New Group Career Coaching Program Starts 3/23 in NYC!

12 Jan

I’m incredibly excited to announce the launch of a new group career coaching program starting March 23 called Job Search Strategy Bootcamp. This program is designed to be a cost-effective way to offer powerful career coaching tools to job seekers and career transitioners of all levels and industry backgrounds in an intimate and personalized group setting in New York City. Best of all, you also get a free one-on-one coaching session as part of the package!

JSSB is all about gaining clarity around what you want out of your career and out of your life, and making a commitment to make it happen in 2011. This 8-week group course is designed for professionals involved in or beginning the job search or career transition process. We will walk through clear, organized steps on how to plan and execute a successful job search strategy that will bring you closer to finding that job that resonates with you, and allows you to do work that you love! When you sign up you will also a receive a free 30-minute individual coaching session with Dana.

* Build clarity around your passions, talents, and interests, and how to leverage those to find work that you love.

* Create your personal brand, live it and communicate it clearly, and create a solid online and offline personal marketing strategy.

* Create your best resume and cover letter from the perspective of a seasoned hiring manager.

* Learn new and efficient ways to expand and leverage your network of contacts, and access the hidden job market.

* Understand how to access and leverage the best job seeker resources for your industry, including LinkedIN.

* Prepare for your best interview by understanding what hiring managers are really looking for, and how body language, intonation and verbiage affect your performance.

* 30 minute one-on-one coaching session with Dana, to evaluate your job search strategy, goals and progress.

Program Includes:
-8 weekly 2-hour interactive workshops in NYC
-Small group setting to personalize the process to your interests
-30-minute individual one-on-one coaching session with Dana
-Unlimited email access
-Coursebook reviewing all of the covered topics and for tracking individual progress

Register now! Seats are very limited so as to keep the group small and personalized to members.

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America: 40% Satisfied. 10% Unemployed. 50% Miserable. How to Be the Exception.

11 Jan

As I write this, approximately 2.5 of the expected 8-12 inches of snow has already fallen on New York City, approximately 25%. Funny how that also matches the percentage of my Facebook friends who have similarly already posted statuses describing their hopes of having a snow day tomorrow (including myself). When you’re 12, a snow day means no school and getting up early to go sledding. When you’re 30, it means no work and getting up late to do, well, nothing most likely.

An astonishing 45.3 percent of Americans are “satisfied” with their work, according to a survey for the Conference Board Consumer Research Center released last year. And don’t forget that nearly 10% of the country is unemployed (how can we?) on top of that, bringing the percentage down even more. And while I intend not to make this into the ‘Debbie Downer Career Hour’, I’m simply being realistic. Are we truly satisfied with simply being satisfied? Continue reading

Friday Humor. Humorous Because It’s True.

7 Jan

Forget Resolutions, Remember Gratitude, & Celebrate the Small Things.

30 Dec

What a year 2010 has been!  Aspyre Solutions flourished beautifully with  the support of all of our fantastic clients, fans, friends & colleagues. Thank you for your continued support, and I wish you all the joy, empowerment and exciting success 2011 is sure to bring!  Get there!

With the closing of 365 days and the opening of another 365 ahead of us, this is the time of year where we sit down and evaluate what we’ve accomplished, what we want to accomplish NEXT, and maybe even how we plan on doing that, once the champagne and clam dip has worn off, come January 2.  It’s a time to remember the importance of gratitude, and to honor accountability.  Who or what are you grateful for, and what were you able to bring into your life this year by keeping yourself accountable to your own personal fulfillment & success?

For me, it was building this business into a successful, exciting brand that I love.  It was completing my professional coaching certification with IPEC.  It was expanding my network with literally hundreds of fabulous new friends and colleagues, whom I respect both professionally and personally.  It was a number of personal successes in my relationships, my friendships and my overall sense of personal wellness.  I also discovered a new-found love for sour pickles, fromage d’affinois and skirt steak, and I learned to drink coffee for the first time in my life. And despite all that, when it comes to matters of the heart (he he he)…my blood pressure is still damn near perfect.  Cheers to that. Continue reading

Just How Much Job Searching “Should” You be Doing Over the Holidays?

