Five Reasons Your Networking Is Hurting Your Career

Studies for the past 40 years have reported that between 45% and 70% of all jobs are found through networking, yet most career seekers spend a minor portion of their job search time networking. If you are a typical seeker, then the first reason networking is hurting your career is because you are not doing enough of it. Do more … and you can uncover more opportunities sooner.
I enjoy networking and make it a part of my activities on an ongoing basis, mostly meeting one on one with other business people and entrepreneurs. After twelve years of consistent networking, I seek to limit the amount of time I spend with job seekers because they tend to be too self-focused (I am being polite). Just last week, I had a two hour meeting in which the seeker spoke about himself and his situation almost the entire time. So, if you are a typical career seeker, the second reason networking is hurting your career is because you are too self-centered and turn people off. Be more balanced in your networking discussions … and you will develop more interpersonal rapport sooner.
Most career seekers lack clear goals for their networking. They meet and talk, then leave with parting comments such as “If you hear of an opportunity that you think would fit me, please let me know.” So, if you are a typical career seeker, the third reason networking is hurting your career is because you are not making effective requests for action from the people you meet. Ask for introductions to specific, useful contacts … and you will connect with new quality people who increase your odds of success.
When you request someone to meet with you in person or chat over the phone, they expect you to have an agenda. Most career seekers, however, don’t. They have rambling, casual conversations that tend to lead nowhere. So, if you are a typical career seeker, the fourth reason networking is hurting your career is because you fail to have a pre-planned agenda that guides your conversations. In the networking chapter of my career book, I recommend a simple and effective four stage agenda for your networking meetings and calls … warm them up, seek to identify ways to help the other person, discuss your needs and get useful introductions, and recap who has what action items to be accomplished in what time frames. Follow this recipe … and you will better insure your meetings are more effective.
Your follow through (or lack thereof) during your networking gives people ideas as to how organized you are. Most career seekers fail to follow up in a timely manner or do so in an unprofessional manner, which makes them wonder if this will be your behavior with others such as contacts to which they introduce you. So, if you are a typical career seeker, the fifth reason networking is hurting your career is because you don’t follow through in a timely or professional manner. Improve your behaviors in this important area … and you will generate results sooner.
While I could give several other reasons your networking may be hurting your career based upon networking with hundreds of career seekers, this is a good sampling of some of the more notable things to consider when you next decide to put yourself out there.

Five Tips for Improving Your Attitude

Are you happy with your boss, your income, your career progression to date, your opportunities for advancement, your choice of profession, your industry’s outlook and your employer’s culture? If so, then you probably don’t need to read this. If you are not happy with any of these, however, I want to help you. Consider this….
Most of us have been encouraged to get a good education and become knowledgeable in our professions. Many have spent thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of hours earning credentials and gaining professional expertise. While these (may) have been good investments in your career and your future, how much of that time did you invest in thoughtfully developing and improving your attitude? If your answer is “Not much”, then please keep reading!
I suggest in the first chapter of my career book that “Attitude is important in landing a job, keeping a job, and being proactively prepared to change jobs.” Beyond this, I also believe your attitude is an important contributor to having a satisfying career and happy life. If you would like more career satisfaction and happiness, then it will definitely be worth your time to try one or more of these five tips for improving your attitude:
1. Select a point in time during your work day and monitor your thoughts for ten to twenty minutes. Categorize each thought you have as positive or negative. Avoid cheating by labeling thoughts as neutral. Keep score and see how you do. Make a game out of rephrasing your negative thoughts into positive ones.
2. With your physician’s agreement, start a consistent exercise program that is appropriate for your current health condition. Get your endorphins flowing! They naturally make you feel better and that contributes to a more positive disposition.
3. Notice the types of media you consume and consider eliminating as many negative inputs as possible. Examples would be most television news programs, movies that are violent or lack uplifting story lines, and publications that focus on what’s wrong with the world. Reducing negative inputs and replacing them with positive ones is likely to help support a better mood.
4. Pay attention to the people with whom you associate. Are they predominantly happy and positive … or not? Increasing your time spent with positive people and reducing or eliminating the negatives will definitely be beneficial.
5. Last, but certainly not least, seek out a capable life coach or (if you are more serious about this quest) psychologist. My wife is a psychologist and virtually every person I have sent her way in the past eight years has benefitted.
Your attitude is always showing. You project it in every interaction with your boss, your peers, your subordinates, your friends and your family. They may not notice in all cases and they may not tell you even when they notice something that is unflattering. However, you are putting it out there all the time … like CNN or Fox News.
I believe you deserve the best career possible, not just some mundane job that pays the rent and puts food on the table. Don’t you?
You have the power to improve your career results…. and your attitude can be one of your biggest contributors to your success. Try some of my tips this week and let me know what you think.

