Make a complete career change

Often when we leave (or get let go from) our current job, we ponder this question, “Should I start doing something different?’

This question can develop from not liking the last (or current) job or maybe a burning desire to do something new, challenging and/or enjoyable.

Regardless of the reason, we must ask our selves this question and we must be deliberate about the answer we give ourselves. Never shove the question aside and ignore it. You must answer this question honestly.

If you ask yourself this question and you answer, “Yes, I want to do something else!”, then  the next question is equally important, “I wonder what I should do?”

In mid 2010, selling IT services for a local IT company, I asked myself these same questions. “Should I do something different and if so, what should I do?” My answer was clearly that I wanted to do something different. In my case, I wanted to start my own business.

The second question, “what should I do?” was more difficult to answer. I kept leaning back to what I had been doing, technology consulting because it was an easy choice. Something in me kept saying, “Don’t go easy, go real.” So, I decided to ask this question out loud and to my friends and professional contacts.

Asking others to help me figure out what I kind of business to create was the best way to answer this question for me.

During my conversations with dozens of great people, they asked me, “What do you want to do Teddy?” Rather than say, I want to do this, or I want to do that, I decided to say, “I don’t know. My skills and interest are diverse. No matter what I end up doing, I do know that I want to help other individuals. This I know.” I wanted to be open to all kinds of ideas, so I strived not to burden the conversation with any other preconceived ideas.

When the idea of being a technology consultant came up, my coffee or sweet tea partner would just snicker at me. “That’s not who you are,” they would say. Then they would commence to tell me who they thought I was and what I would enjoy and be successful doing.

Having these conversations was how I ended up being who I am today, a Networking Strategist focused on teaching people to Network for Mutual Benefit and to Build Relationships through Social Media. I decided to go out on a limb and created a business of outplacement coaching, social media coaching, writing, public speaking, blogging, training and sharing ideas. It has been a fantastic journey so far and one that I look forward to every day.

In summary, regardless of your desire to be employed, or to start your own business, you could end up doing something totally different than what you have done, if you are willing to listen to yourself and others. What you learn from these conversations can shed a big bright light on a completely new career journey.

You want another long term job

This is post 14 of the 16 post series.

They don’t exist. Accept that.

The world has changed. The economy has changed. Business has changed. Employment in this changing world of business has also change. Stop looking for something that is likely a thing of the past.

Focus instead on an opportunity that you can enjoy while you develop your skills for that next job opportunity. It will happen, either by your own design or because of changes that you can’t control, you will lose your next job too.

Yeah, you may get lucky and get a job that looks like and feels like a long term job. But the moment you get too comfortable, too complacent, and stop looking for the next job, the one you get next will go away.

Consider something way different. Maybe two part time jobs. Maybe contract work. Maybe start your own business(es). Consider getting hired into a job where you can excel, but work less than full time. Bottom line – consider just about anything other than status quo. Different is the new normal.

Don’t go back to the days of yore and expect something that likely doesn’t exist. Don’t get lazy, complacent, too comfortable. Be in search mode from now on. Be in development mode from now on. Be ready for that next change, otherwise this phase of your life will have been for naught. Learn from it and be better off next time.

Take this Job and Shove it!


Recently a young man told me this story:

“I hate my job so much, I’ll do anything to get out of it. My boss is an idiot, the company is allowing stupid things to occur and no one is paying attention to the customers, vendors or products. This company is totally screwed & I refuse to work with them any longer. As soon as I can figure out a way out of here, I am gone.”

A few days later he sent me a text message saying he was putting in his two week notice. He wanted to know what to say in the message.  This is what I told him:

“Send your boss an email and thank him for the opportunity to have worked with him and at the company. Tell him you enjoyed the experience and the personal & professional development it afforded you. Let him know you have another venture that you want to pursue and that you are sad to have to leave, but are excited about what the future holds for  you.”

I told him to cc: HR, his boss’ boss & the person who originally hired him.

I sent him another message and said this, “Say nothing negative, in any way at all, to anyone about your experience with this company. Every statement to employees, vendors, customers & the public about the job you are leaving must be positive in every way, regardless of how you really feel. PERIOD”

He sent me another message and asked, “what do I say if they ask me the real reason I am leaving?”

This is my next message to him, “Every statement you make about your reason for leaving must be positive. Do not speak negative about your boss at all. If you want to offer any suggestions that can improve the company, make these comments in a positive manner, never negatively. PERIOD”

Now – Why do you think I told this young man not to talk smack about his boss or to tell anyone the truth, from his perspective, about his boss or the company he works for?

