Tag: skills

How To Achieve Team Success

How To Achieve Team Success

The difference between success and failure can be very subtle. Whatever your endeavor, it requires some sort of team work. Every team requires leadership and vision. Being a good leader doesn’t mean “my way or the highway.” That’s the kind of leader that people won’t willingly follow … and who can blame them! A good leader is a humble “member” of the team … a “participant!”

If you want to be a good leader / mentor, then lead by example. Be the kind of leader that’s a motivator. Roll up your sleeves, dive in and give your team some skin in the game. Stand with them and watch them come to life!

Your reward … employee retention! BOOM!!

Do you have career or life questions?

If so, leave me a comment and I’ll be happy to respond!

 

Thanks for sharing your time with me and reading my BLOG!

Warm regards…. Debra


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How To Conduct Your Own “Self Background Check”

I’ve provided a lot of valuable information in my blogs about the job search process, including a blog about Reference Checks and Background Checks. Go ahead and click on the link to be taken to the blog. You’ll find a lot of valuable information and resources that are a must have for every job seeker (and employer).

Today I’m excited to bring you something that I know you’re going to want to take advantage of. Did you know that you can do your own FREE background check? YES, you can!

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers a free background check service called “Self Check.” I talk a lot about preparation! Well, this is another great way to prepare. Anyone engaged in a job search should take advantage of this tool. Doesn’t it make sense to have access to the same information that potential employers will see? If you know what’s in your report, you won’t be faced with surprises and possible disappointment.

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What is potentially included in a background check (many sources are public records)? Background checks aren’t just about criminal history. There’s a lot of information that can surface that has the potential to ruin your chances at your opportunity of choice.

•Driving records
•Vehicle registration
•Credit records
•Criminal records
•Social Security Number
•Education records
•Court records
•Workers’ compensation
•Bankruptcy
•Character references 
•Medical records
•Property ownership
•Military records
•State licensing records
•Drug test records
•Past employers
•Personal references
•Incarceration records
•Sex offender lists 

 

CONCLUSION: You’re not going to be able to erase your “accurate” history. That is not the goal here. The goal is to be prepared with the knowledge and information that any potential employer can access. If you are privy to the information, then you can plan your job search strategy and be ready to address any issues that may arise. 

 Backgroud(6)

Do you have career or life questions?

If so, comment below and I’ll be happy to respond!

 

Thanks for sharing your time with me and reading my BLOG!

Warm regards…. Debra


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Pick Your Poison … Humility or Arrogance

Over the years I’ve seen a lot of very talented people make a multitude of interviewing mistakes on both ends of the spectrum … being over confident, or exhibiting a complete lack of confidence. Make no mistake about it, interviewing is an art and you need to strike the right balance. Do you lack humility and have a tendency to go overboard on self-promotion. Are you so afraid of appearing over confident that you don’t promote yourself at all? In either case, you’ll not have an easy time finding employment regardless of your skill set. 

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There’s nothing wrong with tooting your own horn and, in fact, you should. It’s important to discuss your exceptional skills and world-class education. But, there are ways to promote yourself without appearing arrogant or cocky! If you appear to have an over-inflated ego and unrealistic expectations, you will find yourself on the job market for a very long time.

There are a number of reasons why people don’t get offers of employment (besides lack of preparation). Here are a few….

  • Nerves. Being nervous is normal, but you don’t want to over compensate by clamming up or by rambling.
  • Being cocky. No one wants to be around someone that is full of themselves. Tone it down! There’s always someone better, and more humble!
  • Shyness. Shyness can be interpreted as arrogance, or as a lack of interest or confidence. Step it up! What do you have to lose?

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Being aware of how you are perceived is important. Let’s explore some of the small things you can do to come across as confident, yet humble.

  • Promote your value by giving examples on how you can contribute … not just personal contributions, but contributions for the success of others and the organization. Using an occasional pronoun like “I,” is okay, but don’t overuse it. It can make you appear egotistical. Make reference to team accomplishments whenever possible by using the word “we.”
  • Bank on the fact that you will be asked about your weaknesses. No one likes discussing their faults, but we are human and have them! Show some humility by being honest about things you’ve had to work on, but make sure to discuss what you’ve done to improve upon those things. Turn a “perceived” negative into a positive!
  • Body language speaks VOLUMES! Have an open and welcoming posture, both standing and sitting. For example, don’t cross your arms as it sends a message that you’re closing yourself off. On the flip side, don’t sit with arms outstretched like you own the place … it screams arrogance! Don’t slouch as it can be interpreted as low self-esteem or a “couldn’t care less” attitude (way too casual). Stand / sit up straight and lean in slightly. It shows you’re paying attention and have a real interest in what the interviewer has to say.
  • When shaking hands, don’t have a limp hand, but don’t bring people to their knees either. Offer a firm, comfortable handshake while looking your interviewer in the eye. Introduce yourself (if not already taken care of) and let your interviewer know you appreciate their time by thanking them for the opportunity and letting them know it’s nice to meet them.
  • SMILE! Looking someone in the eye and gifting them with a smile is one of the most powerful things a person can do. Smiling engages people and pulls them in.

