Tag Archives: career advice

Permission To Switch Off Your Job

Are you always thinking about work? Never too far away from your phone or computer? Readily available to solve, coordinate or manage something? Do you believe that without your skills the organization will crumble or someone better will come along and replace you?

Then you are not alone.

Giving yourself permission to switch off at the end of a long work day can be tricky. Many people struggle to separate themselves from their job long enough to enjoy time for self and family. Common statements are, “Well if I don’t do it then it probably won’t get done” or “They expect me to handle these things, it’s the nature of the job” or ” I don’t mind. It will just take a few minutes and then I can take a break.”

We are all susceptible to becoming creatures of habit plagued by delusions of grandeur.

Our jobs can become our identity and our home is a cubical with air conditioning. Maybe we are lucky enough to have an office suite on the 20th floor of a building but likely haven’t taken in the scenery since the first day the work station was offered to us. Even as we ride transit or drive along in our cars we are still reachable to discuss business. We simply can’t (or won’t) turn off.

If you live and breathe work I suspect the only time you give yourself permission to step away from your job is when you’ve paid hundreds of dollars for an off-the-grid vacation or your doctor diagnoses you with a significant health problem. The vacation sounds nice but your doctors message doesn’t.


If you think it is time to switch off your job maybe the following suggestion will help.

  1. Critically examine the consequences of always being available for work. Is this truly working for you or against you? Do others suffer as a result of your work schedule? If you don’t know the answer to that question then ask them.
  2. Find your voice and practice advocacy. There are many benefits to identifying your needs and speaking your truth. Sometimes our managers or colleagues are unaware of how much responsibility is being placed upon us and it is our job to communicate boundaries.
  3. Be realistic. Our fears about what will happen, if we are not available 24/7, are usually not based on fact.  When you are lying flat on your back in a hospital room there comes a sobering moment when you will realize the world goes on without you.
  4. If you can’t see what is possible beyond work then appoint someone who will show you the way and keep you in check. It is hard to switch off the brain and resist the urge to respond to the various tones that indicate someone is messaging you. You might need a sober buddy to assist you in your transition from work addict to leisure lover.


What’s Next for You?

When I went to write this post I was thinking I need to offer something centered around your career or give you some semi profound tips for transitioning in life. What I realized after several lines of typing and erasing is that there is no magic formula and all the assessments have been written ad nauseum.

Go to any self-help section and you’ll find a plethora of guides to help you uncover talents, skills or anything else you want to know about yourself. If that’s the trip you want to take then all the more power to you.  I bet that just when you think you are finished unpacking the layers of yourself then more ‘stuff’ will be waiting to emerge.

What’s next is already in motion. Even when you feel nothing is happening, something is.  I can’t even begin to add up how many times my life shifted not because I consciously sought out someone or something but quite simply all things aligned. That doesn’t mean to say I sat on my butt letting life flow but I certainly can’t take full credit for where I ended up.

Sometimes what came next for me was a swift kick in that butt of mine. Other times it was one conversation that changed my world view or a brave choice to pick door number two. What’s next flowed from the belief that there is life after whatever was happening or a job that better matched my lifestyle.

I have complete faith in us all to find what lies beneath layers of doubt and confusion. By all means seek out people and things that aid in answering your questions as this opens up the possibility of a fresh perspective! I will offer my two bits…. try going into the new year with the following:



Patience with self

Compassion for others

A willingness to learn and…

A profound sense that nothing is certain

Happy New Year!


Not liking your job? Look for work while you are employed

If you are unsatisfied with your job and thinking about moving on it is best to look for work while you are employed. Why? Mainly because you are not in a desperate position wondering where your next pay cheque is going to come from or experiencing other personal pressures associated with unemployment.

Here’s what you can do to get the ball rolling:

1. Whether you are wanting to stay in the same industry or make a complete change to something else, start to get a sense of what is happening.  Pay attention to news blips, coffee-room chatter, association newsletters or simply ask someone who would know about what changes or opportunities are coming down the pipe.  Be proactive in understanding the labour market and what’s influencing the decision makers.

2. Take stock of what your job entails and write down your job description more thoroughly. You are going to need to update your resume because it’s those important details that bring your transferable skills to the attention of a new employer and/or make it easier to determine alternative occupations.

3. If you haven’t been job searching in quite awhile then now is the time enlist the help of a career/job search professional to get your documents reviewed but also tweak your interview skills. The investment is worth it just to get your confidence up and self promotional pieces in order.

