Goal of the Site

Welcome-The Career Makeover Workshop is an evolving passion and topic for me. This blog will assist people that are looking to gain stability in their current jobs, help them to earn promotions, and transform their careers into one where others are envious.

This blog is for people wanting to learn what a career makeover is, why it is needed, and how to complete one using a contingency plan. Recent graduates, people with stalled careers, Gen X and Baby Boomers are part of the audience I hope to capture over time.

Dedication, happiness, and stability don't have to be a thing of the past. Lets achieve these things together! I hope you enjoy this blog.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Vision Needed for Career Growth

A vision of the future is necessary to be able to sustain a career today. I know this sounds ridiculous but as I reflect about my own career, had I done this, I could have avoided some career pitfalls. The recommendation I have is try to prognosticate a few different things to help you increase your marketability, achieve future success, and enhance your career. Time should be spent reviewing;

The organization-Spend some time looking at your own organization. Review things such as past performance. Ask yourself what was their claim to fame? What products or services did they provide to increase their revenue? Review how many employees work in the organization. Has the organization become to large? Have they started to lay off employees regularly? Take a look at whether or not the company has filled staffing holes left by recent attrition. At times organizations may not which can indicate that there is a cash problem, or maybe they are looking to re-organize how they operate. Some satellite offices can be in jeopardy, or maybe branches merged which can result in job loss for those employees.

     Competitors-Write down all of your company's competitors. Ask yourself if your organization is still the pace setter in the industry or are your competitors gaining steam and even producing some better services and products. Are processes in the organization smooth or outdated? An indication that your current company is struggling is if it is being reactive, consistently, to what the competition is doing. A proactive approach means it is healthy and innovative. 

     Products and services-These two things are the life line of all organizations. People want a variety of products being offered, that have evolved with the times. There have been many companies that have not survived because there was no adjustments made to the things offered as time passed by. The other thing consumers want is excellent service. Providing a high quality service today is desired more sometimes than actual products being offered. Offering excellent service can negate lower prices being offered on products. People know they are paying for excellent customer service and are willing to do so.

     Delivery Systems-Do products and services get to consumers consistently, without errors made or damages done? Has the organization changed how products and services get to its customers? Can they physically pick up packages or get it delivered? Is delivery done in a reasonable time? Are service agents available? Learning organizations offer service via in person, phone, instant messaging, text messaging, and on the Internet.

Yourself-Take an inventory of yourself. Ask yourself what are your short and long term goals? Do you enjoy your work or is it hard to get up in the morning to go to work? Measure whether the skills you offer still are of value to the organization or if they become outdated. Try to get a sense of whether or not you have a solid connection and support network at work, or have those dissipated. Some specific things that should be done are;

     List goals-Ask yourself what you want to accomplish in the future. List out all personal and professional goals. Is there a family and children that you want? Do you want more education to enhance the skills you offer? All of these questions will help determine where you want to head in your career or if a makeover is needed.

     Perform a SWOT analysis-This stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. List each of these things out on a sheet of paper. Be honest with yourself when listing these to help you paint a picture of the relationship you and your employer has. This analysis can be performed at the organizational level too.

These kinds of personal and professional exercises need to be performed because all organizations have a life span. You want to get a grasp of where the company is in their life span. Taking a glimpse of the business landscape can help you determine what the future may hold for you and your company. So take a moment, what does the future say about you and your company? 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Training is a Path to Improved Marketability

Please remember that as you undertake the process of starting a career makeover that there are two paths a person can take. One is to look at a career or organizational change to maximize your earnings potential and increase your responsibility. Sometimes it is necessary to move to a new company to jump start your career.

If you decide to take the other path, which is to increase marketability, in your current company it can be a fruitful one. At times employees become disconnected from processes, or the type of work being performed. At times there are changes to key management positions and you may feel off balance with a new leadership team.

One thing that can help improve marketability and add depth to the skills you possess, is to seek out training. It takes courage and gumption to step out of a comfort zone and look for training on topics you don't have a lot of knowledge in. It will pay off and you can be used more often to complete departmental projects.

Here are some training topics you can look into;

1) Time management-This class decreases bad stress and increases good stress. It will help show how to prioritize tasks, multi-task, and complete assignments in a timely fashion. Time management training will teach you to minimize distractions which can prevent you from completing important tasks. This topic shows you ways to schedule typical office distractions. Things like answering e-mail and voice mail can be scheduled which will maximize your individual effectiveness.

2) Communication-Effectively learn to communicate with internal and external customers. Learn key methods of communication in today's office including consensus, negotiation, managing conflicts, and being concise and succinct. Learning to communicate verbally, non-verbally, using e-mail and instant messaging, blogging, sending proper text messages, using social media, and using the phone with proper etiquette should be covered because these are specific ways communication is handled today.

