The leaky roof A job search is a lot like a leaky roof. Let me explain. A couple of years ago, we noticed a small water stain in our living room. “Huh,” we thought, worried about it a bit, and put it out of our minds. That water stain is a bit like that nagging feeling that your job’s not a good fit, that you should be doing something else. (I used to call it the Whisper until I learned that Oprah did, too.) It’s not a…
Drop the pronouns A career coaching client and I were working on an email to a recruiter outlining her salary requirements. We passed a draft back and forth until we were both satisfied. “Proposal looks good,” I replied to the last draft. “Short, direct, no pronouns, no waffling.” As a career coach, my relationship with pronouns has evolved (my 10th grade English teacher would be so pleased!). I used to think the pronoun “I” was a strong, powerful word; in fact, I used to coach…
You're not old! A coaching client told me she was old. “Some young up-and-comer got the job,” said this 44-year-old marketing professional with 20 years’ experience in her field. I paused, trying to figure out where to start. “Hang on,” I said. “I have to yell at you.” She wasn’t actually even a client yet. We were on an initial call to talk about whether coaching might be helpful to her and here I was, going off on the poor woman. (Interesting business…
The metaphoric raincoat “You need a raincoat,” I told a coaching client. He looked puzzled, glancing out my office window at the gloriously sunny day. He had just described feeling like he was on an emotional roller coaster at work: a capricious boss on the one hand, and work he is deeply committed to on the other. “You need a raincoat to protect yourself from being pelted with those emotional highs and lows at work,” I explained. “It sounds like it will always be pretty…
Quitting gymnastics My daughter’s friend just quit gymnastics. This 13-year-old girl has been a gymnast most of her life, practicing five days a week, multiple hours a day. It’s what she’s always done. Being a gymnast is her identity. “How did you decide to quit?” I asked her, fascinated by the enormity of her decision. She shrugged. “I realized that I didn’t want to be there anymore,” she said. Out of the mouths of babes. Knowing when to quit, when to walk…
Lucky break My friend is an architect who works for herself out of her home office. She chooses projects she’s interested in and is home when the kids get off school. “I get to use my skills on my terms,” she told me one day over iced tea. That’s a pretty good definition of success, I said. “It’s just luck,” she said. I think about luck a lot as a career coach. I tell my coaching clients, “Get yourself to the right place…
The power of compliments Compliments are good for you. A genuine, well-placed compliment can boost self-esteem, motivation and fulfillment — whether you’re giving the compliment or receiving it. Sometimes, the most effective compliments of all are the ones you “conduct” instead of give. Compliment conducting is the skill of seeding a compliment behind the scenes, like a midfielder toeing a leading pass to the striker. You’re prompting someone else who is in a better position to give the compliment. Here’s a story to illustrate…
How to talk about weaknesses “You have a Hermione complex,” I told my career coaching client. She was preparing for an interview, and we were talking through the dreaded “What are your weaknesses?” question. Yes, that question still gets asked all the time, and yes, you have to prepare for it beforehand. It’s actually an interesting question. If you dig in to it, avoiding the trite “I’m a perfectionist” and “I’m a workaholic” response options, you signal thoughtfulness and self-awareness with your answer. It shows…
Puppy kindness “I rescued a lost dachshund!” an executive coaching client told me, her face alight. As she told the story of finding the frightened dog in her neighborhood, and the joy and relief of all parties once owner and dog were reunited, I thought about the power of small kindnesses. As I may have mentioned once or twice in this column, I have started fostering puppies rescued from two-day kill shelters in Texas. The latest batch of puppies was four large, energetic, lab/hound mixes that…
The art of the apology “I owe you an apology,” I told my coaching client. I’ve been apologizing a lot lately. Not because I’ve screwed up more than usual, but because I read a book that taught me how to apologize better. Dr. Harriet Lerner’s 2017 “Why Won’t You Apologize? Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts“ is one of those handy guidebooks to life that teaches you how to do things that you’re supposed to know how to do, but don’t. Not really. “The courage to…
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