Tag Archives: workplace culture

Keys to Reinvention: Reinvent Your Career – Transform Your Life

On November 9, AH Jobs List will be holding its quarterly seminar entitled “The Reinvent Event.”  This seminar will feature discussions on a variety of career reinvention strategies.  This event typically sells out, so make sure you register soon.   Click here to find out more information and to register.

I’m an example of a ‘reinvention’!   I spent the majority of my 20-year career in the marketing and communications profession.  But 12 years ago, I began a weekly email that provided job listings in Denver to a couple hundred public relations professionals.  A simple e-mail blast, this free service helped top PR professionals connect with some of the best jobs in the Denver metro area.  The list grew into Andrew Hudson’s Jobs List, an automated website with several categories of jobs in Colorado and today, more than 25,000 subscribers have signed on to receive the weekly updates.

About two years ago, I began the process of figuring out how to turn my ‘hobby’ (which had turned into a passion) into a full-time career.  I imagined life running my own business and helping others by dedicating all of my time to Andrew Hudson’s Jobs List.  I knew the job site was working; I’d heard from hundreds of employers and employees that it was one of the most effective job boards in Denver.  I also knew that if I could commit my life to building on this idea of a localized job board, that I could make it even MORE effective.

But turning my ‘hobby’ into a full-time business?  It was completely intimidating!

I had no experience in entrepreneurship!  How do I write a business plan?  What about licenses, IRS rules, business accounting, lines of credit, investors, how would I insure myself?  There were many times when my dream just seemed like – a dream!  Was I really handcuffed to the comforts and benefits of a full-time job?  What if it didn’t work out?  What if I couldn’t make it work?  Was I willing to put my reputation on the line?  I talked to a lot of people who encouraged me but I also spoke with others who warned me about of the risks of starting a business in a recession.

The thing that kept me pushing forward was imagining the life that I REALLY WANTED!  I imagined what it would be like and how much freedom I could have if I was doing what I REALLY wanted to do.

There were several keys that helped me overcome the common fears and anxieties of ‘reinvention,’ which I believe are critical to anyone wanting to do something different in their lives.

Whether you want to start a business, transfer your skills into a new line of work, or learn a new set of skills to follow a new career path, here are some strategies I found helpful:

1.) Imagine and make a commitment to living the life you want to live.  Attitude is everything.  Friends tell me all the time, “Andrew, if you want to do something, you simply figure a way to get it done.”  They are right.  I’ve been inspired by this attitude in others throughout my life and luckily, it’s rubbed off.

If you have an idea of what it is you want to do, you need to first, make a commitment to yourself.  Start with the basic question, “What does that life look like?”  Does it fulfill a desire and a passion?  Is it something that you envision making you happy?  Is it a passion you can imagine doing as your life’s work?  Now is also the point where you change your attitude from “I’ve always wanted to…” and start thinking “I am committed to….”  You will see that this one shift in attitude is the first and most critical step of your reinvention journey.

2.) Make a plan.  Sit down with a pad and pen and start answering some critical questions.  What do you need to do to reinvent yourself?  What are the strategies and tactics you need to follow to make that life happen? Does your reinvention include additional education?  What financial investments will it require? Do you have to make modifications to your current life in order to make this happen and what do those modifications look like?   Realize that your reinvention journey is most likely not going to happen overnight, but is a process that will take time, effort and energy.  In order for your reinvention to not overwhelm you, try to address each issue in manageable bites. Then, draft a simple timeline that spells out achievable short and long-term goals.

3.) Research.  Determine what is required to pursue your dream.  For example, if you are a Human Resources trainer but you want a career working in marketing, what additional skills will you need?  Inventory your current skills and talents to determine which skills transfer into the career to which you want to transition.  What are the types of jobs that are available?  There is a remarkable amount of information on the Internet and from professional associations that describe career path scenarios for many career sectors.  If you are starting a business, there are accessible resources available from organizations such as the Small Business Administration, local Chambers of Commerce, the Secretary of State’s office, local government economic development agencies and workforce development offices. These include resources on how to write a business plan, low-interest loans, free workshops on career transitions and many other areas that will help you.

