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Advancing your career

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Advancing your career

  1. 1. Advancing your career Motivation, mentors and networks. These are three key ways to get your career moving ahead. Advancing your career Enhance your success with internal applications Get noticed, get promoted Getting that raise How to handle a job performance REVIEW Job reference FAQ Manage your career & your "Me Inc" Moving up from junior jobs Now you're the boss The changing world of work Cut that hair! Polish those shoes! Nine tips for starting out (or starting over) How to jump into the global workplace Lateral moves checklist The second time around When should you make a career move? How to write your resignation letter Interviewing after a job loss Leaving a job gracefully The secret of reinvention Advancing your career Motivation, mentors, and networks by Pat Boer Think an MBA or law degree will advance your career? Think twice. Experts say the best way to advance is by having a trusted and powerful mentor. A mentor is a person who advises and coaches you, offers support, and acts as your advocate. From the beginning, a mentor shows you the ropes, introduces you to the right people, and points you in the right direction, suggesting training and professional development opportunities for career advancement. In short, a mentor works to ensure that you receive advantages for advancement. Few are lucky enough to have mentors tooting their horns. Most stumble along or believe success depends upon qualifications and credentials. Credentials do open doors, yet advancement requires more, including motivation and multiple networks. Motivation is the toughest. Start, by recognising that you're in charge. You have skills and talents and like any professional, you need support. Lots of it. You need more than one person, too. Staying motivated over the long haul takes networks of people to tap. Whether to relax, find assistance with projects, or gain career advise on promotions and raises, three types of networks will help you move forward. Personal networks: Family and friends, like-minded people whose eyes light up when they see you. These are the people who make you feel good or recharged when you're around them, who love you, and who want to see you happy. Making time for your personal network is absolutely necessary for motivation.
  2. 2. Social networks: These are networks of acquaintances you see less often. They are people you have fun with and see at parties, or people who enjoy similar hobbies such as working out, hiking, cycling, or going to the movies. If you're new in town, develop and expand your social networks by meeting people at places you enjoy, or by taking continuing education classes or volunteering in your community. Professional networks: These are groups of people you meet even less often than social acquaintances. You see them at alumni gatherings, at professional meetings, or in the workplace. Professional networks also include former coworkers, bosses, academic advisers, and professors. Included, too, are career counsellors, who can be hired as personal mentors, coaching you to press forward and attain your goals. Although there are no guarantees for advancement, staying motivated and paying your dues through personal, social, and professional networks will earn you a positive reputation. If you begin to tap your networks and take action on your goals, you'll be motivated to move forward. If not, it may be time to see a career counsellor for a review of your accomplishments and goals. You may realise, too, that making lateral moves or continuing your role at a deeper level, is the best form of career advancement and personal reward. Centre for Career/Life Planning © 1999 Enhance your success with internal applications by Paul Stevens Founder / Director, The Centre for Worklife Counselling Work through the following to identify where you can improve and so enhance your eligibility for a successful application. Develop a reputation for timeliness Complete your tasks on time so that the person supervising your work rates your accomplishment well. Know what the boss wants Priorities and task objectives change - sometimes with bewildering frequency. Check with your boss to ensure you are giving the proper scheduling emphasis to your range of tasks. Use your people skills Thank those who help you - both work colleagues and those in other sections whose work flow intersects with yours. Acknowledge when a contribution from another helps your performance outcomes. Be cheerful People like optimistic and cheerful work colleagues. Your feelings are picked up by others so look for opportunities to express good things about your work and the environment where you do it. Know what your employer is about Keep up-to-date. Search out information about the overall objectives and strategy plans for your work unit, your division, the organisation. Attend briefing meetings, pay particular attention to the relationships between departments and divisions. © 2000 by Worklife Pty Ltd, Sydney Get noticed, get promoted by Barbara Reinhold 1. COME EARLY, STAY LATE. Put in as much time as the competition does (or work for a right- minded firm that values productivity more than "face time"). But if you're in one of those places where working longer is the currency, you'd better do it too. 2. NETWORK. Get to know people who are in the business of identifying the "bright lights" in your organisation and in your field. Tactfully, let them know what you're doing, and ask for their input from time to time.
