Thinking About a Career Change? Here’s The Secret To Knowing If You Are Ready

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Earlier this year I attended a workshop hosted by Career and Personal Branding Consultant Joseph Liu.

The presentation focused on helping participants realize what it takes to truly align your ambitions and personal values with your work to achieve happiness and fulfillment. The theme of the session was “career reinvention” and it delivered a realistic picture of what it takes to reach that goal. The session’s highlight was undoubtedly Liu’s walk-through of his patented “7 Stages of Career Change Roadmap.”

After coaching and speaking with hundreds of professionals navigating career change, Liu began to recognize certain patterns emerging among those who had successfully reinvented their careers. For those seeking reinvention, the roadmap provides clarity when sorting out the confusing emotions associated with unfulfillment and longing for change. Coincidentally, it also bears a striking resemblance to Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief. I’ve summarized it below:

  • (0) Status Quo – Individuals at this stage enjoy their jobs just enough. Their gigs don’t inspire true happiness, but it pays the bills and is tolerable.
  •  (1) Doubt – At this stage, lingering doubt begins. You often find yourself sitting in meetings and zoning out. You begin to wonder if this job is right for you. You conclude that you don’t actually like your job.
  • (2) Dismay – Here is where doubt leads to dismay. You realize you don’t enjoy your career at all — even if you were to switch to another position within your organization or perform the same role at another company.
  • (3) Mitigation – According to Liu, this is where people tend to get stuck. They tell themselves, “I am going to try and fix this,” because mustering the strength to enact true change in their lives is not easy. Another way this might manifest is by trying to do what you love on nights and on weekends. (Also, LOL.) This strategy rarely leads to success because you can only fool yourself for so long.
  • (4) Exhaustion – At this stage, you feel stuck. You have run out of energy trying to make your mitigation plan work. Most of your weekend is spent recuperating from the week prior. You are not living your best life.
  • (5) Departure – The exhaustion gets so bad, you finally leave your job. You resign, even if another job isn’t lined up. You take a break. You need time for yourself to get away from it all.
  • (6) Reflection – You have left your job. You take some time off or take a lower intensity gig. The reason being, you need some time and space to think about what your next step is. This time is important because it gives you the clarity to figure out what your next move is.
  • (7) Relaunch – This is your moment. As Liu says, this is where you say, “I’m going to give this thing a shot.” You’re determined to make a change and fully realize you owe it to yourself.

Mind-blowing stuff, right? I’m sure many folks reading this can pinpoint exactly where they currently fall on the roadmap in about two seconds flat.

Identifying where you are on the roadmap is only the beginning. According to Liu, the next step is to make a move in the direction you know you want to take your career. It could be taking a class, attending a networking event or talking with someone who works in an industry that interests you. And, taking even the smallest step is better than standing completely still.

So, what do you think? Where do you fall on the roadmap?

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My 2011: A Photgraphic Retrospective

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I attended several professional development events in 2011 and an underlying theme in each was how the ability to tell stories using images is slowly becoming a crucial skill required of professional communicators.

With that in mind, here we are at the end of another incredible year.  Instead of providing a sentimental retrospective like last year, I instead chose to sum up 2011 with a collection of photos.  As always, this is not all-inclusive, but it is a pretty definitive – a collection of the people, moments and places that made 2011 special for me. Thank you all.

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True Till Death: How Metal and Hardcore Punk Shaped my Career in Public Relations

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The hardcore/metal scene is one formed upon community, friendship and progressive ideas. Yes, it has evolved over time, but for the most part, its ideals have remained the same: choosing to focus on integrity, morality and finding light within the dark.

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The belief system referenced above also exist in public relations.  Sure, the structure, tools and players have also changed with time, but the message and goals have also remained the same.

Share stories with a positive message.  Value your relationships.  Respect your audience’s trust. Shine a light where needed.

It’s not exactly rocket science. The similarities exist because both communities have important stories to tell. I guess that is why I am a member of both.

Below, is a short documentary on Enjoy The Massacre – a Chicago-based metal/hardcore band whose talent is only surpassed by their passion for life and music. The documentary puts the finishing touches on my above-described ideas rather nicely.