For a few reasons:

  1. Because it won’t change anything. If he was to stay with the company, then maybe discussing his issues and perceptions of the problems may be worthwhile.
  2. Having turned in his resignation already, his negative comments would have fallen on deaf ears, or been construed as a bitter ex-employee.
  3. Never burn a bridge. Leaving with positive conversations and gratitude for the experience leaves a positive impression about yourself with others. You never know when paths will cross again between you and anyone else at this company.

“Whether you believe it or not, the future holds opportunities with people from your past. Lets hope they still trust & respect you.” ~ @NCWiseman

This is hard for some people to do, but worth far more than slamming everyone as you slam the door behind you.


Employment Quiz Answers

These are my answers to the quiz found HERE
  1. F – Most jobs are filled thru recruiters, personnel agencies, internet and newspapers
    Most are filled thru networking and good conversations with people about ideas and businesses.
  2. T – You don’t have to answer questions about race, sex, age, marital status, children or national origin during an interview
    These are considered off limit questions
  3. F – In today’s age of “specialty” it is very difficult to transfer from one industry to another
    Your next job will be something related to what you can do, not what you did. Think your activities and accomplishments, not titles, jobs or industries.
  4. T – During an interview it’s important to keep your emotions to yourself if you have just been terminated so that you don’t appear negative
    Present yourself as someone with the skills, expertise, talents and positive attitude only.
  5. F – You should schedule your interviews with companies that you are the most interested in
    Interview with anyone and any company, regardless of your overall interests. You never know where an interview will lead you. Maybe to a different job
  6. T – A job interview is a time to share information between both the interviewee and the interviewer so that you can both decide if this is the right job
    You are interviewing the company & position for fit, just as much as they are interviewing you for your fit.
  7. F – A good resume contains specific details about everything you have done in your career
    Your resume should contain all of the activities you did your career that are relevant to the position you are applying for. Long past and irrelevant activities add no value.
  8. T – When asked a question during an interview you should spend no more than 2 minutes answering the question, unless you are asked for more information.
    True – be succinct and clear and do not drag on and on and on.
  9. F – Workers under 40 have the best opportunity to get hired
    The workers with the best skills, expertise, experience and desire will get a job regardless of age.
  10. T – It is important not to apply for a newspaper or online job ad unless your skills and experiences are a close match to the job description
    Don’t waste your time or anyone else’s time with irrelevant applications. Be focused.
  11. T – Don’t telephone prospective employers if you have already sent them an email or letter
    Follow up is important. Don’t be a pest though. And, don’t stress out if you get no reply.
  12. F – It is a lot easier to find a job when you are currently employed
    This is a tough one. It may be less stressful, but not necessarily easier.
  13. F – It is important to discuss salary early on so that you get past that difficult part of the discussion
    Get past the relevance and fit first. Money should be the last discussion, however some recruiters and hiring agents make this difficult. Get the job, then the offer.
  14. T – It is important to connect with as many people as possible once you are terminated
    You will want to connect with as many people as possible and relevant. Good conversations will be the key to finding that next job.
  15. T – When being interviewed try not to make eye contact since this can make the interviewer uncomfortable.
    Show that you are listening and care by talking with the recruiter or interviewer. Eye contact shows that you are paying attention.
  16. T – When changing jobs it is usually reasonable to try for a salary increase in the next job
    There is nothing wrong with the desire for a higher salary. Have reasonable expectations though – use salary guide tools to know the salary ranges.
  17. T – You should use your former boss as a reference
    If you can, what better reference than the guy/lady who you reported directly to.
  18. F – It is not a good idea to inquire, “Why is this job currently open?” during a job interview
    This is a good question to ask. It shows you want to know how the job could be done better or differently for a better result.
  19. T – If an interviewer offers you coffee, water or a soda, it is best to be sociable and accept
    Don’t accept something you don’t drink, but there is nothing wrong with a bottle of water or cup of coffee during an interview. Keep you focus on the interviewer though, hot the drink

Applying for a Job

The discussions of the last Triad Job Search Network (West) meeting was all about Applying for a Job.

The points raised were very good based on the groups real life experiences.

