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Gainfully Unemployed: Making Progress on Priorities with Personal Kanban

Every day people struggle with prioritizing and completing tasks. Everything is urgent. Everyone has demands. People feel like they’re spinning their wheels, or delivering lower quality work than they’d like to deliver. There simply isn’t enough time.

For unemployed people looking for work, the challenge is often one of “too much time.” And while many of us have expressed a desire to take a sabbatical from working, the realities of days, weeks, or months of unstructured time are rarely discussed.

As an unemployed job seeker, the expectations I had of myself – hours and hours of job search related activities every day – were unrealistic. Honestly, there isn’t much you can do on a day to day to day basis. Meaningful activities like networking, and crafting your resume and LinkedIn profile, can’t be done for hours a day, every day. These activities are replaced by scrolling through job boards which barely change from one day to the next, and rarely result in employment anyway.

After a couple of weeks of scrolling, I heard some women in my network discussing Jessica Abel’s book Growing Gills and Tonianne DeMaria Berry and Jim Benson’s Personal Kanban method. Abel’s book, while focused on helping artists and writers find creative focus, is tremendously valuable even if you don’t self-identify as a creative person. Berry and Benson’s method addresses more conventional productivity and value challenges.

Abel’s tools are designed to help you work beyond what she identifies as the consequences of inaction – anxiety, busyness, guilt, distraction, feelings of failure. DeMaria and Berry want you to move from “cognitive stress” to “cognitive ease.” For me, Abel’s book, with its activities and worksheets, is meant to “go deep,” and as such requires a greater (and worthy) investment of time. DeMaria and Berry’s method is more immediately practical, and I put their Personal Kanban tool to use as soon as I finished the video.

The bottom line for Personal Kanban is this: You must visualize your work and limit your work in progress. You can certainly use the method to focus your job search. But you can also use it to bolster your confidence and make progress on true priorities outside of the workplace. Because, let’s face it, you’re out of the workplace.

So here are the basics on Personal Kanban:
1. Get something that you can put three columns on. I use a dry erase board, but you can use a spreadsheet, a document, or a piece of paper.
2. Make three columns and label them “options,” “doing,” and “done.”
3. Put your options on your board. I use Post-Its.
4. Choose three (and only three) options to put in your “Doing” column. (Why only three? Because you can’t do everything at once, and if you put everything in your “Doing” column you’re right back where you started – overwhelmed and stressed. Why not one? Because in reality you can’t do only one thing.)
5. As you complete something, move it to “Done” and move another from “Options” to “Doing.” Repeat.

After a while you’ll have lots of things in the “Done” column, which feels great. And you may learn some things about yourself.

Here’s what’s in my “Options” column right now:
• 30 minutes of online research/reading re: compliance and analytics
• One lesson in the Udacity course I’ve identified as valuable to my career development
• Facebook time
• LinkedIn time
• Laundry
• Return library books
• Write this blog post
• Get alumni library card
• Write thank you note to X
• Find article to post on my LinkedIn profile
• Clean bathroom
• Walk at least 2 miles
• Bring dress to get altered
• Email Z and ask them to look at my LinkedIn profile
• Practice organ to prepare for recording with Lys Guillorn
• Read the “There Is No Finish Line” chapter in Growing Gills
• Scroll through Indeed (no more than 10 min!)

When I first started Personal Kanban, I could guarantee that all the things that didn’t have deep meaning to me (social media, laundry, library books, cleaning the bathroom) would be in the “Done” column by the end of the day. Meaningful things stayed in the “Choices” column and I still felt overwhelmed and stressed. That was eye-opening, and prompted me to change my behavior. Now I pair active and meaningful tasks with more passive tasks. For example, I can do laundry while working on my Udacity class or practicing the piano; “read” while walking or driving around doing errands.

At the end of most days I can look at my board and say “Wow. I got a lot done and I did things that really matter.” Visualizing my work and limiting my work in progress has brought great structure to my unstructured time as an unemployed job seeker. It has also enabled me to strengthen relationships, improve my musical performance, and be prepared to bring in-demand skills to my next job.