An added bonus – fast-forward to 3:42 to hear about the time my band, The Auburn System, played a crack house in Detroit, Michigan while on tour with ETM in early 2008.

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2010: The Best Year of My Life

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I don’t know jack. Chances are, neither do you. The truth is that the moment you think you have Life figured out is usually around the exact moment you begin reeling from the latest hook the bastard just threw you. However, something I do know?  This past year has been the best of my life.

2010 was the year when the right people came into my life — and when the right ones left. It was the year that the scales of my personal and professional life balanced. It was the year I found my place in the universe.  All the negatives were positives in disguise. It was the year that will forever make me — well, me.

I am not playing favorites by any means, but I need to say thank you to some. This is by no means an all-inclusive list — after all, there are friends and family who have been there since day-one and know their importance to me.

That said — David, Tara, Ryan, Steve, Chris, Regan and Aunt Dorothy — thank you for making 2010 possible for me. When the zombie apocalypse strikes, you’ll be the ones I try to teach to read instead of shooting in the back of the head.

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How to Use Social Media in Your Job Hunt

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I know plenty of folks who are looking for a job, yet refuse to join social networking sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. It’s as if they are trying to prove something. The only thing they are proving is that they don’t understand how the rules have changed. Here are a few tips on how to use social media to find the job you deserve.

Make Your Debut

Whether you are an established professional or a graduate looking to catch a break, you must take the appropriate steps to establish your online identity. Start a blog that focuses on your professional interests and then create accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to promote your endeavor. 

Employers are not going to seek you out. You must make sure your voice is heard loud and clear.

Share the Right Information

When using Twitter to aid your job-hunt, you must be somewhat strategic. What sort of information are you sharing? If you are not reading and re-tweeting articles that cover topics relevant to your field, you are not doing all you can to brand yourself online. That account executive at XYZ PR is not going to notice you if you are solely tweeting about Cheetos and Jean-Claude Van Damme movies. Well, that would probably catch my attention, but I’ll save that for another blog entry…

Go Against the Grain

Do you have an opinion? Do not be afraid to share it! Let’s face it, the social media landscape is filled with @-kissers who love to offer groundbreaking comments like “great post!” on all the hottest blogs. The folks who stand out are those who respectfully voice differing opinions and engage others in conversation.

Pull the Trigger

So you’ve built your online presence and traded messages with a few established professionals. Now what? Pull the trigger!

Ask your new contacts if they would be willing to sit down for an informational interview. This is an excellent way to learn more about your industry and put yourself in front of the people who matter the most.

Think you are done? Not by a long shot!  Ask your social media contacts if you can contribute to their blog as a guest. Start a Twitter-Chat or organize a Tweet-Up. Ask everyone for referrals. Above all else, stay relevant!

Do you have a success story you are willing to share?

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Generation Y and the Entry Level Job

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Mark McCrindle of McCrindle Research recently shared the following thoughts on Generation Y in an interview with Businessday.com:

“They’ve had a good run, been demanding in their jobs – “Give me a promotion” and all of that – now the rules have changed…”

With the recent economic downturn, it seems Mr. McCrindle couldn’t be any closer to the truth.

I see plenty of job dissatisfaction among recent graduates these days. These are the young professionals who are 1-3 years out of school and “stuck” in entry-level positions. Their jobs are “beneath” them and there is no end in sight to their misery.

To say that I don’t worry about the future would be a lie. After all, I am a card-carrying member of Gen Y. But Rome was not built in a day and you will not be running the company within a year.

Taking things to the next level requires more than just doing your job. One must go above and beyond in order to show those who matter what you are truly made of. This means getting out there. It means joining a professional organization and volunteering. It means pursuing an advanced degree.

It has been said many times before but networking is a necessity. You must utilize your network of friends, family and co-workers to find out about opportunities and meet established professionals in your field. Unsure of how to navigate this world? Check out this great article from the New York Times that shows you how.

A word to those feeling overwhelmed. Worrying is a good thing. It shows concern about your career and that you are thinking of the future. They key is to take that anxiety and turn it into results.

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