4.) Learn from others.  When I made a transition into entrepreneurship, I leaned on a lot of friends who had successfully started their own businesses.  They mentored me and gave me guidance about common issues and pitfalls I needed to avoid.  In the same vein, if you are looking to make a transition to a new career, talk to friends and colleagues that are currently in careers where you want to move.  Or if you know someone who has reinvented themselves, talk to them about their journey.  When you ask for advice, REALLY LISTEN.  While you may be reinventing yourself, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel – or in other words, learn how to avoid making common mistakes.

5.) Educate yourself.  We all have the potential to be lifelong students.  If you believe additional education is necessary in order to pursue your dream, then go back to school!  Scholarships and financial aid are available to students of ALL ages.  There are also a variety of non-traditional ways to further your education.  Some universities have programs that allow you to earn an MBA in only one year’s time!  There are many technical colleges as well as traditional universities that cater to professionals’ unique schedules and timelines.  In my case, I researched business plans online and bought reference books.  I attended seminars and listened to new business lectures on YouTube and took online tutorials to learn new software.  I learned the basics of small business accounting.  I also enhanced my marketing and public relations skills and learned savvy sales and pricing techniques.

Bottom line:
Making the commitment to reinventing yourself is a major lifestyle change; it requires a huge dose of confidence and belief in your goal, it involves taking yourself out of your comfort level, it means you must be willing to take some risks and ultimately, it requires patience.  Most reinventions don’t happen overnight.

But choosing and committing to live the life you want can also be one of life’s most richest journeys.

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The Process of Career Reinvention

Stuck?  Unemployed?  Ready to follow your passion?
Learn the process to transform your career: an interview with Linda Sollars

Linda Sollars, is President of Creating Purpose (www.creatingpurpose.com) and is one of Denver’s most well know job-seeking consultants. She will be leading the career reinvention seminar at next week’s AH Jobs List Reinvent Event which will be held on Wed., November 9 at the Denver Athletic Club in downtown Denver.   Two of Linda’s clients who have successfully reinvented themselves will sit on a panel to discuss their career reinvention process.

Linda provides her inspiring, heartfelt and common-sense approach to job development and has transformed jobs seekers in defining their personal brand and aligning their strengths with a solid foundation of purpose, quality and success. She provides individual sessions and workshops designed to recognize core visions and values and to develop solid networking and job search strategies.

She spent 20 years in senior level marketing positions before transitioning into career coaching and consulting several years ago after discovering her purpose in empowering others. She has been a featured panelist on CBS, Channel 4, Beating the Recession, featured expert on ABC, Channel 9, Get Me A Job! and the national forum, Careerwell. She is also the keynote speaker at many conferences and events regionally and nationally.

Linda holds a master’s degree in Adult Development, with an emphasis in Leadership and Coaching, as well as an advanced certification from University of Denver in Training and Development.  She is also an Affiliate Professor at Regis University and is on the UCOL Alumni Board of the University of Denver.

Recently, I sat down with Linda to discuss the process she takes job seekers through and some of the common challenges as well as successful habits of professionals who have reinvented their careers.

Linda can you talk a bit about the career reinvention process you take job seekers through?

Most of my clients, when they first come to see me, are either stuck in a job they don’t like and want to get out of, are recently unemployed, or want to follow a passion and don’t know how. Most of the people who reach this stage simply don’t know what to do; they are stuck.

The first thing we work on is determining who they are before they decide what it us they want to be.

To do that, I take them through a very specific three step process.

First, we work on recognizing and owning their unique strengths and values.  How would they describe themselves?  What would their co-workers say about them?  What do they care about at their core?  I ask my clients to talk about the strengths that characterize who they are and also ask them to give specific examples of how they have used these strengths in the past.  We go through assessments and exercises I’ve designed in order to come up with a personal statement of strengths that teaches people how to talk about themselves in terms of WHO they are as opposed to their skill sets.

Second, we work on motivational style.  What gets them up in the morning?  What is it that sends them out there every day with aspirations to accomplish something and be successful?  How they motivate themselves is critical in determining the type of position that is successful and satisfying.

Third, we work on a process I call career design – a very specific, personal and powerful format that answers questions about what they want their ideal work situation to be.

We look at where you want to work, how far do you want to go, how much travel do you prefer, how much money do you want to make, what kinds of benefits do you expect, what kind of vacation schedule do you prefer, how many people do you want to work with, do you want to work from home?

