Your Career is Not a Cartoon – Or is It?

Cartoons are often designed to make you laugh. Sometimes they’re intended to hold something up to ridicule to expose its bad characteristics. In any case, cartoons aren’t normally something you’d think of in relation to your current job or your overall career.

That said, it can be therapeutic at times to be able to laugh at situations you’ve experienced in your job search or career. You might also get a heads up about something that could happen unless you’re careful about the actions you take. So, with just a bit of tongue-in-cheek, I’d like to venture into the world of career management and job search planning from a cartoonist’s perspective.

Confidential Job Searches – Fraught with Peril

When you’re gainfully employed and want to stay that way until you land your next job, confidentiality is critical to your job search. The last thing you want is to have your hand forced and resign before you’re ready–or have your employer make the decision for you!

How do you manage to keep your job search plan a secret? While there aren’t any ironclad guarantees, you can and should do at least these things:

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Are You a High-Engagement/High-Burnout-Risk Employee?

Employee engagement has become a popular buzzword and concept in recent years. Burnout risk has been acknowledged longer than that. However, what happens when the two concepts “collide”? And are you affected by that collision?

According to a recent article in Harvard Review, HR and management might be missing the boat in assuming that employee engagement is one version of the Holy Grail. If you’re one of those who feels very engaged in your work but also about ready to scream and start an aggressive job search, you might want to disagree with their view!

Why Engagement Alone is Not Enough

If your desk reflects the chaos hammering at your mind, that’s a possible sign of trouble brewing. Even a highly engaged employee can buckle if the squeeze on him/her creates an overload situation.

The Harvard Review article, “1 in 5 Highly Engaged Employees Is at Risk of Burnout,” talks about the fact that employee engagement, by itself, is not enough to ensure retaining employees who are engaged top performers. For instance:

“These engaged-exhausted workers were passionate about their work, but also had intensely mixed feelings about it — reporting high levels of interest, stress, and frustration. While they showed desirable behaviors such as high skill acquisition, these apparent model employees also reported the highest turnover intentions in our sample — even higher than the unengaged group.”

Does that sound anything like you? If so, it’s something you might want to think about.

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Retirement or Second Career – What’s Right for You?

Whether you’re 30 or 50 (or more), retirement will probably pop up on your radar screen eventually. You might not think it’s an urgent topic if you’re still in your 30s, but don’t rush to that judgment too hastily. Giving early thought to retirement planning can put you a giant leap ahead when the time does come.

In any case, it’s a decision that could smack you in the face if you haven’t given it some serious thought ahead of time. For starters, I have some questions you might want to ask yourself.

Retirement Questions – To Do or Not to Do

Before you get too far into the subject of retirement, start by asking yourself:

  • Do I want to retire at some point?
  • Can I afford to retire if I decide I want to?
  • What will I do with my time and energy when/if I retire?

In short, what does retirement mean to you, can you do it, and do you want to? Does the idea of lying on a beach in a tropical paradise or riding the canals of Venice in a gondola draw you strongly? Maybe it’s something else that pulls you toward retirement.

Whatever it is, give it some practical thought before you make the leap. We know that people are generally living longer these days and often (though certainly not always) in better health than used to be the case at retirement age. That can offer previously unavailable post-retirement opportunities and also some challenges.

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Is Your Career Ready for a Change? Are You?

We all know change is often uncomfortable, even when we initiate it. Are you avoiding a change because you’re not sure it’s the right time or direction…or because you’re just reluctant  to dive into the job search hassle? If so, you might need to nudge yourself to “bite the bullet” and get moving.

On the other hand, maybe you’re avoiding change because you’re happy where you are, doing what your job involves, but someone has told you, “You should make a change. That’s what you have to do to grow in your career.”

Not so fast! Sometimes change is necessary for professional growth and long-term career success. That doesn’t mean it’s always necessary or can’t be postponed for good and sufficient reasons.

Two Points to Consider about  Job or Career Change Decisions

Although there might be a number of aspects you’ll want to look at if you’re considering a possible job change (or career change), these two could help you choose:

  1. Am I feeling “stuck” or stifled in my present job situation? If yes, the time could be right to seriously consider making a change.
  2. Does my current situation make me happy to go to work each day and look forward to what I’m going to do? If yes, you can probably postpone any decision about major changes for now. Just keep your thought open to different possibilities that might occur later on to influence your decision in a new direction.

In other words, change can be a necessity or desirable–or not. It depends on your situation. How can you tell?

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Your Best Laid Job Search Plans

No matter how well you plan your job search, sometimes things go “wrong.” That’s life. All you can do is try to remedy the problem as well and as quickly as possible.

This is probably going to be the shortest blog post I’ve ever done. Why? Because for several days I’ve been struggling with a technology glitch that suddenly blocked me from accessing my website–from any device in my home office!

