I was thinking about career identity today, how important our professional lives are to who we are and how we interact with people. Our jobs are completely intersected with how we introduce ourselves and how we find value in what we do. But there seems to be varying levels of involvement within committing yourself fully to your career identity. And who decides what that identity is?

Is it what you do – or who you work for? Or what you impact, who you impact and serve?

It must be more than just who pays you.

As I was spiraling I caught myself when I started to think about why any of us work at all, and why companies pay people to do anything – it’s because there are problems to solve. If we can focus and define our career identity around what problems we solve – that goes way beyond company, function or industry. It allows you to focus on YOU.

What problems do you solve everyday?

New Year – new résumé?

Whether you are applying for a new job, passively networking or completely happy where you are, now is the time to update your résumé!

  1. You never know when you’ll need one. What if a position opens up that is  your dream job and you are asked to apply – and the deadline is in one week! What if your friend asks you for résumé advice and wants to see your résumé as an example – is it ready to help someone? It’s very hard to write a résumé from scratch, and I would argue even harder to update a stale one that you haven’t looked at in five years.
  2. Résumé reviews can be a wonderful career evaluation tool. Look at yours – are you where you want to be? Is the professional represented on paper who you really are? Going through the process of writing and articulating what you do day to day sometimes opens up glimpses and windows into reevaluating what you want to do – and I’m ALL ABOUT career dreaming, building, and evaluating.
  3. It’s a small step to invest in yourself. How much time and investment have you put into your career? How much of that has been the benefit for the company or employer? I challenge you to invest in yourself. Look within and self-reflect on what YOU want, and who YOU want to be.

Resumes are just a piece of paper, just one document, but they say a lot about your dedication to your career, and making sure you are prepared as soon as that perfect/hard/challenging decision approaches – would you be ready?

I’ve been coaching on strengths for a couple years now – and I’m fully into it. (See new coaching package option!) The theory behind Strengths comes from Gallup, with the goal to “start a global conversation about what’s right with people”. It’s a very powerful conversation to have with people to identify actual strengths and put language behind it – not only to talk about what’s going right in their career but also how their strengths might cause challenges and miscommunication in their work.

It’s also a great tool to start having people pull themselves away from their weakness and focus on building up strengths, a behavior changer that allows professionals to prioritize their time on building up what’s most likely to help them in their career, and life.

As we enter a new year, I invite you to start self-identifying what’s strong about you. Beyond just taking the assessment, evaluate what you contribute to your every day life, and figure out how to keep benefiting others by using your strengths. This slight mind-shift might have a tremendous impact on how you move forward with your career.

How many of you actually USE LinkedIn? Not just having a profile, but using it to build, track and maintain career connections. Probably not a lot.

I’m preparing for a presentation I’m delivering to the UW Graduate School next week, and while I was solidifying my thoughts I found myself wondering if my advice will actually be used. (I actually think about that a lot as a career coach). I know sometimes it is – but other times the very act of attending an event or talking through something with a counselor is enough to catapult you to the next step – and actually implementing the advice comes second. Not to say these presentations are a waste of time, the very opposite in fact. If you take anything away from career advice from a stranger, take this: It’s up to you to take action.

LinkedIn is a tool that allows you to be one of a million people with a profile, because it’s expected now. The company has monopolized a professional social network, a tremendous feat within all the career services technologies that are running rampant now. They do a really, really, good job. Because of this good job, seekers and professionals become numb to advice – there are so many strategies and so many advice columns out there that it’s hard to navigate what’s useful to each person. The first step is to figure out your strategy for the tool – what are your career objectives? Here’s some examples:

  1. I’m unemployed and actively looking for a job.  The summary is your friend. You don’t have to lay everything out there, but it’s OK to be honest about your search. What are you looking for? Who do you want to meet? Use the volunteer experience section. What have you done in your day-job gap? You could even put that on top of your experience section to emphasize what you are currently working on.
  2. I’m employed and actively looking for a job. The summary changes with this profile – more about emphasizing what you are good at – what do you specialize in? Promote yourself as a professional in the industry, not at the company you work for. Use LinkedIn to search for jobs and connect with people for informational interviews.
  3. I’m employed and passively looking for a job. Be open to new connections and conversations. Don’t be completely shut off, make sure your contact information is public to all. (at least email) Use LinkedIn to search for jobs and connect with people for informational interviews. If you then start looking your network will be there to activate.
  4. I’m employed and not interested in another job. Use LinkedIn to build your network to benefit your current position. Talk more about your company in the summary.
  5. I don’t want to use LinkedIn. So don’t.