  3. 3. 3. LEARN, LEARN, LEARN. Improve your skills all the time, and figure out how to let your boss know you're doing it. 4. ANALYZE. Figure out what really matters to your boss and to your boss's boss -- and put your creative energies to work on those projects or problems. 5. PSYCHOLOGIZE. Master the art of working effectively with people different from you. You might also ask the HR folks where you work to run an MBTI workshop for your whole unit -- that always generates interest and gives "permission" to talk about different styles. 6. ABOVE ALL, BE HAPPY! Keep your complaints to yourself and a very few people you trust -- spend your time talking about positive new ideas and plans. Getting that raise Question: How do I prepare for a performance evaluation and ask for a raise? Answer: You're right to want to prepare -- you need to go in to the session with a clear sense of how your efforts are accomplishing the organisation's goals, and be prepared to insert that evidence into the conversation wherever appropriate. Use some good listening skills here -- make little "deposits" into the flow of the conversation; don't just "dump" all at once. In a good year, most organisations are willing to give between 3.5% (about cpi) and 10%. Don't set yourself up for disappointment by expecting too much! Be clear and logical -- and be sure to practice with a tape recorder and another person playing the boss. Have the other person be cantankerous and ask why you want a raise at all. It will seem silly while you're doing it, but you'll be glad for the practice in the end! Good luck! How to handle a job performance review by Sylvia Ho 1. Try to find a career path for the job you are in. What is the next logical promotion or job that would give you greater responsibilities if you do your job well? Is it higher paying, does it have more responsibilities? If there is no career path and you are ambitious, you may realise that you are in a dead-end job and decide to start looking around. If, on the other hand, doing your job well may lead to a promotion, you will want to know what it is that you have to do to get the promotion! 2. Get your supervisor to explain in detail what the measurements of good performances are: What do you need to do in order to get ahead in the job you already have, or move laterally, or get an increase in pay? 3. Agree with your supervisor on your plan for accomplishments this next year. This way, you and s/he can be on the same wavelength as to how you meet these measurements, and you can feel confident about getting an excellent performance rating or a promotion for the next review. 4. By the way, don't argue or take things personally. It never works. The review is not a reflection or your own accomplishments or self-worth -- it's only a perspective of the reviewer given a set of priorities that the reviewer has. Try to find out where the reviewer is coming from and get a sense of his/her plans for the department, so that you can know how to deal with him or her in this next year. 5. If this does not turn out to be a good review, QUIETLY look for another job. Between the boss and the subordinate in a performance review, the boss usually wins! Good luck!
  4. 4. Job reference FAQ's by Barbara Reinhold Question: What are references good for? Who is a good or bad reference? What are these people asked? Are they really contacted by employers? What if the employer can't reach them? Why is it bad to lie on a resume? Are the past employers contacted? What are they asked? Can an employer find out about a person through a totally different source? How is a new employee checked out by a company? What does the company do when it receives a resume? Do they bother if they see that the person was in a foreign country for a few years? Answer: Lots of questions there -- let's try a few. First off, a reference gives you a chance to get your cheering squad in order, and so you want to choose people who are pretty smart and articulate and who can "sell" the prospective employer on your good qualities. It goes without saying that you need to choose folks who like you. Take your reference list to the interview with you, and make sure that you have the correct name, address, title, and phone number for each person on it. Many potential employers will want to talk with your last supervisor, so if that person is not on your list, they'll want to know why. They might indeed call your last employer without your permission, and they are also free to gather information about you in any way they can. Some employers now ask permission to look up your credit rating and debt history, on the assumption that if you can't handle your personal finances well, then you might make a mess of your work with them. Why not lie on a resume? Because people find out -- and then you get fired because they figure you're not trustworthy. As for having been out of the country, it depends on what you were doing and where you were, for fairly obvious reasons. The bottom line of all of this is that your past does follow you, and the fabrications you try to pass off as truth almost always come to light eventually. Manage your career & your "Me Inc" by Alicia Karwat This article provides a framework to manage your career in the new work place paradigm of "Me Inc.". The same career management principles apply regardless of whether you want to take charge of your career in your current organisation or you are looking for opportunities somewhere else. You need to recognise the fact that your "Me Inc" has to be 'built-to-last' because it is you and your long-life career. The essence of your success is your attitude and communication in terms of benefits: let people know what you can do for them, and how your service can benefit them, instead of telling them what they can do for you. The other steps follow. Invest in your "Me Inc" Develop yourself and your career to ensure career security as opposed to job security. Invest in the annual "What Color Is Your Parachute" by Bolles. You will learn from this practical manual for job-hunters and career changers what career management is about. The higher you go in business, the more your technical skills are taken as given. Hard skills and sheer professional competence do not assure you recognition and rewards. It is all the rest that turns out to be the difference that makes the difference. If professional skills are taken for granted, what really makes the difference is the range of 'soft' skills - communication, influencing, self-management and the ability to motivate others.