Reinventing or transforming your career seems overwhelming.  How do you manage someone’s anxiety about reinvention?

So many of the people who begin this process with me have a feeling that the world is controlling them and when we break it down into these three manageable areas, it switches their view so they feel as if they can manage and are in control of their situation and their aspirations.

Going through this three-step process, which is a very personal, specific and a very thoughtful introspection, also provides the basis for developing a resume and their LinkedIn profile in a way that that communicates their strengths, their motivations, their skills and the type of work that will match their values and the values and culture of an organization.

We then take a look at different companies and organizations that fit their career design.  They have already decided whether their strengths and skill sets are going to work for a large or mid-size company, a start-up or perhaps they want to follow a career path in the nonprofit world.

At this point, they have a clear vision and mission that is now aligned with their strengths, their motivation and their career design, communicated on their resumes, their cover letter, their networking pieces, and it is much easier for them to discuss their goals and expectations with prospective employers, either in informational interviews or at actual job interviews.

As a matter of fact, I’ve had several clients who were offered positions during informational interviews because they were so clear about expressing who they were, what their motivation style was, what their skill set was and what it is that they were really passionate about.

When people want to transform a part of their lives – whether it be their health, their finances, or in this case, their career – there are certain habits, beliefs and regular routines they need to begin to follow.  What are the habits of those who successfully transform and reinvent their careers?

The first thing is passion.  You have to have a passionate belief that you WANT to change.

If people come to me and say, “Anything is better than what I’m doing now,” I’m very clear that this is not enough, because they will immediately fall into the next thing that comes up.

Second, they need to own their passion as a unique, personal specific goal.

Finally, they connect their passion, strengths, skills, and motivation with specific careers.

Some of the things that people develop, in terms of habits and patterns, are the specific outcomes they design; they work on a specific item each week that leads to an outcome so that there is a very real sense of progress.

I also tell people – because it can be overwhelming – that this is a process and there needs to be a focus on each step. Trying to progress too quickly will not lead them to where they want to be; there needs to be a real sense of focus, along with quality time and effort put into each step.

Ultimately, they replace bad habits or patterns with good ones.  Over time, they begin to realize not only what was causing them to freeze when asked the question, “Tell me about yourself,” but they are comfortable, confident and passionate in expressing their skill sets, what makes them unique, what motivates them and what specific strengths they bring to the table.

The last thing I work with people on is job descriptions.  Does the job description match my career design, my motivation style, my strengths and my career design?  If not, we move on to the next job description and that’s okay.  This reinvention is about matching their goals to positions that meet their expectations and no longer trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. When we find a job description that does match, I teach them how to break it down, line by line – so that they can respond to almost all of the things in the description that they have either done or have a passion for.

What’s one of the biggest challenges for job seekers?

The biggest challenge is working with individuals to understand their strengths and their motivation and then have to express these to someone else.   It’s about developing that clarity – the confidence – about who they are.

This is difficult for a lot of reasons.

Many people feel they have lost their edge.  They’ve been beaten down at their current job.  They’ve faced overwhelming rejection looking for a job.  Regaining confidence and self-esteem is a process.  For most people, talking confidently about themselves seems unnatural – we’re told from an early age not to brag.

As I tell people: strengths are like the color of your eyes.  When I say “I have brown eyes,” no one is going to argue with me that I have brown eyes.  When I say that “I’m creative,” I’m creative!  That’s part of the strengths I have had since a very young child.  I know how to do creative things well and that’s a strength I bring to the table.  It’s not bragging – it’s the confidence of knowing this is who I am!  You may have known it your whole life but not acknowledged it, but it is still who you are!  Once you understand this, and own it, the confidence flows.

Too often, we run into this “imposter syndrome” – this voice that is sitting on our shoulders telling us “What are you thinking?  You really don’t know what you are doing.” Or we convince ourselves that someone is going to come in and say “We really don’t want you here anymore.”   It forces us to constantly feel as if we are being judged by others expectations.

Once you know that your strengths are owned by you and they are not measured by anyone else – just like you eye color – then you get to a point where you don’t compete against this voice and it is actually replaced with that red-hot confidence and courage to make a change.

