Career Evaluation: What Are You Chasing?

Stop for a moment.

Whether you love, hate or just accept your job – what does it represent?

Since work consumes such a large part of our lives it should serve a purpose.

Finding the perfect job isn’t going to make you “happy” for long. That’s not saying you can’t stay in one profession for a while and enjoy it, but chances are on bad days your mind wanders to other options.

A career is never meant to define you.

When casually asked, “what do you do?” it results in three reactions: proud, ashamed or blah.

The better question to ask yourself is: what are you chasing?

For me it’s lifestyle. As a father and entrepreneur I want my work to provide the opportunity to control how I spend my time. Sure, I’d like to make more money (who doesn’t), but if the tradeoff is I’m rich, but can never see my family it’s not worth it.

Consider your life stage. Don’t default simply to age.

There are people in their 20’s married with kids and others in their 40’s single.

Values don’t change much over time, but priorities do. Added responsibility like being a parent will do that to you.

Feeling stressed isn’t fun, but tension also promotes growth. Changes whether expected or unexpected will challenge you. Take time to relax, but too much of it can hurt you.

When it comes to evaluating where you are in your career, remember to stop comparing yourself to others and look at it in “chunks.” Each experience prepares you for the next so no matter where you are take what you learned in the past and utilize it to propel you into the future.

Chasing is healthy in moderation.

Ambition leads to drive and motivation.

But what’s most important is to define your career path based on your standards alone.

Those who are focused are trying to win the race, not consumed with beating others.

Are You a Confused Millennial?

rachel-ritlop-confused-millennial

I’ve always believed LinkedIn and other social media platforms are about making a virtual connection in hopes of connecting with people you would never meet normally in person. That’s how Rachel & I met. Since we write about similar topics and have mutual friends, we got on the phone and chatted. After talking with her I was impressed with her takeaways and business acumen so I decided to interview her so that you, my readers might be inspired.

1) Tell us briefly how you successfully transitioned from counseling to a business/career coach.

Well initially I started out as a general life coach. I worked with people of all ages, from 17 to 80! My real passion started to come out as I taught twenty somethings how to find their purpose and “adult” effectively. During my first year in business I started getting approached by local businesses to consult on their behalf with program developments, social media marketing, and employee satisfaction. At around the year mark of my business is when I decided to rebrand my business to focus more on business and career coaching.

2) What advice would you give someone who is unhappy in their career?

I would probably ask them to explore what is causing the unhappiness to figure out if its something that could change with some inner work or if the person is in the wrong career all together. For example, someone can be really unhappy because they aren’t used to a certain type of structured work environment or having a boss, but love the work they are doing. In that situation the person should probably work with a coach or counselor to figure out what changes they can make to create more autonomy for themselves in the workplace. However, if someone actually dislikes the work they are doing, then I would have them write out the characteristics of their dream career and start working on an entirely new career plan based on whats missing for them and their intrinsic and current skill set.

3) Your alter ego, The Confused Millennial, has gained a lot of traction as of late. To what do you attribute this growing following?

I think it’s really relatable for people. I constantly get emails and comments from people saying how much they can relate or love the blog. I think most of us millennials are multi-passionate and the idea of narrowing our focus to one thing can feel pretty claustrophobic. The blog is a place to read and watch other millennials journeys, plus get actionable advice based on personal experiences. I think we all crave community and thats what The Confused Millennial is really doing.

4) I’ve noticed a big part of your brand is your complete transparency. Was that intentional or just you being you?

I’ve always been the type of person that what you see is what you get. I have a real hard time with RBF and hiding my emotions. When I moved my business on-line I made the decision to be “more polished” as a business/career coach since that’s what I thought I needed to do in order to be “successful”… but a month after the launch of rachelritlop.com I felt like I was a total fraud. I realized how much fluff I had consumed on the internet and I felt taken advantage of and just wanted to do something different than what all the “big coaches” were doing with their perfectly polished personas, and be true to me… which led to the creation of The Confused Millennial.

5) Recently you launched an Instagram E-Course. Tell my readers more about this great resource!

Yeah! It’s been great! It decided the last week of March to grow my Instagram following and in just three months I saw an increase in engagement from 0% to 8% and from less than 300 followers to about 6,000! I decided to put all the information I learned and tips into a course! Basically it takes you through the basics of Instagram, how to optimize your Instagram for engagement and conversations, how to take Instagram worthy photos with your iPhone, how to grow an engaged following and so much more! The course is available for sale here!

Why Career Coaches Don’t Make Money

broke

Perception is reality. Not all the time, but most of it.

