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Via Forbes : This Is A Key Step To Making A Fulfilling Career Change

Work isn’t what it used to be. A career change isn’t frowned upon as much. The directors and executive leaders I speak to about career side-steps and pivots tell me diverse experiences can be attractive when leveraged.

You don’t have to stay on a path that’s become dull and dreary. My last job function in the corporate world was as a career change coach. I saw individuals go from engineering to nursing from project management to massage therapy. You know about my story, right – Fashion Promotion to Professional Training and Coaching.

You can reinvent your career by:

  • Becoming a specialist in an area through writing or speaking
  • Getting involved in advising, mentoring, coaching or quality assurance within your current or desired industry
  • Paying attention to your hobbies and turning them into a profession

Those are all things I’ve helped clients with recently.

Let’s go back to that path that’s become dull and dreary. To get from where you are to where you want to be, you need to be self-aware. It’s a key step and an underpinning goal of career coaching. Our influences ought to be considered when we’re in the purist of a fulfilling career change.

The Oxford definition of the word influence is the capacity to affect the character, development, or behavior of someone or something or the effect itself. Understanding your career influences gives you a road map of how, where, why and what you want to do in your work. Your influences also provide insight into what you need from a company to perform your best work. Influences can change over time, and they are sometimes synonymous with your values.

Practical career influences

  • Qualifications
  • Strength-based accomplishments
  • Experiences
  • Physical abilities
  • Money
  • Stability and security
  • Geography

These often help us figure out our choice of job function and industry. Although, in some ways, we’re stuck in the 1950’s with racial biases and inequalities, we have added tremendously to the variety of jobs available. Here is the Department of Labor’s list of employment by detailed occupation with projections for 2028.

Human influences

  • Parents/Guardian
  • Family
  • Partner
  • Friends
  • Coworkers/colleagues
  • Teachers
  • Role Models
  • Leadership

When your career change isn’t aligned with the expectations of your human influences, you’ll need to have a plan for conflict and stress, which might arise. Understanding people influences also gives insight into the type of work environment that would be easy for you to integrate into, be vulnerable in and experience a sense of belonging.

Wider influencers

  • Culture
  • Community
  • Religion
  • Media
  • Gender
  • Social class
  • Political
  • Discrimination

Although these are what I call wider or exterior influences, they can help form, develop and are often cues to our definition and purpose of work. Family is usually a big intrinsic motivator like wider influencers, too.

Intangible influences

  • Energy
  • Time
  • Emotions

As you’ve been made aware of these four influential categories, you can ask yourself:

  • What are my top two influences from each category?
  • Are these the influences I want in my life?
  • How are these influences shaping what I want from my next career move?

And now you’ve spent a moment on a key first step, what’s next for you?

Via Think Advisor : Risk Taking Is Crucial to Career Growth

Planning for risk results in confidence that will enable your career to flourish.

When it comes to our careers, we hear it all the time — Don’t be afraid to take risks! Step out of your comfort zone! But what do we mean by risk? And why do we have to take risks? Shouldn’t we be trying to avoid risk?

The truth is, when it comes to our careers, risk taking is crucial to growth. That doesn’t mean, however, we should dive into a situation without first accessing our surroundings. It’s crucial that we plan and prepare for risk. Much like finance, when it comes to our careers, it’s not about taking the risk, it’s about how we manage it!

Throughout my life, I’ve been fortunate enough to live on four different continents, which has provided me with a unique perspective when it comes to managing risk. While living in Budapest during the Serbian War, my husband Daniel and I had an exit plan in case gas was dropped on Central Europe. Planning for your life provides you with great perspective not only when it comes to managing business risk, but also, what’s important when starting a business and hiring employees. The people of Budapest had a certain survivor’s mentality that made us realize there is more to life than just work.
Living abroad also provided me with people skills that I may not have developed if I’d only worked with people who looked, talked and acted like me. While working in Hong Kong, I worked with and managed a diverse group of people from all different backgrounds. As a way to promote good energy, some members of the staff wanted to slaughter a pig for lunch, which was part of their everyday culture.
As you can imagine, not everyone at the company was comfortable with this, so, as management, I had to walk a fine line. I couldn’t alienate those employees who wanted to slaughter the pig because to them, it was completely normal. On the other hand, we worked in an office, not a butcher’s shop.