So how am I at least able to do thus mini-post? I turned off the wi-fi setting on my cell phone and figured out how to reach the key section of my dashboard for blog posts!

 

Obviously this is an “emergency” measure, not a solution. We’ll have to keep searching for that. However, it does illustrate the importance of resilience and flexibility in your job search–because plans can and will go awry at times.

In the meantime, Happy New Year and best wishes for a successful 2018 😁!

 

 

Age Discrimination Rears Its Ugly Head – AGAIN!

You might have thought that age discrimination had diminished after decades of efforts to at least reduce, if not eliminate, it. Think again! Evidently age discrimination is alive and well–online.

I have to say that this whole ageism issue makes NO sense to me. Any company with real business savvy and foresight ought to be able to see that older employees offer a wealth of experience and expertise their business could benefit from. The stereotypes that company management has long held about those older employees have also been shot down significantly over the years–proven to be basically as full of holes as Swiss cheese.

Why would any smart company–one that wants to operate a thriving, long-term sustainable business–deliberately ignore a substantial resource it could easily tap into?

Maybe that’s the short answer: There must be a lot of non-savvy, non-smart companies out there–which is to say, management teams/senior executive leaders and/or boards of directors who willfully ignore what they don’t want to see.

(Side note: If a tree survives for a long time and is still thriving, that’s considered a great accomplishment. As a productive professional, senior executive, etc., why should you be viewed as  past your prime because you’ve entered your 5th decade or beyond?)

Technology and Age Discrimination in Partnership?

No, technology per se isn’t deliberately fueling age discrimination in the work place. It can’t–it’s not a person. However, people use technology, and that use can be detrimental to your professional opportunities and career success. One clear and disturbing discussion of this can be found in a recent article from AARP, titled “Age Discrimination Goes Online.”

According to the article, age discrimination is “thriving, with 20,857 such complaints filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2016 alone. As more jobs are advertised and applied for online, evidence is mounting that it is easier to discriminate against older workers.”

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Job Search: It’s More Than Positive Thinking!

A successful job search requires much more than positive thinking, although that’s not a bad place to start. It’s certainly preferable to the polar opposite–i.e., negative thinking.

If you’re trying to push a huge boulder up the mountain by yourself, you’re probably destined for failure. Thinking positively that “I can do it” doesn’t usually supply the necessary motive-power for a successful outcome–for your planned job search or any other significant activity.

Why Positive Thinking Isn’t Enough for Your Job Search

You can find plenty of inspiring quotes about positive thinking, as well as some that are humorous or disparaging. The following quotes sort of sum up the situation for me:

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” (Willie Nelson)

“Your positive action combined with positive thinking results in success.” (Shiv Khera)

Those of you who are Willie Nelson fans might tend to agree with his statement. However, it’s my understanding that his life hasn’t exactly been a smooth road! If positive thinking is enough for solid and long-lasting success, maybe he didn’t do enough of it.

The reason I prefer the second quote is that Mr. Khera understands the need for positive thinking + action. Nothing much happens if you adopt a hopeful attitude but don’t do anything constructive to carry through on it. Read More

Crazy Job Search or Career Peace of Mind – Your Choice

As we get close to the end of 2017, some of you are probably feeling the stress of too much to do and too little time–both personally and professionally, in many cases. If you’re trying to plan a job search to launch with a bang on January 2 or needing to figure out a change of direction for your career path in the near future, the approaching holidays might not seem all that great to you.

Some conditions you can’t control. However, there are at least a few steps you can take to make it easier on yourself. Start with the idea of turning “distress” into “refresh.”

Feel Overwhelmed with a Crazy Job Search?

Your distress in this situation could stem from feeling that your life is so far out of balance, it’s not funny. While you can’t necessarily balance professional and personal demands perfectly, that’s no reason to think you’re “falling down on the job.”

Look at it this way: You can at least consider the possibility that one part of your life will require more time and attention than the other at a given moment. Take a few minutes (longer if needed) to refresh your outlook and see if you’ve been stressing-out more than you need to. As the slightly twisted saying goes, “Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow!”

Other Steps to Help with that Crazy Job Search Dilemma

  • Revisit your priorities. I keep “preaching” about prioritizing what you need to accomplish, but maybe it’s at least as important to take a look at your priorities periodically to see if something has shifted when you weren’t looking.
  • Take some deep breaths (mentally as well as physically). Silly as it might sound, hitting the “pause button” could give you a refreshing outlook that pays off in other ways for your job search, career management and overall peace of mind.
  • Look outside yourself for support and encouragement. No law says you have to do everything yourself. If you aren’t tapping into personal and/or professional resources available to you, start now!
  • Reward yourself when you accomplish one of your key career-related “to do” goals, even if it’s a relatively small one. Injecting some positive reinforcement can provide the energy that fuels additional–maybe much larger–career progress down the road.

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