3) Sales-Learn the art of selling. This is an uncomfortable topic for people because not everybody is comfortable trying to get a sale out of customers. Selling a service or product effectively to help increase revenue is necessary to increase an organization's life span. This class will show that sales involves more than receiving orders. It is also alerting customers to new industry trends, standards, processes, and events like conferences. Uncovering opportunities is another piece of selling. Asking the correct open and closed probes is key in guiding a customer to a sale or uncovering needs clients may not even know they have.

As this topic of career makeovers continues some time will be spent reviewing the types of technological classes available. In the meantime show initiative and seek out training to help balance your career to avoid prolonged ruts.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

DecisionTime-Do I Need A Career Makeover?

Why do I need a career makeover? I'm happy, I have job security, I can go to work daily, do my thing, and go home. Aren't those things enough? All of these questions and statements are good ones but sometimes being honest with yourself after some reflection is a necessary step in deciding if the need for a career makeover is there.
Take inventory of your job, ask yourself what specific things make you happy, and what things drive you crazy. Make a list of all of the responsibilities you like and which ones you can do with out. Make a list of the training you recently received and which events you missed. Ask yourself if your company seems to be investing its time and money toward you to help keep you relevant and knowledgeable or is that being distributed elsewhere.
After taking stock of your individual, departmental, and organizational role in the workplace and you still can't decide if a career makeover is for you perhaps ask these set of questions. If you answer yes to any of these items then maybe its time to explore a career makeover. Personally I was guilty of all of these but one. Here they are;

·         Are you willing to take a lateral position in another company for less money?

·         Are you willing to try and work for an undefined department in your current organization? Are you a department of one in this new role?

·         Have you been paid to stay away from a company? (Severance)

·         Has your mind lapsed into monotony sleep?

·         Do you listen to a crowd of group thinkers telling you that failure is inevitable, or that change is impossible?

·         Willing to interview for a position that pays less money?

·         Have you interviewed for a position even after you were told that you weren’t a candidate?

·         Have you ever cried tears of mental surrender before walking into work?

·         Have you called in sick just to avoid the work day and specific tasks? Did you call in on back to back days? (A two for one)

·         Have you ever had to interview for the job you held a week ago because you were let go officially and told that all employees have to re-interview for their old positions?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Networking Needed

I've been pretty fortunate with the jobs I've held so far. As I near my 28th year of working, this includes full time and part time gigs, I reflect about the importance of networking. I've held three part time jobs in my life during high school and college. I received each of these jobs as a result of people giving me a reference. Half of my full time jobs happened because leaders I reported to gave my name and credentials to people that hire.

Networking has been very important for me to obtain work over the years. Don't get me wrong I  don't believe completely in the old saying of "Its not what you know, its who you know." The knowledge a person gains will be a big help. Degrees are completely worth getting to give your  resume a boost. I still have to wonder is it accomplishments that get you jobs or the networks built as you achieve life goals? I also think people need to recognize possible networks available to them to maximize their effectiveness. Here are a few ways to network.

This is a tool that is available to us that has become easier to utilize with the rapid growth of the Internet and social media. Twitter, Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are just a few of the examples of social media that can help us network. Some of these sites allows us to post our resume, create links to blogs we may write, add PowerPoint presentations to our profiles, or just say hello to a long lost friend rediscovered via social media. Resume's can be sent right from our personal computers right to employers. These ads may be found on Monster or Career Builder, both wonderful job search sites readily available to us any time of the day. Get familiar with these because they are only going to evolve over time.

We keep in touch with friends from our childhood. We develop friends as an adult and through organizations we work for. Use this opportunity to network through them. If you think about it friends already like you. Why wouldn't they help you network your talents, services, or professional experiences. I'm not suggesting to use your friends completely to network but every now and again this is a group available to us if we ask and perhaps help them as well.

This networking opportunity, I feel, isn't used enough. Personally I received one of my jobs because of a family member giving me a reference. It was a big help, and with her stellar reputation it built momentum for me. Family isn't used consistently enough because perhaps we are embarrassed. Pride may make us feel like we should be able to find a job without the help of family. Don't feel this way, because it is a very valuable networking opportunity available to us.

The people we may encounter throughout our day may help us develop a network. I ride the Smart bus into work fairly consistently during the week. I happened to overhear two passengers talking about their jobs and how they wanted to find more lucrative work. I happened to hear what their line of work was so I approached them. I explained social media to them but then let them know that I was a networking possibility. As they looked at me oddly I mentioned that the work I do may have positions open in their line of work. I gave them my card and asked them to keep in touch. We come across so many people with a variety of talents why not take advantage of that.

Conference, Conventions
These events are organized with people holding the same jobs or interests. This is an excellent way to network. Carry business cards and make sure your hand becomes sore from shaking people's hands as you introduce yourself and tell them about your work history. Make sure to thank guest speakers and event coordinators. Once that awkward moment of introductions goes by let these new found friends know your talents.

