Exploring Career Opportunities Without Jeopardizing Your Current Job #AskJennifer

Are you happily (or contently) employed, but at the same time wonder if there are better career opportunities out there?

(Email subscribers click here to view the video)

If that’s the case, you may wonder how you can position yourself for career growth – either inside or outside your current company – without making your employer nervous – or even worse – risking being blackballed or fired because they consider you a flight risk.

I’m diving into this topic on this week’s edition of Ask Jennifer – a new video series where I’ll be answering your questions – in five minutes or less.

Except this week’s episode is slightly longer. Oops.

Let’s chalk it up to inaugural excitement about the new format. 🙂

In Episode 1 of Ask Jennifer, I’ll answer the following question for “Valerie”, a woman who recently attended a workshop I led on “Defining and Communicating Your Personal Brand for Career Growth”.

Valerie has been with her current company for almost 20 years. She’s not unhappy. But she would like to explore career opportunities to understand how marketable her skills are – and if the grass really is greener somewhere else. But she also doesn’t want to send any red flags to her current employer that she may be looking. (Smart!)

Want to know what advice I have for Valerie?

Take a few moments to watch the quick video to learn more about the 3 steps I recommend to Valerie (and others) who want to get noticed for opportunities without causing any drama.

  1. Update/fully complete your LinkedIn Profile.
  2. Talk to/offer to help Recruiters that reach out to you.
  3. Attend and get involved with your local professional networking association.

Have a question related to growing your career, your leadership or your skills as a speaker or presenter?

Send it my way!

I’d love to hear from you, and maybe your question will be featured in an upcoming episode of Ask Jennifer!



Interested In Career Growth? Let’s Chat! #VZWHRChat

Do you currently have a job – or a career? Chances are, you have some version of both, or you’re aspiring to claim them.


Unfortunately, most of us only think about our careers when we’re looking for a J-O-B, but the smart ones (that’s you) know that nurturing a career is an ongoing activity.

One aspect of managing your career is maintaining an attitude of continuous learning. Reading articles, blogs and news related to your industry and your profession will always be helpful – and so is networking and connecting with business leaders, industry experts, and fellow career navigators to learn from and help each other.

I’m excited about co-hosting one such learning and networking opportunity next week on April 22, 2014 from 12:00pm – 1:00pm ET, and I’d like to invite you to join me!

I’ll be partnering with several HR and Recruiting leaders, job seekers and seasoned career professionals for #VZWHRChat on Twitter.

This Twitter chat is the first in a #VZWHRchat series, where the team from Verizon will be partnering with HR experts across the Midwest to host various Twitter chats related to finding a job that’s more than a job – it’s a career.

Why is the team at Verizon coordinating these Twitter chats?

Because they’re convinced that by sharing information and helping professionals to grow in their careers, a few sharp-minded, solution-oriented folks might be interested in joining their team. They’re growing – and growth fuels careers.

However, you don’t have to be interested in a career with any specific company to receive value from joining in. During the hour-long Twitter chat, we’ll be discussing the following:

  1. During an interview, what should you ask to determine growth opportunities at the company?
  2. Once you start the job, what critical steps should you take to advance your career?
  3. What are examples of career development programs/training that prepare employees for individual success?
  4. You’ve been in the same position for years and haven’t been promoted. What should you do?
  5. What should you avoid doing that could hinder your ability to grow with your company?
  6. What lessons have you learned working for (or with, on the HR side) companies that both provide/don’t provide opportunities to advance?

So drop in on April 22, 2014 and chat with us from 12:00pm – 1:00pm ET!

Answer questions, ask questions, share your experiences – and help others. It’s an open event, so please invite anyone that you think may benefit or have something to add to the discussion. (If you’re new to Twitter chats, there are useful tools like TweetChat.com that can make following live chats easier.)

I hope to see you on April 22nd! I’d love to hear from you!

Be sure to visit the Verizon Job Center to learn more about career opportunities with Verizon your area.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have received compensation from Verizon to partner with them on this initiative. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that I believe will add value to my readers. For real. 

Is Stinkin’ Thinkin’ Keeping You From Getting What You Want?

While flipping through radio channels on a road trip recently, I came across a call-in show where the topic of the day was How to Attract Your Ideal Man.

The host of the show was an author of one of the many books on “Law of Attraction” and although I’m not much of a believer in that stuff, I decided to listen in anyway. (Not at all because I’m single – I prefer to call it research.)

