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Internal Barriers and Career Satisfaction

Many people blame their career problems on the economy or the job market, but so often the real obstacles come from within. Unrecognized internal barriers can become impediments to success as they keep us from moving forward and block us from getting what we want.

Only by discovering the real issues can we transform ourselves from feeling victimized and take control of our own job fate. This clarity is what leads to a strategy for success and career satisfaction.

Here Are Some of the Most Common Internal Barriers I Work With:

Value Conflicts:
People often become locked into an internal tug-of-war between conflicting values – making lots of money versus time for personal life; freedom versus security; independence versus structure; stability versus change. With deeper understanding, you can break free of these conflicts and actually put them to use in constructing an appropriate career strategy.

Messages We Get from Our Parents:
Many people live their lives trying to achieve a set of goals and objectives that come from their parents and have no relationship to who they really are. This is a recipe for career unhappiness. The messages we get from our parents have enormous influence on how we live our lives. Only by identifying those messages can we let them go, and begin to live our lives as who we truly are — rather than who we’re told we ‘should’ be.

Your Self Image Doesn’t Measure Up to Your Talents:
I see this so frequently. People devalue their own skills and talents — precisely because they come so naturally — causing them to be blind to what they have to offer. But, by recognizing and identifying your own strengths you can turn this cycle around and begin, for the first time, to move into a satisfying career that truly expresses your talents and gifts.

Unrealistic Expectations and Unclear Priorities:
Whether it comes from one’s parent, co-workers or friends — many people are caught in the grip of unrealistic expectations about careers. They are trapped between fantasy and reality. This can lead to unclear priorities. In life we can’t always get everything we want, so it’s important to find out which trade-offs you’re willing to make, and which you’re not.

Fear of Risk or Change:
Are you locked into an unhappy job situation because you’re not willing to take risks or accept change? There are many solutions for transforming your career prospects — and they don’t all require huge risks. Some of my clients have been amazed to see how small shifts — done with deep insight and understanding — can achieve big results. Not every move needs to be earth shaking.

Self-knowledge is the key to overcoming your barriers. Once you see through these internal resistances, you are in a better position to move beyond them towards a more satisfying and rewarding career.

If you feel that you would like to identify and work through any of the internal barriers that are keeping you from getting what you want, I would be happy to assist you.

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Managing Your Career in These Turbulent Times

Today’s business environment is fraught with uncertainties and unpredictability. Downsizing, layoffs, and corporate restructuring have reshaped the career landscape. And because of this we are all faced with new challenges and decisions. Here are some steps to follow during 2013:

Reassessing. Rebuilding
This changing world has presented an opportunity for reassessment of our purpose and life’s meaning. An opportunity for transformation and rebuilding. It forces us to ask important questions: What are my priorities? What do I consider important? What gives me personal fulfillment? What does success mean to me and how do I get there?

It’s About You
Whether you are starting a new career, transitioning out of your existing one, or looking for a new position, the most important element is defining YOU. It all begins with understanding yourself. As Abraham Maslow said, “If you want to find out what you ought to be, then find out who you are.”

Careers: from the inside out
Most people make career decisions by looking at the world around them and then try to reshape themselves to fit into it. But this is the opposite of what needs to be done. Defining the right career path starts from the inside out. It’s a journey of evolving self-awareness. By self-awareness, I mean a process that begins with inner exploration to help you understand the vital elements that will keep you connected to your work in a meaningful way. You need to find the environments that let you shine, the interests that excite you, the roles you like to play and the skills you enjoy using. Work is satisfying when it fits your self-definition but first you need to know what your self-definition is.

Start with questions, not descriptions
When thinking about a career, most people mistakenly start by focusing on a subject matter, industry or job title. For example, we hear people say, I think I’ll become a lawyer, marketing manager, or financial analyst, or, I’ll go into the field of publishing, marketing or human resources. But there are more important questions to ask yourself first. Do you like working with people or paper, do you want something that’s different every day or are you more comfortable with routine? Do you need freedom and flexibility or structure and security? Do you prefer to manage people or projects? Do you need to be part of an organization or do you require freedom from organizational constraints? Under what conditions do you work best? Answering these questions is often more revealing than searching for a job title or job description. Defining yourself by a job title limits your ability to gain clarity. Job titles don’t describe the environments, work style and roles played.