My final piece of advice in this blog is that you do your research prior to an interview. Learn as much as you can about the people with whom you’ll meet, the department you’ll potentially work in and the company as a whole. When I say know your audience, I mean know your WHOLE audience … company culture included!

HIRING MANAGERS: Many of these tips, if you apply them as well, will go a long way toward getting the most out of your interviews. If job seekers feel comfortable with you, you’ll potentially learn a lot more about them!

CONCLUSION: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” ~CF Lewis~
Don’t mistake humility for low self-esteem. Being humble means that you don’t put yourself front and center all the time and that you can show kindness and compassion with a strong sense of your own limits. Humility is not a weakness … it’s a notable strength of some of the most successful leaders! Now, this isn’t to say that some employers don’t love confidence that borders on arrogance. After all, flying under the radar and doing great work is definitely not enough. You DO need to get noticed! The bottom line is that success isn’t just about skills, success hinges on a balance of skills, confidence and humility … as well as knowing your audience. I’m not saying that you should change your personality. Never, ever change who you really are. Simply work on your delivery! It’s all in the packaging! Companies spend millions of dollars on packaging for a reason. Their product may often be the same or similar to their competitors’, but it’s the appeal that gets the sale!

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 Do you have career or life questions?

If so, comment below and I’ll be happy to respond!

 

Thanks for sharing your time with me and reading my BLOG!

Warm regards…. Debra


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Flextime … Is There Gender Bias?

An interesting topic came to my attention the other day. I didn’t believe what I was hearing … until I did a little research. Did you know that there’s a disparity between genders when it comes to flextime? I was a bit surprised at what I discovered and I think you will be too.

In several studies and surveys, it was revealed that managers will more often approve men’s requests for flextime over women’s. Very interesting! The reasons for this may shock you!

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One survey states: “…professional men were more likely to be granted flextime if they made the request to advance their careers. On the other side of the spectrum, requests from women whether they were professional or paid by the hour were usually not granted. The reason for their flextime request did not matter.”

This is troubling on a couple of fronts. In a nutshell, it appears that when men ask for a flexible schedule, it’s assumed by managers that they’re asking for professional reasons and, therefore, requests are granted. On the flip side, when women ask for flexible schedules, the majority of managers assume it’s for personal reasons so the requests are denied. Not only that, but the women that ask are “…viewed as less likable and committed to their jobs.” Ugh!

Are managers really that out of touch? Well, according to at least one study, it appears many of them may be!. Here’s what else I found….

Believe it or not, woman are more hard-nosed about making any concessions in their careers to achieve work / life balance. Yep, it appears to be true! Just look at these stats:

  • More men than women reported changing or being willing to change jobs (67% vs. 57%) or careers (60% vs. 52%) to better manage work and family lives.
  • 57% of men said they’d give up a promotion versus 49% of women.
  • Women were also 8 percentage points less likely than men to move to be closer to family (46% versus 38%) or to move to a country that offered parental leave benefits (26% versus 18%).

Another interesting component to this is that most employees are apparently unaware of the managerial bias discovered in these studies. Of note … a lot of men don’t ask for flextime because they don’t believe it would be granted. A lot of women believe if they asked for flextime for professional reasons, it would be granted. WOW … both appear to be wrong! You know that old saying, “What you don’t know, won’t hurt you.” Well, we’ve just taken THAT to a whole new level.

Personally, I think it’s FABULOUS that they guys are willing to make career sacrifices for the family. One expert believes that some of the shift in the “norm” is attributed to the fact that a large percentage of the younger men in the workforce watched their mothers work AND take on many of the additional responsibilities relating to parenting (after school activities, homework, etc.). These young men witnessed first-hand the struggles that mothers working outside of the home face. Makes sense to me! How about you?