Suggestions  included:

  • Ask questions when applying in person. It’s a conversation to determine if you are good fit and if the job is a good fit for you
  • Be prepared – do some research on the company, the hiring manager (if possible) and the business.
  • Have your references, addresses, contact info ready when asked. This means you have to had prompted your references that you are going to apply for a job where they may get called on.
  • Have your full resume available while applying for a job online. Regardless of in person on online, have your resume accessible so that you can reference it and/or cut & paste from it.
  • Keep track of all site logins – If you spend a lot of time on various recruiting sites, document the login information so that you don’t have to fumble the next time you apply or update an application.
  • Keep track of every job you apply for. It’s not a good thing to forget where and what jobs you applied for. Document everything about the companies and jobs you apply for. (Job Description, date applied, where you applied, etc)
  • When you can apply in person. Yes, you will likely need to apply on line because the HR department use these tools to manage candidates. However – applying in person, when you know the hiring manager, is the best way to apply for a job.
  • Kiosk applications – Retail sites require that you apply online. However, there can be value in meeting the managers of the different retail departments and at least let them know you are interested in working there. A hello, an exchange of names can help you get your resume viewed by the hiring manager, if this is done locally. It’s worth the few minutes it takes to say hello.
  • Always dress for a good job – First appearances are real – make it count. Period
  • Use LinkedIn & Facebook to find out who works there before applying. Social Media is your friend – get the most out of these tools. Search for the hiring manager or department head. Don’t stalk them or send a friend request blindly, but wouldn’t be great if your best friend is friends with the department head. Find out.
  • Spend time working on applying for the job, you do not need (and should not) rush thru filling out an application. It’s better to take your time and double check what you are entering. Mistakes could be costly. Typos may mean the difference between a conversation or not.
  • During online Application questionnaires, pay attention to the questions you answer. Online applications sometimes ask the question in different ways to confirm your first answer. Pay attention. Period
  • If you find a job on Indeed, Simplyhired, etc, go directly to the company site and apply there instead. Cut down on the hops to submit your resume and while on their site, look around, see if there are other related openings or if you know or are connected to anyone at the company.
  • Don’t get so attached to your resume that you are not willing to change it to better reflect who you are relevant to the job you are applying for. Ask a friend to review your resume and make blunt recommendations.
  • Use or to find the right salary to enter on the online application. What you enter will become the numbers they relate you too. Go too low and you leave $$ on the table, Go too high and you disqualify yourself. And, what ever numbers you enter you should be ready to take that job at that rate if you get an offer.
  • Apply for any job at the company you want to work at in order to get the conversation. During the conversation or interview you may find it’s the right job for you, or you could find another job much more relevant to you. However – be careful not to over do this tactic. Be sure of the company and the job opportunities relevant to you and your skills/experiences.
  • Take in consideration the benefits that that job has to offer when applying for it. It may not be just about the salary. The job may have good flexibility, vacation, insurance solutions, stock options or just a really cool place to work and grow  professionally.

These tips came from the Triad Job Search Network meeting. Every Wednesday Noon – 2pm @ the Maple Springs United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem NC.

See TJSN West Schedule for more dates and subjects.

Do you need Employability help?

Employability Labs in the Triad of North Carolina

Register at Forsyth Tech West Campus
1300 Bolton Street, Winston-Salem, NC
Call (336) 734-7715 for registration information

These classes run for 16 weeks and are free to the unemployed
Two Locations to Choose from

React Center
450 W. Hanes Mill Road – 2nd Floor
Winston-Salem NC
Mondays & Wednesdays
9:00AM – Noon

Forsyth Tech West Campus
1300 Bolton Street
Winston-Salem, NC
Tuesdays & Thursdays
9:00AM – Noon

Additionally consider:

Job Search Boot Camp
Third Thursday of each month (9:00AM – 1:00PM)
Forsyth Tech’s REACT Center – Room 6
450 W. Hanes Mill Rd
Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27103
United States

WORKSHOP TOPICS include: How to cope with job loss during the Holidays. How to create a winning resume, present yourself effectively in interviews, find the hidden job market and more. Event is free and open to the public. Walk-in registration available day of event.

This BootCamp is presented by Damian Birkel is the founder of Professionals in Transition, a national non-profit based in Winston-Salem, NC, and author of the Bounce-Back! SeriesCareer of books and tapes now available at Border’s.

Important Job Attribute

I am working with numerous Job Search groups and lots of good people searching for that next job.

I talk with lots of our unemployed friends every day.  Each of them have a different idea of what that next job has to be.