After much back and forth, we eventually decided on a way to appease everyone involved by bringing a previously slaughtered and cooked pig in for lunch, while giving others the opportunity to take their lunch at nearby restaurants and cafes. Obviously, this is an overly unusual story, but it was these types of experiences abroad that provided me with the necessary skills to work with and manage all types of individuals.

“Stepping outside of your comfort zone” does not mean you have to live abroad. While it can provide career-defining lessons, there are other ways to push yourself career-wise. At some point, you may take a job where you don’t necessarily meet all the qualifications, but just because you don’t know something, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the opportunity. Sure, there will be times where you’re overwhelmed, but it’s all about how you approach and work through each situation.

My mother, who owned her own business during a time when there weren’t many women-owned businesses, always told me to walk into a room like I owned the place. That advice has stayed with me throughout my career. From the time I began as a sales assistant with Morgan Stanley, to being named a vice president at Lehman Brothers in Hong Kong, through co-founding six different financial services businesses (where I actually did own the place), I’ve always approached every situation with confidence, knowing that I belong.

Sure, finance has historically been an industry dominated by men, but women have just as much ability to break in and drive the industry forward — it’s about confidence!

Moving jobs, accepting promotions and getting outside your comfort zone are risks that lead to career success, but it’s imperative that you properly prepare to approach each situation with confidence. Planning for risk results in confidence that will enable your career to flourish.

Via Askmen : Common Career Advice That’s Totally Wrong

Job hunting is not for the weak of heart – especially if you’re not currently employed. Heading to interview after interview, writing meaningful cover letters, and trying to sell yourself day after day can be exhausting, and really takes a toll on your mental health and self confidence. It doesn’t make it any easier when friends and family start to offer unsolicited advice, either. How many times have you been told to fake it until you make it, or that work is work and you should just settle with whatever pays the bills?

This common career advice, well, kind of sucks – and while getting advice on your impending job search or climb up the corporate ladder can be useful, there’s a lot of not-so-great advice and clichés floating around out there that you definitely don’t have to listen to. That’s why we asked a handful of career coaches and employment professionals to share the worst career advice you can give or get – and you’ve probably heard of most of these before.

Fake It Until You Make It

“One of the oldest pieces of advice there has always been is ‘fake it until you make it.’ Though this is a great way to think in terms of confidence, it’s frowned upon when submitting your resume/application or during formal interviews,” says Ciara Van De Velde, Client Engagement Manager at Employment BOOST. “For example, stating your expertise for technical skills such as programming languages can affect daily processes and result in difficulty completing tasks or, in some cases, lead to termination.”

Instead, Van De Velde says you should be honest about your background. Though you may be determined to find a new position, finding one which you are not efficient in will only set you back in the long run. If you find that your desired position/career path requires a specific skill or proficiency, it may be beneficial to consider taking on courses to help you to succeed in the future.

Just Follow Your Dreams!

“This sounds nice, and people want to believe it,” says Sean Sessel, Director at The Oculus Institute. “However, life isn’t a Disney movie. The truth is that following your passion often requires a great deal of work, especially when it comes to learning how to market yourself, sell products/services, and break through internal mindset issues. The starving artist doesn’t starve because he’s an artist; he starves because he doesn’t know how to sell his art.”

Work Should Be Work

If anyone ever tells you that trying to find a career you enjoy is a fantasy subscribed to by lazy or idealistic fools or to just focus on making as much money as possible, feel free to ignore them and walk away. “This bad advice is commonly perpetrated by people who have given up on their dream, and they console themselves by telling themselves that it’s impossible. In reality, it’s very possible (15% of people enjoy their work, according to Gallup); it’s just not easy,” says Sessel. “The people perpetrating this often point to people who have failed as a result of buying into the ‘following your dreams’ advice as evidence, but then ignore the 15% who are thriving and happy.”

You Need a University Degree

“The one piece of career advice we hear that is very dangerous and wrong is that you need to go (or have gone) to university to get a great career,” says Freddie Chirgwin-Bell, Marketing & Communications Executive at Morgan Jones Recruitment Consultants. “This is not true and in fact bad advice as your work experience and job-relevant skills vastly outweigh what qualifications you have. Having a successful career does involve a certain amount of education, but that can be learned through in-house courses, apprenticeships, vocational courses and colleges and even self-education. The best decision you can make is to ascertain what you want to do as a career and pursue the qualifications that are the most relevant to that path.”