While it was discussed in one of the articles, I don’t really want to get into the equal pay thing because there are so many variables that come into play. This blog would be VERY long! But suffice it to say that women, more than men, feel that their “careers” are on the line if they ask for any “privileges” or say no to a move or promotion in order to obtain a work / life balance. Men seem to feel that their careers are on more solid ground.

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CONCLUSIONI’ve never been a conspiracy theorist and won’t jump on that bandwagon here either. I sincerely believe that there are a lot of good people in this world that if made aware, and given the opportunity, will conduct themselves in a fair and equitable manner. My personal feeling is that there’s still some work to be done in overcoming some of the “ingrained” biases that we grew up with … biases that have been accepted as normal or expected. Change doesn’t happen over night, and we can’t expect people to listen if we beat them over the head with our opinions or theories of deliberate unfairness. Let’s strive to wear our badge of professionalism proudly, remember that communication is a two-way street, and offer as much value as we possibly can.

REFERENCES:  

Guess Who Gets More Flex Time? 

Which Gender Sacrifices Most? 

Women Seeking Flex-Time Pay Heavier Price

Flextime(5) Do you have career or life questions?

If so, comment below and I’ll be happy to respond!

 

Thanks for sharing your time with me and reading my BLOG!

Warm regards…. Debra


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How To Survive A Company Merger, Acquisition Or Restructuring

It seems to be the norm these days … mergers, acquisitions, restructuring, rightsizing, downsizing. With the constant “looking over your shoulder,” it’s enough to make your head spin. How does one deal with the feeling of insecurity when bits and pieces of corporate gloom and doom start leaking out? Do you stay put and hope for the best? Will the ax fall? Do you jump ship before the ax falls? Who’s most at risk? These are good questions, and most definitely questions you should be asking yourself if you suspect something is coming down the pike!

This could be a really LONG blog post, so I’ll try to summarize.

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GET THE FACTS Make sure you understand the reasons behind your company’s intent. You might be at risk if….

  • They are merging with a company in the same business doing the same kind of work.
  • Venture capital purchase … cuts in workforce are almost a certainty. They purchase to optimize profit.
  • They are having financial difficulties.
  • Management is keeping things quiet, or they are vague in answering questions.
  • If your department mirrors or overlaps departments in the other company.

If your company is merging or part of an acquisition that is due to expansion or growth, your job is probably secure.

IT’S JUST BUSINESS:

Yep, I hear ya! It definitely “feels” personal, but it really is just business. BREATHE! In each of the above scenarios, except for expansion, you should expect that there will be a reduction in staff. When let go, for any reason, it’s difficult not to take it personally. So, let’s try to put things in perspective. If YOU are having personal financial difficulties, don’t you look at what you can cut back on in your household to save money? A company is no different. When cutting back, you keep the necessities and eliminate those things that you can live without. Be a necessity!!!

WHO’S AT RISK?: — Tricky question as it will all boil down to the reasons for the cutbacks. Some examples are….

  • A shift in workload … workload is suddenly lighter, projects are being reassigned or people are being reassigned.
  • Suddenly being left out of important meetings.
  • Obvious avoidance (interactions with a boss and / or other’s in management suddenly change).

Most organizations, while going through the process of shuffling, will generally want to keep people as long as they can, but not everyone will be kept for the long term. I hate to be so blunt, but the reality is that people will generally be kept only as long as they are needed to ensure things run smoothly. Once the company finishes their merger / acquisition / reorganization, chances are those that have noticed a change in the way they’re being managed will be let go and they won’t know until the pink slips are handed out. Keep in mind, there are always exceptions (a company that’s simply moving operations, for example). Some organizations will be very up front about their intentions and may even offer employees a “retention bonus” if they will stay on through a predetermined date.

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WHAT CAN YOU DO?:

  • Most importantly, DO NOT PANIC and start discussing the situation and your “assumptions” with co-workers. This is most definitely a time to keep your business to yourself. Whatever you do, minimize your risk by maintaining your professionalism.
  • I’ve written before about that little inner voice (Are You Getting Fired On Friday?) More often than not, it’s a good idea to listen to your gut (your intuition). Most of the people I speak with that have been let go tell me that they had a “feeling” something was up before they were handed their pink slip. The good news is that you don’t have to be a victim. Get ahead of it!
  • Position yourself. You should ALWAYS do your best work! It’s especially important during times like these that upper management is aware of the value you bring to the team. “Key players” are essential to the success of any organization and often survive the cut. Consistently demonstrate through documented work product that you (and your team) are essential and will continue to be instrumental in the future success of not only your department, but the company as a whole.