Sorting through these career issues can feel overwhelming and complicated, but there is a process that will carry you to your goals. This process begins with self-awareness in the following 4 areas:

Defining Your Skills:
Skills are what translate into roles and activities and break down into 6 basic categories: communication, creativity, research, organization, analytical and problem solving. All of the hundreds of skills that exist fall into one of these categories. For example, communication skills might include writing, persuading, presenting, teaching, training, listening, negotiating, etc. Researching might include evaluating, classifying, interviewing, etc. Whether you’re developing a marketing plan, analyzing an operational system, writing an ad campaign, clearly defining and articulating your skills becomes essential. Identifying and articulating your particular skills is what leads you to a career in which your strengths will be maximized and where you will feel naturally competent.

Identifying Your Interests:
Think of the subjects that turn you on and the “stuff” you want to know about. Notice where your interests tend to cluster. Is it music, sports, politics, group dynamics, health, children? When you read the newspaper what section do you look at first? What kind of books do you read? What do you notice when you walk around? Architecture, people, restaurants? Do you like being in nature? Do you enjoy reading maps? Are you most comfortable around computers? Pay attention to what interests you and the subjects you’re drawn to. They will lead you to a career which keeps you interested and rewarded.

Exploring Your Values:
We are often forced to make choices as to how to live our lives and often our choices will be based on our values. Values are emotional needs and important sources of satisfaction; they create focus and shape behavior. What really drives you? Is it risk and challenge? autonomy and self-expression, status and power? making a contribution to society? the potential of high earnings? These are value questions and while we may have many different values, we need to prioritize which are most important. Values, more than anything else change through out life. What you valued 5 years ago may not be what you value today. Sorting through these value questions are important to career clarification.

Finding Your Personality Style:
Personality style is probably the most important element in this process and the most difficult to define and understand. What is meant by personality style is where are your sources of energy, how do you perform a task, how do you make decisions and how you are perceived by others. For example, when you approach a task, is the emphasis on the completion or the process? Do you enjoy make high-level management decisions or prefer concentration on the project? Do you make decisions logically and analytically or subjectively and emotionally? Do you prefer ideas and vision or execution and detail?
Are you sociable and interactive or reserved and reflective? Answers to these questions will help you clarify and understand who you are and who you need to be in your workplace to keep you satisfied and effective.

Putting it Together
Developing a successful career is like a mosaic: the right blend of your total person, a perfect merging of your whole self. Any part of the mosaic that’s missing minimizes your chances of success and fulfillment. We have all witnessed exceptional performance by ordinary people. This is because they have merged the best parts of themselves into what they do. They have learned to work from the inside out.

There are many ways to do this. Although some people choose to go through this self-awareness process on their own, others choose to do it with guidance. There are a wide variety of tools that will help you. There are books, websites, courses, workshops and career counselors to help guide you though this process. There are personality assessments like the Strong Interest Inventory and Meyers Briggs designed specifically to help you in this career search, this life search.

The important part is that you take the time to do it. That you discover the career path that grows out of who you are; to find the career that reflects the true you, so it can give you energy, satisfaction and rewards. It is no exaggeration to say: the rest of you life depends upon it.

These times. All times
While we can’t control the state of the economy or the marketplace, we can control the choices we make. Industries change; technologies advance and companies come and go. We have gone from a job-structured work place to a self-structured workplace. Therefore, it has never been more important to understand ourselves – and to apply that understanding to gain clarity and confidence. It is what will allow you to survive and prosper, even in these difficult times. The best way to recession-proof your career is to create a career, which grows out of you – your skills, your values, your interests and your personality style.

Believe and trust in this process because it works. I have watched unhappy, frustrated people transform themselves into effective, rewarded, and energized professionals who get immense satisfaction out of their careers. Not only can you survive and thrive – but your new self-awareness will become the most continually powerful tool you possess. A tool that will support you and nourish you for the rest of you life.

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Tips for a Successful Job Search

Are you floundering or unable to get started on your job search? Have you gotten off track, or lost your motivation? Whether you’re looking for a new job, transitioning into a new field or looking for your first job… you need to have a well thought-out strategy.

Here are 5 Practical Tips for Conducting an Effective Job Search:

1. Know Yourself:
You can’t conduct a job search until you have searched yourself. How do you envision your worklife? What are the environments in which you shine, the interests that excite you, your innate skills and talents? If you don’t have a clear sense of who you are, your prospective employer won’t either. Once you can define yourself, your strategies will become clear and actionable.

