Do you show confidence in your words when you write and speak with an underlying shadow of uncertainty? Whether your shadow uncertainty is articulated or not, it comes to the light in your overuse of passive language, facial expression, or body language.
The best way to know if you are unconsciously demonstrating confident uncertainty is to listen to yourself, look in the mirror and watch your body language, or work with a professional counselor or career coach to see where your shadow uncertainty could be coming through.
How can you show certainty and glow with confidence? Write a life or career success story. Then ask yourself:
· Is my story true?
· Did I overstate or understate my qualifications?
· Were there qualifiers that dilute my experience?
Next, tell your story in the mirror. Does your body language reflect the confidence your words are saying or is there an unspoken “yes, but”?
If you are having difficulty coming up with confident words and expressions for your success story, you can purchase “Fire Up Your Profile For LifeWork Success” to boost your self-esteem and find confident word lists. The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has lists of confident words and words that show uncertainty. Choose qualifiers sparingly when needed.
Take a few minutes to write a brief career story, smile, and share it. We’d love to hear from you.
Example: My Success Story
I am a Personal/Business/Career Coach with a Master’s degree in Career Counseling. I help entrepreneurs, job seekers, and writers find work in harmony with their values and talents.
In the past I’ve had many jobs that didn’t fit my values. I continued to work in unfulfilling jobs, didn’t have an exit plan, and felt exhausted at the end of the day. I am very blessed to have the opportunity to use my skills and abilities to help people find fulfillment in their work.
Whether you are working on a job search, a book, or a project, I can provide tools, motivation, focus, and accountability to help you reach your goals.
I find energy from the ocean and peace from going out to the lake on our kayak. Traveling to new places is inspiring and invigorates my creativity.
Your Personal Business Plan gives you a sense of direction and keeps you on track when you are being pulled in different directions. With so many interesting things to do and places to go, you can lose your perspective without a plan.
Take the time to make a plan. Your first draft is off the top of your head and tells you what you are thinking right now.
What is your vision, your strengths, and your accomplishments? Where have you felt successful and who has helped you along the way?
After you write down where you have been and where you are now, think about your goals and what you would like to accomplish in the next month, year, and 5 years from now.
What support systems will you need? Will you need to hire freelancers or buy equipment?
Do some research to find out what it takes to do business in your area and industry. Whether you are an entrepreneur, freelancer, or employee you need to know about taxes, insurance, and permits/licenses to name a few.
If you took off on a trip to an exciting new country you would need a passport, a map, and maybe even a friend to go with you. You would do your research so you would know where you want to go and why. Even if you are not a planner you would need a direction to start out, tickets, money, an idea of where to stay, and who you would want to go with you.
Your career deserves more attention than a vacation although a vacation full of exploration and discovery can drive your career. Your current job or business is just one piece in your career. Your plan will tell you where you have been, what you learned, and what you want to try next. The plan will also drive your lifestyle and budget so you can afford to adapt and change when needed.
You will need to gain information through talking to professionals in your field, paying professionals when needed, or gaining the experience and expertise yourself. Decide when it benefits your business to do it yourself and when you should hire someone else so you can do what you are good at.
You will want to revisit your Personal Business Plan every 6 months or year to see if you are on track or if you want to change something in your plan. As you write your plan you will find it easier to talk to your customers and clients about your products and services. When you want to collaborate with others you will have a clear picture of what you are doing and will be able to promote your business to new customers.
Not sure where to start to plan for your career and business success? Contact Nancy J. Miller, M.S., Business/Career Coach. Your career is an adventure you can plan and prepare for and then see where it takes you. Enjoy the trip!
The word interview seems to take on a formal intimidating air, but you can think of it as a meeting with a purpose. The purpose is to learn about the person and their type of job and work environment. There are many places you can have an informational interview including a place of business, coffee shop, phone, Skype, or email. During the interview, learn what you can about the career field, the work culture, the person you are interviewing, and their expertise.
When you meet
When you meet with someone, be prepared, and on time. If you are meeting with someone with expertise in their career field, be sure to do your research and know something about their experience and their work. If it is a company you are interested in learn about their vision and work culture. If you don’t see the information on the website ask your contact during the interview about the company they work for. Be sure to thank them for their time when you meet them and ask how long they have for the meeting, typically 20-30 minutes unless you are meeting for lunch or coffee, which could be a little longer.
Meeting at the workplace
The advantage of meeting at the workplace is to see the working environment. This is especially important for careers in medical, criminal justice, education, and similar fields that have a unique work environment. You won’t know how you feel about a classroom full of kids, an ambulance arrival, or working around victims and crimes until you have been in that environment. You might meet at a workplace and observe or take a tour and then go someplace outdoors, to lunch, or a coffee shop afterwards.
If you meet at a coffee shop or for lunch you often have a little more time in a more casual atmosphere. This would be especially helpful for a second meeting. If at all possible, treat your contact to a coffee or lunch if you go out. Enjoy a more casual conversation, but stay professional.
If you want to talk with someone who is busy or not in your local area, a meeting by Skype or phone can be helpful. A phone conversation can also be good practice since many first interviews are by phone.
You can research, prepare, and email questions to your contact if needed. Email will give you the opportunity to broaden your contacts to different locations and types of work. Be sure to remember to use email etiquette: take time to think about your email and interview questions, respect your contact, and self-edit your email to make sure it is professional with no spelling or grammar errors.
