Other than my job as a career coach, I am a sports fanatic! I don’t play any sport, but ask me what’s going on and I can tell you. Right now it’s playoff season for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Raptors, and am getting nervous.
The purpose of this article, however, is the big news about Tiger Woods’ win yesterday, and what job seekers and career changers can learn from it.
It was April 15, 2008, that he won his last major championship. Yesterday, almost 11 years to the day, he won his 5th Masters and added another green jacket. (It was 14 years since he had won his 4th Masters).
What did it take for him to make this great comeback after so many years of personal and professional struggles? His will to win. He said in an interview, “I feel I can win.” He ingrained it in his head that he could win, and went about doing all the little things it took to make it happen.
He didn’t spend time focusing on what his competitors were doing. His eagle-eyed focus was on where he was going and what was at the end – his goal of a fifth Masters championship and another green jacket.
What about you? Can you see yourself being so relentless with your job search or career? Do you see yourself bouncing back from so many failures and disappointments, or, are you getting ready to give up?
Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, was rejected 27 times by publishers before getting his big break. He was ready to give up, and was planning to destroy his manuscript when he met his friend who had just become an editor at a publishing company. The rest is history!
Tiger said “This stuff is hard. I made a few mistakes at the British Open last year and it cost me a chance to win.” He said he had serious doubts if he could play well enough to win, but when it mattered most, he dug in and won. He told himself that despite not being as strong as in his prime years, he still had good hands and if he could put the pieces together, he could win, and he did.
Your struggles might not be like Woods, but am sure they are no less painful. You too, will have your doubts, you will make mistakes, but I encourage you today to:
Create a success plan and harness all the support you can get to see your dream come through.
Determine what your strengths are, and capitalize on them. Tiger relied more on his hands because his back was not as strong as before.
Be relentless in your pursuits. Remember that “A winner never quits, and a quitter never wins”.
Never give up on your dream even if when it appears insurmountable.
Don’t jump off the train while it’s going through the dark tunnel; there’s light on the other side.
Tiger Woods didn’t give up. After a plethora of surgeries, personal failures, and disappointments, he fought his way back to the top. You can do it too. Ask yourself the question, “Why not me?”
“If you really want to do something, you will find a way. If you don’t, you will find an excuse.” ~Jim Rohn
When you hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere else to go but up! Consider Trudy’s story, a woman I had the honour of working with some time ago. (Name changed to protect her identity).
Her voicemail message said she was looking for career coaching, but her
ominous tone left me thinking she needed counselling (therapy). When I returned
the call she confirmed she wanted career coaching.
A few years prior, Trudy had given up her corporate job with a major
Canadian company due to family obligations. She did a variety of odd jobs that
allowed her the flexibility she needed at the time, finally settling as a house
cleaner with one of the more popular home cleaning franchises. She received a
lot of push back from family and friends when she made this decision, and according
to her, “My Italian mother saw it as a step down, and was not happy.”
Yes, it was a step down, but she thought it would’ve been a great segue into
entrepreneurship and owning her own cleaning business.
A little over a year doing this job, she gave it up, concluding it was not
for her. By then, things had changed on the home-front, and she decided she
wanted to return to a corporate environment. Not only was she now looking for a
new job, but her already low self-esteem had reached rock bottom. Is she going
to fit in? How will she position herself after a four-year hiatus from the
At the end of our first meeting we agreed to work together, but there was
one drawback: she couldn’t afford my fees. I asked her what option would work
for her, other than having to reduce my fees, and she said she would schedule
sessions whenever she had the money. Not only did I see the pain and
frustration she was going through, but also the determination to get back up,
and that was compelling.
We made arrangements to have face-to-face sessions twice per month. I would
offer her as much support as I could, including short spurts of coaching if
absolutely necessary. I also explained that for coaching to effective, she had
to commit to doing whatever work and assignments that were necessary. Before we
tackled the job search, we had to work on the self-esteem issue. After our
third meeting and a couple of assessments, I noticed a significant difference
in her behaviour. She had started to regain her confidence, her inner dialogues
and negative self-talks had subsided, her head was no longer held down, and “people
were beginning to take notice”, she said. At one point, she beamed as she
told me how she was asked to “take up the collection at Church.” “No
big deal”, one might say, but to her, it was!
