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2BDetermined is a career management firm that helps professionals and executives identify and achieve their career goals via targeted coaching services.

2BDetermined Blog

The 2BDetermined Blog is a resource for our visitors and clients where we periodically post articles of interest.

Filtering by Category: Day Merrill

Career Resolutions for 2017

Day Merrill

Career Resolutions for 2017

Happy New Year! How are those New Year’s Resolutions coming? If a career change, promotion or new job is on your list of 2107 goals, here are 7 simple Career Resolutions you can accomplish by the end of the weekend:

  1. Convey professionalism with your emails: Every piece of communication you send out informs potential employers about some aspect of who you are. Most people know to use a personal email address when networking or in their job search, but silkybunny86 or mapleafs4ver isn’t going to help your cause!  Create a professional sounding personal address that includes your actual name so responders can easily find you via type-ahead. Tip: if you can get an email address thorough your university, that can help reinforce your brand.
  2. Make it easy for people to contact you: There’s nothing more frustrating than to receive an email from someone and have to go searching for their phone number to call them. If the recipient is a recruiter, that might mean deciding to move on to the next candidate! So create an email signature that includes your full name, your personal brand tag line and the best phone number to reach you (usually your personal cell). Use it on every email you send out to reinforce your brand through repeated exposure.
  3. Create your own business card: If you are currently in transition, this is a must: it reinforces that while you may not be employed at the moment, you still have a professional identity. Even if you’re working, you may want a personal business card to use when networking for your own career. Pick a simple design that matches the look/feel of your resume and include your full name, your personal brand tag line and your personal v. work phone number and email address.
  4. Check your LinkedIn Profile: LinkedIn will let you know what percentage of competition your current profile has; add suggested information to get as close to 100% complete as you can. Caveat: Don’t upload your resume if you are employed, as that could be a red flag that indicates to your employer that you are thinking about leaving!
  5. Start documenting your achievements: Create a folder on your desktop in which you can capture your paid and volunteer work related accomplishments for the year as they occur. Use a simple Situation-Actions-Results format and quantify those results achieved with metrics: $, #, %. Setting the system up is easy; the challenge is keeping it up to date, but it’s a lot easier to do it as you go v. trying to recall accomplishments later when updating your resume or preparing for an interview. Memory is the worst record keeping device!
  6. Update your marketing collateral: I’m not saying you can do a complete resume overhaul between now and Sunday, but at least change the document name to reflect 2107 and see if there are any 2016 accomplishments that you can write up (see above).
  7. Call your coach: Or mentor, networking group buddy or anyone who will light a fire under you. Start by asking how their New Year is going and how you can help them achieve their 2017 goals. Even paid service providers are more likely to go the extra mile for clients who express a genuine interest in them. Success is all about relationship and reciprocity!

Nothing creates momentum like momentum, so get out of Neutral (or Park!) and shift into 1st gear as a first step to get your career moving in the New Year. You’ll see progress as soon as you focus on the future and take strategic action. Let us know if we can help.

 

The Business Case for Sustainability

Day Merrill

In addition to teaching my clients a thing or two, I’m always delighted when I learn something new from them. Recently, a number of clients have expressed interest in exploring careers in the growing field of Corporate Sustainability. When you hear that term, what comes to mind: Environmental stewardship? Long term planning? Something “Green” and feel-good?

One of my clients shared a recent post about a joint MIT/Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Sustainability & Innovation project that explores “how sustainability pressures are transforming the ways we all work, live, and compete.” Defining Corporate Sustainability as Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) the project research is designed “to help managers to better understand the new forces that will affect their organizations, to navigate through the overwhelming mass of information about sustainability, and to fend off the threats and capitalize on the opportunities that sustainability issues present.”