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CONCLUSION: One can never be completely certain that they will survive a reduction in workforce so it’s crucial to be prepared for any outcome. Nothing in life is EVER promised. ALWAYS have your resume and job search tools up to date! This is a rule of thumb for anyone, regardless of circumstances. Being able to quickly market yourself is paramount! I recommend that resumes, letters of recommendation and references be up to date at all times. And, maintain a positive attitude … it could mean the difference between being employed, or jobless!

Job Loss(4)

 

Do you have career or life questions?
If so, comment below and I’ll be happy to respond!

 

Thanks for sharing your time with me and reading my BLOG!

Warm regards…. Debra


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Do You Need A Check Up From The Neck Up?

I promise … the title of today’s blog is not a trick question. But I’ll bet I got your attention! 🙂

My morning began not unlike most other mornings. As I’ve mentioned before, I pretty much follow a routine … although I’m working on being more flexible. I wasn’t too far into my day and, unfortunately, some negativity started creeping in. It’s kind of like that little piece of lint that sticks to your clothing and no matter how many times you try to “flick it off,” it won’t go away. Annoying and distracting all at the same time. Anyway, I’m generally a very positive person … but even I can fall prey! Without the right mindset, it’s really easy to get sucked into things that aren’t productive. As you might surmise, my day was off to a rocky start!

LOA

As part of my new routine, I try to feed into as much positive input as I can. I’m wide open to learning about people and ideas that have been outside of my regular sphere of influence. I like to refer to it as “STRETCHING.” I had a 3:00 PM appointment with some powerful motivation … a webinar I had signed up for yesterday on “bouncing back.” I hadn’t listened to or watched any of Sonia Ricotti‘s audios / videos prior to today so I went into it with a completely open mind. I’m so glad I did!

Most of the time we don’t even realize how our subconscious mind controls absolutely every aspect of our lives. Yes, we can consciously maneuver through life and think that we are completely aware and in control, but most of us aren’t … and we don’t even know it!

Sonia said something in her webinar that really struck me, using terminology that really got my attention. In my head I heard, “ding, ding, ding.” She said that we need to “upgrade our mental software.” Hmmmm, interesting concept. Very interesting! If you didn’t know, there IS science behind this!

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We hear a lot about “garbage in, garbage out,” and how we need to change the way we think. Even Zig Ziglar talked about “stinkin’ thinkin'” in his training. But, just changing the way our conscious mind thinks isn’t enough because the conscious mind isn’t in control of what we attract. Our subconscious mind is.

So, with everything I took in today I got to thinking. I’ve always been “intuitive.” For the most part, my “gut feelings” are usually right on. I’m sure many can relate. The trouble is that a lot of times I shrug off those feelings because I second guess myself. What do you think … is it my conscious mind taking control and second guessing, or my subconscious mind? You got it … it’s my subconscious mind. I’m “out of sync,” for lack of a better phrase. Consciously, I’m aware and ready to live up to my full potential, but my underlying ideas, fears, etc., are steering the ship. Ugh! This isn’t good. How have I let this happen? Without even knowing it, I’ve been holding myself back!

At this point I invite you to give yourself a gift … the gift of learning how to be “Unsinkable.” While much shorter than the webinar I attended today, this video, under eight minutes, just might change your life!

CONCLUSION: I can’t control the past because it’s behind me. I can’t control the future because it’s yet to come. I can take hold of this very moment and that’s exciting. Doesn’t the thought of that make your burden feel so much lighter? I know it does for me. This doesn’t mean that I can float through life without working toward my goals. It means that I can take control of now, start “upgrading my mental software,” and chart a new course that will completely align my conscious and subconscious thoughts. That’s pretty darn powerful. And, as a closing thought … your circle of friends are a BIG influence! You become like those you surround yourself with. Be careful not to be dragged into negativity. Seek out others who are positive and you’ll be surprised how much it rubs off on you … literally!

 LOA(3)

 

 Do you have career or life questions?

If so, comment below and I’ll be happy to respond!

 

Thanks for sharing your time with me and reading my BLOG!

Warm regards…. Debra


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Have You Been Told You’re Overqualified? How To Avoid Being Rejected.

