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Is Your Work Environment Toxic?

Is Your Work Environment Toxic?

Part of being a career coach involves listening to people explain why they are dissatisfied or unhappy with their jobs. Most of the time, the reasons are valid and I can absolutely see why they need an exit strategy. Sometimes, however, I have to tell a client that they may just need the tools to better manage their boss, set boundaries with colleagues or learn the art of speaking up without reactive emotion. Let’s start with what constitutes a toxic workplace and not just “tough work.” 

Procedural ping pong

If the nature of your work goes through so many procedural loopholes that it’s hard to see a project through to completion, that is not a well-run business and it can really stop motivation in its’ tracks. The right amount of policies, procedures and protocols are there to improve upon an idea, catch mistakes and create a systematic way of doing things. If it just feels like a sneeze in a wind storm, chances are you’ll begin to feel like showing initiative is a waste of time.

Bad boss

About one in ten people have all the necessary traits to be an effective manager and people tend to leave a bad boss, more than they leave a bad job. “Most companies promote workers into managerial positions because they seemingly deserve it, rather than because they have the talent for it.” (Harvard Business Reivew. https://hbr.org/2014/03/why-good-managers-are-so-rare). This is problematic because someone in a leadership position without any natural talent or training for how to lead a team can foster favoritism, pervasive negativity or a fear-based culture. 

[Not-so-]Great Expectations

Being unclear in your role fluctuating job requirements is a reactive strategy that generally means a company is spending a lot of time putting out fires. A new business or smaller think-tank may also require some fluctuation and flexibility but that’s to be expected. This is about a company that lost its’ way and doesn’t know how to effectively utilize its’ employees.

Workload Overload

Working hard and working long hours might be unavoidable or “part of the gig.” There are plenty of industries that are seasonally frantic but that’s the expectation from the outset. But when you have zero work life balance due to any of the above factors, that’s going to contribute to a toxic work environment.

Turn-over (and not the tasty kind)

Rapid turnover is a good indicator that something is wrong. It’s a sign that the stress to income ratio is way off or that they don’t offer opportunities for advancement. It can also signify an attitude that people are replaceable so they can be used up until they find something else.

Recognizing your role

I want to be clear. I’m not recommending that you indefinitely remain at a job with a toxic culture. It is wise to have an exit strategy in place when you can bear it (we can help you with that) but sometimes a job is just “ok” and you have to dust off the tools to make it better – even if it’s just to help you remain positive while you look for something better.

When any relationship goes south or a conflict arises, our response plays a huge role in the outcome. If your boss asks something of you that you don’t agree with, do you tend to be emotionally reactive as opposed to calm and strategic? How well do you manage your manager? It may not be in your written job description but it is to your benefit to know how to stack the deck in your favor. It’s good practice to ask him/her, how you can meet their goals and offer support. It is also essential to learn to depersonalize before you respond and learn to advocate for yourself. For example, “I fully understand how frustrating it is that the client was unhappy with this solution. I’m on your team and I want to support you/our department in a better strategy. But the way you’re speaking to me right now is not something I can accept. I’d like to use our time troubleshooting. Here are my ideas. . .”

Take a bit of time to assess the health of your boundaries with colleagues and managers. Ask yourself if there are any patterns or habits that don’t serve you. And please please please, don’t take to Facebook to vent about how awful your boss is to vent. Grab a buddy and talk their ear off over coffee instead. If you’d like help teasing out what you might have inadvertently brought to your work life vs a rotten company culture, feel free to reach out for a consultation chat with us.


About the Author: 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, Psychological Barriers to the Job Search, self-assessment

What You Can (and Should) Learn From Your Inertia

If you’re like many of our clients, there may be a time in your life when you had a nagging inner voice that you tried your best to ignore. Maybe it’s happening right now. When you clear your head of the daily clutter and then do an internal check-in, what’s left? Do you have a sense of peace and satisfaction, or a yearning to make some kind of change? I’m inviting you to take 20 seconds to sit, close your eyes and ask yourself, “Am I on the right trajectory?”

Sometimes the nagging inner voice manifests itself differently in the form of excessive Monday morning blues, a sense of going through the motions, or getting sucked into the lure of bad habits that offer fleeting benefits.  We tend to hide from what makes us uncomfortable but the truth of the matter is that discomfort often holds the key to what changes we need to make.

Step 1: Stop Numbing Your Inertia

The first thing I tell people during their initial 15-minute consultation with me is “Congratulations! Just by picking up the phone you’ve set it in motion.” Every prospective client we speak with indicates a willingness to jump in and do the work – to go from inaction or complacency to jumping behind the wheel (or at least riding in the front seat). In order to do that, we have to poke around under the hood and listen to everything that voice wants to say about why there is discomfort in the first place.

Step 2: Cultivate Courage 

Once you explore your inertia and tease out what it is that’s keeping you stuck in old patterns and decisions, it’s time to cultivate the courage you need to form a habit. Change takes courage and courage is necessary for stepping out of what’s familiar. At first, you can keep your stride small and just try new foods or go explore a new town. Then stretch it a bit further by reaching out to people you don’t know very well or asking someone to mentor you. Before long, you’ll be stepping into your boldness. Routines are fine when they are effective but you’ve got to shed them if you’re left feeling depleted.

Step 3: Stay accountable

Accountability is the hardest part. A quick Google search shows there is disagreement among professionals about how long it takes to form a habit. Some say it takes as little as 3 days or as long as 3 months. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, don’t let yourself stop. Whether you have an accountability buddy, schedule reminders in your calendar, recruit your family to be on your team or you work with a coach, keep your momentum going.

Step 4: Give back

Once you are revitalized, thriving and no longer feel that inertia, it’s time to return the favor. There are several benefits to this in case altruism isn’t a driving motivator. Think about all the people who made a call, offered advice or kept you on task. Whether you write some introductions, host a Thanks for your help party or mentor someone yourself, it will feel good and keep your network active.


“Change has to be hard because you’re fighting against inertia.”
James Thornton

About the Author: 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, career change, career reinvention, Clinical Career Counseling, College Grads Job Search, Motivation for the Job Search, Psychological Barriers to the Job Search, Psychology and the job search, self-assessment

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