4. Use your network. Connect with friends, family, past employers, colleagues and instructors to let them know of your intentions. This is only useful if you can specifically give them an answer as to what you are looking for in a job. If you don’t know what that looks like then my advice stands the same as above get help from a career consultant.

5. If you have some ideas about occupations but are unsure what their job duties might be then I suggest you check out Canada’s National Occupational Classification. As some of you may know, this is a comprehensive list of occupations and is updated from time to time to reflect the changes as some job titles become obsolete and others emerge. If you have trouble navigating this site it does have a tutorial or just drop me an email and I will walk you through it. What I also like is the ability to see under an occupation other, what I call “spin-off’s,” from that job. These are similar job titles but with slightly different descriptions and requirements. If you want to make a lateral move maybe one of these occupations will do the trick.

6.Get your references in order so that you can hit the bricks running when the time comes. Of course, you don’t want to always show that you have one foot out the door but usually there is a least one person you can trust professionally or personally that understands your need to move on. Even if you start a list of potential references to be approached when the time comes at least you are not scrambling later.

7. Besides looking outside of your work environment consider speaking with someone about your desire to take on more challenge; if that is what is making you consider alternatives to your present situation. Often employers are interested in keeping good talent in-house so sometimes it’s a matter of broaching the topic of wanting more and giving reasons to consider you as a candidate for higher positions within the company.

Consider these tips but for any other thoughts or questions feel free to post a comment or send a private email and I will respond.

I always wanted to be…

If there is one statement I hear a lot from people it is “I always wanted to be a …….” What follows the description is the word “but,” which we all know is the intro to the reasons why they have not pursued their dream job. At some point in our life we have uttered those same words to a friend or partner. We merrily describe what interests us about our dream job or how it would change our life but then what I like to call “unverified reality,”  steps in to burst the bubble.

Unverified reality is when we create this world for others to hear about that supports our position without ever verifying facts. This false reality is designed to mask fears, lack of research and unwillingness to act. I’m not sure that we are fooling anyone because there are plenty of examples of people beating the odds to reach their goals.The truth is if we really wanted to be something, we could. If only we had spent less time talking about it and more time pursuing it.

Everything that needs to be done to become who you wish to be must be self-generated. Stop being your own worst enemy. That sounds harsh, doesn’t it? However, that is where all of us have stood, in the way of ourselves. Self esteem plays a huge role in all of this and therefore it is important to get support. There is no magical pill or expert opinion that can fast track your career. If you are expecting an easy way to your dream job, think again. This ain’t Hollywood’s version of what it takes to rise to the top.

Sometimes our dream job isn’t even possible. I may think that I will be the next winner of The Voice which will then parlay into a multimillion dollar music career but maybe my best is not good enough.  I might have been on the way to becoming an NHL star but an injury occurred and now I’m unable to reach that goal. What I want to be and what I can be may be very different. Barriers exist, one dream ends and an alternative begins. I would have to assess if or how I can work in that industry and be around the sights, sounds and smells I love but in a different way.

If you always wanted to be a…..,then here are some firm sounding tips:

* Do your research. Find out if it is possible to get employment in that field.

* If the research pans out and you need to go back to school then find a way. Stop talking and start educating yourself. Sure, it may take a while but in the end you are doing what you love.

* Stop caring about what others think. If they can’t support you then find a true friend that will or business mentor.

* Get help for the emotional baggage that keeps good people like yourself in a perpetual state of giving up before you really begin. If you want to spend more time rehashing your experiences as a student in high school, self identify with labels for why you are the way you are or stay on the loop of childhood, marriage or employment failures it is going to be a long haul. You are worth more than that so when you are ready we will welcome you to the now!

* Know that success is created one logical step at a time so stop trying to take giant leaps or skirt under the fence.

* You have likely over 80 years to grow as a person, learn from the best and embrace your talents so please stop saying you don’t have time.

By the way, I give myself this same advice all the time.



Why can’t I get a job? 5 reasons why you may be unemployed

Have you heard yourself saying, “Why can’t I get a job? I put out a lot of resumes, there is always talk about a need for more workers but I’m not even getting a call back…what’s going on?”

Well, you are not alone. It is a sad fact that many of us were never properly prepared to look for work. We come out of school with some basic skills and for the most part an ill-equipped resume. What do we know? Months and years go by and still we struggle to figure out how to establish a career path, what courses to take and how to job search. Information may be coming from other sources, like friends, family and even the media but is what they are saying of any value to your personal situation? Do you know how to evaluate that? Probably not.