Before we tackled the job search, we had to work on the self-esteem issue.
After our third meeting and a couple of assessments, I noticed a significant
difference in her behaviour. She had started to regain her confidence, her
inner dialogues and negative self-talks had subsided, her head was no longer
held down, and “people were beginning to take notice”, she said. At
one point, she beamed as she told me how she was asked to “take up the
collection at Church.” “No big deal”, one might say, but to her, it
As our work continued, I introduced her to individuals in my network so she
could arrange informational meetings. We figured that after a four-year absence
from the workforce, she needed to gain insights into current workplace
practices and business culture. I developed her resume and cover letter, and
coached her on interviews, services that were not included in the coaching
Two months into the coaching relationship, she said, “I am ready to
start my job search, and want to find a job by the middle of next month.”
On her way to her first interview, she stopped by my office to show me her
new outfit and to let me know she was wearing lipstick. Trivial, it might seem,
but that was an example of increased confidence and transformation.
She didn’t get the job, and was quite disappointed. A week later, on her way
back from another interview, she phoned to say she had been offered an
administrative position with a leading clothing company, and was hired because
of her background in customs and logistics. When we checked the date, it
was March 14, exactly one month from the day she set her intention to find a
job by the middle of the next month.
Trudy demonstrated discipline, motivation, and perseverance, which helped
her move from rock bottom to a new job. These are equal opportunity
characteristics that do not require a degree; everyone has access to them.
Some people enter coaching looking for quick fixes, but it takes time to
untangle the web of past experiences to get to where one wants to go. And to
get results, it’s important to plan purposefully – set goals or milestones –
and work diligently to achieve them.
It starts with one small step. If you don’t take that small step and start
doing the things that seem frightening, difficult or uncomfortable, you will
realize that one year from now, you will be at the same place in your life or
Normally, I would have a blog post ready to deploy on International Women’s Day, but busyness caught up with me this week, so I am late to the party. As the saying goes, “Better late than never”!
Now, the title of this post could’ve turned you off. Could’ve had you thinking that I am trivializing the Day. Not at all.
It is International Women’s Day all over the world, so what? What’s the difference with the other 364 days? For 24 hours we will be wishing each other Happy International Women’s Day, but will it be business as usual tomorrow, probably lowering our heads, drooping our shoulders and being sorry for ourselves? I don’t think so. We are better than this!
If it’s the former, let’s change that, starting with the narrative in our own heads. The stories we tell ourselves to keep us down instead of allowing us to flourish: “I can’t; I am going to fail; I am not good enough.”
With that out of the way, let me begin by wishing all the women in my circle, and by extension, all women around the world a Happy International Women’s Day. You are awesome! Keep doing your good works, whether it’s quietly behind the scenes, or in the limelight. It’s not what or how much you do, it’s the impact you are making in the lives of others. Let that sink in!
Having said that, allow me to give all of us a pep talk, because we are more than enough, we can, and we will, and we are not going to fail. Not if we support each other. Not if we amplify each other’s voices; not if we commit to being ‘brag buddies’ for each other.
The Past is Gone, Embrace What’s Coming
Don’t be defined by your past; learn the lessons and move on. It doesn’t make sense to continue staring at the closed door when windows of opportunities are passing you by.
Don’t Fall for the Little Four-Letter Word “QUIT”
When it gets difficult, and you feel like giving up, rest, but don’t ever quit. Be tenacious; don’t back away. A Quitter never wins!
You Can and You Will
Surround yourself with other women who are on a
positive pathway, and ditch those who seek to hold you back; those who see
limitations; those who dare to tell you that you can’t.
Be You! All the Others Are Already Taken
You are unique! You were not made to be who or what somebody else wants you to be. You were made to be you. If you’re ever going to become all you can be, you must refuse to be defined by others.
Don’t be ashamed to toot your own horn. If you don’t, no one will know you are coming. You don’t need anyone’s permission to root for yourself. And while you’re at it, root for the other women around you, too.
Don’t Allow Anyone to Write Your Story
Some people will try to minimize you and your accomplishments. Don’t allow it! Gather every ounce of confidence you can muster and speak up for yourself. Claim your space!