  5. 5. Consider taking on a personal coach to provide structure and encouragement for your personal development. Coaching is action and results oriented and a personal coach will work with you so you can help yourself to develop and progress in a direction of your choice. Search the Web to find more about career/life management coaching. Keep up to date with the developments in your field. Join professional associations and other bodies which might provide a platform for your career development. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) principles are also worth learning and applying. NLP is a psychology of excellence. It provides tools to program your mind to become competent and excel in anything you truly want to achieve. Invest in a little book written by O'Connor, J., and I. McDermott "Principles of NLP" and decide whether it is for you or not. Networking Let people know what you are doing, how you see your career and what your plans are. Identify all key people you should have contact with. Include anyone whose opinion of you and your performance could be expected to have a bearing on your future (in your organisation, in professional associations, business and communities groups, etc). Talk to your key people, exchange e-mails, ask for advice and information, and share information. Make sure that people you need to influence are aware of you and that their awareness of you is positive and well founded. Create opportunities to demonstrate how you can add value for each of the key people and for your potential employers. Your purpose is not necessarily to have them employ you. It is rather to make them comfortable with the idea of referring you to someone who might employ you. You are the "Me Inc" brand ,p>Think of yourself as a brand. Market yourself. Ensure that you have real brand recognition and brand awareness among your key people, so that they know who you are and what you are good at without asking for your resume. You are the "Me Inc" offer Think of yourself as an offer (product and service simultaneously). You are an offer on the employment market and you must know whether the offer matches the markets needs. Find out where you can make a difference. How do people see you at present? What are the gaps between the offer and the market expectation from the offer? The offer is you, so create unexpected benefits to make a reassessment of you. Where are you in your own offer life-cycle? If you think that you are in the decline stage of your current career, it may be time to invent a new offer. Reinvent yourself. Moving up from junior jobs by Joyce Lain Kennedy Question: Dear Joyce: After two years on the job, how can I get a promotion from my lowly position in a bank handling customer complaints to a more responsible one in consumer analysis? I have a bachelor's degree in consumer science and a minor in finance, high scores and hefty book- learning; this bank is peopled with average thinkers and self-made managers. -- A.J. Answer: You, A.J., should use this robust job market to start over at higher pay with a new employer. Your description sounds as though you're a fish out of water in your current environment. To all readers: When you want to move up to the next level of responsibility, spend time with yourself mustering courage and self-confidence. Follow these steps to freedom from the entry-level rut: 1. Record your achievements. Prepare two advancement-value files to record your qualifications that merit advancement. Use the first one to store documentation of newly acquired skills,
  6. 6. knowledge and experience. Stumped? Stimulate recognition by glancing over listings of skills found in many career-advancement books. Create a second advancement-value file of your accomplishments and positive performance reviews or verbal compliments from peers, customers and supervisors. These files document your ability to do the quality of work required in a higher-level position. 2. Make a comparison. Working from job descriptions and interviews with people who do the job you want, create a document that compares the content of your two advancement-value files with the requirements of the position you want. Anticipate how you will plug any gaps you discover with training or self-study. 3. Get some feedback. Find a friend who is willing to suffer through your negotiating practice sessions using your advancement comparison document and give you feedback. If management won't let you do the job you want immediately, be able, at least, to "talk the job" so your name will pop to mind when a vacancy occurs. 4. Find some role models. The next step in your pursuit of promotion is to identify role models in your company who have been moved up to the level of the position you want. Observe and ask questions. Pay attention to how they... get attention network involve themselves in decision-making forward ideas and suggestions showcase skills handle stress reflect company goals dress, speak, and behave implement a work ethic show a good attitude communicate and listen Back off a few degrees from copycatting, but it makes sense to pattern yourself in the winning directions. Now you're the boss Make a graceful exit from your old position. This means wrapping up projects, leaving clean files with current updates, and paving a smooth path for your successor. Create good relationships early on. Make a pointed effort to meet your new colleagues and all the staff who'll be working for you. Learn what their responsibilities are. Speak the language