Client complaints about not finding a job is something career counsellors hear all the time but once we begin to work with an individual the reasons can become quite clear. Outside of extreme economic downturns there are likely other factors that may be hindering a persons employment.

Here are 5 reasons why employment opportunities might be eluding you:

1. The industry you are interested in isn’t growing. As I have talked about before, there is something called the labour market. Like any market there are highs and lows so understanding first how to assess the labour market and protect yourself from expending needless energy in a field that has limited to no growth you may want a little counsel and resources at your finger tips.

2. Too many applicants not enough positions. Companies receive a lot of resumes but the amount of positions are often minimal with mass hiring only occurring during start-ups or peak seasons . Some jobs become so popular that everyone and their dog is trying to get a foot in the door but unless you know how to stand out in that mountain of paper or properly keyword your online application, you remain the needle in a haystack.

3. Your resume sucks. Nonprofessional language aside I’m going to be really honest, my colleagues and I see far more bad resumes than good and sometimes they are so bad we just have to laugh or shake our head. Even when the client has a personal attachment to its content I have to say it like it is…this resume needs some work. I can’t begin to tell you some of the stuff I’ve seen on resumes that really screams to employers “Do not hire!” It’s not my client or students fault, they simply haven’t been given the proper instruction or they have outdated resume knowledge. Nothing that can’t be fixed.

4. You went to school without doing your homework first. I know that sounds backwards but here’s where I’m going with that: Whether you pay for it, a partner or your parents it can sometimes be a huge waste of money. If you don’t do a proper self assessment and due diligence in terms of evaluating likelihood of employment in THE FIELD, then what can happen is you emerge with that precious certificate, diploma or degree and have nowhere to use it.

Sometimes that is because you are not willing to start at an entry-level position and work your way up. Maybe it requires you to be more flexible and/or relocate. It could be that you like the safety of school and find it difficult to promote yourself outside of its environment. It’s possible that part way through you found you weren’t that interested in the field so you’re not as motivated as you once were or…wait for it… the labour market doesn’t support your passion. I’m not saying don’t follow your passion just don’t always expect that the doors will miraculously open when you want them too.

5. Shortage of workers doesn’t mean they will take anybody. We often hear about the labour shortage but there are still standards that need to be met by applicants. If you are unfamiliar with what it takes to meet those requirements or have underestimated your competition then it could be a while before you rise to the top of the labour pool. Have you made it clear to employers who you are and what you have to offer their company through your resume, cover letter and/or online application? Are your certifications up to date? Have you taken the time to research the company/field and arrange information gathering interviews to make sure that you are in line with their qualifications? ——–

One way or another we always get to the bottom of why someone is having difficulty finding employment. Often a reality check is needed and for those that like quick fixes it can be even more difficult. First you have to be open to gaining the knowledge and then you have to be willing to put what you have learned into action. Those who want to take the easy route for job search or career planning usually are the ones we see a year later still asking the same questions. Sad really, when the majority of questions could have been solved.

I work myself out of work

QUESTION MARKRecently I had a reader comment on a post about her experience with working. She obviously has a strong work ethic but has discovered that doesn’t always go in her favour. Here is what she said, “I have found that I complete not just that days work but also the next day of work. Therefore, I have always worked myself out of work. What can I possibly do to have a job with work every day and some weekends off?”

This is an interesting dilemma, one that I’m not sure has an easy answer without further understanding of your motivation to approach your job in this way. However, lets take a look from some different angles:

1. Lack of Challenge – Is it possible that you are in a position that isn’t challenging enough? Despite the lack of challenge maybe there are other perks that keep you with the company, like wages or close proximity to where you live etc. These perks can work well for awhile but there is a danger that even that doesn’t keep you interested and boredom replaces enthusiasm. So, this is a good question to ask yourself: Does this job provide me with the kind of challenge and stimulation I desire at this time in my life? If the answer is “No,” then it may be time to move on or ask for more responsibility.

2. Competitive – Is it your nature to compete? I have spoken with people who get a sense of accomplishment in their job by competing against their colleagues or themselves. Upon further investigation it often seems it is a one sided competition; with colleagues simply not understanding the purpose. Over confidence, lack of confidence or a drive to succeed, it doesn’t matter because the competitor wants to cross that finish line first. Competition is not a bad thing but it is helpful to know if this is the culture of the company you work for and not just your ego wanting to show others just how efficient you can be.