“You’re Doing Great – Keep It Up”

“The most frustrating – and persistent – advice I hear is a variation of ‘keep chopping wood.’ There are several other ways people give this advice, such as, ‘keep doing what you’re doing,’ or ‘you’re doing great, don’t change a thing,’ or ‘we love what you’re doing, keep it up,’” says Albert Ciuksza Jr., Career Coach at Solutions 21.

According to Ciuksza, there are two problems with this advice. First, it deprives professionals of crucial performance feedback that can be career-changing, especially for those early in their careers who are just forming work habits. Second, it’s demotivating for the person who is trying to figure out how to enhance their career. Ciuksza says to get better advice, ask more specific questions – perhaps about part of a project or a point in a presentation. That way, someone has to consider what feedback they give, and the person gets something more concrete and actionable.

Avoid Looking Overqualified

“As a recruiter, I have over time been confronted with a number of applications and resumes that simply do not stack-up. A quick conversation with the candidate has revealed they decided not to include their degree education,” reveals Simon Royston, Managing Director of The Recruitment Lab. “It leaves me baffled but I am always told the same thing; that ‘friends’ have said not to include the information because it makes the candidate look overqualified for the role they are applying for. Instead, they have an application with a 3-4-year gap on it, which leaves employers wondering if the candidate is completely unemployable or has just been in jail!”

According to Royston, having a degree does not make you overqualified, especially given the high number of graduates now entering non-graduate roles. “You have worked hard for that academic achievement, show it off, be proud of it. Do not hide it away. For one thing you could be shutting down opportunities and offers from an employer that could be earning you a higher remuneration and a steeper career path.”

Everyone Else is Competition

According to John Crossman, CCIM, CRX at Crossman & Company, “You are in competition with your fellow students” is one of the worst mindsets to have when it comes to job hunting. “It’s often not true and even if it is, you can’t control it. Some of your fellow students will be co-workers, vendors and clients. Looking at your contemporaries as competition is a negative outlook and produces jealousy, envy and depression,” he says.

Instead, focus on networking and supporting those around you. You never know when someone you came in contact with will extend an olive branch and actually help you with your job search – even if it’s years down the road.

Sell Yourself

“All job-seekers are told that it’s important to ‘sell yourself’ in a job interview and this is horrible, mindless, garbage advice,” says Rafe Gomez, co-owner of VC Inc. Marketing. “Why? Because a prospective hirer isn’t interested in you as an individual as much as he/she is interested in finding an employee who can help make his/her business thrive – and also make his/her department shine! So instead of ‘selling yourself,’ you need to sell your ability to deliver the exact solutions that a company is looking for to meet its needs, overcome its challenges, and achieve its goals.”

How is this done? By presenting anecdotal evidence and factual, data-based examples of how you’ve delivered such solutions throughout your career. If you can explain and validate how you can make a company money, save a company money, and/or improve its image in the marketplace – and those benefits are in line with what the company is seeking – you will get hired.

Via Forbes : Shake Shack CFO Tara Comonte’s Career Advice For Aspiring Leaders

Shack Shake CFO Tara Comonte has an impressive resume: Ernst & Young, McCann World Group, Getty Images, and for the past two years the CFO of Shake Shack. Over the course of her 14 years in a C-suite, she has observed the changes and challenges in the landscape of the workplace. I spoke with Comonte to discuss her journey up the corporate ladder, and her advice for aspiring leaders.

You Don’t Have To Follow The Well Worn Path

Comonte was recruited into finance at Ernst & Young from her first year at university, so she had a very structured, paved career path from the beginning of college until her mid-twenties. It was then she decided to go into investment banking, because according to Comonte, that was what everyone in the financial and legal fields did. “I was very swayed at that young age by what my friends were doing, “Comonte explained. It was a good job, a natural career progression and the money was good, but her friends were terribly unhappy. Comonte noted the unhappiness, and figured she could avoid it by working for a smaller bank instead of a big bank, but it proved to be inescapable. “Learning what I got from that experience has stayed with me throughout my career. I took the job because it felt like the right thing to do, and the pay was a lot for me at the time, it was higher, and it was awful.”

Look For A Good Work Culture

Comonte felt she personally regressed in investment banking. “It was absolutely awful. It was hierarchical, it was heavily male-dominated in a really unfriendly way it was all about desk time and the exact opposite of a meritocracy, performance was really irrelevant, the more hours you pulled, I took 50 steps back in terms of my true, personal professional development,” Comonte said. “That was a learning experience for me in terms of knowing what type of environment I didn’t want to work in, and the decisions I made have been made around the environmental traits of a company to which I am attracted, instead of a specific industry or specific role definition, I’m much more attracted to environments where you can grow and make impact and by the way have a bit of fun. There are a few things on my list and they’ve been relatively consistent since that moment in time.”