Most strikingly, the research highlights the link between corporate sustainability and financial performance that is now being noted by investors. The study finds that

“90% of investors are likely to measure a company’s sustainability performance before making any investment decisions” citing as the top three reasons “increased potential for long-term value creation, improved revenue potential, and demonstration of operational efficiency.” (http://3blmedia.com/News/Investors-See-Strong-Link-Between-Corporate-Sustainability-and-Financial-Performance

This is a pretty radical shift from the mentality that’s it’s all about the numbers, and only the ones from the last quarter/week/day/hour! As recently as 2010, Bloomberg News published an article entitled “Investors Don't Care About Sustainability” that indicated just 22% of 766 CEOs surveyed believed that investors would be “key stakeholders in driving their action on sustainability over the next five years.” (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2010-11-09/investors-dont-care-about-sustainability)

Because those CEOs viewed the “lack of investor interest as a critical barrier to further investment,” very few of them even attempted to communicate to shareholders about sustainability as a business issue, perpetuating the cycle of disregard. This is despite a whopping 93% of CEOs believing that “sustainability will be ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to the future success of their business” and 96% believing that “sustainability should be fully integrated in the strategy and operations of a company.”

What has changed in the intervening years?  Evidently, CEO’s have enabled progress by identifying and executing on the three key positives the Bloomberg article posits as necessary for sustainability to be embraced:

  • Demonstrating the role of sustainability in shaping future strategy
  • Quantifying  the impact of sustainability on revenue, cost, risk and intangibles
  • Communicating the contribution of sustainability to value creation

As a partner in the recent Sustainability & Innovation project, global management consulting firm BCG, which describes itself as “the world’s leading advisor on business strategy,” is not only reporting on this shift but embedding sustainability into their own practice narrative, indicating that their consulting approach “ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results.”  

It is heartening that many leading companies are breaking the investor deadlock with compelling evidence that a business strategy that incorporates sustainability works. 80% of the CEOs surveyed believe that a “tipping point” of sustainability is embedded within the majority of companies global is possible within 10 to 15 years. Can’t be too soon!

Look for my next post on the career and personal impact of Sustainability.

“Spring Cleaning” Your Resume

Day Merrill

Spring Cleaning

Here in Canada, we launch summer with the Victoria Day “24” weekend; in the U.S., it’s Memorial Day. Either way, while it may feel like summer, it’s not official until June 21st so there’s still time for those annual cleaning projects. In addition to whatever needs attention around the house, cottage, car or boat, your resume deserves a good “spring cleaning” too.

As career coaches, we often deal with resumes when clients have a pressing need—a call from a recruiter, an unanticipated job loss, a posting too good to ignore. When we ask for a current resume to help get the process started, you’d be surprised at what we get:

  • Out-of-date resumes missing information about the current/most recent employer and job.
  • “New grad” resumes from mid-career professionals with years-old education cited first.
  • Multipage documents that have never been edited—just added to over the years.

If any of these sound like your resume, here are some tips that can help you create a current, level appropriate document that accurately represents who you are today‒ and where you’re headed:

  1. You need a career objective, but your resume doesn’t. No one is interested that your goal is “A role with a progressive firm where I can grow and develop.” Job seekers get hired to meet specific needs and solve particular problems. After a Header that provides your coordinates, begin your resume with a Profile that describes succinctly what you’re known for and in what functions and industries. Consider a list of Core Competencies as well; some employers start there and don’t go any further if they don’t see something that speaks to them.
  2. A resume is your primary self-marketing document, not just an employment history. Too many clients give far too much “real estate” to describing in lengthy detail all the duties and responsibilities of every job they’ve ever held. Instead, give the key facts: organization name and location, brief description if it's not a household name and the dates you were employed (years only). State your title and a brief description of the role: reporting relationship, span of control, mandate.
  3. Don’t confuse activities with accomplishments. The bullet points on your resume are the prime "real estate" so make sure there’s compelling content in each. That means focusing on what you accomplished v. what you were responsible for or spent time on. Start each bullet with a powerful action verb and use #, $ and % to quantify your results (as well as draw the reader’s attention to eye-catching symbols and numerals.
  4. Taper off. The further back you go, the fewer details you should give about each job. If you discover that the work you want to emphasize is related to several jobs ago, consider a combined functional/chronological format that presents relevant accomplishments up front followed by your employment history.
  5. Be selective when it comes to Education & Professional Development (which goes after Experience in a mid-career professional resume) State degrees earned, but not every course, seminar or workshop you’ve ever taken. The same goes for designations and certifications. If it’s relevant to your future include it; otherwise, save the space.
  6. Keep it professional. Activities and personal interests are mostly distractors (except in some smaller markets where showing community involvement is a plus). So unless there’s a link to your career goals (e.g., someone wanting to shift from sales to finance as Treasurer for a non-profit), leave it off. You can always discuss hobbies and interests in the interview, plus employers are skeptical about hiring someone with too much “extra-curricular” activity.
  7. Unless you are a new grad, graduate from the one-page resume. After you’ve been working for a while, you’ll need extra space to clarify and quantify your relevant work accomplishments and professional development activities. Just make sure to use a different Page 2 Header to avoid confusion and keep your name and contact details in front of the reader.