Career services in an ambiguous industry. It’s one reason why I like it – circumstances and guidance truly changes from one client to the next. Attend events and hear from people like me who can help give you perspective on how others have done it. Then decide how you want to do it.


I don’t know about you, but even though I haven’t been in formal education for over 10 years, I still view the year in two parts; school year and summer vacation. Recruiting tends to peak when the country is busiest, the beginning of fall, and the end of spring. It dips down before and after winter holiday, then has a rush later in January. Because the job market has somewhat steadied after the downturn of 2008, these trends are re-emerging.

This is the time when a lot picks up – new TV means new advertising campaigns, sporting events means corporate sponsorship and promotions. In a sense, the country falls back into a routine. Don’t fight it – allow yourselves to re-start and begin new routines to best prepare for potential career changes. Humans naturally perform best when you’ve implemented a routine – how can that effect your career goals?

Morning Routines. Calm mornings mean calm mind for work. Prepare the night before – put out your outfit, pack your lunch, etc.

Weekend Routines.  I envy people who prepare every dinner each Sunday. I can never figure out how to do this, but I can imagine how relaxed it would be to have everything planned out. Do something every weekend that flexes different muscles than you use during the week.

Routinely not having a routine. I have to also state the benefit of “shaking things up” every once in a while. Drive a different route to work, eat something different for lunch, talk to someone new, read books you’ve never read. There’s proven benefits to using your brain in different ways than it’s used to.

Having routines and automatics allows you to focus more on your goals. Think about the times when you want to focus on your career and other things get in the way – work on those things first. Remove the barriers and excuses to be able to pinpoint what you need to move forward.

Interviews aren’t fun. You are nervous, excited, worried about saying something wrong, analyzing everything that comes out of your mouth and constantly making assumptions about what the interviewers think about you.

So what do I mean when I say to “attack” the interview. Live in the moment.

If you leave an interview and can remember more than half the questions and all of your answers, you attacked it. If you were able to address everything you wanted to tell them about you and what impact you could make for them, you attacked it. If you can remember everyone’s names and what they do at the company, you attacked it. Live in the moment. Some keys to think about:

  1. PREPARE YOUR LITTLE HEART OUT. You are ready for your interview when you are so sick of talking about your experiences that you cannot stomach talking about it anymore. You are ready when you have a scribbled, scratched out, erased, re-written, re-written again piece of paper with every possible question and answer on it. You are ready when you can recite or reflect on the company’s mission and why it’s important to you. You are ready when your interview outfit is laid out nicely the day before. Nobody can wing an interview. They might tell you they can—but they cannot.
  2. ACTIVELY LISTEN TO EVERYBODY ALL DAY NO MATTER WHAT. This starts with the greeter/front desk/receptionist. Have a conversation. Hear what they say, thank them on the way out. During the interview, make eye contact. Restate things you didn’t  understand, summarize points so they know you are paying attention – TAKE NOTES. If it’s a panel or committee interview, get yourself involved in the small talk discussion they have before the interview starts.
  3. ASK SPECIFIC AND TOUGH QUESTIONS.  Questions at the end of the interviews are easy. Have some prepared. It’s a but off-putting for a candidate to say “No, I have everything I need”. Think about whether you do have all the information you could possibly need to make a decision to work here? Especially if it’s a panel interview, ask direct questions to specific panelists. This shows you were paying attention to what they do and what they are responsible for. Try to ask questions that are directly related to what came up throughout the interview – that’s tough but impressive.
  4. BE INTERESTED IN THE INTERVIEWER. Engage in conversation throughout and be interested in what they are saying, asking and answering. If the interviewer gets the idea that you are truly interested in what they do, they are going to realize you are also that enthusiastic about the role and company.
  5. BREATHE. It takes effort to mute nerves. Physical effort. Slow down your speech, suppress the nerves and breathe. You’ll be able to concentrate better on the coversation if you are physically more relaxed.

Having good answers will produce a good interview for you. Attacking the interview prep and actively participating in the process will set you apart, and allow you to shine through and maybe even enjoy it.

Are you ready?


Enter the ultimate pessimist. The job seeker who doesn’t think they’ll get the job anyways, so they put together a lazy resume, write a two sentence cover letter, send it in and hope – but expect – they won’t get an interview. Of course they won’t get the interview.