Choose a few questions that are appropriate to the person and career field. Have plenty of questions ready, with the most important first, ask a question and then be ready to listen. Often people who really like their work and have an appreciation for their career field like to talk about it. If you’ve done your research and have their interest you might get answers to questions you hadn’t thought of asking.
Connect on shared experiences and interests. If possible, get the names of others in the career field you might connect with. Professionals often like to discuss others they respect who share similar theories, interests, or values.
Questions to get you started
Keep in mind the interview is not to ask about a job, but to learn about a career you are interest in, connect with professionals, and find resources. Why bother if you are not there to ask for a job? The best way to find a job, know what you want, and learn how to connect with others in your field of interest is to learn from someone with experience. Another benefit is to practice your interview skills and be observant of the other person’s reactions and responses before you get to a formal interview. Get out there and enjoy learning about careers you might be interested in.
More on Informational Interviewing
Fire Up Your Profile For LifeWork Success by Nancy Miller, Teal Publishing
The Informational Interview: It’s Just About Having Coffee by Jennifer Vancil, Career Convergence
How To Master the "Informational Interview" by Amanda Augustine, Career Thought Leaders
Questions to Ask at the Informational Interview, Quintessential Careers
Revisit your goals regularly, especially when you feel stuck or lose your sense of direction. Goals can keep you stuck if you don’t re-evaluate them and allow yourself to grow. Ask yourself the question, “Is this still what I want to do and where I want to go?”
It's so easy to set long-term goals. In fact, you already have dreams about things you would like to accomplish in your lifetime. Use the Goals Worksheet to write down some things that are important to you that you always wanted to accomplish. Use those dreams to set goals and evaluate those goals rather than letting them swim around in your head and hold you back from finding meaningful opportunities. Short-term goals take more thought. What will I do on a daily basis to meet my goals? If I find myself not taking the steps to meet my goals, then I need to find the motivation or make new ones.
Long-term goals are important, but my short-term goals keep me moving forward. My long-term goal was to write a book. So to practice writing, I made a short-term goal of walking and blogging everyday. I like to stretch my reachable goal and see where it takes me. Walking and writing everyday were goals I knew I could reach. So I stretched and made a specific goal to walk and write everyday for a year. I let my mind wander, and let my feet take me in different directions to walk toward my greater goal of writing a book. I didn’t reach my short-term goal of walking everyday for a year, but I did publish my first book, “Fire Up Your Profile For LifeWork Success”. My goals kept me motivated and gave me direction for achieving my dream.
“Value yourself enough to set goals” and make a commitment to write them down preferably in your portfolio. Keeping your goals handy on your bulletin board or in your binder will keep you working toward your goals, help you feel successful as you see your accomplishments, and remind you to reevaluate your goals and change direction when needed.
I told a colleague my goal was to walk everyday for a year. She said I should have a reachable goal. Would I be able to walk everyday for a year? I wasn’t sure, but by blogging my walks if I missed a day, I as well as my readers would see the missed day in living color. I walked with friends and had conversations with entrepreneurs to help them say who they are and what they want. Walking and blogging kept me moving toward my bigger goal. An accountability partner comes in many forms whether in writing or in person. Find ways to share your goals and keep yourself accountable.
Although I didn't reach my short-term goal of walking for a year, setting a goal of walking and writing, as well as sharing my progress on my blog, helped me achieve my greater goal of writing a book.
How could a job search, resume design, and letter writing be fun? I've written many cover letters and resumes for jobs I didn't really want. I dredge up skills from the past, jobs I was glad to leave, and boring experiences. With great effort I put on a happy face and talk about the reasons I want to work for a company and all of the great things I can do for them. Not fun!
So often I found it easier to market the skills I had experience with, rather than building skills I wanted to use. I could not get excited about more of the same, but like a steam roller, I used my persistence and determination to keep on going. I looked at the websites and job ads to see what was offered, rather then investigating work I wanted to spend time on. It wasn't until I hit a wall in my career that I even began to look at new possibilities. I went back to college and majored in career counseling.
As a career counseling graduate student I took a number of skills assessments. After sorting skills cards, I came up with a nice stack of skills I CAN use. Neither the assessment nor the result was very exciting. Then I went to the 2009 Career Management Alliance Conference, where I had the opportunity to go to Richard Knowdell's workshop on _Motivated Skills. After laying out the cards in columns across my desk, I had a short list of skills I CAN use and actually WANT to use. These are the skills that give me motivation to take action. It sounds so simple, yet a light bulb went on in my head. I realized I could develop the skills I like to use. I spent years getting a job without planning a career or thinking about what I really want. It was finally time for a proper job search.
After seeing the simple list of skills I want to use, I decided to spend time mastering those skills. I spent two years writing regularly, publishing articles, and getting feedback for my ideas. The last time I searched for a job I chose a new category--writing/editing. Without a degree in English or communications, I had never investigated jobs for pay as a writer or editor. Many of the job notices gave a preference for an English degree and many required years of paid experience, but I started finding notices for bloggers and people with experience developing a social media presence. When it came time to prepare a resume and letter describing my social media presence, writing, and publishing experience, I dug right in. It was fun to share my experience doing things I love to do.
Career change is the norm, and we oftentimes need to use skills that don't fit our preferences while getting a foot in the door. Once in the door, you can experience new skills, see what you like, then fly with the skills you like to use. Stop the steam roller and soar to new heights of mastery. You won't need to force yourself to go to a job you don't like. As you gain expertise in your motivated skills, you'll anxiously anticipate everyday with new energy. Love your job search!
Coaching for Career, Writing & Creative Problem-Solving
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