Make Space at the Table for One More…
Some of us keep success to ourselves on the premise that there’s not enough room at the table; that the ladder does not have more space. We need to support each other. Let’s stop bashing and backbiting one another. Don’t pledge support, then complain or criticize when another woman pulls up a chair to sit at the table. There’s always one more space for one of us. Let’s be welcoming.
Collaborate, not Compete
Let’s work together and become better allies to, and for each other. Let’s adopt the Ubuntu mindset that says “I am Because We Are.”
Get Rid of Imposter Syndrome Mentality
Every time the beast of imposter syndrome takes
a grip on you, whisper the mantra “Why not me?”
Think about “This time next year…”
March 8th may be International Women’s Day, but there are still another 364 days for us to blossom, and grow. Ask yourself right now, “This time next year, where will I be?”
That’s a line I read recently,
and it caused me to stop and think. Sometimes we deceive ourselves in thinking
that being productive is tantamount to being busy, or vice versa.
In fact, when we think of
productivity, we tend to focus on volume: how many boxes of widgets passed
through the conveyor belt, for example.
What if we start thinking of productivity as making better use of our time?As a career coach, and almost a Jill-of-all-trades in my business, it’s important that I find tools that, not only help me become more productive, but tools I can share with clients to help them do the same.
Recently, I attended and presented at CANNEXUS, Canada’s largest career development conference. While my presentation was initially billed as 19+ Productivity Hacks Career Practitioners Should Know (the number 19 reflecting the year – 2019 – as well as the conference’s hashtag – #Cannexus19), I ended up sharing more than 30 productivity tools.
While I did not use all 30, many are tools I use fairly often. For example, the Way Back Machine is one I often use when I need to see what was on my website, say 4 years ago. It is so good that now and again I make a small donation so it will continue running.
One attendee at my session at the conference sent an email that said, “My director is overjoyed with your slides! He used the Way Back Machine, and found information on our archives that was lost for 20 years and no one could recover it! All of Senior Management is now using the Way Back Machine and it’s all thanks to you!“
In this article, I am sharing 12 of those hacks for anyone who wants to increase their productivity, or at least, check them out. (Most are free, and some have an option to upgrade).
Way Back Machine
As mentioned above, if you are looking for the contents of a website that no longer exists, or whose information has changed, save time by using Way Back Machine. It contains 20+ years of web history.
Have too many email subscriptions? Use Unroll.me to unsubscribe from those you no longer want to receive.
Need an irresistible Blog Headline? Coschedule Headline Analyzer is your friend. Type your text and click Analyze. It will evaluate and give a score. Any Headline with a score of 70+ (or is coloured green), is considered good.
Get Pocket is another must-have. Save articles, videos and stories from any publication, page or app to read later.
Do Nothing for 2 Minutes
Have you been on online, or on your devices for too long? Need a short break from your routine? Take a 2-minute break with Do Nothing for 2 Minutes. You cannot cheat with this one. If you touch your laptop or device, it asks you to start over!
Flipboard is a news-reading App that gathers articles and delivers them to your device(s) as Smart Magazines.
Want to track how long you spend online? RescueTime runs in the background on your computer / laptop. It tracks, and gives an accurate picture of the time you spend on applications and websites.
10Times is a must-have! Want to look for events, conferences, tradeshows or meetups happening near to you? Download this App using your email, LinkedIn, Google or Facebook account.
24.me acts as a Personal Assistant that helps people boost their productivity. It handles one’s Calendar, To-Do List, Notes, etc.
Toodledo is slightly different from 24.me in that it tracks your habits, create structured outlines, collaborates with coworkers and family on projects, and will sync across all your devices.
Sharethrough is similar to CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer. It offers a Quality Score as well as suggestions to increase your headline’s impact.
Google Keep lets you create notes and to-do lists that sync across your computer and phone or tablet. Computerworld has a good article on this App. Remember it’s Google; therefore if privacy is an issue, do your due diligence.
So there you are. Twelve time-saving tools, and there are more where these came from.
Well, what if I made up the acronym, but it seems WOTY, aka
Word-of-the-Year, is quite the craze these days. Some people are
choosing to have a Word-of-the-Year instead of making lofty resolutions.