About the Author:

Julie Beman helps organizations incorporate best practices, analytics, and regulatory intelligence into their regulatory compliance programs. While she works to find her next job, she is studying data visualization, writing music, and kayaking. She considers herself to be gainfully unemployed and is currently working with Careerfolk coach, Tava Auslan, on personal branding and job search strategy.

Categories:
blog, Essentials for Job Search Success, personal branding

Be a Job Search Rebel

Be a Job Search Rebel

So, you’re in the market for a new job, eh? Chances are you have a list goingBe a Job Search Rebel through your mind about the do’s and don’ts of how to land that new opportunity. Perhaps it’s not a list you’re even conscious of but you may be acting in a bubble of what used to work and no longer does, or preventing yourself from making a move that seems taboo. If you’re filling out online applications and uploading hundreds of resumes, you’re not harnessing your inner rebel – and that’s exactly what you need in today’s job search.

Your Resume and the Goldilocks Principle

Is your resume full of so much detail it requires actual reading in order to see what you bring to the position? That’s too much. On the flipside, is your resume so full of keywords and phrases that it doesn’t capture YOU? That’s too little. You want a resume that is “just right.” The writing should be lean, tight and quantified when possible. The formatting can still be applicant tracking system friendly without being dull. Your resume has to strike a balance of being friendly for the human eye and readable for the tracking systems.

  1. Think like a rebel and ask yourself how you can stand out without adding visual clutter.
  2. Pair down and cut what isn’t relevant – more is not always better.
  3. Send it far and wide. Don’t wait for an opening.

Cut the Line (When you Can)

Some companies specifically request that you not contact hiring managers. Use your judgement there but why not go directly to the source? There are some things to keep in mind.

  1. Resist the temptation to say too much or sound apologetic. Get right to the point of why you’re writing and why it’s in their best interest to connect with you.
  2. Make sure your LinkedIn and online presence are exactly what you want them to be before reaching out. If they follow that click to your profile, it’s your big shot to get their attention.
  3. Warm up the connection by following them on Twitter or reading their blogs. Comment, re-tweet, share, etc… This will give you greater insight into what makes them tick AND it can increase the chances of a successful communication.

Don’t Wait for a 100% Match

When a company posts a job opening, they are essentially saying “We have a need. Our need looks like this. Who can help us fill the need?” With a bit of creativity, you can help them see why their actual need is more broad, more specialized, more senior/junior. As a career coach, I can’t tell you how many people feel discouraged from applying because they don’t have nearly every listed qualification or attribute. Be a rebel and help people understand why you are the solution.

Click HERE to set up a free 15-minute consultation to see how we can help you.


Tava Auslan, MSEd, ACRW
Senior Coach, Certified Resume Writer

Tava Auslan is a career counselor, certified resume writer and dancer. She received her BA in Psychology from SUNY Purchase and a Counseling Masters from Fordham University. Since 2002 she has partnered with her clients to give them clarity, confidence and concrete strategies for job search. Tava is known for her ability to help people assess their challenges, determine where they are stuck and offer tangible solutions to get them back on track. An astute writer, Tava earned her ACRW credential from Resume Writing Academy and crafts resumes that tell a compelling story for job seekers of all ages and stages. Tava has worked with a broad array of clients ranging from entrepreneurs, project managers, recent grads and engineers.

Categories:
blog, Essentials for Job Search Success

How to Write a Compelling Resume for a Generic Job Description

How to Write a Compelling Resume for a Generic Job Description

The rules of resume writing continue to evolve. Right now, it’s all about saying as user-1822166-2015-09-22-13-34-23_list_imagemuch as possible in as few words as possible, formatting for applicant tracking systems and targeting the job YOU want. Those are the three essential components for today’s resume but the last one can be the most challenging, especially when the language used in the job description is vague or generic.