Pessimism is kryptonite for a job search. (I had to google how to spell kryptonite) It just sits there – not harming normal working humans, but once you try to step up to be your own superman it can kill your confidence — and your search.

I invite you to shut it up. Shut up the little voice inside saying all the excuses of why you won’t be successful. I’ll give you a few so you have a head start:

  1. There’s too many applications for mine to stand out
  2. I don’t have the number of years of experience they are looking for
  3. I hate writing cover letters
  4. I only have a FILL IN THE BLANK degree
  5. Recruiters don’t read resumes anyway
  6. What’s the point
  7. Blah blah blah

Shut it up. Why? The ONLY way people are successful in job searches and find something that fits is when they put themselves first and gain enough confidence and motivation to put time and effort into their application. Turn the excuses around:

  1. There’s going to be a lot of applications for this awesome job so I’m going to have to stand out
  2. I don’t have the exact number of years of experience they are looking for – but I should emphasize all this great unique work I did HERE doing THIS – they will love that!
  3. I hate writing cover letters, but I have to, so I will give it all I got to write a good one
  4. I made a choice in undergrad to major in history and it’s given me ALL THIS
  5. Recruiters tend not to spend much time reading resumes so mine has to be awesome.
  6. I am a perfect match for this job
  7. Blah blah blah

Shut it up —- and enter in your confidence. Battle the self talk and win.

I learned about an experiment they now use for psychological theories about rewards and work. Adults gave children tasks they found enjoyment in – for no rewards. Children had fun. Then, those tasks were rewarded with treats – the same exact tasks became less fun.

Translate that concept into your own work – how much of your daily tasks do you TRULY enjoy? Any of them you would do as a volunteer?

Employee engagement is an increasingly discussed topic nowadays, as more evidence gets collected that it’s no longer money that is the motivator. Employees want to WANT TO WORK, and be invested in the work, whether or not it’s during work hours. They want to be proud of what they are tasked with and be recognized for what they accomplish. (And this isn’t just millennials people!!) As a company, how do you balance rewards, incentives and salaries so employees find their talents and interests within the work? Interesting question. I have no idea.

I’ll just keep working for the weekend.

I originally wrote this blog post four years ago for my employer, but it’s still so true today…..

Do you know someone who is constantly going after a new job (even if they’re employed)? Someone who is never satisfied with what they do every day – someone who is a serial interviewer? What’s the attraction to the hunt, and why are we always thinking there’s something better out there?

The dream of a better job is not a new concept, and it’s probably something we’ve all experienced once in our lives. Sitting at our desks, wondering how a 3% raise will benefit our grocery accounts. Being able to plan the next family vacation, retire early, and yes, finally finding a job where all your dreams come true.  But does that exist? I don’t know the answer, but I do know the mentality has changed over the decades to defining what a “dream job” is.

Career paths used to look like this:


Nowadays, workers are looking for more and more opportunities for advancement and challenges making career paths more like this:


With all those twists, reversals and road blocks, and with people changing jobs more often, the idea of job searching has been cemented in our vocabulary, “everybody’s doing it”.  There is something to say about the excitement of the hunt – the thrill of the next big opportunity.  The chance to get that call from the next guy to reboot your career.  But in reality, with so many people actively looking all the time, it means more competition for the dream jobs you are seeking. When does the excitement of the hunt get in the way of figuring out what you really want to do?

I’d like to address the concept of career management negativity – job seekers or job enhancers who are consistently and constantly being told what not to do. Right now in my LinkedIn feed there are articles titled “Biggest Interview Fails”, “What you Really Sound Like in an Interview”, “Bad Habits You Must Break To Be More Productive”, “Top Three Mistakes New Employees Make”, and “5 Job Search Tactics You Should Stop Immediately”. When did society decide that it’s our job to scare the crap out of people trying to do something?

I invite you to join the “Positively Ambiguous” camp. Where it’s OK to sometimes do something wrong – maybe – and then maybe – sometimes – think that you might have done something kinda right. 

In my experience there are way too many people putting up barriers that they perceive exist because they read an article telling them they will probably do it wrong. In the same breath I would encourage them to do it anyway – they might encounter someone at that exact moment that appreciates how awkward they introduce themselves, or identify with your nerves and anxiety over meeting someone new.

Dive in – be ambiguous, awkward, put yourself out there and make mistakes. Positively.