Because the resume is often your first point of contact with a potential employer, what you say, how you say it and the way you present yourself are all important. Keep in mind the average amount of time spent on a first reading of a resume is only 11-22 seconds. Make every second count by cleaning up your resume so the reader sees you as you want to be seen. And keep your resume up to date so you’re always ready to ‘spring” ahead in your career.

If you would like an independent assessment of your current resume, our Senior Career Coach Derek Smith would be happy to provide a complimentary resume critique. Send your resume to the Info address on our website; we’ll assess it via our Resume Checklist and provide you feedback.

When Bad Bosses Happen to Good Employees

Day Merrill

Bad Bosses

Sometimes it really isn’t you

The Toronto Star is currently running a series on precarious employment. When you are working for a bad boss, all employment is precarious.

I am currently working with three clients suffering under bad bosses. One is a proven professional in her field with a solid track record of performance in her industry, including previous success at her current company, a global retail giant. Another is a rising star who ran afoul of a manager who deep-sixed his career at a world renowned technology firm. The third is a colleague (who I can vouch for as a top employee) who was “inherited” by a Boss from Hell who has made his life impossible.

In all three cases, the unrelenting negativity of these bosses has so demoralized each of these high performers that they have begun to doubt their own worth. This is not a unique phenomenon, and may have happened to you. Here’s one explanation of why this happens and more importantly, what you can do if you find yourself working for an SOB or BOW (I’ll let you decipher those acronyms!)

Bad Bosses are made, not born

As a coach, I operate on the basis of the following philosophy: everyone always does the best they can in every circumstance given the resources they currently possess. Before you go ballistic, let me assure you that this does not excuse bad behaviour. But it may help to explain it:

  1. Some managers are under duress themselves, and we all know the old saw about what rolls downhill. They “do unto others” what is being done to them, perpetuating a cycle of organizational abuse because they just don’t have what it takes to do otherwise.

  2. Certain managers grew up in the “command and control” business environment of yesteryear. They believe that “the boss” is the ultimate authority and employees can either take what they dish out or leave, because that’s what they had to do.

  3. Evil does lurk in the hearts of some. There are bosses who seem to get a thrill from actively humiliating their employees. As painful as it is to be on the receiving end of this (I once had a boss who kept a hand-grenade on his desk as a paperweight!), these people are more to be pitied (and avoided) then merely censured. They are sick puppies and will run out of road later if not sooner.

Here’s the common theme: all bad bosses have gotten to where they are using a particular style that they believe “works” for them. Some have risen through the ranks in spite of their abusive style. Sadly, some have prospered because of that style in organizations that reward authoritarianism.

Good employees can transcend bad bosses

If you are working for a terrible boss and have begun to doubt your abilities, ask yourself the following question: “Have I been successful in previous jobs?” If the answer is consistently yes, then it’s not you. Your qualifications have been acknowledged in the past, and will be noticed again, but you may well have to leave to achieve that. Here’s how:

  1. If a boss is a decent person but under such stress that he/she has become a tyrant, that’s not likely to change unless there’s a full-scale transformation of the organization’s culture. New leadership at the top can signal such positive change, but you may not be able to wait it out until then. Start planning your next career move ASAP so you can get out before your performance reviews are downgraded, your spirt is demeaned and your career is derailed.

  2. If you find yourself working for a “commandant” style of boss, use the opportunity to learn how satisfy the demands of someone who is less than collaborative. Think of your job as a laboratory for career resilience in which you can experiment with different behaviours and learn which ones work with a control freak. At the same time, start exploring other options within the organization or elsewhere, remembering to “interview” any potential boss to determine his/her style.

  3. If you are working for the devil (in Prada or Paul Stuart), get out as soon as you can. Consider speaking to an employment lawyer about constructive dismissal and/or filing a Human Rights complaint for harassment. Truly evil bosses are not to be trifled with, so escape with your life; even unemployment is less damaging than abuse.