Five Reasons Your Attitude Is Hurting Your Career

This post is about trying to help you, not about criticizing you. Please consider it in that light.
Your attitude is one of the most important factors in creating your long-term career happiness. As noted in the first chapter of my career book, “Attitude is important in landing a job, keeping a job, and being proactively prepared to change jobs.”
Whether you recognize it or not, your attitude IS affecting your career…. either positively or negatively. In this article, I want to help alert you if it could be retarding your progress or standing in the way of achieving the career results you desire.
If you are happy with your boss, your peers, your subordinates, your income, your job title, your career progression, your opportunity for advancement, your profession, your industry, and your employer’s culture, then the odds are high that your attitude is in good shape. If you are not happy with one or more of these items, however, then one or more of the following “yellow flags” could be worth examining:
1. You have a troll for a boss who makes your workdays unpleasant, possibly because you attracted him/her or because you have stayed in your job when you know you should have left long ago.
2. You have jerks on your team who you don’t enjoy, possibly because you lack the self-confidence to professionally confront them or to refer the situation to someone with the authority to correct the situation.
3. You have a troublesome employee who is disruptive to your team, possibly because you feel you do not have the power to replace him or her.
4. Your income has become stagnant or dropped and this is creating financial stress, possibly because you don’t feel comfortable promoting your value within your employer or to other employers.
5. Your job title makes your position sound less responsible than it is and this creates a perception problem on your resume, possibly because you have not advocated strongly enough to have your title corrected/improved.
Yes, Virginia, I actually have the unmitigated gall to suggest that you have created your current career circumstances through your own personal choices and that those choices are likely to have been influenced by your attitude. Conversely, I want to offer you the genuine possibility that you have the power to improve all of these situations. Not by complaining. Not overnight. Not from terrible to fantastic in one fell swoop. But yes. You have the power to improve them.
How? Please stay tuned. I promise to address this in a few weeks. Until then, consider conducting some internet searches and seek out articles that offer ways to improve your attitude. The rewards could be huge!