Most people that have conducted a job search have heard the dreaded, “Sorry, but you’re overqualified.” This is a very common reason given when rejecting a person’s candidacy for an open position. If dealing with a company that responds to all applications, it can happen right after a resume is submitted. A lot of candidates ask me if this reason is really true, or if there’s more to it. That’s not an easy question to answer because, frankly, sometimes it’s true and sometimes it’s not. There are a number of reasons for this response, some of them being what I like to call “operator error!”

rejection

I’ve written about discriminatory information on resumes which can, and does, preclude people from getting an interview. It’s important to start right at the beginning to make sure your resume contains just enough of the right information to pique the interest of potential employers.

If you’ve made the first cut (resume review), there are things that you need to pay attention to. There are legitimate reasons, from an employer’s point of view, that can land you in the overqualified pile. Let’s look at them.

  • Will you be a long-term employee? There are two areas to focus on with this question, both of them being whether or not someone will be a long-term employee. One is that the closer a person is to retirement, the more concerned an employer “may” be about how long they’ll stay! It’s critical that employers don’t get a sense that someone is looking for their last “short” hurrah before retirement. The other is the concern about being used as a stepping stone … will a person leave as soon as a better offer comes along? Depending on the job, there’s a lot of training that goes into bringing on a new hire (regardless of where they are in their career). New hires can be very costly in the time and resources dedicated to training. 
  • Are you making too much money? A lot of people have a hard time with this one. Many seem to think that potential employers are deliberately out to undercut them on salary. For the most part, this isn’t true. Organizations with good HR departments are very diligent about keeping salaries at “fair market value.” There are two things they look at; 1) “external equity” — they research other competitive pay structures; and 2) “internal equity” — they try to ensure fairness in compensation for employees working similar jobs. So in this case, if you’re making above “fair market value,” or have tried to inflate your salary to get a better offer, you may get the “overqualified” rejection.
  • Will you be challenged in the position? If a potential employer gets a sense that the duties and responsibilities will not be stimulating enough (you’ll get bored), then you will be considered overqualified. It won’t matter if you’re willing to do whatever it takes because it goes back to our first bullet point above … can they keep you long-term? So, unless they are bringing you on with a mutual understanding of quickly moving you into more progressive roles, I’m afraid your chances of landing this type of position are slim to none!
  • Are you applying for the wrong jobs? This is something that happens far too often. It can be very tempting, especially for those not working, to apply for anything and everything that looks remotely interesting. This isn’t good for anyone. First of all, it sets the stage for the disappointment that comes with inevitable rejection. Additionally, this kind of approach to a job search over taxes recruiters (internal and external) who are trying to ensure the right fit for job seekers and employers alike.
  • Are you presenting yourself professionally? This is where many might get the “overqualified” response simply because it’s the nicest way to reject someone’s candidacy. I always try to counsel people about presentation. It’s one of the most important aspects of the job search. Presentation begins with your resume and ends with your interview follow up.
  • Other reasons! All kinds of things can go wrong in the interview process. Confidence can come across as arrogance … it’s a very fine line. Confidence is good, arrogance is very bad. Also, being knowledgeable can come across as being a know it all. When people get nervous, they tend to drone on and on offering way more information than interviewers are seeking (nervous on an interview). There are many more things that can land someone in the “overqualified” file … low energy, not knowing what they’re talking about, no chemistry with the interviewer, appearing unreliable, not a cultural fit, etc.

CONCLUSION:  Do your research before applying for a position. Make sure you understand the size of the organization, its culture, the salary range for the position / area, the background of the HR person to whom you are applying, etc. Look up the company online, get a good feel for the department and see if you can find the name of the manager. Research them as well. All of this is a good rule of thumb BEFORE your application preparation. Each submission should be unique to a particular opportunity. Doing your due diligence pays huge dividends in the way of more “quality” interviews!

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Do you have career or life questions?
If so, comment below and I’ll be happy to respond!

 Success(4)

 

 Do you have career or life questions?

If so, comment below and I’ll be happy to respond!

 

Thanks for sharing your time with me and reading my BLOG!

Warm regards…. Debra


We love providing you with value be it in our blog with up-to-date information about what’s going on in the workplace, tools you need to create and maintain your own success, daily quotes to keep you motivated and moving forward, options on career paths and, of course, a little fun along the way.

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2016 – Out With The Old, In With The New. Happy New Year!

As we get ready to bid 2015 a final farewell, what’s been on your mind? Have you been reflecting on the past year? Was it a good year? Did you meet or exceed your goals, or did you fall a bit short? Maybe you met or exceeded your goals in one area of your life, but not in another? Are you guilty of the ultimate mistake … overreaching on your resolutions?