Regaining some perspective

I often recommend a “Career 360°” feedback process to clients, especially those dealing with extremely challenging work situations. People who know you in a professional context can remind you who you really are and can serve as counterbalancing voices to a boss screaming at you about how “stupid,” "worthless” or “incompetent” you are.

In addition, build a resume based around your accomplishments‒not just your duties, responsibilities or activities‒and create a strong LinkedIn profile that highlights your skills. These can remind you as well as the rest of the world what value you hold for the right employer.

Finally, keep in mind the most powerful four words in our language: “this too shall pass.” Play your cards right and you will find a way back to workplace sanity and go on to greater things (including remembering the impact a boss has on the day-to-day life of employees should you become a manager!) And pity those horrible bosses, who live full-time in the hell they tried to inflict on you. For you, there are ways out; unless they commit to making a huge and difficult change they are good and truly stuck with themselves.

Job Search 2015: Advice for Those Who Haven’t Looked for Work in a Long Time

Day Merrill

Job Seeker 2015

This blog was originally selected for publication on CareerCloud.com as the Number 1 piece of advice for those who haven’t conducted a job search in 5-10 years.

If you have not conducted a job search in a while, you may think everything’s different or that nothing has changed. Here’s what you need to know:

What’s changed:

In addition to an accomplishments-based résumé, you will need a strong LinkedIn profile, as anyone who is looking to hire will check out your profile on this site, often even before contacting you.

  • Recruiters/hiring managers will also be looking at your overall on-line profile, so make sure your Facebook page and any other social media sites represent you in a way that would be attractive v. repellent to a potential employer.

  • A tight and volatile job market means more scrutiny in the hiring process. Expect longer wait times for initial contact (often a phone screening by HR or a recruiter), multiple interviews and delays in decisions.

  • Recruiters and Human Resources professionals are squeezed between many applicants for every job and the demand by harried hiring managers to see only the “best” candidates. Initial screening of credentials happens quickly (average 15 seconds) to eliminate anyone who doesn’t hit all the marks. To insure your application makes it through the first round, cover letters must “connect the dots” between their requirements and your qualifications.

What hasn’t changed:

  • People get hired because they can help organizations solve specific problems, so make sure you can articulate your value proposition in written and spoken form.

  • Advertised positions–whether in print or on-line–represent only about 10-15% of hiring activity, so don`t spend more than that percentage of your job search time and energy on this channel. Set up career alerts on job boards and with companies of interest so posted positions come to you, v. wasting time checking to see if there’s “anything new.”

  • Recruiters–whether internal or external–account for no more than 10-15% of hiring, so don`t spend too much time chasing them. Send your résumé to all recruiters who work in your industry or field so you get into their database– where they start when they’re looking for candidates. Don’t bother calling them: if they see a potential fit, they’ll call you.

  • The highest percentage of hiring results from some sort of personal contact, so make networking-related activities (research, targeting, developing contacts, informational interviewing, follow-up) comprise at least 75% of your job search.

If you've been off the market for a while and are now thinking about conducting a search for new work, 2BDetermined can help.

Hard Evidence About Soft Skills

Day Merrill

Soft Skills

I was asked to speak on the topic of “soft skills” at a recent International Women’s Day event. There was a time when soft skills that occurred “naturally” were thought to be the only ones women had! Even though the range of “hard skills” women are now acknowledged as possessing is vast, developing so called “soft” skills is important for all us, whatever our gender. As fellow coach Peggy Klaus puts it, “Soft skills get little respect, but will make or break your career.”

Let’s start with some definitions. Hard skills form the “what” of our careers, establishing our professional identities on the basis of industry/sector or functional focus. If someone is a VP of Business Development, it’s likely he has “hard” sales and marketing skills including targeting prospects, negotiating terms and closing deals. If someone is a Chemical Engineer for an oil company, you can expect she has “hard” knowledge of both engineering and the energy sector. Most of us can probably identify our hard skills, the building blocks that form the foundation or base of our careers, but it’s the soft skills that serve as the crucial mortar that holds those blocks together.