2. Focus and Positioning:
We are in a very niche marketplace today. You cannot be all things to all people. Focus and positioning are crucial. If your job target is wrong, everything else will be wrong. For example, “marketing” is not focused enough. Is it marketing manager, marketing communicaton, product marketing, integrated marketing? The more specific you are the more effective your search will be. Knowing your target means understanding what industry, what function, and what job title you’re searching for.

3. Resume Summary Statement:
Your summary statement is the most important part of your resume. It presents the key points about you and creates focus for your resume. What are the most important points you want to get across? The summary statement sets the theme for your target and objectives. If you’re having difficulty writing a summary statement it might mean you’re having difficulty focusing.

4. Expand Your Job Search Channels:
Commercial job sites such as Monster and Hotjobs have become over-crowded and over-used. While the Internet provides a world of information and multitude of job sites, we often underestimate the traditional sources of search venues. These are: trade publications, industry associations, job fairs, alumni associations and, the most important of all, networking.

5. Diagnose Your Own Ailment:
What is stopping you from getting started? Is it lack of confidence about your skills; gaps in your background? Lack of focus? Fear of rejection? You need to go directly to the problem that you’re having, so you can deal with it. By identifying your barriers, you’re in a better position to work through them.

A job search is a very difficult and demanding process. It’s important to stay focused and motivated… the best way to do this is to know that your job target truly fits your personality and your abilities. Having a clear vision and the right strategy will keep you on track and ultimately result in a more successful job search.

If you need guidance in any phase of this process please feel free to call me.

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Social Media and the Job Search

The job world is changing rapidly. Knowing how to develop your online presence and how to look for work online is becoming critically important. Social networks are becoming part of the criteria that hiring managers use to find or weed out applicants.

As I ramp up my own social networking platforms, I thought this would be a good time to discuss tips on Social Media that will be useful for your job search. We’ll focus specifically on two main players: LinkedIn, and Facebook.

LinkedIn:

•    Think of your profile headline as your “2 minute written pitch”. It should describe in a sentence who you are, and what you are looking for.

•    Join groups and search out contacts and companies that are in line with your career goals, and engage in conversation. Not only will you know first hand when they are hiring, they’ll also be aware of your knowledge in the field, due to these interactions.

•    You can post a question or offer advice to a posting to get your intentions across. The more times you comment on a topic, the more activity shows up on your profile.

•    Contact past colleagues, employers and classmates using the “ask for a recommendation” feature. Once they respond, their testimonials will appear on your profile.

Facebook:

•    Give your profile a make-over by erasing game applications, and adjusting the features so that all your personal photos become private. Set the settings to block tagged images from appearing on your wall, and only leave posts relevant to your career focus, allowing thought-provoking business opinions to dominate your page.

•    Create a Page for yourself, which will allow people to subscribe to your postings and begin following you without having to add you as a friend. Make sure this page contains your resume and only professional posts and information. Edit the privacy settings on your profile, to make it private. This way, only your Page will appear on Google and other search engines.

If you need help getting started with your job search, I can provide you with the tools and resources that will make you more confident and focused. Join my Facebook page to receive further job search tips.

 

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5 Common Career Myths & Mistakes

A single mistaken thought or misguided perception can send you down a career path that will be frustrating, inappropriate or just plain wrong for who you are. Here are 5 of the most common mistaken beliefs that derail people’s careers.

“I’m going into it for the money”:
Sure, we all like making money – but a high salary can never substitute for authentic job satisfaction. Following the dollar rather than your passions can actually make you bitter, lower your productivity, pull you off track and rob you of the positive feelings and exuberance that comes from loving what you do.

“Being an entrepreneur will give me freedom”:
Being an entrepreneur may lead to huge rewards – but it also may be the very opposite of freedom. Often it means never being able to stop thinking and worrying about your work, your company 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It could also mean having to choose between family and work. If you’re not really passionate about what you’re doing, you won’t have the energy to sustain the motivation needed.
“I’ll get an advanced degree – then I’ll be set for life”:
If you’ve chosen a career direction and the degree supports your getting there – that’s great. But if you’re thinking “I’ll get the degree first, and decide later,” then that degree could end up as a very expensive postponing technique. Before you pay thousands of dollars and time going to school, you better be sure you are focused on an appropriate, well thought out goal.

“I want a glamorous career in a fashionable industry”:
What a job or industry looks like from the outside is often the very opposite of what it’s like from the inside. Glamorous industries are often fraught with long hours, internal politics, detailed drudgework and shallow values. It’s important to collect first hand information and understand the industry issues.  If you don’t do your research you could end up for a big shock, by finding out you’ve chosen a totally inappropriate career.