Anyone can be a career coach. There’s no certification for it. In fact, most career coaches barely make any money doing it. Here’s why:

Prospecting clients is like identifying new car buyers. You can’t really convince someone they need it, you just have to be visible when people are looking for it. Career coaches can’t talk you into something you don’t want to do. They can just lay out their process and instill the confidence they can deliver your desired result. That’s it.

The irony is the people who need it most are usually broke or unemployed. The service shouldn’t be cheap (if it is I would question the credibility). Clients who benefit from it the most are usually older or further along in their career. If you’re hiring a coach out of desperation, you’re better off hiring a temp agency. Career coaching is a personal and professional investment. It’s about teaching you the skills to find a job on your own, not do it for you. If any coach promises you a job after they work with you, they’re lying (unless they’re going to hire you themselves).

On the business side coaching individuals is not scalable. You’ll never have too many clients on your plate unless you’re connecting with companies who hire you as a transitional coach (aka helping clients as part of a severance package). The money isn’t in individuals, it’s in corporate. That’s why if you’re not charging a decent amount, you’re wasting your time.

Career coaches who are reading this probably hate me.

Prospective clients reading this probably knew this already.

Here’s the caveat: if you call yourself a career coach, stop. People are skeptical.

If you’re thinking about hiring a career coach do it based on two criteria: fit and confidence. If you two “click” consider working with them. Lastly, if you have the confidence after talking to your coach he/she can get you to where you want to be, pay them.

The reality is people are changing jobs almost every year.

Is hiring a career coach a good idea? Depends what your expectations are.

But if you’re thinking about calling yourself a career coach or are one, you better figure out another way to make money.

Don’t Hate the Process, Hate the Game

job-search

Looking for a new job sucks.

There are no shortcuts, but instead of running the rat race, embrace the game…but play by new rules.

Just like a healthy lifestyle requires exercise and nutrition, there’s no magic potion to improving your career.

The way job boards are created, it’s as if your odds winning the lottery might actually be better. Unfortunately applying online is part of the process, but one of the most passive tactics you can participate in.

Most digital applications have built-in filters that sift out specific keywords, lack of experience or required skill sets. It’s kind of like talking to a robot on customer support instead of an actual human. Very frustrating.

But since applying for jobs isn’t something that’s going away soon, what can you do to combat it? Here’s 3 proactive ways to increase your chances of getting hired:

1) Network. Use the internet and social media to find contacts, but once you do reach out to schedule a phone call or better yet, a meeting over coffee. Technology has widened the playing field, so you need to stand out by leaving an impression. The #1 reason people get hired is because of relationship. Know someone and now all of a sudden you’re on their radar.

2) Contact Recruiters via LinkedIn. One of the worst parts of applying to jobs is not knowing if your resume ever makes it to the destination. On LinkedIn, not only do companies have to pay to post a job, but they also have to list whom posted it. My advice is: apply to the job, then connect with the recruiter. Chances are they will accept your invitation to connect, then send them a note you applied and why you’re unique.

3) Be Creative. Record a video. Reach out on Twitter. Ask for an informational interview. This may sound too general, but since this is a “game” who says you have to play by the rules? Everyone applies for jobs online. Everyone attaches their resume. Everyone sends a cover letter. Don’t be like everyone else (unless you like where you are now). You may not be after a sales position, but landing a new job is all about selling yourself. A good question to ask is: “Would you hire yourself?

Most companies are built like a fortress. If you try to enter through the front gate you’ll be denied. Instead the “back door” strategies mentioned above are much more effective.

So create a new process…while you still hate the game.

Why Culture Is King & Position Is Queen

king-and-queen

When’s the last time you thought about applying for a new job?

Truth is, much like the cliche “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side,” it may not be your job that’s actually frustrating you.

The reason culture is king and position is queen is because the former rules over the latter.

Let’s say you land your dream job, but the culture is so toxic you end up quitting?

On the other hand, step into a company culture where you feel valued and working your way up doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

As a career coach, here are the implications: don’t just apply for positions, apply to companies you want to work for. If you get into the right cultural fit, it’s fairly easy to move up as an internal candidate.

That means as a job seeker (passive or active) you should be targeting companies you want to work for as much as positions you qualify for. The corporate world is evolving and what forward-thinking companies realize is: if you take care of your employees, they will in-turn take care of your customers.

In this day and age you and I have a plethora of choices.

A.D.D. isn’t a disorder, it’s the norm.

That means as workers, you have options.

Purpose and passion have been replaced by lifestyle as the driver…and culture supports that.

The Evolution Of Your Dream Job

dream-jobs

Everybody has dreams…but dreams change.