I hear lots of different job attributes from these folks.  Stuff like:

  • Income
  • Good Boss or supervisor
  • Work / Life Balance
  • Team Environment
  • A mental challenge
  • Pleasant working Environment
  • Growth in my career
  • Benefits
  • Stability

After hearing so many different answers, I decided to push this question out to as many people as possible.

If you are looking for a Job, what is the most important attribute of your next job?

Click Here to Answer this question please

Thanks for your help

Experiencing a Job Fair

I attended a job fair last week as a volunteer.

This was the 15th year of this event and it was very well planned, organized and attended. Lots of volunteers putting lots of time into the event.

There were over 50 businesses participating. A very diverse group of businesses including a kennel business, insurance company, local Police and Fire departments, Hospitals and an auto racing team, just as examples. All attending with the primary intent of meeting new potential candidates for currently open positions as well as future positions.

Because I was a newbie helping this organization, they decided to give me an easy role. I stood at the front door of the coliseum and directed people to different areas of the room. I also had to point people towards the exit. I basically saw every person as they came in and went out.

This turned out to be a great place to observe.

It is estimated that 2980 potential employees attended this event. I made some rather significant observations of these candidates from my vantage point.

Here is some of what I saw:

1) The individuals running the booths for the attending businesses were dressed in Business Casual attire or Suit & Tie.

2) Less than 25% of the candidates were dressed for a discussion with a potential employer, let alone being dressed for Success.

3) A significant number of the candidates came in wearing old jeans, sneakers and logoed T-Shirts.

4) There were a few people who came in wearing dirty T-shirts and jeans and asking for directions to the banking or hospital business booths, not the lawn care guys.

5) Some of the candidates showed up in designer ripped up jeans and wearing lots of jewelry or bling (depending on our gen-level).

6) A good number of women came dressed in attire that I think would be fabulous for a bar or night club, but far from appropriate for a potential employer discussion. At least the employers who were there on that day.

7) Many of the young male candidates wore baggy jeans, and I’m using a Gen-X term indicating fully disclosed boxers.

8) Dozens of potential candidates walked in the door and became immediately overwhelmed. I saw at least 10 people turn around and walk right back out the door with fear on their face.

9) Dozens of potential candidates walked in the door, spent 5 minutes and then left, apparently not sure what to do once they got into the room, or unwilling to spend the time & energy.

10) Some people brought their young children with them. I understand that day care is an issue, but I wonder if it’s appropriate to bring you children to an interview? (Note – some brought their teen-age kids)

Now, not all that I observed was negative. I did notice some positive actions and positive people within the candidate pool:

1) A few people walked in and asked for business XYZ or for directions to specific types of businesses. They appeared to be on a defined mission

2) I noticed many people with portfolios of resume copies – they came prepared (if they surfed the web and looked at the businesses beforehand, they were even more prepared)

3) I watched a few people strategize about the path they would take around the room (efficiency is a good employee skill)

4) I noticed a few people networking with other candidates in the room as well as with some of the volunteers (I participated in this myself) They exchanged business cards and words of encouragement and even a few recently discovered job opportunities.

By far the most exciting thing I observed occurred with one person:

A young man who had his A Game on from the very beginning.

He walked in the room wearing shiny black polished shoes, crisp clean and creased black pants, a bright white ironed shirt and a solid pattern tie. Better than his look and attire, he had a small clear folder that appeared to hold dozens of resumes, a pen and business cards.

And, better then all of this – He walked into the room, up right, shoulders back, with a big smile on his face and a sparkle in his eye. This guy was ready to work the room and find a job.

I watched him stand patiently in lines and then interact with the recruiters. He shook their hand when introducing himself, took the applications they provided him and then he offered his resume before shaking their hand goodbye.

Each encounter with another recruiter went pretty much the same way. I got distracted with my volunteer role and did not see him leave the building. I would love to have met him and awarded him with at least the acknowledgement of my observation. To me, he was the classic example of how a young man should prepare, dress and act going into a Job Fair.

I hope he gets a good job soon. He deserves to be honored in this way.

To close – I recommend that when you attend a Job Fair

A) Be prepared (Have resumes and know who the businesses are that you want to see)

B) Be dressed for success (If you do not know what this means – ask someone)

C) Be ready to encounter the fast pace and chaos of a room full of people (It is hectic – but if you come about half way thru the event, it clears out a lot and is less hectic)

D) Have a plan of who you want to talk to and get thru your list before you talk to any other businesses there.

E) Have the Desire, Attitude & Passion to put the efforts into the task (You need to have these traits to be successful at anything)