“I hate my boss, I hate the office politics…”:
Over-generalizing can lead to drastic moves.  It’s so important to isolate the problem and differentiate the issues from the assumptions. Being unhappy may cause you to over emphasize the negative without being aware of the positive. Often I’ve seen people become totally happy by making a slight shift or finding another job in the same industry. Not every problem requires huge shifts.I’ve spent over 15 years helping people solve their career problems, identify the mistakes they’re making and implement effective career plans that lead to fulfillment and satisfaction.. Often it’s a matter of sweeping away mistaken perceptions about yourself or the workplace. I’d be happy to help you resolve your career issues and implement a plan. Nothing is more life-transforming than a career that makes you happy.

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A New Year Career Check-Up

As we enter a New Year, this is the perfect time to step back and review the past year. This is a season for reflecting, and what could be more important to reflect upon than your career and your future?

Whether you need a totally new direction, or a shift within your existing career, take this opportunity to sharpen your focus and move onto a more productive, effective track for 2013. It’s the best gift you could give yourself.

To find the most successful and satisfying careers one needs to work from the inside out. Self-reflection is the most important step towards finding and reaching your right career fit.

Here are a few questions to help you take a fresh look at yourself and to help you move into a career based on who you are, what fulfills your needs, and what expresses you most.

  • What are the most important priorities at this point in my life?
  • What do I like best and least about my current job?
  • What do I consider my greatest strengths?
  • What excites, motivates and energizes me the most?
  • If you could create the perfect work-life, what would it be?

Answering these questions is a good start towards formulating and realizing your career goals. The better you can define yourself and your issues, the clearer and more actionable your strategy will become.

I have spent 20 years helping people choose, change and advance their careers… and I’ve been rewarded by seeing scores of clients move into satisfying, fulfilling, perfect-fit careers. If you would like guidance in defining and reaching your career goals, I would be happy to help you.

212-826-0685     www.eileensharaga.com     esharaga@nyc.rr.com
Eileen Sharaga is a recognized authority on career development and employment trends. As a career counselor, psychologist and educator, Ms Sharaga helps people choose, change and advance their careers. Having both a psychological and business background, she provides a unique perspective into navigating today’s complex career issues.  Ms Sharaga is an advanced Myers Briggs practitioner and specializes in career transition and self-assessment. Ms Sharaga is a source for media, and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, Working Today and The New York Times.

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How Your Resume Can Make or Break Your Future

 Don’t underestimate the power of a good resume

Your resume is your prospective employer’s first glimpse of you… and it may be their last. If your resume doesn’t sell you effectively in the first 10 seconds, it may go straight to the reject pile. The right resume can open doors, the wrong resume can sabotage your job search.

Your resume can’t be good… it has to be great!

Before you get the opportunity to compete for a job, your resume has to do it for you. No matter how impressive your career has been, and no matter how sparkling your credentials, if your resume is anything short of great you will not get to the interview.

You may be talented in your field… but that doesn’t mean you can write a good resume

People think they’re supposed to be able to write a resume. After all, it is about you. However, writing a resume is a very specific and exacting skill. You may excel in your career, but this does not prepare you for writing a resume. Most people need professional advice, feedback, and a review of their resume.

Is your resume working for you, or against you?

Here is a list of essentials that your resume should accomplish in order to sell you and get you to the interview:

  • Position yourself properly for your job target and industry.
  • Be sure to have a focused profile or summary statement.
  • Choose the correct format appropriate to your work history – different formats work better for different people.
  • Do not be overly wordy – use concise descriptions or bullets.
  • Avoid statements or buzz words that sound like clichés.
  • Use hard-working descriptive verbs – weak phrasing makes a weak resume.
  • Use graphic elements to enhance your resume, without being distracting.
  • Recent college grads should include relevant internships and volunteer work.
  • Be smart about how you position your experience level – aiming too high or too low could eliminate you from the running.
  • Review and update your resume periodically – don’t let it get outdated.

You may be right for the job… but is your resume?

As you know, this is one of the most competitive job markets we’ve seen in decades. Your resume is competing with scores, perhaps hundreds, of other resumes. It has to get you in the door and get you to the interview. I have seen many people’s futures turn around and thrive because they finally got their resume to work for them and lead them into satisfying, rewarding careers. But sadly, I’ve seen the opposite even more frequently.

If you would like professional guidance in creating a powerful, effective, winning resume please feel free to call me and set up an appointment. I would be happy to help you create the resume you need and deserve.

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