3. Need to please – Burn out can come quick if you don’t know how to say “No.” Your question doesn’t indicate stress from your work load but that doesn’t mean the need to please isn’t back there. Sometimes people can get a real satisfaction from taking it all on. No job is too big, delegation may not seem necessary and being fast and reliable can become something to exploit. If you are truly comfortable with all that you are taking on then there is no problem but if there comes a time when it seems like its all work and no play you may want to take a step back.

4. Your perfect work day – What does your perfect work day look like? From start to finish write down what that day would be. (Hours, tasks, location, people, size of organization etc.) Ask yourself if this job you are in right now is in any way a reflection of your perfect day. If it is then maybe you just need to slow down and smell the coffee. If it isn’t then it is time to do some research!

To have a job where you have work every day and some weekends off requires you to research the types of occupations that suit your needs. It is likely if you and I were talking personally that I would discover even more “must haves” on your list. Your values would come into play too with an emphasis, I suspect, on action, challenge and maybe even influence. For anyone who feels they are working themselves out of work, it can very well mean this job needs tweaking or eliminating. Either way you need to be prepared to take a hard look at what’s working and what’s not. Oh, and then gain the confidence to go for what’s next!

There are lots of layers to this but hopefully a couple of the points may prompt you to look deeper. Thanks for posing the question. If anyone else has career related questions email me and I will be happy to cover it in an upcoming post.

Photo: freedigitalphotos.net

Job Search in December

Job search in December can be challenging and I hear your frustration of trying to keep looking despite what appears to be a slow hiring time. There is no doubt that some companies will put the hiring process or the interview process on the back burner, but there are others that may not.

To minimize the frustration, I believe in strategic job search. Firing off a hundred resumes right now and seeing what will stick is not my idea of strategic. I don’t know why I always picture that process is like spaghetti being thrown at a wall, if it is done properly it just may stick but if it is not, it will fall to the floor. A big mess and may I say not very appetizing. But, I digress.

A good strategy can start with proper planning, with a path that is created from the the future to the present. This normally requires some up front research. Think of it this way; you wouldn’t buy a house, a car, or plan a vacation without doing your research. You may have a vision of what you want in the not so distant future and you work from there to create it. Spending the necessary time determining what your requirements are, what is available and how to work towards a successful outcome, all stems from your detective work.

Become an investigative reporter, create questions that need to be answered and contact people in the know. I would suggest being selective as to who you will speak with, as this is a big deal and you want to make sure the advice you are receiving is reputable, with no hidden agenda.

Ask yourself “why don’t I afford the same due diligence to my career and job search that I do to buying my car or anything else?” After all without a solid career, the house, car and vacation time is difficult to afford.

So, if December seems a little slow in the department of hits on your job search, use it as a time for research and setting up appointments to meet with people in the new year. Research companies, as there are plenty of resources in which to do that these days. Online being the most popular, community directories and also don’t forget your local Chamber of Commerce or similar link to the business community, if anybody knows who is in or coming to your city it is probably them.  Gather information and pull together a file on companies of interest, this is a proactive stance at time when things seem stagnant.

If you are in need of employment right now, realize that nothing is beneath us, we are all in service to each other no matter what we do and if you need to make ends meet, do so now! Be honest with people, let them know you are available and if there is anything that comes up you are willing to work. There are lots of establishments that you may frequent that could provide an opening, your familiarity alone makes you a good candidate. There are companies that pride themselves on the diversity of their staff, no age or background restrictions, Home Depot comes to mind, many clients I have known have found an open door in places such as that.

Temporary work is OK, to keep a roof over your head and food in your stomach. Two jobs to fill the place of that elusive full time opportunity. December and the beginning of the new year can be slow or maybe not. The job you may have in these weeks encompasses research, networking, establishing meetings for January, just plain old preparation.

Start January ready, optimistic and with all of the things you need in place to be successful in your search. Times may be tougher right now but there is always someone hiring somewhere and there are steps that you can take to be noticed in a sea of applicants. Use the help that is available in your community and beyond, don’t go it alone.

There are community agencies to support in times of need, coaches and counsellors such as myself who are more than willing to assess your situation and offer assistance, credit counselling agencies for those that find themselves in financial difficulty, friends and family. Use your time wisely and the expertise of many and 2009 can open doors for you that you believed had closed. Welcome to a year of positive transition!

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