Five Reasons Your Profession Is Hurting Your Career

When I graduated from college with a degree in electrical engineering, that was the only credential I could use to market myself to prospective employers. In an ideal world, employers would have gotten to know me and determined that I had potential to do many things, tested me to define my talents and motivations, and established an individualized development plan that would launched me onto a path to become “the best that I could be” in their organization. Unfortunately, the world was not ideal then and still is not.
I was stereotyped (branded) as an engineer and hired to do a job that engineers do. I succeeded, so I was given opportunities to make more money and get promotions by doing more engineering stuff. But, seven years out of college, I was a registered professional engineer who was burnt out on engineering … and decided I needed a change. I proactively moved into HR training and development (training engineers), then into marketing, then into sales.
The point of all this is that, had I been passive and let my employers lead me in my career, I would have gotten “stuck” in a sequence of engineering roles. I would have had far less autonomy, enjoyment and income.
So, I want to propose to you a pretty disruptive (but, for many, necessary) challenge to your status quo: Choosing a profession and sticking with it may be a bad strategy for your future happiness and income. Here are five reasons your current profession may be hurting your career…
1. You are in a profession that does not match “you”. With thousands of possible choices and the vast majority of people not having insightful guidance, it is highly likely you are not even close to being in one that is an excellent fit.
2. You are in a profession that has poor prospects for the future. Face it. Your entry level customer service job at the local bank branch is never going to get you very far.
3. Your profession doesn’t allow you to grow your career. Sitting in a call center answering customer complaints will isolate you from others who could help you in your career. It will also numb your mind.
4. You are in a profession that is associated with a depressed or dying industry. All of my corporate career was in the telecom industry and (other than mobile) that industry has been in trouble for over a decade, so becoming an expert could be career-limiting.
5. You are in a profession/industry that is not well respected. Even if you are the top producer in your state for Amway, I am still going to start itching if I have to sit and listen to your pitch about becoming one of your “down-lines.”
As mentioned in Chapter 3 of Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!):
“A survey by The Conference Board indicated that employee job satisfaction dropped from 61% in 1987 to 45% in 2009. This has been an ongoing trend. I believe that two major factors contributing to job dissatisfaction are self-limiting beliefs and mismatches with current professions.”
It’s hard to correct counterproductive beliefs in a 600 word blog post, but getting you thinking about your choice of profession just might be within my power. I hope so, because the vast majority of people I meet are in a profession that is not a strong match.
Sometimes people who are unhappy in their work are in the wrong culture, working for the wrong type boss, or at the wrong level in the organization. For many, though, they are in the wrong profession. If you have some doubt, then I hope you will rethink your choice (if it was a choice at all) of profession and begin considering new options. Good luck and best wishes!

Five Reasons Your Mother Is Hurting Your Career

I realize I am treading on thin ice here, hoping to not get too much hate mail. After all, most people love their mothers and appreciate the many things their mothers did for them. So, why would I pick on your mother? Because she may have given you some advice that doesn’t really work for you in today’s employment world.

Mom (or possibly dad) was born in a different time. She did her best based upon the information she had available. However, some of that advice may be obsolete. Here are five examples of mom’s advice that may be hurting you in your career:
1. “Get a good education.” High school diploma: check. Undergrad degree in something meaningful: maybe, but many people get 4 year degrees when a 2 year associate degree or training in a trade would be better. Graduate degree: probably not, for most people.
2. “Study something practical, like accounting or mathematics. You have a talent for working with numbers.” Maybe, maybe not. Charting your life course and education by following a talent can be misguided. Equally important are passion/motivation, income potential, work/life balance, etc.
3. “Get a job with a well established bigger company, where there will be more security.” Large companies continue to discover how bloated and inefficient they are … little by little. Why live with that looming over your head? Growing smaller companies offer more security.
4. “Don’t jump around between jobs. ” If mom meant jumping every year, then yes. But, jumping jobs every three years or so is fine in today’s market. No one will get very nervous with this and you can make proactive job changes that get you more of what you want… sooner.
5. “Work hard, do a good job, and you will be rewarded.” Unlikely. I discuss this last-century belief in the last chapter of my book Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!). Be careful. Better people skills, insightful political maneuvering, and increased self-promotion tend to pay bigger dividends than hard work.

Mom meant well, but we all have to live, experience, and evaluate in order to grow. I hope that my challenges to mom’s advice will get you thinking about these and other beliefs that may be holding you back in your career. If you feel any of these are not working for you in your career, examine them carefully and consider scrapping them. Good luck and best wishes!

Seven Reasons Recruiters Are Hurting Your Career

My first two posts in this series were Seven Reasons Your Resume Is Hurting Your Career and Seven Reasons Your Employer Is Hurting Your Career. This time, let’s examine ways recruiters may be hurting your career and things you can do to avoid such situations.
Often I meet job seekers who say the are “looking for a good recruiter.” When I ask them why, many say it is because they are looking for help in finding a job. These job seekers are laboring under the misunderstanding that they can find a recruiter that will help them. But, of course, recruiters work for employers and not for individual job seekers. Why? Follow the money.