With Every True Promotion There Is A Degree Of Unknown

Comonte leapt into her first major global, corporate leadership role back in 2005, and got a case of imposter syndrome. She was terrified, and didn’t even know what the job entailed, let alone believe she was capable or qualified to do it. “I remember him saying to me at the time, ‘Tara there is one thing I learned long ago and it’s that when people at the start of a new job say that they don’t know what they’re doing, they’re figuring out what they’re doing. Don’t worry about it.’ I think as you get older and get years under your belt you gain confidence with those years, but it’s a good reminder to me, and I share it with others: every move, every career move, if you’ve done it all before it’s not really a career move, it’s just lateral. Every upward move we make has a massive degree of unknown in it so there’s a piece of it you’ve never done. Otherwise it wouldn’t be called progression.”

Be True To Yourself

So much of success is finding the right people to surround yourself with, a work culture that will help you thrive and then working hard, but finding those people and that company has a great deal to do with knowing and understanding yourself, then being faithful to that person. “I think being authentic is an overused piece of advice but I firmly, firmly believe in it. I think we all have to work very hard to stay true to ourselves,” said Comonte. “Staying true to yourself is important for your own sanity, well-being and happiness.”

Hard Work And Real Engagement

When workplaces are meritocracies, excellence is innate in the culture. “I am a firm believer in a meritocracy and I think that hard work and proving yourself as a high performer and making tangible business impact counts for everything and the onus to bring that is on the individual,” said Comonte. “I think the benefits of hard work and real engagement in what you’re stepping up to do is really important.”


Comonte mentioned most of her advice can be applied at any stage of your career, but if you are looking to be promoted to the c-suite, listening is imperative. “Joining the table with senior executives who have held the position much longer than you or have been around the block more times than you always be open to learning at any level… There’s a huge opportunity for your own learning around that table if you don’t come from a place of insecurity where you feel like you have to speak if everyone else is speaking or you have to have the best idea or you feel like you have all the answers because you have a seat at the table, so you feel you’re expected to know it all.”

Search For Confident Leaders, Then Include Them In Initiatives

Comonte believes a part of creating a more diverse workplace is finding and working for good male leaders (since they are the overwhelming majority of leaders) who want excellent people to work with them, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc. “I gravitate towards men who are deeply secure in their own behavior, their own ethics, their own leadership of an organization and team as a whole regardless of gender. Because when you find that individual…I can’t be lucky. It can’t just be luck that most of the men I’ve worked with have been huge advocates of women. I don’t believe that’s luck, I believe that’s because they’re great leaders,” said Comonte.

She went on to say that though they won’t always start the conversation, many went to be a part of it, so make an effort to include them. “If you want a diverse workplace and leadership team then have all those individuals involved in getting there. Once you find these leaders, you have to include them. Certainly here [Shake Shack] we have a CEO who is just as passionate a diversity advocate as any I’ve worked with, ‘Tara when are we launching this? What are we doing? What can I do to help?’”

Via Forbes : Self-Career Development: Three Strategies To Accelerate Your Career

For the first time in 24 years, Bill Gates is no longer the wealthiest living American. Jeff Bezos, the centibillionaire founder of Amazon, has ascended to that enviable position of power.

Bezos’ path was supported by a myriad of advisers. He was mentored by the legendary Bill Campbell, a former Columbia University football player, coach, and trustee who served as the CEO of Intuit. Campbell also counted Steve Jobs, Larry Page and Sergey Brin among his impressive cohort of mentees.

These mentor relationships demonstrate that these ultimately high-powered corporate leaders were not content to passively let their careers “happen.” Instead, they invested in developing themselves through coaching and other means outside their organizations — and they achieved paramount success.

In an age of frequent job hopping, where employers demonstrate hesitancy to invest in developing individual employees who are likely to leave before a return on learning is realized, self-career development is an increasingly important component of individuals’ success in the workplace. For ambitious employees, self-development is an effective way, and, in some cases the only way, to hasten progress along the career ladder. As an ardent advocate of professional learning, I recommend the following tactics to assume control of your development and accelerate your career:

1. Put Strategy First

At photography stalwart Kodak, the median job tenure is approximately 20 years, according to a 2013 Payscale report. In stark contrast, at technology powerhouse Google, the tenure is slightly more than a year. Millennials are switching jobs at unprecedented rates and no longer depend on a pre-established career track to advance to higher level positions.