The first caller to the show – a single mom in her late 30’s – explained how she’d given up on finding a “good man”, as she had a history of attracting only Losers. To help her out, the host asked the caller to describe exactly what she was looking for in her ideal man. She rattled off a few things, such as:

  • I don’t want someone who can’t appreciate what it takes to be a single parent.
  • I don’t want someone who isn’t kind and considerate.
  • I don’t want someone who does not want to be in a committed relationship.

After a few minutes, the host stopped the caller and asked if she recognized that she was creating a list of everything she did not want versus what she did want in an ideal mate. Surprisingly, she hadn’t noticed.

He explained his theory that her negative thinking was a huge part of the reason why she hasn’t been successful in finding the “right” man.

The host then suggested that she take some time to write down all of the things that she doesn’t want, then go back and change the wording in each sentence to instead reflect what she does want. By doing this, she would be changing her negative thinking to positive, which would allow her to actually attract her ideal man – who would ride up on a white horse and take her away to live in a castle far, far away where they would live happily ever after. (Ok, so I may have embellished a wee bit with the last part…)

According to the Law of Attraction, thinking about what you don’t want applies energy and focus in that direction and actually brings those things into your life, while applying positive thinking and intentionally focusing on what you do want sends “positive vibrations” out to the universe and attracts those things to you.

I don’t buy the universal positive vibrations mumbo-jumbo, but I do notice when people position things negatively in terms of their businesses and careers and recognize how often that limits their thinking (and mine) to potential possibilities and opportunities.

Ask a client to describe an ideal candidate for a position and they might say “We won’t consider someone who has worked in a very large company – they don’t fit with our entrepreneurial culture”.

Ask a candidate to describe their ideal opportunity and you might hear “I don’t want to be micro-managed or work in a company where there is a lot of bureaucracy”.

With each of these statements, I have to guard against going into a negative frame of mind, where I start subtracting from a mental list instead of adding to it. I’m also curious to find out more about the bad experience(s) in their past that are likely associated with their concerns, and as a result, we end up spending a lot of time focusing on what won’t or hasn’t worked instead of exploring what can.

Take a moment to consider how you’re describing to others what you’re looking for in terms of your career, your job search or your business. Ask yourself what your ideal opportunity looks like and then write down your thoughts without self-editing (just do a brain dump).

Or, go ahead and make a list of all of the things that you don’t want in your ideal opportunity, because those things may be more clear to you than what you do want at the moment. Once you’ve created your list, go back through it and change any negative words and statements into positive ones.

By doing this, when you’re asked about your ideal opportunity in the future, you’ll not only be prepared to positively describe it, you can also create an action plan to make it happen! You’ll find it much easier to create an action plan around what you want to accomplish versus what you don’t.

Do you have some examples of how focusing on the negative or what is not desired has affected you or others? Was there a change in thinking at some point followed by positive results? It’s definitely possible to get in your own way by being a Debbie Downer in terms of your business or career (or love life).

I don’t want that for you.

Scratch that. I want much better things for you!

Searching For a Job? Don’t Call a Recruiter – Think Like a Recruiter

Jobsearchnewspaper If you’re currently searching for a job, I can relate to you in many ways. I’ve been a job seeker, a hiring manager who’s interviewed candidates, and now I’m a Recruiter and active networker who interacts with people at all stages of career transition on a daily basis.

In my current role, I come in contact with many job seekers who believe (or hope) that the answer to their current situation is to contact a Recruiter and turn over their job search to them. They need a job – and the Recruiter needs to place someone in a job in order to make money.

Sounds like a win-win for both right?

Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works with most Recruiters, and my concern is that many end up frustrated with us because we aren’t finding them a job, or they don’t feel that we’re interested in helping them.

The straight scoop is that it’s highly unlikely a Recruiter will personally take on your job search, provide you with contacts that are hiring, make calls for you, or (shocker) even place you in your next job.

Typically, individuals placed by Recruiters are identified in one of two ways. They’re either found out of the blue (cold-called) by a Recruiter searching for someone that specifically matches their skills and experience, or they were top of mind for a Recruiter when an opportunity came along (specifically matching their skills and experience) because they had developed a relationship with the Recruiter through regular interaction and/or providing referrals in the past.

While that may be disappointing to hear for those new to the job hunt, it’s true.

The reality in today’s economy is that most Recruiters are very much in the same boat as job seekers right now. If jobs are harder to come by, so are “job orders”, and the majority of a Recruiter’s time and energy is devoted to developing new business.

So what’s a job seeker to do if Recruiters aren’t the answer?