I know I’ve been doing some reflecting. 2015 has been quite a ride for me with many highs and lows. I experienced a lot of new challenges in my business and personal life, some of which I never saw coming. We can plan and make all kinds of resolutions, but are we doing enough to leave room for the unexpected. Are we leaving room for “growth?”

I don’t know about you, but I tend to stick to routine. For me, deviating from routine is a challenge. This isn’t always a good thing and can be quite frustrating for those around me, not to mention the reality of me getting in my own way. Something wonderful can crop up and I’m reluctant to “stretch” a bit to give it a chance. Shoot, sometimes I don’t even recognize the GIFTS that these challenges offer. My love of routine often goes beyond being disciplined. If I had to analyze myself, I’d say it probably stems from being raised in a very strict, Southern, military family. Kind of a triple whammy! Some might call it being “inflexible.” Ouch! The truth hurts! Time to make my own choices and quit falling back on what I think is expected of me.

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So, my main focus for the coming year is to be more flexible, at least my version of flexible. We all have to start somewhere, right?! I’ve had some hard lessons over the past year, as well as some good ones. You know the old saying about making lemonade out of lemons. I’m almost an expert! {{{{SMILES}}}}.

So how do we enter into a new year with “realistic” goals and expectations, keeping in mind that there’s more than ourselves to think about? Sometimes we have to make hard choices that may not be easy or popular, but are for the best in the end. Sometimes those choices will crop up when we least expect them. We can’t plan for everything (as much as I’d personally like to), but we sure can allow wiggle room for some redirection.

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Let me share one very small example to put my thinking into perspective for you. For years I’ve had a “Quote of the Day” that goes out to anyone who chooses to subscribe. I hand pick the quotes and do them daily, Monday through Friday, and THAT hasn’t changed. But for YEARS I would do these on a daily basis in the same old format. Well, due to some personal and business growth this past year, I learned a few things that led me to make a change to the same old, ho-hum routine I had myself in. Now I have a system that allows me to be a little more creative, and lets me schedule the whole week of quotes all at one time. A bonus is that people can subscribe and unsubscribe themselves without any extra work on my part. YAY! Yes, there was a learning curve and I found myself frustrated with the extra time it took to get educated and set up the new system. But in the end, it’s a HUGE time-saver and I’m so happy with the results. Score one for Debra. VICTORY!

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I had been cruising along in my comfort zone for so long. There was nothing wrong with my old way of doing things, but I hadn’t been as good as I could be. I hadn’t been “evolving” to meet the needs of my audience, which has really been my goal all along. I didn’t know that I didn’t know, if you know what I mean. That’s my point! Are you “evolving,” or are you “stuck?” Doing what’s “easiest” because it’s “familiar” can easily keep us “stuck.” I look back now and think, “ICK!” I absolutely have more changes I need to make, but at least I’m gaining on it. Watch out world, here I come!

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CONCLUSION: Here’s my challenge to you. Just make ONE resolution … stretch beyond your comfort zone! That’s it. If you can promise yourself that, one thing will lead to another and before you know it, your life will evolve in so many fulfilling ways. Will it be uncomfortable? More than likely, yes! But, will it be rewarding in the end? That would also be a yes! You might not always be successful, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you STRETCH. Each time you do, you’ll learn something new about yourself which will ultimately make you happier. A happier you makes for a happier life for those around you too! That’s a good thing!

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Do you have career or life questions?
If so, comment below and I’ll be happy to respond!

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I wish each and every one of you growth and continued success in the coming year.

Thanks for sharing your time with me and reading my BLOG!

Until next year, I offer my warmest regards…. Debra


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Restarting A Career After An Arrest Or Felony Conviction

Over the years I’ve seen job seekers with arrest records or felony convictions. Individuals from all walks of life with a variety of work experience. For some, it’s a matter of having been in the wrong place at the wrong time. For others, they’ve made mistakes that they’re sorry for. In any case, just like anyone else, they’re trying to build a better life. Every situation is different. An arrest or conviction doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to find a great job, but it does mean there are unique challenges that must be considered.

Today’s blog is in response to a request I received on a survey I sent out last week (access here). I will try to address some of the challenges that arrests and felony convictions present in the job search. I tried, but there was no real way to shorten this blog without losing valuable content!

