Stuck in the Status Quo

By the time people call me they often know that the job they have is not the job they want – and they want out. The reasons are plentiful – a micro-managing boss, a stagnant culture, less than challenging work, overwork to the point of burnout, or a commute that just gets longer by the day… the list goes on.

When you line up the disconnects there seems to be a compelling argument to leave. Yet it can be hard to break up with your job. The dis-comfort zone prevails and inertia sets in.

The #1 reason I hear why talented people stay in untenable positions is that there is simply no time to get a job search underway. Being super-busy at work gets your employer’s needs met at the expense of your own. Exhaustion at the end of the day and diving for downtime over the weekend adds up to little time or energy for your personal priorities.

My encouragement is that any effort you make on job search will help you feel in more in control. If it takes a month or more of ‘bootleg’ time to get your resume organized, acknowledge that you’ll never have the clear chunk of time you want, and get on with the ‘bits and pieces’ approach. You can update your LinkedIn and set up some career alerts on job boards using incremental time. Likely you can get out for lunch at least once in a 4-week period, so plan ahead and make it a networking lunch.

Your ability to gather up your resources and make change happen despite constraints is one of the biggest personal gains you can make in managing your career. Tenacity counts.

Write it Right – 7 Tips to Jazz Up Your Work

In job search and on the job you are what you write. Flawless in logical thought, persuasive and well-crafted, your writing reflects you at your best. Every cover letter, email and project summary you do carries your signature style.

So let’s take a look at some quick hit ways to improve what you already do.

1. Strings of things lose their power. Avoid long laundry lists of items – especially dissimilar items. Group like items in 2’s and 3’s in separate sentences.
2. Duplication is boring. Review how many words are the same, i.e. strong, proven…or variations on the same word, e.g. strengths, and tap into your creativity for fresh expressions.
3. Watch the number of sentences that begin with the word “I” – one of the biggest bloopers in cover letters. The most I’ve seen in one letter? 13.
4. Make your sentences short – a line to 2 lines at the very most. It keeps you on track and your reader engaged.
5. Make your paragraphs shorter than usual. Four to five lines will do it. Even throw in a single 2- line paragraph for emphasis a couple of times.
6. Optics count – so balance the page. It should look elegant and appealing to the eye. A page that is overcrowded is not more powerful but less effective.
7. Showcase relevant numbers, facts or details that prove your key points effectively. This alone moves your material from general to specific and gears up the professionalism of your work.

Above all – Proof, Proof, Proof and Reproof – so many things can slip through the cracks when you are writing. You may be excited about the ideas or in a hurry to meet a deadline – either way errors find ways to creep in. Grammar, punctuation and sentence structure count. Even missing words can turn up when you do a close review. Keep your editorial eye sharp by reviewing with an objective perspective a few hours ,or even the day after, you write. Opportunities for improvement may leap off the page.

(The most overused phrase? Well, let’s say if I had a loonie for every time I’ve read ‘strong interpersonal and communication skills’ in both job postings and cover letters, I have enough change for parking meters for a long time.)