Yesterday, I read a LinkedIn post by Melinda Gates (see link below),
where she discussed the reasons she chooses a Word-of-the-Year instead
of making resolutions, and Wow! did I resonate with that? I have found
that have just one word keeps me focused.
I started this practice in 2016, when my WOTY was BELIEVE. In 2017,
it was TRUST, and in 2018, it was COURAGE. Not only did COURAGE serve me
well during the year, but in February, one month after I had chosen the
word, I was looking through photographs of children needing
sponsorships through World Vision, and my eyes locked on to this little
boy. When I began reading his bio, I discovered his name was/is COURAGE!
Without hesitation I selected him, and now I have a human reminder of
my 2018 WOTY.
With COURAGE, I stepped out of my comfort zone, and attempted and
accomplished many things in 2018. While most of what I attempted worked
out, some didn’t, but rather than feeling disappointed and
disillusioned, I learned to find a YES hidden in the NO’s.
This year I won’t have a WOTY. Instead, I have chosen a theme: #WhyNotMe.
This will not be just about me, but will be all-inclusive. As I work
with clients this year, I will challenge them to ask themselves the
question “Why Not Me?” when faced with doubts and fears about their
capabilities. They should ask themselves “Why Not Me?” every time they
are preparing for a job interview, going for that promotion that always
seems elusive, capturing their value when developing their resumes, or
when they are thinking of starting the side hustle they have put off for
so long. Ask that question E.V.E.R.Y.T.I.M.E!
I want to challenge them to step up to the plate when that pesky
little inner voice keeps telling them to step down; when the naysayers
in their network keep telling them in words and deeds that they are not
good enough. When they start second-guessing themselves, they should ask
“Why Not Me?”
If you would like to get a taste of what my #WhyNotMe Movement looks
like, join me, and the other women who have already registered for the
event. It will be held at the Peel Art Gallery Museum & Archives
(PAMA) in the heart of downtown Brampton on January 12th. In case you
didn’t know, since 2010, the second Saturday of January has been
designated National Vision Board Day.
Not only will you be meeting me (if you haven’t already), but you
will also meet three phenomenal speakers: – Alicia, Shelly and Taranum –
who were a part of my Vision 2018 event last January, and who kindly
agreed from then, that they would join me on this journey this year.
If you are ready to own your worth and express your worthiness in your career, life or business;
If you are ready for growth and change, or you know someone who does;
…because the last time I had a raise was in 2013. But, that’s not the only reason. A lot has happened since.
In addition to being a Certified Career Management Coach, I have since earned the CELDC (Certified Executive Leadership Development Coach), as well as the CCDP (Certified Career Development Practitioner) designations. Not to speak of my Certified Resume Strategist designation.
In short, I have learned and grown professionally by investing hundreds of hours thousands of dollars in myself.
It is true that certification validates the work I do, but client success also count. When I collaborate with clients who want to change careers, advance to better and higher-paying jobs and increase their earning potential, and they achieve their goals, or they gain clarity on how to move their career forward, then their success becomes mine.
I have also realized that valuing myself and the work that I do, doesn’t take anything away from anyone else.
A gentleman contacted me for services recently. After I explained how my process works, he asked, “Any possibility to reduce the fee?” I asked him if he had plans when he goes for the interview to ask that they reduce his salary. He paused, then said he didn’t.
Much like job seekers who are hesitant to ask for a raise or negotiate a higher salary, some career coaches and practitioners do not feel comfortable raising their fees either.
Many of us think we will lose out on clients when that happens, and that may be true. But, there is an upside. It frees us up to embrace the value-minded client who is willing to invest time and money into him or herself.
My colleague Dorothy Vernon-Brown said in a recent newsletter that she was listening to 2015 Entrepreneur of the Year, Bassem Ghali the other day, when he said “As much as we want to sell to everyone and make them happy, we can’t. We have to filter out those who can’t afford our product or service and stick to those who can.”
That might sound harsh to the ears, but I agree with the statement. We cannot serve everyone who comes knocking. What I usually do is to recommend specific individuals, depending on the potential client’s needs, or suggest they reach out to others in my career community who might be a better fit.
