Remember when app developer wasn’t a job title? It’s unlikely that any of us remember when elevator operators and milkmen had steady work, but our grandparents saw those jobs as secure.
Whether we look forward or back, there’s instability in the job market. In my outplacement work, I often heard people who were experiencing an involuntary layoff say some variation of, “I don’t care what I do next, I just want it to be insulated from market forces.” I wish I could have delivered guarantees for those folks, but the truth is, all we’re ever doing is wagering.
Instead of betting on the market, I suggest that people bet on themselves. What does it mean to bet on yourself? Three things:
Invest in your professional development
Stay connected to your existing network and intentionally grow it
Keep your finger of the pulse of market disruptions
Since professional development is so specific to each person and #networking is written about quite a bit already (including by moi), let’s hone in on the final item.
I tap into emerging trends through some key websites and podcasts that I regularly monitor. These aren’t affiliate links, and I don’t have any investments in these organizations. I simply find them useful for myself, so I’m sharing them with you.
Ozy: News site with the tagline See Beyond. Focused not just on “where the world is, but, more importantly, where the world is going.”
Big Think: News site with another great tagline: Your Daily Microdose of Genius. They claim to “share the world’s biggest ideas from the world’s greatest thinkers.” There’s also a podcast produced by these folks called Think Again.
Creative Mornings: Lectures in locations throughout the world specifically for the creative community. A bit like TED but focused on creative work. If there isn’t a group near you, sign up for the newsletter and watch some of the recorded lectures.
Springwise: Focus on disruptive innovation with a global reach.
WorkLife with Adam Grant: A production with TED focused on extraordinary workplaces and what makes them stand out. Even the commercials are insightful. Perhaps my favorite podcast of all time. Well…that sounds too inflated since I’m such a podcast junkie. I’ll give it at least a top 5 ranking.
Women Killing It: I’ll just quote from the website copy: “Career rockstars share what has worked for them, how they got where they are today, and what they wish they knew sooner.” Favorite episode = Nilofer Merchant – she’s an amazing thought leader.
Pivot: Produced by Jenny Blake who wrote a book by the same name, all about career and business trends. Her newsletter is always full of great ideas, too.
Akimbo: Produced by Seth Godin. Mostly about entrepreneurs, but also covers cultural change.
I have a section on my Google news page that I’ve customized called “jobs of the future,” and here are two hits that I’ve returned to a few times:
Prototyping Career Shifts – Pivot Planet is an organization that allows you to talk to someone in a specific field and get the real truth of what it’s like. There’s a fee for time with these folks, but it takes the awkward ask out of the equation that shuts many people down. So, if you’re curious about being a wine importer, professional speaker, shipbuilder, animation film producer, or another esoteric or mundane professional, this is fun site to explore.
Job Crafting – Hidden Brain, one of my favorite podcasts, just rebroadcast an episode on Dream Jobs, which is wonderful because I missed it when it first aired. The episode covers meaning and purpose at work, adding credence to my latest motto: seek purpose to build passion.
Finding Meaning and Purpose – The article called Want to Love Your Job? Read this Article offers more insight along the theme of meaning. Notable line: Your work may not change the world. But your approach to it makes a meaningful difference in how you and those your work with, and serve, feel.
Multipotentialites – Emilie Wapnick’s TED talk called Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling isn’t new to me. Delivered in 2015, it’s becoming a classic in the career world, but I include it on this list because I’m talked to so many clients these past few months who haven’t heard it and who feel validated and affirmed by Emilie’s message.
It would be a stretch to call these other favorites career-related, but they’re just so darn good, I’m compelled to add to my list. I hope you’ll indulge me.
Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette special on Netflix – Part standup routine, part advocacy talk. It was absolutely stunning to witness how masterfully she delivered such a powerful message. She’s someone who has clearly done intense personal work, and what I really, really love about her talk is that she serves as an amazing role model for women being angry in an effective and meaningful way. Simply exquisite work.
Sarah Blondin’s guided meditation – My sis suggested I listen to this particular meditation called Loving and Listening to Yourself. 12 minutes of pure affirmation and nourishment.
Rachel Simmons’ book Enough As She Is – The modern version of Reviving Ophelia, covering social media, perfectionism, and academic pressure and how it tends to affect girls. Vital for parents of teen and college-age girls and also a great glimpse into social pressures on girls and women.
Tara Brach’s talk – I’ve been searching for a way to articulate to myself and my clients the difference between acceptance and resignation, the difference between greeting what’s here and resisting and wrestling with what’s already happened, the difference between turning toward and turning away from our experience, and Tara Brach’s talk called Saying ‘Yes” – Meeting Your Edge and Softening comes as close I’ve ever heard.