When we tell clients, “write your resume for the job you want to attract” that may require you to put on your detective hat and do some additional research. If the job description is standard template language full of soft skills, dig deeper. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Kudos for originality. Generic job descriptions lack originality so you might want to give priority to the descriptions that show thought and provide some insights about the company. Extra points for creativity because that makes a candidate excited to apply.
  2. Look to the website. If the language in the job search is short on keywords, pizazz or specific duties, go to the website. Spend some time reading the company mission, looking at photos to get a sense of the culture and watching any videos. The company’s YouTube channel is chock full of insight.
  3. Use LinkedIn. For additional guidance about how to brand yourself as the right fit for a position, go to your network. Who do you know that may know someone who works for this company? This is where LinkedIn comes in handy. By following the company page, you can see how you are connected to people who work there.
  4. Trim the fat. Part of targeting your resume for the ideal job means removing (or de-showcasing) what isn’t relevant. If your resume has 10 seconds to make an impact, do you want prospective employers to know that you were captain of the Lacrosse team before they see that you received a rapid promotion because of your drive and tenacity? Not every example will be quite as obvious as that one but keep an eye out for things that don’t speak to your ability to kick-butt in the role you’re applying for.
  5. Avoid mistakes. Nothing ruins a compelling resume like an error. In a company’s need to eliminate candidates for highly competitive positions, that’s a definite deal breaker. Proofread by going through the content backwards. Don’t rely on spellcheck either.

So there you have it. Resume writing is not easy for the writer, but a good one will make the recruiter or hiring manager’s job easier – and THAT is a worthy goal. Dig deep to find out what they’re looking for, trim the fat and keep it free of mistakes. And remember, you don’t have to go it alone. Many professional resume writers know the value of having someone else write their resumes for them. If you’d like a quote, contact info@careerfolk.com today.

For more on today’s resume requirements, watch Donna & Tava below:

Happy Writing!


 

About the Author:

Tava Auslan, MSEd, ACRW
Senior Coach, Certified Resume WriterTava Auslan, Senior Career Coach

Tava Auslan is a career counselor, certified resume writer and dancer. She received her BA in Psychology from SUNY Purchase and a Counseling Masters from Fordham University. Since 2002 she has partnered with her clients to give them clarity, confidence and concrete strategies for job search. Tava is known for her ability to help people assess their challenges, determine where they are stuck and offer tangible solutions to get them back on track. An astute writer, Tava earned her ACRW credential from Resume Writing Academy and crafts resumes that tell a compelling story for job seekers of all ages and stages. Tava has worked with a broad array of clients ranging from entrepreneurs, project managers, recent grads and engineers.

Categories:
Essentials for Job Search Success, Linkedin, Resume

Making Your Job Work for You – Avoid the 3 B’s: Boredom, Blahs and Burnout

Making Your Job Work for You – Avoid the 3 B’s: Boredom, Blahs and Burnout boring

Sometimes, it’s just not in the cards to change jobs right away. People have very real reasons for needing to stay put and I’ve heard them all. One client has a son with asthma and working close to his school is essential for her peace of mind. Another has an incredible benefits package and an ill husband. The reality is, there are people who are not in a position to “follow their bliss” as Joseph Campbell recommended. But don’t despair, it doesn’t have to feel like a trap.

In an ideal situation, every person would have time with a career counselor or adviser before making career decisions. They would learn what their values are, what are their motivations and which environments tend to be the most stimulating. That’s not possible for a lot of folks. Clients sometimes talk about finding themselves in a job they never really enjoyed. If you’ve have landed in a job that’s just “ok” or you feel your wheels are spinning, STOP. The worst thing you can do is wake up and spend 8 hours going to a job you feel trapped in. Here are some concrete strategies for you:

  1. Work /Life Balance:

Make sure your tank is full outside of work. This can be difficult to put in to practice, but try to save yourself some time every week to do something you enjoy. If you’re exhausted after a long day, it can actually energize you to sign up for a class that interests you, take the dog to the park, meet up with colleagues or friends. Giving yourself things to look forward to is essential for a good life.

  1. Grow Your Skills:

Suppose you know you’ve got to stay at this job at least another 5 years and you don’t like the industry at all, or there is zero room for growth. That’s ok. You can begin to stockpile some new skills. An online course, a training program at the library or purchasing a new software to teach yourself – all great ways to keep your skills fresh when your circumstances change.