One measurement of my success (and I confess I don’t succeed every single time), is the fact that I am making a contribution and helping my clients grow, and their testimonials speak for themselves. On November 17, I received an email from an executive I worked with six or so years ago. He said:
“The last time you assisted me with my resume, I was told it was the best they had ever seen.
It is once again that time for me to seek another opportunity.
I have expanded my knowledge base, designations, and experience.
When can we meet?”
Yes, he has expanded his knowledge, earned designations, added more experience, and now he is ready for a new opportunity, and a raise.
A woman in Edmonton who I coached a year ago, wrote me on November 29, to say “You helped me with getting the project management role with the government.
I am writing with some good news and a request. Good news is, I have been on my role for over a year and I have enjoyed it immensely. I was even scouted by one of the directors to work on a different role on a temporary basis with the possibility of a permanent, more intense role.
So here I am four months in, and now the possibility to apply to the job full-time has presented itself to me and my new boss has encouraged me to apply for the opportunity.
As the role is a highly competitive one, I am seeking your help again.”
I am proud of the work I do, and am equally proud of the clients who I have worked with, and who have gained some level of success.
As I pondered my decision to raise my fees, I thought that if I were working in the corporate world, I would’ve received several salary increases since 2013.
Therefore, for the reasons stated above, I know I deserve a raise, and will be implementing my new fees in the New Year.
I am always ready and willing to work with anyone who is committed to investing in their future.
“A dream written down with a date becomes a Goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.” — Greg Reid
Jackie Palmer (fourth from right in the top photo frame), was my friend first before she became a client.
She’s quiet, smart, ambitious, and hardly ever takes “No” for an answer. When faced with obstacles (and there were many), she found ways around them.
At a workshop I hosted in December 2016, I asked attendees to “write things down to make them happen”. I suggested that any idea that came into their minds they should write them down because they never knew where it could lead. Jackie then told the group that she had always had the idea of writing things down, and it was something she was going to start in the New Year.
Well, last Saturday (September 22, 2018), Jackie, her husband Chris and partners Conrad and Daliah Smith, had the Grand Opening of the Rollerplex Entertainment Centre at 284 Orenda Road, in Brampton, Ontario. The collage above speaks to the occasion, but here is a link to additional photographs of the event: Rollerplex Opening, Brampton.
She told me this morning, “I remember mentioning that at the workshop and, yes, lots of writing it down happened”.
Obstacles, there were, but they persevered!
To all those who have ever said, “I want to…, BUT I can’t; am stuck, trapped, frustrated and fed-up”, here’s motivation for you to plow through. It doesn’t matter what you are facing. It could be a business you want to start, a program you want to study, or a job you are pining for, write out a plan on how you are going to get there. Seek assistance if you need someone to hold you accountable.
When that job interview didn’t go as planned and you didn’t get the job, don’t give up. Redouble your efforts. Take my advice, “When you are floored by circumstances, get up, rub your knees off and start afresh.”
An important lesson Jackie said she learned: “If you don’t make up your mind and, ‘Just do it’ like Nike, it won’t happen.”
Are you ready to write down your goals and dreams and make them happen? Start today!
“My wife is looking for some coaching on job interviews. She has had a few recently, but no offers came about. She is actively looking, and has another phone interview set up very soon. I would like to know if you have some availability this weekend (May 5-6).”
On May 10th I received this one:
“I have an upcoming interview next Monday the 14th for a Presales role, and the Interviewing preparation that you provide seems interesting.
I would like for it to take place in the next 3 days, ideally on the 11th or 12th of May. Are you available?”
I have highlighted these messages not because I want to point fingers, but to call attention to a common occurrence, and the casual manner in which some people treat their job search. And, it’s not only about interviews. Last Thursday, a man called to say he was laid off two weeks ago after 14 years at the same job, and he wanted his resume updated. He then asked if he could drop by to get it done as he would be passing my way soon.
In all the above cases, the individuals either believe I am available anytime, including weekends, or that I can easily update a resume for someone who hasn’t searched for a job in 14 years.