I love hearing what others are watching and listening to, so send me your suggestions.
Lately, I’ve been working with several parents (not just moms!) who are returning to the workforce after a hiatus spent on caring for children.
Many, understandably, worry about how the gap in their employment may be perceived, and one of the first topics they raise is how to speak to that gap, both in writing and in person. A few reassurances:
Taking time to care for children (or other family members – often, I hear about ailing parents and devoting time intentionally to caring for them) is valid and reasonable. You don’t need to apologize or hide what you’ve been doing, no matter how long you’ve been outside the realm of paid employment.
Sometimes, it’s helpful to build a specific section into your resume that highlights what you were doing while you stepped out of the paid workforce, especially if some of the skills that you used are relevant to work that you’re seeking. On the other hand, you might simply create a very brief one-liner in your resume or LinkedIn profile that specifies that you were a stay-at-home parent or caregiver. Your target will direct you when you get to this question.
How you think and feel about your employment hiatus directly impacts how you speak to it, so it’s helpful to rehearse and be intentional about your description so that you don’t inadvertently come across as defensive, overly apologetic, or unfocused.
If you’ve had some volunteer roles during your employment gap, it can be useful to include that content on your resume, and if you’re struggling to find work-related examples to use in an interview, it may be useful to pursue volunteer work, professional development coursework, or other training to add depth to your resume and interview responses.
When clients tell me that they’re worried that they can’t compete in today’s job market, I look to see what’s at the root of their concerns. If it’s self-confidence, that’s something we can address in our sessions by looking at their self-talk and underlying patterns. If their skills are outdated, on the other hand, there are many possible avenues for them to pursue as they address this issue, including:
Professional Development Coursework: A few sites that could be helpful here include:
Lynda: monthly fee provides unlimited access to courses in business, web development, design, software development, free trial period offered (before you subscribe to this service, check your local library to see if it offers a free subscription with your library card)
Udacity: nanodegree programs and courses in many cutting-edge topics
Skillshare: free trial period followed by annual or monthly fee
FutureLearn:courses in business management, creative arts and media, tech and coding, and more; free access, but upgrade is required to obtain certificate
Returnships: Internships for adults! Plug this term into your search engine and review the results that you get there. iRelaunch is a website devoted to parents who are returning to work, and it includes some content on this topic.
Remote Work: It might be useful for you to work from home as a segue to work outside the home. Some reputable sites include:
Flexjobs. This is a subscription-based site, but you can preview some of the options before you opt in. Try using the coupon code “save30” to get a discount if you decide to opt-in (I don’t get a kick-back if you use it – it’s just a site that I like and respect, so I’ve partnered with it for some projects).
The Muse. Click on Search Jobs/Remote and Work from Home Jobs.
Indeed. type “remote” into the “What” field and the leave the “Where” field blank. Click “Find Jobs,” and consider setting up a daily email from Indeed (see box in sidebar of Indeed after you run a search, and you’ll find “Get new jobs for this search by email” with a space to enter your email address). Caution with Indeed: look to see how old the job posting is when you view opportunities that you’re interested in – Indeed often has listings up for months – I suggested going after only those that have been posted within the past week
Working Mother. Good resource for jobs that may be remote or companies that may be receptive to parents returning to the workforce. There’s actually a great article that outlines some additional resources.
Even when you’re in a job search, there’s no need to respond to that ring tone (unless it’s a scheduled job interview).
Let callers leave a message. Then you get to deliberate about what you want to say and call back with your carefully phrased response.
I hate answering my phone, and I hear from countless clients who cringe at the idea of sliding their fingers across their phones to accept a call. “Ignore” sounds like a rude option, but it’s totally cool to respond on your terms. You’ll be composed and present and in a spot where you have great reception.
Take Your Time to Compose and Engage
A hallmark of introversion is taking time to compose and engage, and hitting the “pause” button in a conversation is absolutely legitimate.
You’re not alone if you glare disgustedly at your phone when it rings. It’s a clear sign that you’re in this tribe.
Show up in ways that matter. Let your calls go to voice mail when it makes sense and it contributes to your well-being, and then later, respond on your terms in ways that preserve the connection and honor the purpose behind each call.
Some places you might put your attention:
Make sure your outgoing message is clear and represents you well. If you have the default message with just your number, it doesn’t let the caller know that they’ve reached the right party.
Respond in a timely manner so that you encourage the communication if that’s your agenda.