of inclusion. Rather than using "I" sentences at staff meetings, consider using "we" and "our" sentences. This will foster a sense of collaboration. Show trust in your staff. They'll put more pride in their work and appreciate your faith in them. Utilise your new employees' strengths. Appeal to the experience and knowledge of staff members who are older than you. Find out what motivates your younger employees, and then set goals for them. Lead by example, and your staff will follow. Management training can help you learn many techniques for handling people in a business environment. Don't get bogged down in details. Now you need to focus on getting results from others. You should spend time on broader issues and delegate responsibility to your direct reports. Be sensitive to corporate culture. Resist the temptation to change standard operating procedures too quickly, before you fully understand the environment. Develop a style of management that is fair and consistent. Supervise employees equally, even if you are managing old friends or people you don't particularly like. Seek out a new set of professional peers and mentors. Your fellow managers can provide excellent advice, feedback, politics and history related to your job.
  7. 7. Strive for personal balance. You may feel like you have less time for family and hobbies, but it's important than ever to maintain balance between work and play. The right combination will keep you more focused. A promotion can be exciting, challenging, rewarding, and even stressful. But the key to climbing the corporate ladder with confidence is to be aware of crucial issues and take proactive steps to prevent them from becoming problems. The changing world of work by Paul Stevens Founder / Director, The Centre for Worklife Counselling When you are considering a career action step, you need to assess the changes occurring where you work. Most employment environments are changing from what we have been accustomed to. Here are some of the implications of these changes for our personal career management: Previously Now Predictable futures Less certainty and more ambiguity in job roles. Targeting moves to a specific job Matching yourself with work content based on your values Carrying outset tasks Frequent task changes and working in teams. Stable work situation Shifting organsiational needs Having one job title Having a range of roles; juggling many functions Staying in one occupational stream Transferring your skills into many work fields Avoiding change Embracing change Defining career success by indicators from others Inner definition of self and what is worthwhile Living with certainty Thriving in uncertainty © 2000 Worklife Pty Ltd, Sydney Cut that hair! Polish those shoes! nine tips for starting out (or starting over) by Pat Boer Starting out your career takes a lot of motivation and energy. Starting over on a new career path can be just as (if not more) difficult. Depending on your point of view, the first step may be the simplest. It's easy when you are confident and know what you want. But it's more complicated when you don't know where to begin or when you dread making that initial move. So get energised by trying one or all of these tips. 1. Have your hair styled or cut: Good grooming is essential to making a good first impression. You may find looking good makes you feel good and gives you confidence. 2. Shop for an interview outfit: You'll need appropriate attire for your interviews. Why not buy now and be prepared? Just as having your hair styled may jump-start your search, investing in the right outfit is another way to gain a professional edge. 3. Get reconnected: If you've put off your search, chances are you've also withdrawn from family and friends. You may have avoided them because you hate answering the question, "Have you found a job yet?" If you think you need to land a job on your own, give it up. That's a myth! No one succeeds alone. Get reconnected and stop cutting yourself off from the very people who care and can help. 4. Visit a large bookstore: Browse the career section of large bookstores. Here you'll find lounge areas where you can relax as you review the latest books on career fields. Recently I found a great
  8. 8. book for horse lovers, 50 Careers for Horse Lovers. Other publications highlighted emerging jobs, like environmental zoo consultant, as well as unusual small businesses, like farming butterflies to release at weddings instead of throwing rice. 5. Take vocational tests: If you still haven't a clue about what you want, invest in vocational tests. Many vocational tests, now available on the Web, help you identify career values and employment options. Some, like the Strong and MBTI, require you to contact a career counsellor. Others are self-tests, like the Holland Self-Directed Search and the Values Identification Inventory. 6. See a career counsellor: If you prefer talking things out or want individualised attention (and who doesn't), find a qualified career counsellor to help you sort through your interests and make plans. A career counsellor will help you focus your goals, prepare your resume, and help you prep for interviews. 