I had an executive coaching client who had risen rapidly through a major financial institution. A quick study, she was could rapidly assess what needed to be done and set goals, put together a plan to accomplish those goals and execute on that plan successfully. All went well as long as she was an individual contributor, but some cracks began to show when she started to manage others. She was great at “get ‘er done” but often left a body count in her wake. In her singular focus to accomplish the task, she pushed others as hard as he drove herself and assumed her urgency would motivate them. When her direct reports started to push back, she was at a loss, and cracked the whip even harder.

When complaints started rolling in to HR and people refused to join her team, the organization realized that this star producer had become a problem, and I was engaged as her coach. What we discovered as we began to work together was that the skill set that had propelled her to success in her career up to then had been based on deep knowledge of the banking industry, strong operations experience and exceptional problem solving and decision making–all hard skills. Her difficulties were not in the “what” but the “how.”

The organization identified the problematic behaviours; our work together teased out the underlying assumptions about what she thought she “had” to do to achieve success. Once she understood the impact of her current behaviour, she was open to exploring alternatives, and our focus turned to developing the “soft” skills of communicating more fully and frequently with her teams, delegating tasks with enough information for her direct reports to succeed and shifting her perception of her role from that of micro-manager to resource. It took a while for her to incorporate the new behaviours and for her staff to “buy” that she was changing, but over time, the dynamic shifted. She established a new reputation as a strong and capable leader committed to engaging and developing people, and became an “employer of choice” in the bank who went on to further career success.

Here are the lessons she reported having learned from our time together:

  1. An excellent book on the subject says it all in its title, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. While hard skills are necessary to build a career, they’re not sufficient for long-term career success.

  2. Her greatest strengths, when overused had become her weaknesses. Because she had been so “good” at what she did, she had ignored the development of soft skills to her detriment. Once she recognized the limitations she had placed on herself, she was motivated to “do different.”

  3. Shifting from a familiar set of behaviours is simple in theory, but not easy in practice! All change is a process that moves from certainty through uncertainty to new certainty at a higher level, and can be tough going. Having an objective caring other at her side made the process easier.

  4. Development has broad benefits. Not only did she improve her abilities as a manager, her new behaviours carried over into other areas. She learned to use influence with senior-level peers, increasing her effectiveness. Enhanced managing up skills led to greater trust on the part of her boss, who included her in more interesting and visible initiatives. Even her family reported she was a lot more fun to have around once she stopped trying to order them around!

In an academic paper entitled Hard evidence on soft skills, co-authors James J. Heckman and Tim Kautz cite “recent evidence on the importance of personality in economic and social life,” noting that “success in life depends on many traits” and not just those that can be measured in terms of achievement. They conclude, “Personality traits predict and cause outcomes.” They note that all of us have traits that tend to be stable across a wide range of situations. How we display those traits “depends on incentives to apply effort in the situations where they are measured and also depends on other traits and skills.”

Soft Skills Savvy

The good news is that our traits are not “set in stone.” They change over the course of our lives, especially when they are developed through means such as education, responding to the changing needs of environments and coaching support. So remember: while your hard skills form the foundation of your career, ongoing success depends as much on the soft skills. In other words, it’s NOT all about that base!

 

Take this job and love it

Day Merrill

Take this Job and Love It

Some great career advice this week passed along by Marc Cenedella, founder of The Ladders.

Marc reports in his column on a recent post by Silicon Valley tech expert Paul Graham. Entitled "What Doesn't Seem Like Work?" Graham notes that "If something that seems like work to other people doesn't seem like work to you, that's something you're well suited for. The stranger your tastes seem to other people, the stronger evidence they probably are what you should do.”

Deciding what work you should do isn’t always easy. Sometimes the process requires figuring it out from subtle clues "like a detective solving a case." As a career coach, I’ve noticed like Graham that the same task or job can be excruciatingly painful to one person and pleasant to another. So here's Marc's question (and mine!): What seems like work to other people that doesn't seem like work to you?"

Think about the things that don't seem like work to you and see if there's a pattern. Don't confuse what you're good at (aptitude or skill) with what you enjoy. Differences in how you feel when completing a task or a project indicate preferences that can set you apart from others who can do the work, but with less enthusiasm. After all, as Marc points out, we usually feel happier, perform better and enjoy work more when we're doing things for which we are well-suited.

Focusing on things you excel at AND enjoy will lead to better results in your career. Don't waste time trying to bring all your skills up to the same level as your strongest motivated skills. Not only is that unlikely to work, but it reduces the time you have to master capabilities for which you have a gift.