22 Dec

If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Twitter recently, you’ve probably seen a slew of articles I’ve promoted around the idea of not stalling on your job search just because it’s the holidays.  And that is true – the holidays are no excuse to drop the ball (no pun intended) and lose momentum.

If you think about it, this doesn’t happen with any other job – projects are still due, time and staff still need to be allocated to the appropriate tasks, and someone has to field the phone calls and emails when customers or clients need a last minute request fulfilled on before the new year.  In most cases, a true, dedicated professional wouldn’t think of leaving the office for vacation, knowing there’s a ginormously important meeting at the start of the following week, and allowing the materials for such to remain in rough draft on their hard drive.  It’s just common sense practice, and covering your own butt.  Because honestly, I want to have a few cocktails and several pounds of homemade meatballs this weekend, not an anxiety attack.  Continue reading

How to Write a Resume Summary Statement That Brands and Sells

8 Dec

An effective introductory Summary statement at the opening of your resume is a critical component of effectively branding yourself to a prospective employer.  This is the first part of your resume that a potential employer will read, and the goal is to communicate clearly what your

Photo by Brent Nelson (Flickr)

expertise is and why you are qualified.  Often an “Objective” statement tends to focus  more your own interests as the job seeker, while a “Summary” statement communicates what you can bring to the table in the targeted role for the organization.  Why should they hire you, essentially?  This is communicated by highlighting the most relevent strengths, skills & core competencies that are unique to you as a candidate, versus a trait or skill that’s an industry or professional standard (i.e. “multi-tasker” or “team-player”).

A cover letter basically addresses similar points, but in more detail, and allows for a certain amount of personalization to shine through.  The Summary statement should be approximately 4-6 lines and speak only to your professional background, and not address any outstanding circumstances (employment gaps, change of career, personal experiences, etc.). Continue reading

The Friday Edition: Following A Vision, Creating A Legacy

3 Dec

I noticed I get a lot of continual readers from my Boston University Alumni group, which thrills me!  I follow BU’s Alumni updates on Facebook, and this morning they posted an intriguing story about 4 BU students who formed a rock band in 1964.  And although Barry and the Remains’ tenure on the Boston music scene lasted a mere two years, their following was so popular that they were invited to be on Ed Sullivan and open for the Beatles!  Today, fans still wonder if these guys, had they continued on, could have been the next (or first) Rolling Stones, or something of the like.  Not bad for a few college guys in Allston.  Now, out of focus for the better part of four decades, they’re being inducted into the  Boston Music Awards Hall of Fame, joining the likes of fellow Boston rockers Mission of Burma and a little known quintet called Aerosmith.

And sure, I’m probably still wearing my theoretical red and white hockey jersey and beaming with alumni pride for my alma mater, but I read this blurb and I had a thought.  What are we each doing today, socially, professionally and creatively, to build our own legacy for tomorrow? What do we want that legacy, and our impact on our community to look like?   And how can we take steps to start forming that today?

In an age of instant gratification and having the world at our fingertips, many of us tend not to look 40 years ahead in the future with real clarity, or even regard.  But at the same time we have higher goals, or vision, of what we want to create for ourselves professionally and personally, than extend beyond tomorrow.

Speaking of alma maters, last weekend I attended my 10-year high school reunion.  As I sat pondering scenarios of what everyone would be like a decade later, I said to the fiance, “Everyone’s going to ask me if I”m still

Could have been a great comic book artist.

drawing.”  Because that’s the legacy I created for myself  earlier in life, since the day I was able to hold a pencil.  I had good grades, stellar rollerblading skills and one terrible haircut circa late elementary school, but my artistic abilities were what people remembered about me, what stood out above any other  accomplishments or shortcomings.  I’m approaching 30, and the image I inadvertently created for myself at 10 still sticks like glue.  And it always will, and fortunately for me it’s a legacy I’m sincerely proud of.

At that young age, it would have been hard to fathom creating something so lasting and impactful on our idea of self, given our minimal life experience on earth as children.  Now as adults, it’s easier to understand how reputation and character are formed over time, by the actions we take and the decisions we make.