7. Surf the Net: Monster.com.au offers many ways to find jobs. It's a great way to visit companies, learn about job openings, or ask questions of the Jobdoctor. Our Jobdoctor can help you find the information or tips you need. 8. Join a professional or trade association: This is a great way to find a wealth of information on your field and keep abreast of trends and salaries. Most associations also have job banks. And don't say your can't afford it. If you want to be successful, you need to pay your dues -- literally. In return, you'll find an easy way to get connected and gain support from people who share your ideas and values. If you want an inside track and an easy way to network, this is the place to start. 9. Trust the process: Once a ball starts rolling it gathers momentum; so does a job search. Once you start the process it has a life of its own. As you begin, you'll find opportunities and eventually receive offers. Why? Because, all over the country we are hearing that now is the best time to be looking. So take your pick -- there's lots of ways to start. You just need to do it! Centre for Career/Life Planning © 1999 How to jump into the global workplace by Joyce Lain Kennedy Question: Dear Joyce: Single at 32, with a new MBA in hand, I'd like to get a private-sector overseas assignment on my resume. Other than employment by consulting firms, government and universities, what other avenues should I consider? -- K.L.L. Answer: Increasingly, big modern companies have international roots. But you can get international exposure without leaving home if you offer globally useful skills, which increase your value to Australian companies as they expand overseas. In fact, you may be better off avoiding a three-year posting in your bid to gain international experience, because companies that already have taken a position abroad are now busily trying to boost their subsidiaries through coordination with home offices. A caveat: Out of sight, out of mind; your trekking through foreign lands may not pay off if you lose touch with executives who can boost your career. But if you're determined to pack your bags, review these three basic methods by which companies set up international shop: 1. THE GROUND FLOOR. Some foreign companies enter unknown lands as grassroots operations and are forced to rely heavily on native employees. France, for example, needs Australian employees to help access Australian markets. You could become an expert about the French way of doing business, then loop back into a managerial slot in an Australian company hoping to crack the French markets. 2. ACQUISITION. Comb through reports of the world economy to identify companies said to be interested in acquiring foreign companies, then try to get hired as an employee of the new owner. This approach is a tough one. You'll have to deal with native employees' reaction to conflicting cultures and management methods. 3. MERGING. Consider employment in industries -- automobiles, computers, pharmaceuticals, publishing, electronics -- where merger mania has taken over, causing native and foreign professionals to pool talents to expand multinational markets. When you're determined to uproot and globalise yourself, bear in mind these suggestions from others before you leap:
  9. 9. OUTBOUND. Research to get a clue about your host country's culture and business ethics. You're there to expand your skills, enlarge your network and boost your expertise. If you're a woman, make sure you're heading into female-friendly terrain, unless you're an investment banker bringing money. INBOUND. Never leave home without finding out what to expect from your company when your overseas posting is completed. Get your company's promise in writing to return you to a comparable or better job than the one you're leaving. Stay close to at least two company players and replace them if they leave. Send short notes to the company newsletter about your accomplishments and newly developed skills. Ace your case on the company Web site. Visibility, visibility, visibility. MONEY. Make sure your employer pays all the costs, including hidden ones. Examples: housing and cost-of-living differentials, tax equalisation, leased appliances if yours won't work overseas, calling-home telephone allowance. Arrange with your bank the automatic payment of your bills, to avoid plummeting credit ratings. When's the best time to work abroad? "Go when you're young, when you can build networks that stay with you for the rest of your life," says Harvard business school professor Christopher Bartlett, author of Managing Across Borders. When you return, Bartlett suggests you measure success with these questions: Have I added skills to my portfolio? Have I built new relationships? Have I increased my credibility within the company? "These are the critical things you need to get out of any foreign assignment." Lateral moves checklist by Nancy Mercurio A lateral move provides the best of both worlds in terms of changing jobs. You preserve your benefits, work environment and relationships with coworkers without the stress of a job search. The most open- minded companies encourage their employees to explore other options in-house before leaving for another company, possibly a competitor. As with any change in your career, you need to do some research first. So while you are considering a lateral move, you need some measurable objectives in order to determine if the move is in your best interest. Here are some questions you can ask yourself: 10 Questions to Ask When Considering a Lateral Move Option 1: With No Pay Increase 1. Are you excited about the new position? 2. Is it a promotion in some way, or is it just a different job? 3. If it is a promotion, will it lead to where you want to be? 4. How long would it take to master the new tasks? 5. How long did it take to master your existing job?
