Few people love developing an "elevator pitch" even though they may recognize their need for one and the importance of having a well-crafted one. I volunteer for a group of job seekers who meet every week, and no one enjoys the process of introducing themselves to a roomful of strangers. In fact, I know that some people try to sneak in after they think the introductions will be over, or they skip the meeting altogether rather than struggle through a 30-second self-introduction to a room full of self-appointed critics. Related: How To Perfect Your Elevator Pitch The urban myth about how the elevator pitch first originated is that in the early studio days, a Hollywood screenwriter would catch an unsuspecting studio executive in the elevator. Trapped, with nowhere else to go, the screenwriter had between 30 to 118 seconds to "pitch" his idea to the studio's top decision-maker. Today, you aren’t pitching an idea for a screenplay. For you, the stakes involve your next great break in your career. If you are on the job market, you need to develop a "pitch-perfect elevator pitch." Your pitch must be compelling to the point of making you seem different from everyone else. Additionally, it must be delivered with earnest sincerity and not sound like it has been rehearsed in front of your mirror a thousand times—even though it may have (and should have) been rehearsed in front of you a thousand times or more. My elevator pitch has changed and evolved hundreds of times (literally) in the last three years since I began my odyssey as a career transition and job search coach. As a result, I am particularly sensitive to the challenges that new job seekers experience when trying to craft their pitch. Don't beat up on yourself if you find this particular task daunting. Everyone does. That does not take you off the hook, however. You must come up with a clear, concise, compelling and persuasive elevator pitch or networking introduction if you need to traverse the job search terrain. Here are some suggestions that will help you craft your own unique and compelling pitch.
Changing jobs represents a unique set of challenges, but changing a career can feel like a daunting task depending on the level of education you may have invested in or the amount of experience you have racked up. (Are you being SHUT OUT of the hiring process? Watch this free webinar to find out) In spite of those challenges, however, the time does come for some when the writing is on the wall. You realize you aren’t happy anymore in the career of first choice, and it is time to assess what you might be able to do to transition into another line of work. Here are what I would offer are four distinct signs that you are not only ready to change careers, but you need to change before your health or your primary relationships suffer any more.
I recently met a man at a networking event for job seekers who introduced himself to the group by saying his name and then adding, "I am not sure what I am looking for… but I am looking for something… I think." I was intrigued by his lack of clarity, so after the meeting, I engaged him in a conversation. Related: Why Finding Your Passion Isn’t A Pass/Fail Exam As we talked, it became apparent that this gentleman had had a number of different jobs over the course of his working career. He started out as a teenager bagging groceries at the local Safeway, working at a job that his dad gotten for him before he had even started to think about going to work. He enjoyed it, he said. When he went on to college, he worked as a manager of a flower shop, as a professional photographer, and as a newspaper reporter, among other things about which he was a little less forthcoming. Recently, he had been volunteering as a tutor in some of the nearby schools. "I've enjoyed everything I have ever done," he said to me. "I don't get all the hype about ‘finding your passion' and ‘doing what you love,'" he added. "I have never felt like I ‘loved' anything I was doing. I was ‘okay' with whatever I was doing at the time." Thank goodness this gentleman didn't fall into the category of the 70% of people who say they either hate their jobs or are totally disengaged in them. On the other hand, he hasn't found anything that he could say he loved to do with an absolute passion, either. This gentleman is seeking something that he simply hasn't yet found. He hasn't discovered his life mission. It is bugging him, too, which is why he doesn't get the "hype" about something that feels alien to him. If it weren't bugging him, I don't think he would be so dismissive of it as "hype." There are whole books written on the subject of finding your life mission. The gentleman with whom I was conversing mentioned the book, What Color is Your Parachute? but that is only one of hundreds of thousands of books on the specific topic of life purpose. In an Amazon search, I found 66,000 titles of books that popped up in response to the keywords, "life mission." There are almost 250,000 titles that are related to the keywords, "life purpose!" A lot of people have explored ideas regarding life mission and life purpose. It also means that there are a lot of people who are searching for one or both of those things. Alan Cohen, in I Had It All the Time, says that our highest purpose is to "be happy." Specifically, he says, "Your joy is the greatest contribution you can make to life on the planet. A heart at peace with its owner blesses everyone it touches." I believe that your life mission is whatever you feel in your heart of hearts that you are supposed to be doing with your life. Most of us already know this truth on some level. The problem stems from being told that we can't make any money doing what we feel we are supposed to do. Finding a job that "pays the bills" and has “good benefits” becomes the priority instead of finding a job that allows the space for us express ourselves. As a result, we are left with the feeling that there is more that we could be doing to contribute "to life on the planet" in a positive and productive way. I know we all have bills to pay, and I am not suggesting that everyone who is reading this post at this moment go in and quit their job this morning if it is a job that merely pays the bills and doesn't light up their soul. On the other hand, if you are simply going through the motions at work and not getting some sort of joy or a sense of fulfillment out of what you are doing, you might seriously consider making a change in the not-so-distant future. I believe that life is too short to live it doing something about which we don't feel good. Take a look at your priorities and consider what you love, love, love to do and what you would do if you could make money doing it. Consider whether you can do that instead of what you are currently doing. It means having the courage to make a change, perhaps, but I repeat… life is too short to spend it doing something that you don't enjoy doing… period. This post was originally published at an earlier date.