So what influences all those decisions and (re)actions?  When you think about your vision for your career, your relationship, your life, chances are the vision you have for yourself extends several decades into the future, simply because we want to build lasting, fulfilling results for ourselves that we can continue to build upon.  It’s okay to stumble along the way and find happiness & fulfillment by accident – many of us do.  But for the other many of us, we value careful consideration and planning when it comes to the direction of our personal and professional lives.  And while chance and unforeseen events will always be a part of that pathway, much as we try not to deviate, it’s important that we check in with ourselves regularly to make sure what we’re doing and creating is truly keeping us on that path toward our higher vision.

Because it’s easy to get sidetracked by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors, to make bad decisions or take impulsive actions.  But what we can do when we recognize that negative shift is remind ourselves how committed we are to that vision, how important that legacy is to us, and then get back on the road.  Whether the vision is 4 months or 40 years ahead of us, keeping it in plain view each day will allow us to keep focus and create action and decisions in accordance with attaining that.

So what is your vision for living the best possible version of yourself? When you’re living that life, what kind of legacy will that allow you to create, and what will that say about you?  Food for thought, for the weekend.  Mmmm.

The Importance of the Details: 7 Critical Ones for the Employee-To-Be

1 Dec

I’ve had the flu, or something of the like, for the past two days.  Neither my wit, nor my mental acuity are operating at peak levels right now, but I’ll try my best to offer something of value here. Nonetheless, the gratitude-subscribing coach within me realizes, “Hey, at least I wasn’t sick for Thanksgiving!”  Glass half full my friends, glass half full.

Speaking of both gratitude and optimism, I found my pants.  The laundromat, trying to be helpful, removed them from the rest of the pile after they realized they were still damp, and tossed them into the dryer for an extra cycle.  Unfortunately, they forgot to take them out, and they ended up in some other Brooklynite apartment, someone who was nice enough to return them to whence they came.  So thank you, whomever took the time to do that.  It’s the smaller gestures that can truly brighten someone else’s day, or your own.

Little things are important indeed.  Little ways in which you communicate, in which you present yourself, in which you brand yourself – they’re little, yet they can make all the difference.  For example, I hate when candidates have “Objective” statements on their resumes.  I tell everyone to remove them and replace them with a 4-6 line “Summary” statement.  Why?  Because an objective statement communicates what YOU want out of a company, as if they’re bringing you into their office to interview you so that they can fulfill a favor for you.  A summary statement communicates your strengths and core competencies, and instead presents the idea of “Here’s what I can do for YOU…Mr. Hiring Manager at Company X”.  It seems trivial, but sometimes a trivial detail is what separates you from the  new hire.

Here’s another one. When you’re thinking about communication, especially in the professional sense, remember this: Only 7% of your message comes through via what you actually SAY.  The other 38% is intonation and the remaining 55% is body language.  So you might have most well-crafted answers to every interview question in the history of man, but if you’re going to look down at your interviewer’s shoes, or around the room, speak incoherently  and lace all your sentences with “like” and “um”, you might as well throw in the towel right there.  Same deal if you walk in smelling like smoke or heavy perfume.

Because sometimes a trivial detail is what separates you from the new hire.  Details are important, and unfortunately ten years of fantastic experience and accolades won’t necessarily overshadow 1 hour of careless, hasty  judgment.

Here are a couple of details to keep in mind whether you’re starting or already knee-deep into your job search:

  • Invest in at least one interview-appropriate outfit, and make sure it fits in with whatever the standards of dress are for your industry.
  • Do a quality-control check on your resume Summary (or Objective) statement – what message are you communicating?  Is it about YOU, or about THEM? (Hint: It should be about how You can HELP them.)
  • Do not use BCC or CC fields when emailing your resume. You should be sending it to one person, if possible, and tailoring it to fit the company and role to which you are applying.  Yes, it’s more time and effort-intensive, but far more likely to yield a positive return.  No decent recruiter or hiring manager will ever reply to an application that is generically blasted to multiple people at once- it shows lack of initiative.
  • In addition to attaching your resume and cover letter as documents, include them in the body of your email.  I realize computers never fail and the chance that the file might not open correctly is slim… but you never know.
  • Creativity is great, just not when it comes to fonts and formatting on your resume. Likewise, unless you’re Stan Lee, keep Comic Sans out of your professional email signature.  Ariel, Courier, Times, Verdana or Calibri are all safe bets.
  • Set your Facebook profile to private, for God’s sake.
  • And then Google yourself. Be fully aware of what information about you is available to the greater public and what messages are being communicated.  This effects your personal brand as much as your LinkedIN profile does, so keep it professional.