My best advice to you – if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Make like a Recruiter, become your own Headhunter, and create opportunities for yourself by doing the following:

1. You must get out and network.

You knew this would be number one right? The simple truth is that there’s no way to get around it. And it will take time. No one magically hands over new clients to Recruiters – they have to actively seek them out and find them.

In my case, in addition to working with current clients, I spend a good portion of every day in some sort of networking or relationship building activity (i.e. business development). I attend networking and professional association meetings, make regular phone calls, schedule meetings with key relationships to keep in touch, etc. etc.

As a job seeker, you MUST be actively networking to secure your next job. In fact – networking IS your current job!

2. Focus on helping others.

Take advantage of every opportunity to connect or help other people where it makes sense.

As a Recruiter, I’m always on the lookout for ways to provide referrals or to connect my clients and relationships to people or resources that can help them.

By adding value to our relationship and helping them with their needs, they typically also want to help me. (Note: 100% of my current clients were referrals from someone that I helped at some point and expected nothing in return.) Those in career transition who do this well tend to land sooner and develop armies of people interested in helping them.

Call it Career Karma, Givers Gain, or whatever fits, but it works and I see it in action all of the time.

3. Develop and communicate your “Brand” effectively. 

Just as there are an overwhelming number of people out there today searching for jobs, the competition among Recruiters is fierce to secure clients and opportunities. As a result, each of us must work to distinguish ourselves from the pack. I personally do this by ensuring that my key relationships know what I do (Executive Recruiting, Executive Coaching, Consulting, Speaking/Training) and the types of people that are most beneficial for me to connect with (decision-makers, business owners and C-level executives).

Unfortunately, many frustrated job seekers are branding themselves this way – “I’m open to any opportunity where I can utilize the many skills I have in any industry”. This type of statement does nothing to make them memorable and unfortunately gives the people that they interact with no idea (or initiative) to help them or refer them.

4. Research companies and opportunities to “position yourself to be lucky”.

Recruiters must have a hand on the pulse of what’s going on at all times in the industries and communities where their target clients are. Many an opportunity is uncovered by reading newspapers and industry or professional publications and keeping an ear to the ground.

Recruiters read between the lines of growth, restructuring, new hire, promotion and even layoff announcements and rumors to identify opportunities. We then tap into our networks to connect with the right individuals in these companies to explore how we can add value. Job seekers who do the same thing often identify un-posted or not-yet-created opportunities for themselves as well.

“Luck” typically happens to those who have placed themselves in a position to be successful.

For the record, I truly wish I could help each and every person that reaches out to me to find the perfect job. Also for the record, finding jobs for people is not what I (or other Recruiters) do. It’s actually the opposite – I find specific people for specific leadership and key individual contributor roles at my client companies (who are the ones who pay for my services).

The good news is that you – the job seeker – can employ the exact same tactics that I (and other Recruiters) use to develop new business towards developing your next great career opportunity.

Now, let’s go get ’em!

LinkedIn and Web 2.0 Still Need Networking 1.0

Online_business_networking_3It’s LinkedIn week here in my world, and I’ll be speaking to three different groups this week about using LinkedIn. The first presentation will be to a group of job seekers who are participating in a 10-week Job Search series sponsored by a community group, the second at a local Chamber of Commerce to business owners and professionals, and the third to a group of senior executives in career transition working with an outplacement firm.

As a LinkedIn fan and avid user since early 2006, it’s not hard for me to talk with all types of individuals about the benefits of using LinkedIn and share some tips and strategies to maximize its potential for job search, personal branding, employment branding or business development. (By becoming a regular reader, RSS or email subscriber to this blog, I’ll share that information with you as well!)

However, I’m always careful to point out that using LinkedIn – or any social networking or online tool – does not replace the need to get out and meet people, build real relationships and help others. I like the way Jason Alba, author of I’m on LinkedIn – – Now What??? lays it out in chapter 2 of his very informative book:

While LinkedIn is a networking tool, it is not a networking silver bullet. Timeless networking principals such as “givers gain”, etiquette, long-term relationship nurturing, and investing time and effort in others are critical. LinkedIn is not a replacement for your networking efforts (online or offline); rather, it is an excellent tool to facilitate some facets of your networking strategy.

That’s right – using LinkedIn is only ONE part of any job search, business development or networking strategy – so don’t forget that! It’s definitely important in today’s world to understand how to effectively utilize LinkedIn and other social networking tools, but some of the old-fashioned 1.0 tools – the telephone, a drop in visit, face-to-face meetings, handwritten Thank You notes, are still the best ways to make a meaningful impression and to build rich relationships.