Many job seekers mistakenly believe that because corporations and organizations are closing their headquarters for the holidays, they are suspending their search for candidates for jobs they posted a month ago. Nothing could be further from the truth! The fact is that even during the holidays, companies are looking for talent. After all, the New Year is just around the corner, and most of them don’t want to be making up for lost time as the New Year gets under way. Related: 5 Things You MUST Do During Networking Events What does that mean for you if you are on the lookout for a new job? It means you need to continue to look by networking all throughout the holiday season. It also means that there are additional networking opportunities that you may be overlooking. This is the time for parties…all kinds of parties…office parties, neighborhood parties, family get-togethers, and so on. There is no way to know where you might stumble upon news of an opening or meet someone who is in a position to introduce you to your next boss. You need to get out of the house, however, and attend as many parties and gatherings as possible. In case you are an Introvert on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator--or in case you like to use the fact that you feel like an Introvert regardless of what your Myers-Briggs personality chart say--you have to get out of the house and meet people. This is, in fact, true whether it is the holiday season or not. The great thing about the holidays is that there are even more opportunities to meet people in a relaxed setting than you have at any other time of the year. So take advantage of it!
Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” This is great advice for those who are struggling with the question of how to establish a personal and professional brand… and in today’s world; that is just about everyone. Related: What’s A Personal Brand And Why Do You Need One? In fact, in today’s landscape filled with social media of just about every description, branding is no longer optional. Whether you are looking to get yourself hired for your first job out of school or you are looking to establish a new company, you need to be mindful of the importance of branding. As Dan Pallotta wrote in a post for the Harvard Business Review in 2011, “Brand is everything, and everything is brand.” Consider some of the brands that you already know. You are surely familiar with company brands like Google and Amazon, for example. There are also people that we know and with whom we associate a particular brand or idea. Consider the following names: Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, Beyonce, Tyler Swift, and Miley Cyrus. For better or worse, these names bring to mind immediate thoughts and impressions because most of us in the United States, at least, recognize these names and associate certain significant impressions with them. That is “branding.” So, you may be asking, what are some of the objectives that brands need to meet in order to be successful? There has been a lot of discussion around this topic in recent years, and there are a lot of varying opinions. In my opinion, however, when you are establishing a brand, you need at least the following five things:
I finally got around to seeing the movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel this weekend… twice. I suspect I could watch it a third time and see something I missed the first two times. The film is visually interesting, and the humor is droll. It suited my tastes perfectly. Related: Why Your Network Isn’t Going To Help You The reason I wanted to comment on it, however, has nothing to do with my general entertainment. Instead, it has to do with the fact that I was going to be talking about networking this week. One part of the movie demonstrated perfectly, I believe, why networking is so important. The scenes to which I refer are midway through the story. The main character, M. Gustave H. and his sidekick, Zero, find themselves in the middle of nowhere and in need of help in order to escape the authorities given that M. Gustave H. has just escaped prison with the help of Zero. In the middle of a desolate field, a telephone booth stands. M. Gustave H. places a collect call to a fellow concierge at another hotel and sets into motion a series of calls, each to colleagues of his who drop whatever they are doing at the moment in order to rush to the aid of their friend. After a series of calls, a car appears, and M. Gustave H. and Zero are whisked away to the train so that they can set off on the next leg of their adventure. That segment of the film which includes at least five different characters dropping whatever they were doing in order to help their friend exemplifies, I believe, networking at its best. The individuals who dropped their immediate activity in order to come to the aid of their friend were returning a favor done for them perhaps long, long ago but never forgotten. Now, when their friend is in need, they stand at the ready to assist him because they know he would do the same for them. In the end, that is exactly what networking is. It is all about relationships. It is about giving as well as receiving. It isn’t about going to an event where you don’t know anyone with you looking to see what other people have to offer you. It is about going to an event with the attitude that you have something to offer the people you will be meeting. You are there to help them. You are important, and you have contacts, and you can use those contacts to help others. It just so happens that other people may have contacts that can also help you. But at the end of the day, it is about give and take… not just taking without giving. I have always dreaded “networking events.” I enjoy talking with people one-on-one, however. I enjoy meeting over coffee. I enjoy listening to people talk about their dogs and their kids and what they are doing with their lives. THAT is the stuff of relationship building. So, I suggest that if you also hate networking events, you consider changing your thoughts about what networking is and what it isn’t, and perhaps the next time you need to go to an event, instead of preparing for it with a sense of dread, you can prepare with a sense of anticipation and excitement. Think of all the good you can do for the other people who will be there! That is something about which you can get excited! This post was originally published at an earlier date.
Caring for family members who have become frail from age or sick from a long-term illness is something with which many people—especially Baby Boomers—can relate. People are living longer. Many wish to live at home as long as they can, but as they become older and frailer, they need help. Many families are faced with the choices such as (1) giving in and placing their loved one in a facility; (2) hiring someone to come into the family member’s home to help take care of them; or (3) taking time off from work in order to take on the caretaking role themselves. Related: 5 Tips For Returning To The Workforce It is a tough decision for many families, and increasingly, individuals are taking time away from work to take care of ailing family members. At some point, that individual will want to return to the world of work, but they are then faced with how to explain the gap in their work history on their résumé.