  1. Create a New Task:

In my former role as Assistant Director of Disability Services at a New York City University, activity came in huge spikes. Providing academic accommodations happens at the beginning of every semester and it’s a huge task. Once that dust had settled there was a bit of downtime; more than I was comfortable with. I had an idea for a newsletter, ran it by my supervisor and it was a go. It became my passion project and I enjoyed writing useful articles, collecting submissions from students who were served by my office and it creating a campus-wide presence. This, in turn, brought more students to my office who may not have considered seeking services. What is something you can do that excites you during downtime at work? Is there a project or role you can request to tap in to the skills that you enjoy using?

  1. Revitalize Your Job:

Sometimes it comes down to communication. When was the last time you spoke to your supervisor and expressed a genuine desire to have your skills more fully utilized by the company? How would it feel to say something like, “[Name of Supervisor], I am very dedicated to this company and to my job. I envision a future here. In the spirit of trying to keep my skills sharp, I’ve taken a course on ____ and I’m eager to apply some of what I’ve learned here. Can we talk about a way that I can modify my position to keep myself challenged?”

Here’s the bottom line: When you spend a significant amount of time not feeling engaged in what you’re doing, you owe it to yourself to make a change. If you can’t change your job, you can change how you respond to it. Don’t take a passive role. Whatever the reason is for you to feel that you must stay, is a benefit to you – not a trap. If there really is no conceivable way to make your work day better, than you need to look to the rest of your life and see where you can make improvements. Sometimes, work is just work. But you can leave the office and grab your superhero cape to go make waves in the world.

Visit the Careerfolk website to set up a free 15-minute consultation to see how we can help you.

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About the Author:

Tava Auslan, MSEd, ACRW
Senior Coach, Certified Resume WriterTava Auslan, Senior Career Coach

Tava Auslan is a career counselor, certified resume writer and dancer. She received her BA in Psychology from SUNY Purchase and a Counseling Masters from Fordham University. Since 2002 she has partnered with her clients to give them clarity, confidence and concrete strategies for job search. Tava is known for her ability to help people assess their challenges, determine where they are stuck and offer tangible solutions to get them back on track. An astute writer, Tava earned her ACRW credential from Resume Writing Academy and crafts resumes that tell a compelling story for job seekers of all ages and stages. Tava has worked with a broad array of clients ranging from entrepreneurs, project managers, recent grads and engineers.

 

 

 

 

Categories:
blog, career change, career reinvention

Career Resolutions to Get Your Year in Gear

If you’re like most people, you’re probably considering a few resolutions to help motivate you into becoming a better version of yourself in the year to come. The end of a year lends itself to reflection; a new-year-resolution-c-carousellook inward or a hope for more tangible progress. But resolutions need to be the right size and scope in order to be effective. People often start out with a bang and then settle back in to their routines before Spring. But don’t despair, there are some simple thought adjustments, strategies and resources to keep going. You just have to be a bit proactive.

Since this is blog deals with issues related to job search, career advancement and getting people in touch with what makes them tick, the resolutions we’ll focus on will continue in these themes. No weight loss tips here! The blog will share some tidbits about how to set realistic career-related resolutions and hold yourself accountable to them. I’ll draw some from client experiences and a few from personal experience.

  1. Re-Branding the New Year’s Resolution

Don’t call it a New Year’s Resolution. Your resolutions need to be re-branded so they don’t come with the popular connotations that they were made to be broken. Keep in mind, this isn’t a mindset you should only adopt in January when you want to turn the page for a fresh start. From this point forward, you are committed to the lifelong process of setting and achieving goals – no matter how small. It’s not an annual shot of motivation. Perhaps your re-branding can be called, “Kimberly’s 9-month path to becoming certified in Advanced Excel.” The more specific you are, the better (more on that later). Give it a name, a time frame and don’t buy in to the New Year’s piece of it because that’s only relevant for a short stint of time.