For many job seekers, starting in their mid-30s, they begin to reflect on their current job or career path and pangs of regret seep in.  There’s a sense that they are stuck in a job or a career path that doesn’t reflect who they really are or what it is they really want to be doing.  Do you see that?

I work with a lot of people who struggle with this; they absolutely don’t want to be doing what they are doing. They’ve spent so much time and money on their educations, they’ve been working successfully for a number of years and progressing their careers, are making good money and in everyone else’s eyes, they’ve reached their pinnacle.  But, they absolutely hate their jobs to the point, sometimes, that it is mentally paralyzing to go into work.

Often this is the result of not having acknowledged their passion.

They might have recognized their passion in college, but they focused on careers that their parents thought they ought to be doing, or a career they thought was going to make them money, help them become financially stable, pay off their student loans, raise a family and buy a new house, a car and take a vacation every once in a while.

It’s clear that their passion doesn’t lie with what they are doing and when I talk with them about their passion, they have very different ideas about what kind of work they’d prefer to be doing.  But it is also a very scary situation for them because change is always challenging.

How do you resolve this fear?  

It’s probably the number one thing I hear from folks who are frustrated with their current jobs.  Through the career design process, we try to answer all of the questions that help people to resolve these fears.

How much money do you need to make?  What expenses do you have?  What’s the work-life balance you are seeking?  What can happen if you are out of a job for 4 months?  We ask all of those questions in the very beginning to assist the reality of their personal reinvention.  Many people simply say they can’t give up their jobs, no matter how much they hate going to work each day.

I tell them their career does not have to be an “either/or” scenario.  This can be about “and/both” so they can stay in the position they are in and start looking at the options out there following their passion.  Is it going to take some time?  Yes.  Will it take 15 years?  No.  It’s going to a few months of working on the process during the time they have available – in the evenings and on weekends for example.  I would never tell someone to quit their job tomorrow to pursue their passion unless they could afford to do so and have given serious thought to how they can realistically make this work for them.

Read more about Linda Sollars at www.creatingpurpose.com

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“How do you feel about a monkey in the office?” The worst job interview questions ever

Today’s  job seekers try to prepare for everything.

They diligently research the background of companies to try to match their specific talents, experiences and expertise with what is required in the job posting.  They spend long hours customizing their resumes and cover letters.   They have incredible patience and perseverance, waiting by the phone and willing to jump at a moment’s notice for an interview.

And when they do get an interview, they rehearse their answers to the most commonly asked interview questions.

But even the most experienced job seeker would be at a loss when asked the questions below.

These are all real questions asked at real job interviews.  Perhaps the recruiter was trying to be cute or trying to see how the job seeker would handle an odd question, but these have got to be some of the worst questions asked at a job interview…..ever.

Some of these questions are illegal to ask.  At the very least many of them are inappropriate.  Others are just silly.   Some of these zingers are born from bizarre workplace  profile tests in which they are attempting to somehow judge whether your personality would fit in the corporate culture of the company.

Nevertheless, if you get asked an odd question, take a deep breath and don’t say the first thing that comes to mind.   Take a moment and decide the best response.  Granted, in some cases that best response might be standing up and walking out.

The Worst Interview Questions Ever

“If you were a salad, what kind of dressing would you want poured on you?”

“How do you define sexual harassment?”

“Pretend I am an Eskimo and sell me a freezer.”

“We’ve already made a hiring decision, but I’m required to ask you  some questions anyway.”

“It’s OK if you don’t know a lot about our industry.  Our CEO’s kind of an idiot about what we do as well.”

“How do you feel about a monkey in the office?”

“Are you sure you are Hispanic?  Your last name sure doesn’t sound Latin.”

I was asked “Why are pothole covers round?” while interviewing for a reception job years ago. WHAT? Luckily I got it right (so they don’t fall in), and still didn’t get the job.

“You’re not the type that would sue your employer, are you?”

“When was the last time you did something illegal?”

“What is the airspeed of an unladen swallow?”

“We don’t allow personal calls at work.  Would your children ever call you?”

“You’d be the fourth person in this position in the last six months.  What traits do you think will help you stay in this position?”

“Are you dating anyone? Well don’t date anyone here.”

“If you were to pick the theme song that would be played when you stepped out onto home plate at Coors Field – what would it be?”

