5 Ways to Keep the Spark Alive and 5 Ways to Reignite a Burned-Out Flame

It’s important to keep up with your career management. As a woman, this is even more critical in order to fully realize your true potential and earn what you are worth. With glass ceilings, unequal pay, and minimal representation in leadership roles, who needs to add “unhappy worker” to the list of issues facing women in the workplace?

Managing your career well means loving what you do, or finding out what you would love to do and going for it. Maybe you are already in love with your career. Are you often excited to start your work day? Are you using your strongest skills on a daily basis? Do you work in an environment that complements your personality? Do you work for a company that reflects your values? If you answered yes to these questions, you are likely already in a job or career that you enjoy. Congratulations for finding your way!

Here are five ways to keep the flame alive:

  • Be accountable to yourself.Give yourself an annual career audit. Are you exactly where you want to be right now? If not, what’s not happening? Where do you want to be in a few years? Do you need to implement changes to your role, your title, or your career path to get where you are going?
  • Don’t forget to think ahead.Even when things are going well, you should think about where you want to be in three to five years, and what it will take to get you there. There are always actions you can take now that can lay a foundation for your next steps.
  • Keep things fresh.It’s important to stay up-to-date in your field. Some of the best ways to do this are attending conferences, joining a professional association, reading up on trends, and finding places to engage with like-minded professionals (for example, an industry group on LinkedIn or Facebook).
  • Network, network, network. No one gets far in their career by going it alone.Implementing a consistent practice of networking allows you to build a group of supporters, reach out to industry experts, and enhance your credibility. People often think about networking only when they need a new job, but it’s best to make networking a regular activity to increase the chances that you will have a support system in place when you need it.
  • Build your online presence and authority.In today’s world of work, an online presence is a necessity. At the most basic level, make sure your online profiles are complete and up-to-date, and that they convey the right message. If you want to take it a step further, actively create and share content about your area of expertise for online consumption.

It’s great if you are happy in your job, but not everyone loves their career. Sometimes it takes a little time and a few experiences to find the best match for your interests, personality, values, and strengths. If you don’t love what you are doing right now, here are some steps to get you moving in the right direction.

  • Ask yourself why you feel the way you do.Take some time for reflection to understand what’s working and what’s not working. Is it your job, your boss, the workplace, or the field? You may need to address one or more of these issues. Have you become bored, or is your stress level rising to an unmanageable level? Find the real root of the problem before taking corrective action.
  • Look for a better place.If your boss, the workplace, or the employer is the issue, your best option may be to get out of that situation. However, it’s always wise to have your next position in place before leaving your current one. Brush up your résumé, begin catching up with your contacts, and start planning your exit strategy and researching new opportunities.
  • Take initiative to discover your true self. If the issue isn’t just your boss or workplace, you likely need to take a step back and evaluate your strengths, values, personality, interests, and skills to move your career in a new and positive direction. Hiring a career coach and taking some  assessments, like StrengthsFinder 2.0, may help, or you can read some books to determine a good career fit. Two excellent books for this are What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles, and Do What You Are by Paul Tieger, Barbara Barron, and Kelly Tieger.
  • Find ways to have fun outside of work.It is important not to let a bad job taint your attitude about the rest of your life. After all, it is just a job. There is so much more to life than work.  Purposefully plan time for fun activities with people who are positive and supportive.
  • Record your past successes.Write down stories of proud accomplishments from your life. They can be from experiences other than work, such as volunteer roles or passion projects. Look for themes within the stories to discover what you do well consistently over time. These records will help in any future career change or job search, and they will also give you an emotional boost because they remind you of what you are capable of accomplishing.

Advancing in a career you love or finding a new one might take effort, but it’s worth it. Life is too short, and too many hours are spent at work to be miserable. Following these tips will help you ignite, and maintain, your passion for your career.

This article was originally published on sharpheels.com at http://sharpheels.com/2017/02/love-your-career/

Career certifications: Why they are important to career professionals


Continuous learning is important in any field, but especially so in the career industry.  We are the folks who need to “walk the talk” about growing professionally by developing ourselves too. 

Gaining certifications adds to your knowledge base and your credibility as an expert.  It also keeps you current and cutting edge.  With today’s technology explosion, it is more important than ever to know how social media sites can affect your clients but even the foundational certification areas can be useful (such as coaching, résumé writing, etc.).   