  1. Be Specific AND Realistic

Some things are out of your control. For instance, it would be a shame to set a goal of receiving a promotion within the year when you cannot determine this for yourself. If your long-term goal is a promotion, ask yourself why. Is it 1. A desire for recognition of your hard work? 2. Is it that you’re growing tired of your current role? 3. Is it primarily a need for a salary boost? Then you have to do some research. Is there a job description available for your target role? Does your company tend to promote from within? Is there a real opportunity for growth? This needs to be un-packed a bit to determine how feasible it is and what you’re really seeking. From there, you can set a specific goal such as earning a certification or strategically expanding your network with people in your target area.  Vague resolutions are easy to ignore.

  1. Boost Your Accountability

resolutions2_crop380wOne strategy that I’ve done is to write reminders to myself on my calendar. I once wrote, “Hello March, I’m writing this in January to make sure you’ve taken at least one concrete step towards your goal of _____.” Keep it playful and encouraging. But it’s a fun exercise to write to yourself and be your own cheerleader. One client got her family to mail her letters on the first of the month. They all wrote a few words of encouragement because her goal was particularly challenging to achieve. But, she did it.

  1. Don’t Go It Alone

No matter your goal, if it’s something you can do with a friend, family member or even a career coach, it will increase your chances of success. Here’s an example: Molly and Danielle are both introverts. They work together and confided in each other about their frustrations in the office. They often feel their hard work goes unnoticed in favor of the more outgoing types who are better at advocating for themselves. Their goal was to be more of a presence in the office and get to know their colleagues. They hatched a plan to try and have weekly lunches with their co-workers. Sometimes they miss a week but getting to know their colleagues outside of work has improved their day-to-day experience. They no longer feel invisible, they are more invested in their jobs and Danielle wrote a blog about the impact of her weekly lunches, which made its’ way to their boss (with a favorable outcome).

 

  1. Resolutions are Best in Bite-Size Pieces

Let’s use the example of setting a resolution for better Work-Life balance. You don’t want to give the impression that you’re less committed to your job, but you need to recharge your batteries so you don’t burn out. It’s not likely that you’ll suddenly find time to go to Yoga 4x a week and do a 15-minute meditation every day. Start small and celebrate your victories along the way. The key is to reward your progress – not just the end goal. Perhaps you closed your laptop 10 minutes early and went for a walk. Maybe that walk becomes a regular thing; and over time, you wake up 30 minutes earlier and go for a brisk walk 5 days a week. After you see some progress, treat yourself to something small. It doesn’t have to be a “thing,” it can be an experience.

  1. There’s No Shame in Needing Help

There’s a reason Career Coaches exist. We are here to help our clients gain clarity about what their goals are now, in 6 months, in 5 years, etc… Sometimes there’s no substitute for an objective 3rd party to come in and say the things that need to be said, to offer the type of motivation which can vacillate between encouragement and “tough love” and to share the hard skills about resumes and job search that it’s our business to know. If you want to give yourself (or someone else) the gift of career coaching to get your resolutions off the ground and help them take flight, contact us today.

And lastly, Happy Holidays from the Careerfolk team. We hope 2017 brings you every success you desire. Thanks for 11 years of support from clients like you!

L to R: Tava Auslan and Donna Sweidan, the Careerfolk Team

About the Author

Tava Auslan, MSEd, ACRW
Senior Coach, Certified Resume Writer

Tava Auslan is a career counselor, certified resume writer and dancer. Since 2002 she has partnered with her clients to give them clarity, confidence and concrete strategies for job search. After earning her BA in Psychology from SUNY Purchase and an MSEd in Counseling from Fordham University, she worked with Donna at The New School Career Services Center in 2002. There she served students and graduates pursuing a variety of careers from academia to international affairs. She later went on to serve as the Assistant Director of Disability Services. A skilled counselor, she is compassionate, insightful and delivers the right amount of “push” to motivate her clients. An astute writer, Tava earned her ACRW credential from Resume Writing Academy and crafts resumes that tell a compelling story for job seekers of all ages and stages. Tava has worked with a broad array of clients ranging from entrepreneurs, scientists, project managers, recent grads and engineers.

Categories:
blog