Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Costume Career-killers and Other Links.

Good Morning! Ah, Monday. Time for that eighth cup of coffee. Here are some links as you sip.

Beware echo chambers when making career decisions.

Want a middle class job? Try heading south.

My fashion dream come true. Hopefully, they will put "business casual" in a can.

A person with not one but two cool jobs.

And of course, a Halloween link. How costumes can be a career killer.

Have a good one!

Monday, October 21, 2013

On Being Nonessential

I've never been an essential worker, so I have to talk about the other side of the equation. The government shutdown, now thankfully behind us, divided the workforce into people we can't do without, and people we can. I like Joel's Stein's take in Time. We all know who's essential in this world: doctors, farmers and the like. He owns his nonessential status, lumps it in with the arts, but points out that nonessential workers can make life beautiful.

I hear from a lot of people about what they want in their future careers, and so many people want to be essential. They want to influence large groups of people. It's a criteria that comes even before "working with animals" or "finding exciting work." They list careers like the law and banking as possibilities, things that have status.

But this need for status, to at least appear important to the world, really screws up our chances at career happiness, and it gets us stuck in a boring way of looking at the world.

I once attended a career counselor conference session about finding meaning in work. The presenter relayed an account of a hospital janitor who had once been a doctor in the country she had emigrated from. Many people saw that as a huge drop in status, but the janitor found that she was sometimes the only person alone with someone if they died in the night. When she heard someone in need, she could be there for them, if not in the same way.

Is she nonessential? If a family couldn't make it to the bedside of a loved one, but the janitor could assure the son or daughter that their mom wasn't alone when she died, isn't that essential? Our views of careers need to allow for this scenario, and scenarios like it. Can we view each other with curiosity and imagination?

And what do we learn from the colossal fail of government to pass a budget? I think it's part of the same problem. We're quick to judge each others' usefulness. It's like we can't get out of consumer mode when we view our fellow human beings. What can they do for me? Our lawmakers are just trying to deliver the goods. They've perfected their "brands" and they go into the government to get what their constituents and donors bought from them, either with money or a vote. There's no room for logic anymore, for compromise.

So if we're going to move forward from this fiasco with some dignity, we need to allow for some mystery in the world. Could there be a scenario where the janitor is more important than the heart surgeon? Could we imagine dedicating ourselves to something nonessential, with the idea that maybe we would end up essential in a different way?

I saw the Gravity this weekend, and I loved the objects floating in space stations: the Buddha, the statue of a saint, or even a Marvin the Martian toy. I like to knit, and sometimes I make these toys for people. They're not nearly as useful as hand knit hats, but sometimes they're something to hang on to in a different way. It's the kind of uselessness that I pride myself on.

I'm not essential as a career coach. I believe people can get on in life without me. But I can make the experience better. So can other people in our lives who can listen with an open mind. Being essential isn't, well, essential. It's enough that we're alive, that we treat each other well while we're on this planet (or orbiting it). And maybe some of us are here to be the George Clooney in the movie, to point to the sunrise and say, "Look."

That can be its own kind of essential.

Some nonessential links for your Monday:

A resume app, so you're never without your credentials.

A checklist for "engaging" with information.

The November issue of Real Simple magazine has a great article on how people in different professions stay in the moment.

Have a good one!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Living Frugally, and Other Links

I was hoping this Monday would be all about recovering from the shutdown, but it's dragging on. Lordy. With that in mind, I'm liking these tips for living frugally.

Speaking of money, here are some ideas on learning to love negotiating... inspired by kids.

Mastering business casual (for women) can be tricky. Here are a few tips.

Need a nook for working on your career dreams? Here's an interesting way to squeeze one in.

Cool job: Running Concierge. 

Hang in there!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Why I Started My Business, and Other Monday Links

It's a rainy Monday here in the great state of Maryland, and many of my neighbors are off work, furloughed. If you find yourself with some time this a.m., here are a few career related links for you. And let's hope everyone is back to work soon.

How to sell your sports experience in an interview. 

Some thoughts on building a career that I think are right on.

Why I started my business, and why the Mommy Wars reporting misses the point. Go here.

Don't know where to start with career exploration? Consider a Pinterest fieldtrip. Go here for some tips...

Have a good Monday!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

When Time Is Up

I’ve cooked a few Thanksgiving dinners, and the turkey usually turn out dry and stringy. I start out with high hopes. I go organic, free-range, and I use some crazy brining bag. By the time the thing is ready to come out of the oven, though, I’m in a political argument with my dad and my kids have created a fort out of the dining table.

I finally had  a decent turkey one year because I bought the Butterball with the thingy that pops up when its done. What I really need is a turkey that walks itself out of the oven when its done. The thingy worked, I got the bird out, and it was juicy, tender and actually tasty.

The thing about our careers is, they can bake for years while we do other things. But suddenly, time is up, and our work demands our attention. If we don't tend to it, it can end up like a dried out organic turkey, full of good intentions, but low on taste. I may carve out time for everything I need to do, but is it enjoyable? Is it juicy?

Recently my own Butterball thingy went gone off. My oldest started kindergarten , and suddenly I feel the passage of time. Soon it will be Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring, summer, 2014, 2015. I want to be with my family when I’m with my family, present, creating memories and then I want to sit down and do really good work. Juicy work, not overcooked. 

I think lots of people might have a Butterball thingy. Maybe it’s not kindergarten, maybe it’s turning 25, 30, 40. You know something must change but you’re not sure if it’s something big or small. That’s my favorite career coach conversation, because it can save you so much money, time and heartache to give that question the full weight and consideration it deserves. You can’t be arguing proverbial politics while you’re doing it. And that’s the kind of work I want to do for people. Give them the time and space for the questions they need to tackle. 

I don't claim to have all the answers. I'm still stumbling along like everyone else. But I trust the process, the value of a juicy conversation. Then maybe we can all sit down to some delicious work.