Take Marc's advice: this week, think about what doesn't feel like work as you plan your next career move.

How to Learn From a “Bad” Networking Meeting

Day Merrill

Learn from a Bad Networking Meeting

Whether you’re looking for a job or to advance in your career, never underestimate the power of networking. Research shows that 80% of jobs/promotions are filled via networking efforts, so if your networking meetings aren’t producing the results you want, read on for some key tips. 

One of my clients looking for a new job has been doing a lot of networking. Most of it has gone really well: he’s making some new contacts, connecting well and getting referrals. One meeting though was a disappointment, so in our most recent coaching session, we analysed what went wrong and devised a “do different” strategy for future networking opportunities.

Here are the mistakes he made:

  1. The client failed to prepare adequately for the meeting because he didn’t think the contact was going to be all that helpful/influential. As a result, he asked questions that he could have found answers to with minimal Internet research and the contact looked annoyed.

  2. He failed to prepare or set an agenda, so the meeting rambled, leaving both parties wondering why they had just spent 30 minutes together.

  3. He ditched his elevator speech, and ended up talking about things that were “off-topic” with no way to segue into his questions.

  4. He failed to “decompress” the meeting by stating that while he was looking for a job, he didn’t expect the contact to have or know of a specific job. As a result, at the end of the meeting, the contact said he wasn’t hiring but wished him luck.

  5. He wasn’t able to connect the dots on why this sector would be a good fit, so the contact focused on how hard it is to switch industries.

  6. The client left the meeting feeling depressed, and decided to just forget about it and move on.

  7. He determined to cross that contact off his list, since he had clearly “blown” the meeting.

Here are the tips and techniques that we developed which can also help you get the most out of your networking meetings:

  1. Treat Every Contact Like Gold. Never assume that a given contact isn’t “important” enough for thorough preparation. Every person who has agreed to meet/speak with you deserves both gratitude and respect. This means researching contacts ahead of time, clarifying your purpose for the meeting and having specific questions. You never know who may turn out to be extremely valuable as a resource, so prepare for each networking meeting as if it were a job interview.

  2. Set the Agenda. Keep in mind your dual goal of leaving a positive impression and getting new ideas, advice and information. Remember you called this meeting, so it is up to you to set and communicate your agenda (and keep the meeting/call on track).

  3. Practice, Practice, Practice.  Having a great elevator pitch is a first step, but make sure you can deliver it every time. Work with your coach to make sure your key messages are coming across, then test your self-perceptions by leaving yourself a voicemail message and playing it back. You may not like what you hear, but better youwho can correct it than your contacts!

  4. Put Your Contact at Ease. Say upfront that while you are looking for a new job, you have no expectation that your contact has a job for you. That puts contacts at ease and allows them to be fully available to help you. That phrasing also plants the seed of possibility (“Hmmm, maybe I do have or know of a job…”)

  5. Be Crystal Clear. Explain clearly what you are exploring/looking for and why you think it may be a good fit/next step in your career trajectory. Ask specific, relevant questions that will increase your knowledge and understanding while demonstrating that you have already done your homework. Make sure to ask for referrals.

  6. Conduct a Post-Mortem. Review each meeting fearlessly, assessing what went well (behaviour to reinforce) and what went less well (behaviour to revise). Get help from your coach on both as needed so even if the meeting was a disaster, you can still “fail forward.”

  7. Stay in touch. Use your follow-up note to address unasked/unanswered questions as well as thank your contact for their time and information. Ask for permission to update them on your progress and keep the conversation going. Remember networking is about relationships, not transactions.

Remember that there’s no such thing as a “bad” networking meeting. You either have a great meeting or a great learning experience. Either way, absorb the lessons learned and keep moving!

Top 7 Reasons You Should NOT Take the Summer off

Day Merrill

10 Reasons

The misconception that “nobody hires during the summer” is as common as the bad advice “so you might as well take the summer off.” It may seem counterintuitive, but the opposite is true.

Here’s why you shouldn’t take the summer off, but rather intensify your job search and persist with your networking efforts.