Whether your conviction is old, or if you’re just “re-entering” the workforce after paying your debt to society, you may feel like there’s no hope of putting your past to rest and moving forward. Quite the contrary! There are many employers willing to hire ex-offenders who are seeking a new path in life. Let’s see if we can’t put this in perspective. Please note that I’m not an attorney and am only providing practical advice and resources

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

It’s very important to have the right mindset, especially if you’ve lost your job or are just being released from incarceration. Face the fact that this IS going to be a struggle. But, whatever you do, DON’T go into a job search with the attitude that no one will hire you. You MUST have confidence! Yes, on most applications you will be asked about your record, and you will be rejected. But by facing the reality of it, you’re taking a stand against disappointment! Good news … there ARE resources that will help open doors for you.

With that said, start developing good habits right away. Get up early, get cleaned up, start organizing your job search (tools to get you started) and be prepared to go on interviews at a moment’s notice. Make sure you are well groomed and neatly / professionally dressed. This is going to be key in helping you maintain a good mindset. You must “feel the part.”

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TARGETING YOUR SEARCH

Let’s talk for a moment about what you can do to “target” your search and open doors. While the concept is the same for everyone, the nature of the conviction will dictate your approach. It’s important for you to understand that this isn’t all about you and while difficult, try not to take it personally. An employer’s first obligation is to their company and current staff. They will consider the risk (liability) of bringing someone in that could potentially put the company or any employee in harms way. Remember, they don’t know you. All they have to go on is your past work history, and your record. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples. I hope you’ll see the foundation I’m trying to lay for you. For each scenario, look at your transferable skills and see how you might apply them to other lucrative positions that won’t put you or an employer at risk.

FINANCIAL OFFENSES: If your conviction is white collar, like financial, don’t try to apply for jobs where you will be handling or have access to bank accounts or funds (banking, insurance, etc). Chances are high that you won’t be considered. There are plenty of white collar jobs you can be considered for that don’t require that you work with financial records. Depending on your record, the chances of being bonded or obtaining a security clearance are seriously hampered!

DRUG OFFENSES: If drugs lead you down the wrong path and you wound up with a felony conviction, you know what to avoid … pharmaceuticals (drug stores) and / or alcohol (bars). There are plenty of other opportunities out there where you can add value. Again, don’t put yourself in a situation that calls for scrutiny or puts you at risk for a setback if you’re an addict. Apply elsewhere.

VIOLENT OFFENSES: Admittedly, these are going to be tough. Employers are going to take great care not to put their employees or customers in situations in which they may be harmed. The liability is HUGE! Once again, try to find positions that limit your exposure to situations that might be considered risky (i.e., working with the public, in sales or with children).

Along with your other job search documents (resume, letters of recommendation, etc.), you’ll want to have any certificates of completion for classes or therapy on anger management, addiction rehabilitation, impulse control, etc. Being able to show an employer that you acknowledge your past and that you’ve been working on it will go a long way.

Something very important to note here. Finding SOMETHING is better than trying to find the “perfect” something. Getting stable work under your belt with an employer that will vouch for your stability, timeliness, character, work ethic, etc., is so critical. Just get started.

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GETTING STARTED / Transportation and Internet

Now let’s talk about how you can best get yourself in front of employers. If you’ve just been released, you might not have a car or Internet access. If that’s the case, know your options with public transportation. One of the first things you should do is locate a public library that will allow you to schedule computer time. Many libraries offer this for free but you do have to call ahead and schedule your time. You can prepare your resume, do Internet research, etc. It’s a great service so take advantage of it.

DO get out during the day and try to apply for positions in person that are close to home. A potential employer seeing you in person goes a long way vs just seeing your online submission. Chances are that if you’re applying online, you will have to answer the “felony” question on the application and you’ll never be invited for an interview.

If you do have a computer and Internet access, another very viable option is to look for work that you can do from home. There are a lot of good opportunities out there to choose from. Be careful and do your research so you don’t get sucked into any scams. Working from home could be a life-changer for you!

Lastly, BE HONEST. Be prepared to talk about your situation … where you were, and how far you’ve come. Provide reference materials and recommendations from those who have helped you in your rehabilitation. Understand that getting out there and working is a part of your rehabilitation.

RESOURCES

Trending: There’s been a National movement to remove the conviction “box” from applications that label you before you’ve had a chance to be considered for a position (read about it here). This doesn’t mean the employer won’t find out, it just means that you will have an opportunity to interview before the information is exposed in a background check (after an offer of employment). “Postponing the question gives a prospective employee an opportunity to explain the circumstances of the crime, to point out how long it has been since it was committed, and to present evidence of rehabilitation.”