We live in a microwave society where we expect quick results in everything we do. Sometimes, this microwave mentality shows up in the job search, particularly when it comes to interviews. Some job seekers believe that pressing the ‘Quick Minute’ interview button is enough to adequately prepare for the interview. My advice is, if you really want to ace the interview, you should not wait until the last minute to seek help. In fact, once you are in job search mode, at minimum, you should be:
Researching your target companies
Creating a professional resume
Contacting your references, and,
Preparing for the interview
The fourth part of the above plan is what this post is about. Some people treat interview preparation as an afterthought; they don’t seek help until they are called for the interview. But, the approach that works best is to think that the interview begins once you have submitted your resume. What if you are the sought after candidate, and the hiring manager just happens to see your resume? You could be contacted immediately. While some companies give a week or two advanced notice, others want to interview you as soon as possible, so don’t be caught off guard.
To be fair, a good number of clients contact me at least five business days before their interview because they don’t want to ‘wing’ it.
Last week, for example, I coached a film producer who reached out to me weeks ago before he had the interview arranged. Another client, a recreation manager, sought interview help even before the job was advertised. She knew it was coming, got her resume ready and wanted to get a head start on the interview. These two individuals know what’s at stake, and don’t want to leave it up to chance.
My aim with clients is to have them well-prepared and confident before they go for the interview, not unprepared and jittery. It is better that they are prepared for an interview opportunity and not have one, than to have an interview opportunity and not be prepared.
When it comes to the job search, and interviews in particular, there is no microwave solution. The slow-cooker method is the preferred way.
Do you find interviews challenging? Don’t wait for the last minute. Contact me for assistance.
What did you spend the last week doing with your job search? Were you:
Hiding behind a computer uploading resume after resume to any company that advertised a vacancy?
Applying to every job, whether or not you were qualified for it?
Sending the same resume to all the positions?
If you were engaged in any of the above, you were taking the path of least resistance. Roll up your job search sleeves and get back to the basics with the following tips:
Network to get work. Many job candidates believe that networking doesn’t work. It does, but it is a long term strategy that involves work and time. One of my LinkedIn contacts, Brigette Hyacinth wrote that “Networking is the only way to bypass the bias filters (Overqualified, Employment Gap) in automated systems. Talk to 100 people in your network rather than apply for 100 jobs via job boards. The door won’t open automatically, you will have to PUSH your way in!” Start your networking today!
Toot your horn. Speak up about your accomplishments and the stellar results you have achieved. There is no better time to toot your horn and claim your successes than during the job search.
Prove you know what you want to be hired for before submitting your resume. Don’t leave the hiring manager guessing which position you are applying for. Dissect the job posting and make sure you understand and fit the requirements.
Give your resume a ‘once-over’ before hitting SEND. Review your resume to ensure the top third, referred to as Prime Real Estate, gives a synopsis of your measurable achievements. If the most important and relevant information are not featured in that space, it may miss the hiring manager’s attention.
Tell stories to get hired. When it comes to the job search, the importance of storytelling cannot be underestimated. Learn to weave stories into your resume (and at the interview), to demonstrate why you are qualified for the role. Recruiters love to hear (and read) authentic stories.
Match the Keywords. Keyword matching is essential, so make sure your resume contains keywords from the job posting if you want to advance beyond the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and get the attention of a human.
Stop mass mailings. Customize your resume for each position instead of sending the same version to every company. Hiring managers can easily spot when you are mass mailing your resume, and they will lose interest.
Focus on value over length. Don’t stress yourself about the length of your resume. Most recruiters look for value over length, so don’t short-change yourself. Use your title or level, and years of experience as a guide.
Send a cover letter. While some recruiters do not want to see cover letters, there are others who do. Include a concise and customized cover letter with your resume. A cover letter helps you stand out in the selection process, so use it to further share what you bring that others may not.
Create a strong social presence and review it regularly. Social is critical to hiring managers and sometimes they share social media profiles with their teams. Therefore, make sure you have a very compelling and consistent social media presence, particularly LinkedIn.
Send a Thank-you letter after an interview. Common courtesy goes a long way in today’s busy workplace, so follow-up after the interview with a Thank-you note. The people at Manpower Group believes that a “thoughtful post-interview thank you note matters more than ever in an era of e-communication.”
Those are some quick tips you can start implementing today to help you boost your job search.
When competing in a tight job market, if you can’t find a way to stand out, it’s harder for you to get a call back.