  10. 10. 6. When did you start getting bored? 7. Are the new duties/tasks more appealing than your current duties/tasks? 8. How do you feel about colleagues in your current position and in the new one? 9. Will you miss the duties of your current position? 10. If the job weren't available, how long would you be willing to continue in your current position? Option 2: With No Pay Increase The second time around - A new trend in rehiring employees Frank Sinatra has long crooned that love is better the second time around, but now employers are joining the chorus and extolling the advantages of rehiring former employees. Until now, experts would discourage both employer and employee from getting back together. After all, according to the common wisdom, excuses like "leaving for greener pastures" are pretty hard to forget much less forgive. But in today's swift-paced business climate of lean and mean organisations, employers are realising that a former employee who already knows the company can make a real contribution sooner than a fresh recruit. From the former employee's standpoint, the picture on returning may be even better. What appeared to Wendy Zaas as a great opportunity at a competitive public relations firm did not pan out. In fact, she says: "I now know what the grass looks like on the other side. It's a little like crabgrass." She returned to her former employer, and was promoted six months later to vice president. There are drawbacks to this strategy, however. Morale among those who stay and don't advance may be hurt, and they may learn the lesson that quitting increases their chances of a promotion. For those who are contemplating a return, do so with a positive outlook and give consideration to the following: 1. Why did you leave originally? Has anything changed? 2. Mend all fences that need mending. Where are your former friends and former critics? Who might have been hurt when you left? Take time to personally re-establish your relationships with key people. 3. Does the future of the company really look good for the long term? 4. Find others who have returned and talk to them about their experiences. 5. Make sure you get current with all that has happened since you left. 6. Remember that this is your last shot at this company. You cannot boomerang again. First published in Passages, Johnson Smith Knisely,(1998 All rights reserved.) When should you make a career move? by Barbara Woodward There is no correct or incorrect answer to this question. Timing your career move will depend on your preparedness and this will not eventuate unless you have a career movement plan. A plan that is reviewed annually and adjusted quarterly. Most of us will spend more planning time on holidays and personal entertainment, than we do on proactively aligning our overall life needs, with the work infrastructure required to achieve our needs. It is not unusual for most to make a career move when under pressure at work. Restructuring, anxiety, project crisis, personality conflicts, insourcing, outsourcing rationalisation and boredom can trigger a career path move. But sometimes these moves are made when we are at our lowest career clarity and energy.
