does for those finding their way at sea. We can help our sisters who are trying to “rise” by shining our light.

This really resonated with me. On an unconscious level, I do think I’ve downplayed positive circumstances or accomplishments. I do because I don’t want to brag or rub my success in someone’s face. I also know that when someone is going through hardship, it could just be a matter of time before I am as well. 

We live in this rhythm of ups and downs of life – that’s universal, but trying to lower our “ups” in order for all of us to be mediocre? Why would we do that!? So, I’m so grateful for the Inspiration Lab and its conference theme of Rise and Shine. I can now be as bright as can be and realize I am actually helping others who need a path toward their own season of shining! That sits well with me as a helper and woman who values living beyond myself. This changes my story from “bragging” to “helping” and that shift is a game changer! 

Here’s my recent shine: As I seek to be authentic in all that I do, I am seeing opportunities to live out my strengths, share my passions, and help others in a variety of ways. I’m thrilled to be creating a space for moms to have support in their careers and move with confidence and clarity toward their next job or project. I’m hopeful that as I continue “shining” as my authentic self, the path will be lit before me and maybe I’ll bring others along! 

Thoughts on Fear

The movie Romantics Anonymous features two people crippled in their fears of everything who, against all odds, find each other. 

Adorable right? As I watched, somewhat painfully, at the awkward exchanges and misunderstandings, I grew in empathy toward them and their “emotions” that get the better of them. The anxiety they live with to do normal everyday things was incredibly compounded when they met each other. While I could entertain you with my own set of awkward moments or anxiety ridden thoughts, that’s not this blog post (if you’re lucky, maybe some day soon). Instead, this post discusses fear.

Fear is defined as:

  1. an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger
  2. anxious concern
  3. profound reverence and awe especially toward God
  4. reason for alarm

Fear has reared its ugly head in clients seeking career coaching as well: 

  • clients who stopped dreaming because they are simply terrified of not finding a job
  • students who plan to go to graduate school out of fear of looking for a job
  • students who are crippled with indecision about their major for fear of the wrong choice
  • and even clients who fear succeeding

Fear is underneath a LOT of our other emotions – anger, jealousy, stubbornness, arrogance, self-deprecation, and more. I think it’s important to be a student of fear in order to recognize it at work within us. I’ve been someone who lives in fear. I’ve also seen it guiding people in my life. And it makes me indignant.

Here’s a truth bomb for you – love is greater than fear. I want us to refuse the luggage of fear and insecurity and instead fight through the awkwardness of living in love. It’s worth it.

Friend – let today be the beginning of taking risks in the name of love.

A version of this first appeared on Meaning in the Making

The Double Edged Sword of Being Goal Oriented

It seems like to be successful these days you need to be “goal-oriented.” I did an experiment in my late 20s around this idea and learned a few things that seem relevant even today. I created a “30 things to do before I’m 30” list out of the idea that a bucket list isn’t as specific since you don’t know how long you have before you kick the bucket. So I figured, I will probably live beyond 30, Lord willing, so why not? Besides, I wanted to ensure I’d have a lot to celebrate on my 30th birthday. Overall, it was a fun experience and I’d do it again (and I may for another milestone birthday) but I did learn some valuable lessons along the way and wanted to share them here. 

Lessons learned: 

  1. Being a goal oriented person, I loved having this list. It was well received by the people in my life who championed it, and sometimes even helped me accomplish some of the goals (thank you!). But there was a shadow side to the list. I created it with the idea that I wanted to celebrate getting older – despite my circumstances. I freely admit that I created the list in hopes of avoiding the sadness of my life not being what I envisioned when I was little. Most children think 30 is old. And I just assumed I’d be a mother, wife and home owner as a 30 year old. I created these goals partly as a distraction from the missing elements in my life. This was the shadow side – I can hide behind goals instead of sitting with the realities before me. The lesson in this for me was this – I need to be grateful for what I have and not focus on what I don’t have. 
  2. Another lesson I learned from having this list involves flexibility in goal setting. I had a few goals that were something that wasn’t actually important to me. I needed to start pursuing the goal to realize I didn’t want it anymore. 
    • For example – I wanted to go to Africa before I was 30 but I wanted to go to help people less fortunate than me. As I tried to understand more about justice, my influence, and how I can be “helpful,” I realized doing a short term mission trip as a white person would be more about me wanting to feel good and not about the people I could help. So I took this off the list as I continued to think about social justice. Going to Africa is still on other lists though.
    • For example – I had  a goal to pursue my Licensed Professional Counselor credential. As I started investigating that decision, it was going to cost me more in time and money that I was willing to invest and when I thought about my career and what I wanted it to involve, I intentionally removed this goal. 

