It rains a lot in Wisconsin during the spring. I like it – it means the grass will soon be green and the weather will get warmer (hopefully).

Each season has it’s own themes with career development – and I view spring as “The Renewal”. We are entering the second or fourth quarters of fiscal years, depending on your company’s structure, and are a couple months away from the ending of the school year. It might also mean performance reviews, salary adjustments and the very, very, scary negotiation conversations.

Approaching performance review season can be exciting or terrifying, depending on how the year went or how your manager perceived how your year went. There are some tips to keep in mind when preparing for your performance review:

  1. Prepare. This isn’t a time to wing it. Your only leverage – and I mean ONLY leverage – comes during a time of review. Even if it’s not being asked for, prepare strategic summaries of your accomplishments, where you see your position going over the next few years and questions to ask your manager.
  2. Ask for feedback from other employees. If your manager is only reviewing your work from his/her standpoint, ask to collect feedback from other team members and co-workers. Not only will your manager get a more holistic evaluation of your work, you might gain insight about one or more areas you can improve on that you wouldn’t have received otherwise.
  3. Be ready to talk dollars. Negotiation during annual reviews is different than at time of the offer (much less leverage) but it’s still possible. If they bring it up during your review you want to be prepared with data and examples so you don’t miss out on the opportunity to discuss.
  4. Take the feedback for what it is. This is feedback, not a punishment. Looking at the process positively will only help you improve on your work and maintain a good relationship with your manager. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t ask questions – but becoming defensive and combative won’t benefit you long-term.
  5. Follow-up. It happens too often that an annual review is only discussed annually. In fact, more and more companies are looking for strategies for more continual feedback (How to Ditch the Annual Review) but our corporate culture is still heavy on the annual reviews. Step up to ask for an additional meeting or two to check-in about your annual goals and progress. There’s no need to wait an entire year for feedback.

Be ready. Be confident. And even on the rainy days – the sun will rise again tomorrow.

 

It’s been a while. I’ve broken a cardinal rule of blog writing – you have to actually write blog posts. Since I’ve been gone I’ve gotten a new job and had a baby, so you know. Life.

It’s the middle of winter and my least favorite month of the year, February. Landing right in between the holidays and March Madness, February is most often forgotten about. It’s also prime time for seasonal depression and midlife crisis’s – so CareerLight LLC is back in business!

Just as recruiting trends downward right before the end of the year, it picks right back up at the beginning. The recruiting market for job seekers also increases, as people “just get through the holidays” before truly re-examining their career. If you are feeling unsatisfied, bored, under-appreciated or just plain sad, how can you decipher whether that feeling is attributed to the blah of winter – or the need for a career-switch? Here are some questions to help you evaluate.

  1. How long have you been in your current role? If it’s been less than 1 year, you might still be in the new job blues. Job satisfaction seems to have somewhat of a winding road, filled with highs and lows. Within the first year, however, even through the excitement and adrenaline of new responsibilities and perhaps more pay, there tends to be more uncertainty, boredom, and indecision. If you are somewhere over two years in your current role, those feelings might be more valid.
  2. During the low days, which characteristics of your day-to-day are causing you strife? The tasks? The people? The company culture? Daily tasks are more easily overcome than the people who surround you or the company culture.  Targeting in on whether it’s WHAT you do, WHERE you do it, or WHO does it with you will help you evaluate what might be going on.
  3. What’s on the horizon? It’s been proven that if you have something planned for the future that you are looking forward to it automatically helps your moral. When it comes to your work, is there anything coming up in the next couple months that you are truely looking foward to? Is it enough to get you there and beyond? If there is nothing you plan ahead or look forward to in your job, that may be a signal to move on.

Evaluating whether or not to make a career change is a scary proposition. Actually beginning that journey is even scarier. Making sure you are in the right mindset to fully invest time and energy into the process is an important step, whether it’s in February or July.

Careers are personal. Careers are individually determined and the professional is fully accountable for success or failure. Sounds scary!

In the new world of job hopping and turnover, people are no longer feeling loyal towards a company, rather towards themselves and their own success. You can certainly find success by sticking around and moving up – but it is not guaranteed and it’s certainly not a given. Opportunities can pop up at anytime and the more prepared you are the easier the transition will be. A couple tips:

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1. Update your resume. Even if you aren’t looking, having an up to date resume at the ready will save you time when you become an active seeker. If you are doing a more general update, don’t worry about formatting or editing it to a certain job – having a unedited version can serve as a “menu” of experience for you, to pick and choose when you are applying for positions.

2. Register for LinkedIn.  LinkedIn is becoming a cliched answer these days, but for good reason. It is the best database of companies, employers and connections for researching and job search. Teaser – an entire LinkedIn post coming soon!

3. Research, research, research. What other jobs are currently open in your industry? What are the salary trends? Who are the major players? Keeping informed with what’s happening not only at your organization but in your industry as a whole will help jump start your search whenever you enter in to the pool.

Happy Preparation!

-gj

There has to be a first one. I haven’t read any articles or advice on what a first blog post should be, but I guess introducing myself will be better than nothing.

I am a career dreamer. I love talking to people about their professional goals and making them into career dreamers too. No matter what your skills, abilities, perceived barriers, or hesitations are, I’d like to believe that there is something out there for everyone that fullfills them, supports them and allows them to be their true professional selves.

That’s not to say it’s easy. It’s a lot of work finding out what your career identity is. Every nook and cranny of your personality tells a story about how you will be in the workplace and what successes will look like for you, and that’s where I come in. The intersection of your personal and professional identity is the playground we will explore, and hopefully help you find the needle in the haystack you are seeking.

I help people find their professional lightbulb moments. The a ha’s that happen when you are truly able to pin point what’s been missing.

Whether you’re new in the workforce, trying to advance in you current occupation or just feel stuck in a rut, I’d love to talk, and explore along with you.