Finding certification programs can be overwhelming right from the start.  Besides the fact that so many certifications exist in the broad area of career management (such as career coaching, employee development, and branding) and job search assistance (such as interviewing, résumé writing and using social media), there are also a variety of training providers of varied size and reputation.   

I’m happy to start the conversation but this topic is bigger than one can fit in a blog post, so here are some ways to learn more about career certifications:

  • Attend the 45th Annual Middle Atlantic Career Counseling Association conference on December 2-4, 2015 (learn more here) and visit my breakout session, Making Change Happen by Growing Yourself Professionally on Thursday, December 3rd from 3:15-4:15pm   
  • To learn more about the ins and outs of earning certifications in our industry, please visit this article on the site of the National Career Development Association (NCDA): Grow Professionally by Earning Career Certifications by Paula Brand originally appeared in NCDA’s web magazine, Career Convergence at www.ncda.org.  Copyright ©March 2015.  


Everything I needed to know about career management I learned from my parents

At this time in between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day I would like to honor my parents who have always been loving, dedicated and supportive. By teaching me to be a good person, my parents indirectly taught me how to be a good job seeker and career manager.   Many of the lessons I learned at a young age are still applicable now. They are especially important in job search and in managing an effective career. I would like to share the top six skills my parents developed in me and I suggest you practice these in your job search and career management.

Integrity and respect:   Both of my parents have great character and taught me that your reputation must not be taken for granted.   Integrity is essential – do what you say you will do and keep your word. Treat others with respect and your reputation will speak for itself. Our family members were always treated equally and with reverence. Likewise, we were taught to treat all respectfully. Treating others with respect will take you far in your job search and in your career.   For example, in job search never be rude to the receptionist. You may not realize it but this person has more power than you think. If you treat this person with disrespect, your résumé is likely to end up in the trash. After interviewing, the hiring manager may ask the receptionist how you behaved in the waiting room. The answer may determine if you proceed in the selection process.

Take risks: My father was an entrepreneur before it was a trendy thing to do. He was gutsy and started a business while my Mom wasn’t working and they had six children to feed — nothing like ensuring success through necessity. But seriously, my Father worked very hard to establish his business. He saw an opportunity, took a chance, worked hard and it paid off.   He created one of the first Executive Recruitment firms in the world, which began as Battalia & Associates and has evolved into the successful business of Amrop Winston Battalia . Entrepreneurship is not for everyone but it can be a great path for some. Are you avoiding it because you have done the research and know it’s not a good fit or are you just afraid to move forward?

Work hard even when no one is watching: Both of my parents are extremely hard workers and that has certainly been passed on to me. They illustrated that hard work pays off and expected each family member to pull their weight around our house.   As a result, I learned to “earn my keep” and carried this with me to other places. As an example, I was often invited to friends’ homes for dinner and I frequently offered to do the dishes.   It gave me pleasure to see the parents’ pleased reactions and satisfied my urge to be helpful.   Not surprisingly, I was often invited back!   In your work and job search, if you work hard and excel at what you do, you will develop a reputation for these qualities.

It’s never too late to start:  After raising six children, my Mom went back to school at the age of 34 to get her Bachelors Degree. After finishing, she decided to keep going and attended law school. Right after passing the New York Bar Exam, she started working at a local firm, became a partner and today is running this successful law practice. This taught me that it’s never too late to start a new career and to pursue your dreams.

Be active in your community:   Besides always being active in PTAs and community initiatives, my Mother started an organization called ICARE to help people find stable housing. In short, when she sees a need, she fulfills it. She has also served our town as Supervisor, Judge and even ran in a Congressional primary.   My Father has been equally active in the community. He is currently a volunteer with the Senior Core of Retired Executives (SCORE) but he has served in many other roles and volunteered on numerous boards over the years. He even traveled to Zimbabwe to share his knowledge and help an entrepreneur start a recruiting firm. Volunteering can be an important part of a job search. It’s an excellent way to share your skills and to learn new ones. Remember the more you give, the more you get.

Build and nurture your network: Because they were so involved in their communities, my parents naturally created a strong network. Both of them still know who to call upon for a certain skill or expertise and they freely share resources with others. They understand the power of connections and they strive to create a network of people and resources that can be utilized to help others. Of course, they also know that networking in not a one way street and that the best way to obtain assistance is to offer help to others first.