Most recruiters I know are good people. They want to help others find jobs. But their focus is on filling positions with the best job seekers, a process that rewards them with a paycheck if they are an internal corporate recruiter or with a one-time fee if they are an external third party recruiter. In the process of doing their jobs, some of their actions can hurt unsuspecting job seekers. Here are seven problems recruiters can pose in your career and future job searches:
1. They post “jobs” that do not exist, which results in lost time applying for such postings, revising resumes, writing cover letters, etc. You can avoid much of this by minimizing the number of job postings you pursue.
2. They make the job application process laborious with questionnaires, testing, etc. As with #1, you can avoid much of this wasted time by minimizing the number of job postings you pursue.
3. They post jobs whose requirements cannot be met by most mere mortals, which results in missed opportunities for those who don’t even try (and might have had sufficient qualifications to land the job). You can avoid missing these opportunities by ignoring the impossibilities and pressing onward with your pursuit when such jobs are with employers you desire.
4. They ignore your resume, even though you would be a good match, because they are inexperienced and don’t see how you would fit . You can avoid being ignored by networking your way into the company and having someone recommend you direct to the hiring manager… thus short-circuiting such recruiters.
5. They perform screening interviews based upon rigid, check-the-boxes criteria and miss the fact you could be a superstar in the job. You can avoid being passed over by making sure you interject your brilliant information (such as why you are a great fit for the job) in your interviews and communications.
6. They aren’t very good, but pose as career coaches, resume writers, etc. as a way of supplementing their income. Some such recruiters provide good services, but you need to avoid the bad ones by checking how long they have been providing such services, their recommendations on LinkedIn, and their references.
7. They submit your resume to a desirable employer before you do, which can create major complications as mentioned in Chapter 8 of Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!), “The employer may be interested but, because they have received the resume from a recruiter, they may decide to pass on the job seeker…”

You can avoid some of these conflicts, which only occur with external third-party recruiters, by requesting they notify you before submitting your resume to employers. Positive relationships with recruiters can be very helpful. Now that you know situations that may not be helpful, you can better avoid them and improve your odds of success! Good luck and best wishes.

Seven Reasons Your Employer Is Hurting Your Career

I was recently approached by two different employees of a successful $2B+ Atlanta company. They both were unsatisfied with their career situations and wondering if they should look for better opportunities. Both were very smart, highly motivated, and well accomplished… the type employees you would likely rank a 9 out of 10. I referred them to http://www.glassdoor.com/, where their CEO was rated 2.8 out of 5 by fellow employees, which equates to a 5.6 out of 10. In general, motivated 9′s don’t enjoy working in large corporations run by 5.6 CEO’s.
In an effort to help you identify specific items you can address to improve YOUR career situation, last week we discussed Seven Reasons Your Resume Is Hurting Your Career. This week, let’s examine the possibility that your choice of employer could be a problem that needs your attention. As I note in Chapter 4 of Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!),
” The evolving job market is taking its toll on reactive workers in such companies because their inaction effectively gives control of their careers over to their stumbling employers. Betting your future on an employer with unimaginative leadership is a poor strategy in the 21st century.”
When you choose a new employer or choose to stay working for your current employer, your choice has many implications for your career and happiness. In the 21st century employment market, these choices are more important than ever before. Your employer can motivate and reward you… or not. Here are some situations in which your current employer (or a prospective new employer) may hurt your career:
1. The company has a poor image… and your image may suffer from “guilt by association”.
2. The company has a poor culture… and your attitude and motivation may wither.
3. The company tolerates poor managers… and your happiness and success may suffer working for a bad one.
4. The company does not develop their employees… and you may be stuck in a repetitive, dead-end job.
5. The company’s financial performance is poor… and your success and job may be jeopardized.
6. The company undervalues their employees… and you may be underpaid for your contributions.
7. The company makes you feel valued with awards and recognition… and you may continue to work there without recognizing many other rewards that are missing, such as income and promotions.
Are any of these employer situations hurting you in your career? If so, I hope this will stimulate you to take an honest accounting of your situation and, if warranted, seek out something better (internally or externally). You don’t have to settle for something less than you deserve.
On the other hand, if you are fortunate enough to have reviewed these seven factors and determined they are not problems for you, then by all means stay where you are and give thanks for being in one of the better employers. Good luck and best wishes!