Allow yourself to have additional time for deliberation if something unexpected comes up in a call when you’re live with someone. “Let me think about that and get back to you,” is one of my mantras, and if the caller is offering me something that I don’t want to block (a job offer, for example), I check to make sure my suggested timing suits the caller: “Will Tuesday morning be soon enough to get a response to you?”
No need to squelch your introverted wiring at every turn. Route your phone calls to voice mail when it makes sense and release any guilt that you were holding onto about that practice.
I just turned 50, and in celebration, I wanted to collect 50 lessons about that I’ve learned over the years. Alas, I couldn’t make it all the way to 50, so maybe that’s lesson #1: don’t try to force cute symmetry.
Most of these ideas are related to careers, but on some of them, I’m asking you to indulge me as I stray off topic. It’s my birthday month after all.
None of us can do it alone. On occasion, we all lose sight of who we are, and we need our community to remind us of our best selves. I remember during my coach training, one of the instructors talked about her leadership tribe (it’s really called that!), and that she sometimes would call one of the people in her tribe and say, “Remind me of who I am!” because she’d lost sight of her best self. We all do that.
It might look like you’ve slid backwards to the same place you always settle, but it’s not true. We travel in an upward spiral, and while we may revisit patterns and see familiar scenery, we’ve evolved and shifted, even if it’s ever so slightly, and we tackle those same scenarios with sharper skills.
Accountability alone won’t change behavior. Behavior is driven by underlying, usually entrenched beliefs, and if you don’t delve into those parts of yourself, you might be able to make a temporary shift, but you won’t sustain it.
Make friends with your gremlins and saboteurs. Thank them for their presence in your life. They’re just trying to keep you safe. Integrate them, buckle them in for the ride, but don’t let them drive.
It’s trite, but true: self-care is paramount. If you don’t have your own oxygen mask on, you’re useless to anyone else.
Bumper sticker wisdom is usually true. Except when it’s not. Embrace paradox. (That’s my quintessential bumper sticker — it covers all bases.)
It’s so much easier to see how others can fix their lives. I often think if we just swapped advice (and then actually followed it), we’d make massive progress.
The outcome isn’t as important as making sure I’m in integrity with who I want to be along the way.
If I can answer the question, “What do I want?” with as much specificity as possible, my biggest hurdle has been tackled.
I had to recognize my own value before I started making it as an entrepreneur. Kate Northrup has a practice that I call a Value Journal. It’s similar to a Gratitude Journal where you write down what you’re grateful for each day except with this daily journalling, you record where you contributed value. It solidified for me what matters most to me, where I want to put my energy, and how what I do matters.
You can’t isolate your work life from the rest of your life. If you’re struggling at work/at finding your work, the same issue is showing up in other parts of your life.
Shifting gears has more to do with mindset than tactics.
I heard a writer attribute a quote to Maya Angelou, “In order to find your path, you must walk.” I haven’t been able to find where she said/wrote it, but it sounds like something she’d say, and I believe it.
Everyone wants answers, but we all shudder at the idea of slowing down, taking risks, and opening ourselves up to discovery.
This one is from Brooke Castillo, a coach I’ve worked with and followed like she’s my guru: be all in. Don’t cherry pick from people ahead of you on the path. Do everything, give everything for a specified period of time, and then pause and reflect, but don’t rip it apart while you’re in progress.
Selling (either a product or a service as an entrepreneur or yourself in an interview) is rooted much more in listening than it is in talking.
Put yourself in the sweet spot outside of your comfort zone but not into torture or pain.
Don’t look to a job or another person to guarantee security for you. Look within.
Here’s another one from the bumper sticker archives: if you’re not failing regularly, you’re not living up to your potential.
Sprinkle people’s first names into your conversation as you’re having a discussion with them. It’s like touching them, they perk up and feel an immediate connection to you.
Most change happens incrementally, not in leaps. Leaps are sexy, and they make for great stories, but those folks are usually outliers.
Make room for both reflection and action. They’re the yin and yang of progress.
Go with the wisdom of crowds, especially when it comes to your resume. Someone always has an opinion about how they can make it better, but if you run around and change everything in response to every comment, you’ll drive yourself crazy.
I anchor myself in some quotes that I return to over and over, including:
We can do hard things. ~Glennon Melton Doyle
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. ~Steve Jobs
Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am. ~Parker Palmer
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ~Maya Angelou
If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. ~John Wooden
Do one thing every day that scares you. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
This practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already. ~Pema Chodron
Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life? ~Mary Oliver