THE FRIDAY EDITION: Who Needs Pants When You’ve Got Gratitude?

12 Nov

“They’re just things,” is a phrase I find myself uttering modestly a lot lately. In times of sheer frustration, such as when my bank account is hacked into, or the dry cleaners loses all my jeans (today), I try to summon my inner coach who tells me I’m bigger than each of these situations.  Money, my favorite pair of jeans from the GAP, the brand new cardigan I left on a dirty bar chair – they’re all just “things”, right?

You can tell yourself that all you like, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’ll be shelling out another $70 that wasn’t planning on for new pants.  And the worst part is that I’m petite – and curvy.  It’s hard enough to buy pants when you’re a petite woman, but throw the fact that I didn’t inherit the stick figure gene like the rest of my family into the mix, and shopping becomes a whole other party.

This morning I debated storming into the dry cleaners and making a giant fuss about the situation.  I went so far as to call my father to vent; his highly  conservative views often come in handy when I need someone to back me up on the various injustices of the world, and then promptly leave the conversation at that. The fiancee was already at work, and it’s his birthday, and the last thing he needs is to hear me screaming at him over the phone about how I can’t find my pants.  There’s a much better context for that discussion, at a different time & place.

And then it occurred to me that ruining someone else’s day on top of allowing this to ruin my day was the biggest injustice of all, and ultimately gets me no closer to finding my pants.  <sigh> Why do I have to be so wise?

One of the things I always tell clients who are trying to wrap their head around why negativity has seemingly taken over their lives, is that they’re greater than whatever the situation – meaning they’re not defined as a person by the outside events that come into their lives.  They are defined, however, by how they react to them.  We cannot control the workings of the world, the weather, or the actions/reactions of others.  But we can certainly control our own perspective on things, and how that affects the actions we take and the commitments we make.

I wrote down a brief description of what the pants looked like on the front of my original receipt copy, which sat in a book attached to 300 other receipts.  And that was it.  I’m not too hopeful about finding my pants.  But there are plenty of other pants out there to wear, and maybe that’s the answer- to suck it up, recognize the situation for what it is and take the opportunity to step into a different pair of pants that fit me better; leave the old ones behind.

And isn’t that what we do automatically whenever seemingly injustices come into our lives, and we want to blame, and scream and get angry?  Sometimes we do those things, but in the end we automatically move on, because what other choice is there?  It’s human nature’s survival instinct kicking in when we force ourselves to keep going.   If we refuse to define ourselves by our disappointments and instead look at the underlying opportunities, we invite success and happiness into our lives.  If you didn’t get that dream job you had interviewed 4 rounds for, it’s okay to feel disappointed and angry.  But then let go of that negativity and allow yourself an opportunity to replace it with something more positive – perhaps an understanding and trust that there is something better around the corner that is coming to you.  And when that opportunity arises, that old story of disappointment will be long forgotten.

Who needs pants when you’ve got gratitude?  Don’t focus on what’s been given (or not given) to you today.  Instead, allow yourself to focus on what you can give back from that situation, and react from a place of gratitude and not a place of grief.  Trust in what comes next, and the higher reasoning behind things.  Gratitude as an attitude.  I’m going shopping.

“You’re No Less Alive on a Tuesday Than You Are On a Friday”

4 Nov

Since moving to the new neighborhood in Brooklyn, the fiance and I discovered a new cozy, European-rustic wine bar that makes me feel like I’m hanging out leisurely somewhere in Southern France. Yesterday, I was sharing my own interpretation of work-life balance over a couple glasses of Malbec at our new Provencal escape.  Which is ironic, given that the point of my work-life diatribe was around doing something you love, or at least loving the something you do enough that you don’t constantly feel the need escape the daily grind in the first place.  And ideally, you avoid using terms like “the daily grind”.