When combined with the fact that one third of employees report that their bosses do not assist with career development, it is apparent that today’s workers must be proactive. Rather than assuming ascent along a regimented career ladder – as prior generations may have done – employees today must be strategic about what can be gained from each position. Focus on attaining marketable skills, gaining experience with employers whose names stand out on a resume, and, most importantly, building a robust stable of supporters.

One way for professionals to supercharge their networks is to find a mentor—as many successful entrepreneurs have done. According to a survey by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), the top three benefits to mentees are professional development, a better understanding of organizational culture, and the development of new perspectives.

While more than half the mentees ATD surveyed credited formal mentoring programs for helping them meet their goals to a “high” or “very high” extent, fewer than one-third of the businesses actually offer formal mentoring programs. In the absence of workplace mentorship programs, rising employees, by necessity, must be the architects of their own futures.

Thinking expansively about mentorship can widen the pool of potential mentors, and diversify organizational experiences and perspectives, that comprise a mentee’s career. Mentors need not be senior leaders; a mentor can be a co-worker just a few years ahead on the career ladder, or even a peer or junior colleague. As long at the mentor has teachable skills and a willingness to partake in knowledge transfer and network building, mentorship can have profoundly positive career impacts.

2. Become Your Own CMO

Modern-day career trajectories are intricately tied to how we are represented in, and by, data—especially online. Human resources departments scan applicants’ resumes for keywords. Recruiters actively search for targeted matches on LinkedIn. Google searches are certainly the default mechanism for identifying potential hires. It is, therefore, vital for employees to make their data available — and to make it shine.

Today’s workers must become their own “Chief Marketing Officer,” constantly analyzing, refining and improving the way they appear in the job market. One of the best approaches to gain a competitive advantage and improve one’s market image is through education—and many options are available.

Shorter-term educational opportunities include informative webinars, weekend workshops, and MOOCs (massive open online courses). For those seeking more in-depth development opportunities, professionally-focused degree programs (such as the master’s degrees at the Columbia University School of Professional Studies) and corporate in-house programs (including BP’s) represent high quality options that provide valuable skills and knowledge as well as marketable credentials.

Further underscoring the importance of an employee’s online presence, credentialing is increasingly taking electronic form. Certified electronic transcripts of coursework completed — and even electronic versions of diplomas — are becoming more prevalent. For example, users who have completed a LinkedIn course can now opt to have the qualification appear on their profiles.

3. Ask for Feedback — Even If It’s Negative

It is indisputable that artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other technological advancements will revolutionize the employment market and recast jobs in unforeseen ways. Yet, even if certain jobs are upended or transformed, market trends indicate that employees with soft skills and emotional intelligence will be the most likely to succeed in the changing workplace.

A 2016 World Economic Forum report predicted that emotional intelligence will be one of the most vital job skills in 2020. Another study revealed that, of the eight most important qualities of successful Google employees, STEM ability ranked last after an array of soft skills, including coaching skills, empathy, and problem solving ability.

Ascertaining strengths and weaknesses in soft skills is a critical first step to making improvements, and the best way for individuals to gauge their current proficiency is to ask others for feedback. My Columbia colleague, leading learning-agility researcher Dr. W. Warner Burke, recommends that “seeking feedback of how you’re doing — regardless of how threatening the action might be to one’s self-esteem” is vital to career development.

Gallup reports that only 15% of millennial employees routinely ask for such feedback consistently. The small percentage who are willing to have difficult conversations are likely those who are most receptive to changing their behaviors and, I predict, likely to demonstrate the most success in the coming decades.

In contrast to the 1950s ideal of the “company man”, where hard work and loyalty to one firm led to promotion over time, today’s workplace expects greater individuality, creativity, and flexibility from employees. Today, rising to leadership positions requires employees to craft their own self-career development strategies. The stories of Jeff Bezos and other corporate leaders illustrate the power of identifying suitable mentors, gaining feedback, shaping a public persona, and building key leadership skills to accelerate career growth. These valuable lessons can be applied by all professionals who aspire to higher levels of leadership and will reliably fuel their career rise.