  11. 11. Plan to make a career move when you are at your best. Being well planned and with a clear, stable mind will enhance the move you make. Making a move during a crisis situation may result in early dissatisfaction in the new role. Additionally the costs to the new organisation that appoints you can be sizeable. It may be faced with having to replace you after a short time and this may bring considerable consequences. You may not only disrupt your own career, but add unnecessary demands and costs to your new employer. This may even impact on others' roles and their job stability. The timing of a career move can be based on the thought that you only ever lease a job, role or workplace. Just like any commercial lease there are restrictions, limitations and benefits when occupying a role and moving from it. Once the job market place considered 2-3 years as an appropriate time to serve in a role. There are no rules as to how long you should occupy a role or give an employer now. But 'role hopping' as opposed to 'career surfing' may only position you as one who is viewed as inconsistent, fearful of delivery, or even a flighty mover and shaker, with little substance or quantifiable experience. Carefully consider the move you are about to make. Ensure that any move is part of how you have defined what it is you want to achieve. Guard against reactionary moves when you are: Tired Worn down Needing a holiday During restructuring and budget cuts Caught in organisational grapevine influences Overrun with work In an unstable personal relationship Dissatisfied with management leadership Feeling that organisational support is lacking Instead weigh up your opportunities. Research your next move by viewing your career as a lifetime purchase. You may only lease your role but you do own your career. It is yours to keep and it will pay you dividends, if you purchase each step - that is each new role is part of your overall career purchase plan. Career movements are challenging and require a certain amount of logistical preparation. I can never cover off here in this article, on how to approach a move fully. But let me give you one redefinition thought - "you are responsible for your next career move. It is yours to keep and own and stand up to be countered for. Your next role may only be a leased situation for a year or two, but it contributes to your ultimate career profile, career success and career ownership." From this point may I wish you good 'redefinitions' of your career. How to write your resignation letter You've heard the old adage, "Don't burn any bridges." This is the most important idea to keep in mind when resigning from a job. Whether you love your current job and are leaving for a better opportunity, or you hate your present position and are fleeing to save you sanity, be sure to be polite, discreet, and mature when tendering your resignation. Your current employer will appear on your resume for years to come, and you never know when you may need a recommendation or a favour from a former boss. Remember, you build a professional reputation through your actions and behaviour. There's no need to write a dissertation. Simply construct a brief, concise note that covers all the bases. Here are a few suggestions: Get right to the point. Start off the letter by stating your intention to resign and by mentioning your acceptance of another offer or other reason for leaving, such as moving cities.
  12. 12. Be sure to say when your last day of employment will be. It is common courtesy to give two weeks notice before ceasing employment. You may wish to mention that the offer you have accepted is for a position that fits better with your personal preferences or career goals. You should also thank your employer for the opportunity to work for his/her organisation. After you start your new job, you may wish to send a letter to your former boss and coworkers with your new contact information, so that they can keep in touch and remain a part of your network. Interviewing after a job loss by Sylvia Ho So, your last job didn't exactly pan out. Maybe your boss or your coworkers were jerks, or you were laid off -- or even fired. Now, you are looking forward to your first job interview. What is your biggest hurdle? Is it job references, or your spotty resume, or even your former boss? No, it's probably your attitude and preparation. A positive, forward-looking attitude impresses employers, while a negative attitude can be a turn-off. A candidate who is prepared -- who has researched the company s/he is interviewing with and the position and knows what s/he can bring to the job -- appears professional and mature, worthy of being considered. An unprepared candidate gives the appearance of being disorganised and unprofessional and only reinforces any impression that might be given in a bad reference. Here are some "Do's and Don'ts" to improve your attitude and preparation before your big interview: 1. Don't worry.Worrying is only natural, but most people, at one time or another, had a job that didn't work out. Chances are that your interviewer may have even been let go from a job. Worrying saps your energy and leaves you powerless. Instead, take some active steps before the interview to practice responding to any possible objections that you believe an employer would have to hiring you. 2. Counter a poor reference with many other good ones. Prepare ahead if you think your former boss may give you a bad reference. Call other former employers who thought well of you and would give you a good reference, and obtain a letter of recommendation. The more letters of recommendation you are able to provide, the less significant a bad reference will appear. Ultimately, a decision-maker will weigh all the evidence and may weigh references in your favour. 3. Prepare to answer hard questions professionally. Hard questions are part of any interview, but they can seem even harder when your last job did not work out. Prepare possible hard questions and the answers you would give to them if asked. Have your friends or relatives listen to your answers and give you their opinions on how the answers sound. There is no shame in having left a job if you can articulate why the job didn't work out for you and what you learned from the experience. 4. Know your accomplishments and your value. Believe that you do bring value and skills to a prospective employer. Spend some time thinking about what you accomplished at your previous jobs. What skills do you bring to the table? Are these skills in demand? Make a list and review it again and again. This will improve your attitude and self-confidence and will help you at your interview. 5. Don't blame other people for your previous work problems. Responsible employees are in demand. Interviewers do not like candidates who make excuses. Discuss your accomplishments instead of the negative aspects of your previous job. If you have to talk about why the job did not work out, discuss what you learned from the experience that will make you a better employee in the future. 6. Keep searching and don't get discouraged. The reason you did not get a job may have absolutely nothing to do with you. If you did not get the job, do write and then call the interviewer to find out why you were not hired. Make it clear that you are not trying to change their decision, only to get information that will help you in your job search. Learn from each interview and continue searching. Don't get discouraged!