“Do you care if your boss reads your email?”

“If we don’t hire you, which of our competitors would you want to work for?” Followed by:  “If we finally offered the same wages as them, would you work for us?”

“If we hire you, do you promise not to quit?”

“How do you feel about working unpaid overtime?”

“Do you speak Japanese?”   Uhhh…shouldn’t they have put that in the ad??

“Are you pregnant, or going to get pregnant in the next 12 months?”

During a phone interview – “Are you as sexy as your voice?”

“Why do you want this job when you should be home having babies?”

“If you were a celebrity, who would you be?”

“If you could be a teacher, a jet pilot or an actor, which would you be and why?”

and lastly (after the interview) –

“We know we offered you the job, but our new CEO asked us to hire a friend of the Mayor’s instead.”

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Everything I ever learned about hard work, I learned working in a restaurant

When I was doing a lot of hiring at previous jobs, one question that I would always ask potential employees was, “Did you ever work in a restaurant?”

From the time I was 13 to 23-years-old, I worked in a variety of restaurants and in a variety of positions and knew the type of skills and talents it took to be successful in a restaurant environment.

The qualities it takes to succeed in a restaurant are very much tied to the qualities it takes to succeed in business: team work, customer service, multi-tasking, politeness and energy.  Working in a restaurant means you have to juggle the personalities of a variety of different characters  and develop ways to have them all on your side.   Every day you are required to manage a range of mini-crisis and difficult situations.

In my restaurant life, I worked as a dishwasher, busboy, waiter, bartender, line cook, prep cook and restaurant host.

As a waiter, I had less than an hour to create a successful experience for the diners.  My tip (the majority of mysalary) relied on it!

In my role as a cook,  the waiters, the customers and the reputation of the restaurant relied on me to serve fresh, hot meals in a timely and consistent manner.  On busy weekend nights, four cooks would be responsible for preparing over 350 meals in a short, five-hour window.  Hands, knives, pots and pans, hot stoves, ovens and grease were flying everywhere…every detail required your full attention and as important was working in tandem with the other cooks to make sure all of the food came out together.  The multi-tasking roles I learned as a cook are still relevent to everything that is required of me today.

If you have worked in restaurants, it is completely appropriate to describe those skills and experiences and explain how and why they are relevent to the job you are seeking.

For you Denver history buffs, between the ages of 13-23, I’ve earned a paycheck working in the following restaurants:

Mr. Luckys – My first job ever, I was 12-years-old and swept the parking lot every Saturday and Sunday morning of this Glendale disco.

Epicurean Catering (dishwasher/prep cook)

La Plaza (dishwasher/busboy/line and prep cook/dishwasher.  The old “Playboy Club” on Florida and Colorado Blvd.)

Writers Manor (Banquet busboy – was located at Mexico and Colorado Blvd.  Now a strip mall.)

Old Chicago (prep cook for one day.  I accidently diced instead of sliced an entire 20 pd. bag of tomatoes.  It was ugly.  They were gentle, but showed me the door pretty quickly)

Village Inn (busboy.  This was the big Village Inn attached to Celebrity Sports Center – the biggest in the nation at one time.)

Sorens (cook/dishwasher. Great restaurant at 3rd and Detroit.  My friend Aaron LaPedis now has an art gallery in that space.  I cooked and was an occasional dishwasher.  Really learned how to cook here.  Every Sunday, one diner would send us a bottle of champagne if we got his omelet jussssst right.)

Jose Muldoons (Line cook/prep cook/salad bar manager during college at CU.   Had a great time.  Fun crew.  Drank WAY too much after long shifts.  Will never forget the ‘prairie fires’…tequila and Tabasco shots)

Chautauqua Dining Hall (Boulder summer job.  Waited tables.  Loved this job.  Famous line to diners – Me: “Today our special is fried Matta”  Diner “Whats a Matta?”  Me: “Nothing, what the hell’s a matta with you?”  It would either get me a big laugh/tip or a “Get me a real waiter”)

Provisions – A Deli located at Eastern Market in Washington, D.C.  In 1990, I worked 70 hrs. per-week on Capitol Hill for a U.S. Senator for the grand sum of $16,000 per-year.   My weekend job was slicing meats and making bagel sadnwiches.

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