So what networking avenues have I missed? There are so many unique ways to get your name out in the public. Networking is a must. It will help circulate your mantra quickly to people looking to hire immediately.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Life’s Hard Professional Lessons


The following link to the Detroit Free Press article, in the Saturday, August 25th, 2012 edition, is a great supportive piece stressing the importance of a career makeover. Career makeovers should be done using a contingency plan which is a fancy way of saying plan your future and develop alternative career plans in case current ones don’t work out.  The necessity that we take a stand and map our future can be communicated by looking up Michigan’s July unemployment rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that it is 9.0% (http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/lauhsthl.htm, August 17, 2012). Employees are far from secure in this market, and organizations are continuously changing their plans with new processes, new ways of incorporating technology into our lives, mergers and acquisitions, and larger companies purchasing smaller ones. None of this is wrong because organizations need to extend their career lives and so do we.
Career makeovers do not necessarily mean we are changing jobs or organizations. It can, however, please note that it also means that we are trying to make ourselves more marketable and stable in our current company. One way to help avoid what the Free Press article is telling readers is to ask for training in other departments, in other skills within our own department, or on another shift. Receiving this kind of continuing education adds depth to our skills we can offer and makes it hard for employers to shut us out. It also is a message that you’re willing to never tell them NO! I recently had a student mention that she has never been laid off, and when I asked her how this was possible she said I never told my employers no. I received the training asked of me, pursued some education offered by them, and did any job asked of me. Hard to turn away an employee like this even if drastic changes are made by the organization.
Another way to help avoid being laid off and then receiving a job that pays less is start branching yourself out. Pursue other interests while working at your current organization. Be careful, I’m not suggesting creating a conflict of interest so keep all lines of communication open with your employer, let them know what you’re doing and why. What I mean by pursuing other interests while keeping your current job is volunteer your time, be creative in spare time, or work part time in another field. The thing that I do, for example, is work as an analyst for a wonderful company, I’m perfectly happy in this position but I also teach  part time, and have created this blog both of which help me to add new skills which can help my organization and me. Adding new skills keeps you fresh as tenure is gained. It also helps you add a new job quicker, perhaps, at a pay rate equal to what you earn now if you find yourself unemployed.
As I read this Free Press article I realized that I lived it once about 10 years ago. I can write about career makeovers, because I had to develop one, because at one time I became stale to my organization. Our philosophies of how things should get done became different, technology changed and with it my job responsibilities did too. I couldn’t keep up with their demands but others could and they were fitting in better. I wasn’t going to school and wasn’t requesting training. I became a stale component to them, and their solution was to pay me 30 days to leave the company to look for another job. Talk about reality setting in, I had to scramble for a new job quickly because I had no other marketable skills, an undergraduate degree that became useless for my career path, and no other additional interests that I could fall back on. I became obsolete which was an awful feeling and it was my fault. I did receive a job within that 30 days, something I’m proud of, but I was being paid significantly less than at my previous job. I had to start over and rebuild, a process that took me nearly 10 years to accomplish. That served as a wakeup call that I could never be caught flat-footed again.
It’s our responsibility to remain marketable, offer new skills, and add depth to our skill base for our employers so please think of ways to accomplish this so you can help avoid the being a laid off person that gets hired for less money.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Defining Career Makeovers

Let’s kick off this blog by defining what exactly is meant by a Career Makeover. Is this like one of those reality shows that transform your house? Your image or the way you look? Will you have a team of people arrive at your company’s doorsteps, tell you to leave for a few hours, and magically change your cubicle into an office, your job from your current duties to that of a CEO, or show you the way to a new organization where they’ll appreciate your efforts until the day you retire? Not exactly, the Career Makeover is a tool used by the individual to help them decide which direction to take to complete an effective one. No changes to your house or yourself may be necessary. You may not even want CEO duties, because you may be content with your current position. You just want to be certain that you have it over a longer period of time and that you stay valuable and appreciated. Others may wish to explore the possibilities of gaining new employment earning more money, with new responsibilities, in a new organization. Some may find that a Career Makeover, dare I say it, has helped them learn that their job can be enjoyable.
One day recently I developed a definition of what a Career Makeover exactly is. The definition created was used from learned terms, concepts, and personal experiences over the past 15 years.  A Career Makeover used in this blog is defined as;

                “a strategic, contingency plan that utilizes the planning process model.  This will allow people to maintain marketability, add new skills, network, and learn to work in a service heavy, technologically, collaborative society.  The goal is to position yourself for growth or change in your career within an outsourcing, social society. “

Using plain language, developing a Career Makeover starts with the individual by developing a contingency plan that will help map out how to maintain marketability, add new skills, learn how to network and its importance, and learning that the job market has changed. How we complete tasks, the processes used, and the people we cooperate with is completely different from 20 to 30 years ago. These concepts will all be explored in this blog over time.

First, please come to the conclusion that most of us need some kind of Career Makeover and that the workforce landscape looks different than from years past. Please take this journey with me and share your ideas and thoughts as well as topics you would like to read about. I hope my readers get as much enjoyment from this blog as I get putting it together.