  13. 13. Leaving a job gracefully by Sylvia Ho Question: I have always wondered what the correct procedure is for resigning with a company. Also, what should be in the body of your resignation notice and is there a basic outline for this? Answer: Not really. But there are a couple of basic rules about how to conduct yourself and what to say or not say at your exit interview. 1. Don't burn your bridges with the company. You might need them for references, or you might want to come back later on. Or the people that you leave here might end up at your next job or a job down the road. 2. If you're leaving because you are being treated unfairly and might want to sue, don't let on. Quietly gather your evidence and look for a lawyer. Keep smiling, or the element of surprise will be lost. 3. Study the employee handbook and all of your benefits literature to make sure that you know exactly what you are entitled to be paid after resigning -- unused vacation time, etc. 4. Calendar your deadlines so that you can get back to the company on issues such as COBRA benefits. If you are resigning in the face of termination, go to the unemployment comp office. 5. Get yourself an agreement from someone in the company to be your reference later on. Most company HR offices will just give out your name and dates of employment. 6. MOST IMPORTANT: Keep in touch with your business contacts and mentors, not just your friends. Start a little black book of contacts who might be fond of you and will help you later on in your career. This is usually overlooked by most people, but it's something top executives always do. (And you wonder why they make the big bucks!) As for the resignation letter, you might just want to send a two-liner stating that "It is with regret that I must resign my position at this time," and leave it at that. Good luck at your new job The secret of reinvention How to make a career change by Pat Boer Most people do not welcome career change. Even those wanting to reinvent themselves find it costly and stressful. Career Changes Career shifts vary. They can be prompted by graduation, divorce, the death of a spouse, the birth of a child, the relocation of a company, the closing of a plant, or any number of events, planned and unplanned. Examples in my own community include a third grade teacher who is now a TV anchor, an attorney- turned-professional-clown, a basketball star who's become a youth leader, a retail sales clerk in law school, a medical doctor-turned-architect, and a military pilot teaching high-school maths. The Process of Career Shifts: How's it done? There are numerous books written on the subject, yet nearly everyone seems to follow a similar path. There's no magic. Each career change appears to begin with... DISRUPTING EVENTS: Downsizing, relocation, graduation, company buyouts, confusion, lack of direction, divorce, death of a loved one - career change starts with the events that disrupt your routine. DEALING WITH FEELINGS: Along with disruptions come powerful feelings: hurt, resentment, disappointment, anger, fear, and self-doubt. Dealing with feelings means learning from them how to find new direction, meaning, or purpose. For example, deep hurt teaches us what is truly important or what has been taken for granted. Resentment and anger often indicate things left unsaid or opportunities
  14. 14. missed. Fear and self-doubt show vulnerabilities. Once you identify feelings, even the negative ones, transformation can take place. BECOMING FOCUSED: Getting focused happens after we deal with feelings -- when we say, "Enough is enough!" That's when we set goals and concentrate on what we need to do to reach them. MAKING A COMMITMENT: If focus pushes you forward, commitment carries you to the prize. It's the key to reaching your goal. It means putting one foot in front of the other, everyday. Commitment is the courage to keep going when others might quit. Commitment makes the difference between an unsuccessful and a successful career change. HAVING A PLAN: A written plan will give you both direction and motivation, particularly if it includes a back-up plan. To write your plan, state your objective with timetables. Set goals and plan specific actions to help you achieve them. Sometimes the things that make you restless are part of professional life. Perhaps they simply signal a desire for new challenges rather than a new career. Consider joining a professional association. Whether you are starting out or starting over, membership in an association allows you to connect with like-minded professionals, become inspired, and decide to contribute to your field rather than leave it. Centre for Career/Life Planning © 1999

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