Photo by Zen on Flickr

“Live to work, or work to live,” he asked.  “Which one do you think is better?”  And my gut reaction said ‘work to live’, because isn’t that why most people go to work, to afford themselves the lifestyle they want, and live it?  And then I realized that most people go to work because they basically have to.  Some people don’t have to work, and they still do.  Regardless, the objective of a person who ‘works to live’ isn’t necessarily the same as someone else who would categorize themselves that way.  I might work to live, and by live I mean scrape by and pay the bills, versus live a certain quality of leisurely lifestyle.  The same holds true for the  ‘live to work’.

That’s when things got confusing.  When the choices are either “one of the other” it doesn’t leave you much room for compromise.  Perhaps we don’t work to live or vice versa, we just work AND live, and the goal for most of us is for both of those actions to be beautifully in sync and complimentary to one another.  And if they’re compliments, then neither one specifically drives the other, or serves as the means to the other end.  You just do them both, and you do them well, hopefully with a smile on your face because you have integrity around what you do each day.

He started telling me a story about a toll collector in California who had been collecting tolls for decades, and had some bigger dream of doing something else that he had continually shelved in return for making a more immediate living for his family. He was one of those people you really wonder what internal switch they have that everyone else lacks.  And they flip it on each day, and suddenly their outlook on life is 100 times more positive than everyone else’s.

I’ve never collected tolls myself, but one might assume it’s not the most exciting of occupations.  And this fellow probably understood that logically. But our emotions often come from a place separate from logic, and in turn those emotions influence our perspective and opinions based on feelings, rather than factual thought.  Like so few people, this man approached each day of his job, which was probably far more identical to ones preceeding and following it than most could tolerate, with a smile on his face and integrity around what he did.  So much so, that every one of the thousands and thousands of cars that drove through his booth were greeted with the same grin as he joked, “Big spender today, eh?”  And that type of welcomingly   unexpected cheer and humor in such an unlikely place became contagious, and sent driver after driver away down the highway with a chuckle and a smile.  So it makes you wonder what was really in a day’s work for him – just collecting tolls, or a contribution on a bigger, more human level?

“My ideal version of work-life balance is where what you do for a living is fulfilling and satisfying to such a point that you feel no less excited on a Tuesday than you are on a Friday,” I said.  Because let’s face it, most people rush their way through the 40+ hour work week in anticipation of the weekend, their time away from the place where they spend nearly 40% of their waking hours!  They rush through slightly less than half of their life, just tolerating everything.  Somebody please tell me how we’re expected to move ourselves forward toward our ultimate goals when our main source of fuel is tolerance.  It won’t happen.

“You’re no less alive on a Tuesday than you are on a Friday,” he said. And something about that simple statement glowed like a fluorescent light bulb.  Because he’s absolutely right. The universe has no concept of whether it’s a Tuesday or a Friday, a weekday or the weekend, only what we do with that information in terms of our actions.  The Beatles gave their first ever live performance in America on a Tuesday, on February 11, 1964.  It was a Tuesday on April 15, 1947 when Jackie Robinson made history with his major league baseball debut for the Dodgers.   And on a Thursday night November 9, in 1989 was the fall of the Berlin wall.  Most of Berlin probably stayed home though because they had work the next day.  That, and who the hell are the Beatles, anyway? [I kid.]

Great things happen in the world and in our own lives, no matter what day of the week it is.  And when we expend our mental and emotional energy wishing away so much of that time, what is that saying about the way we’re conducting our lives, and our work, each and every week?  Are we happy with our contributions?  Are we fulfilled by what we’re doing?  Are we wasting our days week after week going through the same old motions of doing something that holds minimal purpose and brings little if any positivity to us and to the rest of society?

It’s inevitable that there will be points in your life where you don’t have your dream job and maybe don’t love, or even like, what you do.  But are you at least doing something that is moving you closer to that greener pasture, whether it’s gaining experience, making contacts, saving money or simply learning about yourself?  Maybe it’s not WHAT we do each day that matters as much as how we do it and why.  And when you think about it that way, it leaves a lot of room for improvement.

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