So now, here is the final iteration of the list (in no particular order)

  1.  Advocate for something 
  2. Do a solitude retreat
  3. Get paid to do a workshop
  4. Visit friend in MO
  5. Read 1 book per month 
  6. Find a mentor
  7. Teach a class
  8. Consolidate online presence and organize email 
  9. Sponsor a child with World Vision 
  10. Kiss in the rain 
  11. Fall in love 
  12. Continue to try new things 
  13. Go to a Christian leader conference 
  14. Create a scrapbook of 2016-2017 
  15. Do enough runs to create a Tshirt blanket 
  16. Continue to fight human trafficking 
  17. Live out life motto 
  18. Continue taking classes and learning 
  19. Tour NC wineries 
  20. 20 paint a canvas not copying a picture 
  21. Apply for an international work opportunity 
  22. Be a counselor for missionaries 
  23. Pay off car debt 
  24. Go to an amusement park 
  25. Lose 15 pounds 
  26. Continue blogging 
  27. Get next job in my career
  28. Visit new cities and countries 
  29. Visit friend in CO 
  30. Be a mentor to someone 

Let me know if you want to know about any of these – I’d be glad to talk about them more with you!  A version of this first appeared on Meaning in the Making 

Do you Know What you Want?

 “It’s the weight that you carry from the things you think you want” ~ Zac Brown Band

This post is as much for me as I hope it is helpful to you. A lot of times when things are hard at work or at home – we idealize other people’s situations as so much better than our current status. We focus on what we don’t have instead of what we do have. This is the ol’ Grass is Greener on the Other Side mentality. And I agree with Theodore Roosevelt when he said

So knowing that comparison doesn’t serve us well – what do we do? This is the part where I am preaching to myself as much as anyone else.

1. Be Grateful.

  • Take time to remember what you have going well in your life. Ask the people who are your supporters what you are good at, and ask for specific examples.
  • Tell those same people the things you appreciate about them. Consider those even closest to you – when is the last time you said something unprompted to point out their strengths, gifts, and qualities you admire?
  • Create a folder in your email that is full of the positive feedback you get from your clients, your coworkers, etc. Start today and review it annually.
  • Do something kind and unexpected for someone else because you recognize the gifts you have at your disposal.

2. Claim your story.

What’s happening to you right now is YOUR story – the good, the bad, and the ugly. If we can identify the patterns in our thoughts and our behaviors, we can begin to make positive changes toward wholeheartedness and living a life we are proud of – regardless of the circumstances of any given day. Owning what’s good, bad and ugly about our stories helps us make meaning, uncover lies we’ve believed, and help us have more confidence in our decisions. Who wouldn’t want that? I’ve recently read Brene Brown’s book, Rising Strong and recommend it for more on wholehearted living.

3. Live in the moment.

Pause and take in what’s happening around you. Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you I am goal-oriented. Being a Type-A personality comes with constantly striving toward something and thinking in the future. Our culture touts busy-ness as a marker of success and this makes it so easy to miss what’s going on today. This has never been truer than now with my 7-month-old daughter. She’s never as small or as young as she is today. If I am striving, pursuing and planning – I’m going to miss the playing, smiling and simply being. Recently Shonda Rhimes put out a TED talk that addresses this very thing. Check it out.

This was first published on LinkedIn (5/2016) 

3 Things to Do on LinkedIn Right Now

I’ve been talking with a lot of folks lately about their experiences with LinkedIn for networking. Most people tell me they created a profile because they received an invitation and then didn’t do much after that.

There’s so much more to it! Let me help you maximize your profile, articulate your brand and connect with the people who can help you reach your career goals.

In today’s world, your first interview can easily happen without you present! Use LinkedIn as a tool to reinforce all the good messages that should come through in your resume, cover letter and interview. Let it project to your network your greatest assets and ways you will add value.

Here are 3 things to do right now:

  1. Customize your URL to easily share it with others. Click on your profile and on the right side choose Edit Public Profile and URL. Then select Edit your Custom URL. You’ll get the green checkmark when it’s available. Make it as close to your name as is available. Add a credential if it needs to be more custom. Some folks will include a middle initial or a job title at the end of the name to further customize. This can be copied and put on your resume, your cover letter signature, your email signature, etc. to drive people to it easily. 
  2. Use your headline to your advantage. This doesn’t need to be your current job title. It can be edited to include keywords and focus on your industry or niche – even if that isn’t evident in your current job title. Example: Instead of “Director of Student Support Services” use “Fosters student success in higher education through evidence-based best practices, collaboration, and innovation”
  3. Customize your message to a potential contact. Found someone you want to connect with? LinkedIn provides a space to write your own invitation to connect. This can be quick and simple. Here are a few examples:
  • “Thanks for talking with me last night at Tyler’s during the student affairs roundtable. I hope we can stay in touch.”
  • “I ran across your profile in my search for others in this field. I hope we can connect via LinkedIn”
  • “As a fellow alum of X University, I wanted to expand my network and connect with you.”
  • “We went to high school together. Let’s connect here on LinkedIn and if I can help you – let me know!”
  • “We do similar work and I’d like to connect with you.”

Great job! You’re on your way to maximizing your online presence with LinkedIn!

Want to do more? Feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn and we can talk about how I could help. 

 This first appeared on LinkedIn