Show appreciation:  My parents always stressed the importance of thanking people. We had to write thank you notes to our grandparents and others after receiving any gift. I have embraced this habit and always impress it upon job seekers. As I say, people always remember those who thanked them (and those that didn’t).

On that note, I would like to end with a message of gratitude. I thank my Mom and Dad for teaching me these important skills that I will never forget!   I hope these tips help you as you move forward in your career journey.

Truth Revealed: Why you should keep your job search active this holiday season

Many people looking for work decide to take a rest during the holidays. This is an understandable temptation, but not a wise move. As other career professionals have pointed out, you should not buy into this mindset. Career Coach Jay Block shares his reasons in Don’t Believe the Myth: Get Hired Over the Holidays while Debra Donston-Miller’s article on Ladders.com gives a welcome point of view from the employer perspective. Master Career Development Professional Barry Davis expounds on this topic in his blog titled, Tis the Season… to Keep Active!

Since others have shared some useful information already, I will keep this short and to the point by summarizing the good advice and adding my own two cents.  My “first cent” is to prove the point that people do get hired this time of year.  Just this past week, one of my clients had not one, but two job offers.  Here’s the rest…

1) Play the odds – Since many people do believe this myth, you will have less competition in this season. Why not use that to your benefit? If you knew your target company received a substantially lower amount of resumes in a certain month, wouldn’t it be a good idea to make contact in that month?

2) Tis the season to connect – There are a multitude of social events that only happen this time of year. You should take advantage of these opportunities to reconnect with people you don’t normally see and meet new folks outside of your regular social circles. Most contacts leading to a job are not from your most inner circle, but from the wider spectrum of connections you develop by following leads.  Holiday events can be a great way to make those connections in person.

3) Slower or faster? Or both? – In terms of timing, the pace of the hiring process may be slower than normal because of the challenge of trying to coordinate interviews around staff vacations. However, in some cases it may be faster than normal. Often companies are eager to fill a position ASAP to maintain productivity. Some positions must be filled by the end of the year or the department will have to forgo the funding for it. And of course for certain industries, like retail or shipping, this time of year often creates a need for jobs that only exist right now (proving yourself in these seasonal jobs can sometimes lead to something else).  In all of these cases, the holiday season will not hinder the company’s need to fill the position. Present yourself as the solution to that need.

4) Giving hearts or stressed out minds? – Most articles say that people are more friendly and willing to help at this time of year. I would agree that is true in many cases. However, some people are very overwhelmed and busy during the holidays and therefore returning a call from you may (understandably) not be their number one priority. Even with good intentions, they may lose your information or just honestly forget to return your call. If this happens, try at least once more after January 1st. Leave a second message wishing them a happy new year and of course provide your contact information one more time. This might be just the reminder they need.

So what’s stopping you?  Go ahead. Make that call you have been putting off. Contact that supervisor you haven’t talked to in years. Wish that long lost friend a happy holiday season. For the next few weeks, you have a great excuse to make these connections, so make the most of it. Good luck connecting and happy holidays!

Managing Your Career 101

There is a lot of advice on managing your career. I can boil it down the seven I deem the most important. No matter what your occupation, these actions (or lack thereof) can make or break your career.

1) Set goals for yourself. Ask yourself where you want to be in 2, 5, 7 years from now. Then make a plan to get there. Write down your goals and post them someplace visible.

2) Always network. This means always work to build relationships, not only when you are in job search. Even when you are working, still make time for networking

3) Do what you say. Build a reputation of standing by your word and getting things done. If you do this your reputation will build itself.

4) Understand yourself. Take some assessments or just take some time to reflect but you must know your strengths and areas of improvement. The better you know what your value is, the more likely you find a good fit in the workplace.

5) Be valuable to others. Remember that you want to give more than you receive. I believe it will come back to you in some way. I’ve seen it time and time again.

6) Keep an open mind. You can plan very well but then something unpredictable may happen to change the equation. Don’t be so set in your plan that you miss surprising opportunities.

7) Seek out a mentor. Find someone in your field (or the field you want to be in) who is well respected and ask them if they might take you under their wing to offer advice and guidance.