What you consider today as your dream job will most likely change in the next few years. It will happen for a number of reasons: experiences, life stages, interests, etc. I’ll discuss the real reason later.

Clients ask me, “What if the perfect job is out there, but I don’t know it exists?

Good question. My response: you don’t know, that’s why you need to keep looking and applying.

Maybe not the answer you want to hear, but if your dream job doesn’t exist yet, create it.

Think about it. Interviewing for a job is essentially selling yourself. Creating a job is selling your idea (basically entrepreneurship).

Easier said than done, but the average tenure at your current job is less than 2 years. That’s not too far off from the average tenure of your dream career either.

We change jobs like we flip through the channels on TV. I tell my clients, “I can help you find the one career that best suits you, but expect this process to start over a few years from now.”

My job as a career coach isn’t really to help you figure out what to do next, it’s to help you figure out yourself (so you can do the process over in the future).

To loyalists this might sound depressing, but it’s just a sign of the times. Just like you and I will have to maintain a side hustle just to survive, your lifestyle will dictate your decisions, not your dreams.

For example, when you’re in your early 20’s you’re willing to be a slave to your career. Fast forward to your mid 30’s with a family and kids and you start saying “no” more than “yes” when it comes to work. During that time span what you considered as your dream job changes at least twice!

When it comes to your dream job the better question to ask is: why?

Why do I want this dream job? What does it represent? What can it provide?

I used to think I wanted to be an entrepreneur (and I still do), but what I really wanted: flexibility and control.

That can be found as a business owner, but it can also be found working for a company. My priorities shifted when I got married, then again when I had kids. That’s why your dream job will evolve too.

It is said that we are afraid of change, yet we do it all the time. We change our clothes, we change our interests and we change our jobs.

Your dream job will change over time…because you will change first.

Why You Shouldn’t Follow Your Dreams

dream-killer

Before you label me a dream killer, hear me out…

It’s inspiring to pursue your passions, but it’s not practical. I’m not trying to sound like your parent(s), but a voice of reason.

The more important question you should be asking yourself is: “How can I monetize my dream?

Shark Tank, Pitch Fests and Startups have us obsessed with chasing what we love, yet the problem is the pot of the gold at the end of the rainbow is usually empty.

I’m as guilty of this as you. I think of a great idea, my mind (and heart) starts racing. I think of all the possibilities, but rarely about the obstacles. I chase the future, but am not always rooted in the present.

Only in the past 10 years have most professionals started saying: I want to do something I love.  That’s awesome, but not realistic.  If I can teach you anything, it’s to study how to make money from your idea from the beginning. There’s enough information on: TV shows, You Tube Videos & social media to get you started (no, you don’t need to go to school for a degree…experience beats education every day).

You learn by doing. Make mistakes. Ask experts. It’s smarter to launch your idea as a side project initially and if it takes off, make it your main thing. If not, lesson learned and at least you’re not depressed and unemployed. I’ve seen too many people chase potential only to be living at their parents house into their 30’s waiting for lightning to strike.

If I could go back to college, I’d give myself the following pieces of advice:

– Intern to learn a sales model then try to better it.

– Sell something, a product or service because it doesn’t matter how great your idea is until someone else sees the value in it and buys it

– Network like your life depends on it. The world is about who you know, not what you know. Remember that.

So my message to you for 2016 isn’t to settle for a corporate gig, it’s to find work that can support the lifestyle you desire. Success is defined by you and you only. Chase your dreams, but work relentlessly at the process.

How To Sell Yourself

Selling-Yourself

Face it. Selling is hard. If it were easy, we’d all be rich.

You may sell products or services during the course of your career, but what everyone sells is: themselves. After selling services for a while and now transitioning to a physical product (a bit easier), one lesson I’ve learned is: in order to be successful in sales, you have to be confident with what you’re selling.

As a relational person, I prefer to connect vs. sell. If you listen close enough in a conversation, you can identify a pain point. If you can relate to it, trust is gained much more rapidly.

A practical example is on a job interview. Your resume may qualify you for an interview, but what you say and how you say it will validate if you have a chance moving forward. Most people get nervous before interviews and that’s normal, but what you don’t want to do is be unprepared or panic. Think about your body language, tone and message you are communicating. Are you being authentic or trying to be someone you’re not?

As a career coach, the advice I give is: understand your strengths, know how you add value to the organization and be yourself. It’s difficult to know exactly what an employer is really looking for, so instead of worrying what they’ll think of your answers, focus on where you fit in.

Leaders are self-aware about their weaknesses and strengths. Not everyone is meant to lead others, but you should be able to lead yourself. One goal I set with every networking opportunity is to try and get the other person to like me. You’d be surprised how much people brag and show off just to look good, but the person on the other end leaves disgusted.