Post prison
Programs By State * Returning to the Workforce * Housing, Employment, News, Legal Services

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CONCLUSION:   Be prepared! Know what offenses / convictions are showing in public records so that you can deal with them accordingly. Second, make sure you are in touch with advocacy groups (a few referenced above) as they will have knowledge and resources available that you are unaware of. I also recommend volunteering where you can. You might try animal rescue groups, for example. This is a great way to get some experience back on your resume and to do something meaningful with your time. Finally, don’t blame others for your current situation. Taking responsibility shows a lot of integrity and maturity.

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Do you have career or life questions?

If so, comment below and I’ll be happy to respond!

 

Thanks for sharing your time with me and reading my BLOG!

Warm regards…. Debra


We love providing you with value be it in our blog with up-to-date information about what’s going on in the workplace, tools you need to create and maintain your own success, daily quotes to keep you motivated and moving forward, options on career paths and, of course, a little fun along the way.

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How To Find A Job If You Have A Disability

I sent out a survey the other day (access here) asking for your input on what challenges you face when it comes to job search or employment-related issues. I received many responses, but one really touched me and I wanted to address it right away. The response was from someone that found themselves suddenly disabled. They want to know how to secure a local, low-stress job. Without knowing the details of the situation, I’m going to have to address it in a very general manner.

First of all, I would like to commend this individual for not giving up! It takes a lot of courage to make a decision to forge on! I’m so happy to be able to respond and am hopeful that the information I’m providing here will be helpful.

We need to consider something first. If you’ve applied for or been granted Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”), there are restrictions on earning additional income. If you have SSDI, you don’t want to do something that would compromise your benefits or put you in a situation to have to repay the government. You DO have options if you are able to work a few hours here and there!

DISCLAIMER: I’m not an attorney so I’m not offering legal advice … Instead, the links below will help you understand your options. 

1) Disability Secrets
2) Social Security Administration
3) Americans With Disabilities Act

If you’re on SSDI, I’d recommend that you watch this video by attorneys Sharon Christie (Social Security Disability attorney) and Ben Glass (Virginia attorney)….

Okay, I’m going to assume you’ve visited the links above and watched the video. If so, you should have a pretty good understanding of your legal and monetary obligations. I will now offer some practical suggestions for those that are not on SSDI.

There are different types of disabilities and, therefore, different challenges and employment options to consider. For the most part, employers are required to offer “reasonable accommodations” to those with disabilities. In a perfect world, all employers would be able to support the needs of any disabled person who wishes to join their company. However, that’s just not possible. For example, if you are blind or wheelchair bound, it’s just not reasonable to expect that you will be able to sell beverages in the stands at a professional ballgame. Navigating stairs and aisles is just not a realistic expectation. However, you might be able to sell beverages at a walk-up counter where people line up for their purchase. See my point?!

My first bit of advice would be to look at your particular situation and start analyzing what types of positions in which you could be productive and provide the most value. DON’T focus on what you are unable to do, focus on what you CAN do! I’m a firm believer that there’s a place for everyone! Truly!!   

The first step is evaluating your skills and revamping your resume so as to target positions wherein you are able to provide value! This is where you’ll want to look at your “transferable skills.” Don’t be afraid to consider positions that appear to be something you would qualify for … disability included! On the flip-side, don’t set yourself up for disappointment by applying for positions that are clearly not a fit or that you would not be able to effectively navigate even with reasonable accommodations.

EMPLOYERS: If you’re looking for a good resource on the topic of reasonable accommodations, I found a group that updates their page regularly and encourages employers to connect with them. If you need help, click here> Job Accommodation Network

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CONCLUSION:  Regardless of your special needs, you have options … especially in today’s business environment. While limited in my response due to my lack of information on the situation, the bottom line is that business today offers more and more flexibility. It’s up to us, individually, to take control. We are the ones that know our situation intimately. Step up and set some goals and craft an irresistible plan that no employer can turn down. There truly are options out there for just about anyone in any situation (see disclaimers above). You DO have options!

 

Do you have career or life questions?

If so, comment below and I’ll be happy to respond!

 

Thanks for sharing your time with me and reading my BLOG!

Warm regards…. Debra


We love providing you with value be it in our blog with up-to-date information about what’s going on in the workplace, tools you need to create and maintain your own success, daily quotes to keep you motivated and moving forward, options on career paths and, of course, a little fun along the way.

 Need Resume Help?
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