  1. You have a better shot during the summer. Surprise! Statistically, you’re just as likely to find a job during the summer as any other season. In fact, your odds improve since you won’t have as much competition. Since many people believe in the nobody-hires-during-the –summer myth, it’s a perfect time for YOU to be out there.
  2. Summer is a great time to bring new hires on-board. Strong companies want to start the fall with a bang.  Despite what the calendar tells us, many people see September as the start of the year. As a result, companies launch new products, campaigns and initiatives in the fall; summer is the perfect time for you to help them prepare. Also, many companies must spend the money in their budgets if their fiscal year-end is the fall. Therefore, summer time is a great time to hire people who can hit the ground running in the new fiscal year.  You might as well be one of them!
  3. Contract opportunities often open up during the summer to cover for employees taking extended vacation during July and August. And since 40% of contracts eventually lead to full-time employment, this is a great way for you to get known to a new organization as well as get some fresh experience on your résumé.
  4. Interviewing can be extended during the summer due to periodic vacations. Hiring managers are in and out of the office, so you may have to meet multiple times to cover all the players involved in the decision. This is a perfect opportunity for you to demonstrate the key competency of flexibility. Show your positive attitude, patience and persistence.
  5. Employers don’t care what month it is. Hiring isn’t focused on the time of year, rather on the company’s need. Demonstrate your commitment by making yourself available where and when needed. The thought that you will come in on the Friday of a long weekend says a lot about your work ethic. Show your prospective employer that “business as usual” is your operating principle.
  6. Summer is great time to network, whether you’re meeting up with former co-workers at an outdoor patio after work or out for a neighbourhood BBQ. You'll find that people are generally more upbeat out in the sunshine and topics range from vacation plans to workplace activity to what's next in everyone's career. Make sure your former colleagues know they can invite others along and you will open up opportunities to meet new people as well. Also, make sure your friends, family and new acquaintances know who you are, what you do and what you’re looking for. Many a casual Sunday afternoon chat has led to a Tuesday morning office meeting.
  7. The weather tends to make people more relaxed. When you do get in to see someone, they may be more open and generous with their time. Plus, it’s easier to get someone out of their office for a coffee meeting when it’s not freezing cold or snowing!

The misconception that “nobody hires during the summer” is as common as the bad advice “so you might as well take the summer off.” It may seem counterintuitive, but the opposite is true.

Why I Am a Coach

Day Merrill

Why I am a Coach

When my daughters were old enough to understand what I did for a living, they sat me down one day for a talking to. Indignantly, they noted, “Your job is a racket! You ask people nosy questions and then tell them what they should do. You do that ANYWAY!.” My reply? Guilty as charged!

I am a coach because I have an insatiable curiosity about and interest in people–particularly what makes them tick and how they relate to work. The words “work” and worth” are derived from the same root, and I am a self-professed “work enthusiast.” To my way of thinking, work is good, noble and useful. And good work that “fits” is also very satisfying.

When asked what kind of coach I am, I respond that I’m a life-long Transition Advocate: someone who helps people get from where they are to where they need/want to go as gracefully as possible with some fun along the way.

  • In my first career as a secondary school English teacher, I was a strong advocate for learning–not just the rules of language but the beauty of words and the power that comes from being able to discern meaning and communicate verbally. Seeing students come to appreciate language and literature was joyous for me. Each time one of them realized that reading was something they “got” to do not “had to do, I was fulfilled.
  • My second career was as a university administrator, supporting full-time MBA students in figuring out how this very expensive degree would help them achieve their career goals. For the part-time “night school” MBA’s, my role was to help them get their degrees as efficiently as possible–they already knew what they wanted! The contrast between the two groups prompted the question “How do people make career choices?” and more importantly “How can our choices lead to success and satisfaction?”
  • When I discovered the field of career management, I jumped in. This is a discipline focused on helping people research/explore/select/enter and grow/develop in careers and jobs based on individual preferences, goals and values–not just skills and experience. I pinched myself that I got to learn and apply interesting theories and techniques about people and their life choices–and get paid to do it (my daughters clearly had my number). I have never looked back, expanding my scope from career counselling to job search/career transition consulting and finally workplace coaching.

I am a Coach because coaching is who I am. As I tell my clients, while our jobs don’t define us, if we are fortunate, they reflect us. And whenever we lead lives aligned with our true nature and purpose, we make not just a living but a life. I am blessed to have discovered the perfect work for me, and my greatest joy is helping my clients find their unique path. Supporting that journey is my life’s work– nosy questions and all.