Life is a game of who you know. The less you worry about being the smartest, the better. In fact, too much knowledge can come off as intimidating or arrogant.

Selling yourself comes down to: interests, passions and values. Connect on one of those points and your chances increase dramatically.

Would you buy what you’re selling? 

Why Coaching Doesn’t Work

coach's whistle

I’ve been coaching for the past 8 years as an entrepreneur, but much longer in basketball and life. It’s a skill set you can learn, but similar to leadership there are some who have an innate ability to thrive in it and a “higher ceiling” in terms of execution. As a customer there are more reasons than not to avoid coaching, which makes it hard to “sell.” Here are just a handful:

“What is coaching?”

“How does it work?”

“How much is it?”

“What results will I get?”

“HR and management already provides that at work.”

The list goes on and on, so instead of trying to convince you why coaching works, I prefer to share my experience of hiring a coach. I worked with a coach for 18 months. We met bi-monthly and talked about professional and personal issues. I loved how he would ask me questions that were based on my agenda, set goals to accomplish before the next session and go at my pace. It felt much more like hiring a personal trainer to strengthen my mind than anything close to therapy or psychology. I liked it so much I picked my coach’s brain on how to become one and after going back to school for a M.A. in Organizational Leadership, here I am.

Now the toughest part is selling it. Coaching is a process, it provides solutions to the “how” questions. Problem is customers are focused on the results. Confidence and career advice is what my clients get from working with me. Another issue is paying for individual sessions. Going back to my personal trainer analogy, you wouldn’t hire a trainer and expect results overnight, so you can’t do the same with a coach. Sessions don’t work, programs do. P90X and Insanity sell fitness, but they’re packaged as a program. That’s exactly how you need to buy coaching. For example, my Career Bootcamp is 30 days of coaching which includes: (4) 60 minute sessions + unlimited weekday email support. If you take full advantage of this offer, you can have up to 26 “touch points” in a month’s time. Now that’s value! You get a defined outcome in specific time frame. Much easier to buy.

It’s not that coaching doesn’t work, it does. But the challenge is how it’s “packaged.” These days anyone can call themselves a coach, I get that. So if you’re in the market to hire one, contact a coach and ask them questions. Your decision to hire one should be based on chemistry (do you “fit” with them?) and confidence (can they get me to where I want to be?). Coaching is an investment in personal & professional development. Athletes hire coaches to increase performance, so should you!

What Work Life Balance Really Means

work life balance

70% of people struggle with work-life balance, but what does that mean? Essentially it’s when either your personal or professional life is dominating the other. Here’s two examples, if you’re a career driven individual who finds yourself in your 30’s and out of the dating scene for a while because working overtime is the norm OR if you’re a stay home mom who manages a household of 5, but never has any time of your own that’s work-life imbalance.

Easy to identify, difficult to resolve. At the core of work-life balance is feeling a lack of control. Autonomy is one of our primary motivators in life, according to Dan Pink, so when our professional or personal life is overwhelming the other we feel like the victims of our consequences. The same reason why entrepreneurs start their own business is what the average person striving for work-life balance wants: freedom.

There’s a big movement in the entrepreneurial world that doesn’t involve making more money. It’s a little thing called lifestyle design. It means you want to spend your time doing what you want, where you want, when you want. Sounds like a glorified vacation, but it’s much more than that. Fast forward your life until you’re in your 80’s. If you looked back at your life at that point, what decisions would you wish you made differently? Probably anything that deals with spending more time WITH others or ON yourself. That’s why time, not money, is the most valuable currency.

If you’re still confused, let’s talk about the exact opposite of work-life balance: living with regret. People who struggle with work-life balance experience this “inner-tension” of feeling guilty for not taking action. As a Career Coach, most of the clients I’ve worked with over the past 8 years pay me to help them make a career transition, but you know what they really need help with? Confidence.

I can’t force anyone to do anything. That may not sound very marketable, but it’s the truth. I can make suggestions, but ultimately it’s up to the client how much effort, openness and passion they put into accomplishing the goals they set to achieve. But this is where work-life balance fits in. You know what your desired goals are, but you may not know how to get there. That’s where I come in. Work-life balance is about prioritizing. Goals aren’t the same. Some are more important than others. You are a specialist. If you were good at everything, you wouldn’t need anyone’s help. Therefore identifying your strengths, then maximizing them is crucial to achieving work-life balance because your strengths are a “means” to an end (your goals). Work-life balance is a constant challenge. In fact, it’s not a destination, it’s a journey. You need accountability, milestones and motivation to get there. I want to help.