Six Key Job Search Strategies When You’re Unemployed

shaking hands 2Finding yourself involuntarily unemployed can bring stress and sometimes a big bruise to your ego.  In a few cases, people exhale a temporary sigh of relief when they receive a small severance and feel they have a bit of time to re-energize. I certainly see the merit in why many choose to pause in their job search as opposed to dusting themselves off the next day and jumping right back up onto that horse named “Job.”  A few of the common reasons:

  • I need some rest and a chance to get my bearings before going at it again.
  • This is a good time to spend more time with my kids and family. I won’t get this opportunity again.
  • It makes sense to spend some time exploring a career or job that I’m more passionate before I accept the same type of position.

Many job seekers are fortunate to make a successful job transition at the timing they choose. However, others are not as lucky. What you do in the few days after your work release will likely affect your mindset and motivation toward action. In these cases, job seekers may start to experience one or more of the following:

  • lose confidence in their ability to find a job
  • fall into a daily routine not productive to job hunting
  • lose touch with their network of people
  • become more isolated from the habits of the working world
  • evolve into a daily pattern without intentional purpose

Any of these factors erode the chances of securing a job that excites you as part of your career journey. Job seekers should be aware and intentional in their job strategies and decision-making.  Below are a few habits that effective job seekers should consider to improve their chances of landing that next great gig.

  1. Create a powerful resume and LinkedIn profile. Make sure both are engaging and tell a story about who you are, what you’re looking for, what you’ve accomplished, and what you have to offer. Consider hiring a career/job coach if you need help. You can’t afford not to invest in these calling cards. Don’t let either become outdated once you’ve put in the hard work and expense.
  2. Treat your job search as a full-time position. If you don’t have a home office already, create a space in your home where you can work full-time. When you are in that space, it will be easier to focus your attention on activities that advance your search.
  3. Get out and network. With the internet and abundance of social media platforms, it is easy to apply for jobs online that you’re qualified for and to expect hiring managers and recruiters to call. Eighty-five percent of jobs are filled through networking. Schedule meetings, calls, and lunches with networking groups, friends, and colleagues that may be able to help.  Alumni groups, professional and trade associations, and former coworkers are excellent sources of support, information, and referrals.
  4. Create a one-minute elevator pitch. When someone asks you what you do, be able to confidentially and succinctly articulate it and the impact you can have.  Be specific, passionate, and memorable.  Consider having more than one elevator pitch depending on your audience.
  5. Join a job search support group. Although job search groups provide opportunities for networking by design, they usually have free resources that can also be useful in your search.  Resume writing, LinkedIn strategies, and interviewing classes can provide support while learning of open jobs.
  6. Continue to invest in your skills and knowledge. While working full-time in your job search, there will likely be gaps in your schedule. Consider offering your services for temporary work, volunteer for a non-profit using your skills, and take classes/webinars that would keep you current.

Certainly, take the time you need to care for yourself and family, but understand that falling out of a daily structure after a job loss can influence your ability and motivation to re-engage.  Although some people seem to have luck in landing a job when they want it, others need a more strategic approach. I recommend creating your own luck by adopting these job search strategies.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Does Your Financial “Type” Help You Achieve Your Goals?

MoneyMoney can be a difficult subject to discuss because of how it influences relationships and incurs judgment by others on how it should be saved, spent, and distributed. Since most people find it difficult to discuss personal finances even with their partner, many are not fully aware of how their relationship with money influences themselves, others, and outcomes.  How would you describe your relationship with money? Brown (2017) identified 7 money types: (1) hospitality, (2) discipline, (3) beauty, (4) connection, (5) endurance, (6) humility, and (7) leadership.  These money types manifest in certain attitudes and behaviors involving money.  What is your motivation behind spending or saving?

Although each money type provides numerous positive influences, each also has a darker side in terms of how it can affect others and the ability to achieve life goals. For example, money can provide an incredible blessing to others when used to facilitate hospitality such as gift giving and hosting others. However, people who drive on hospitality to an extreme may find (1) recipients feel guilty for not being able to reciprocate, (2) they experience hospitality fatigue, or (3) they jeopardize their own ability to provide for their families.  People should be aware of their money types and intentional in understanding their power and using them as strengths.

I would encourage everyone to take the money type survey and ask the following questions:

  • What are my money strengths?
  • How can I use my strengths for greater benefit?
  • Where am I operating on the dark side of my money types?
  • What money habits can I change that would help me meet my goals?

Reference

Brown, T. (2017). The Seven Money Types: Discover How God Wired You to Handle Money, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Design Your LinkedIn Profile to Reflect the Best Version of You

linkedin1Are you happy with your resume or LinkedIn profile?  Does it reflect who you are, what you can do, and what you’ve accomplished?  More importantly, is it an effective tool to leverage your professional goals such as a new job, more customers, or a larger network?  Many people miss the purpose of the resume (to get the interview as opposed to the job) and fail to create a LinkedIn profile with a focused purpose.

With 2018 just a few weeks away, this may be the perfect time to invest in a one-hour coaching session to learn the latest trends and useful tips on how to write an impactful resume and LinkedIn profile that align with your goals. Your best investment next year may not be Bitcoin but in yourself. Reach out for a conversation if you’d like to learn more.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Should Conversation with a Cup of Coffee Be on Your Gift List?

Conversation CoffeeDecember is typically a month of go-go-go, and if you celebrate Christmas, a month with an additional ho-ho-ho.  Calendars are typically filled with attending parties and holiday shows, decorating the house, cooking, and shopping for gifts to give family, friends, and colleagues.

Regardless of the traditions you celebrate, each holiday season brings to a close another year, and hopefully, also the time to reflect on what you’re most grateful by remembering those people who had the most influence on your life.  I would imagine these people are on your gift-giving list.  If so, the perfect gift might not be wrapped, but instead may be your time in meaningful conversation over a cup of coffee, where you share how important they are to you and why.

I’m part of a generation that grew up writing thank-you letters by hand. As Christmas approaches, I write at least three letters to those who had the most impact on my life that year. They may have done a great kindness, influenced my life for the positive, or changed my thinking/perspective for the better.  Many who’ve received my handwritten letters shared how much they cherished them.

I realize that some people struggle in selecting the right words to express themselves on paper. Although writing may not be a strength for everyone, gratitude is easy to come by.  By whatever means you decide to share your gratitude, your recipient will welcome your words. If writing is not your style, pick up the phone and invite your family, friend, or colleague to share a cup of coffee.  Tell them you have something important to share with them as you celebrate the holidays.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Leadership: How to Build High-Performing Teams

Performing TeamsMarcus Buckingham (https://youtu.be/MtaINQHWMt0) has studied team performance and concluded that the extent to which team members agree with the following eight statements will predict the degree to which any team will be high-performing.  These statements relate to how members feel about their personal participation and interaction with the team.  The only valid answers are those expressed by each member regarding his or her own experience.

  1. I am really enthusiastic about the mission of my company.
  2. In my team, I am surrounded by people who share my values.
  3. My teammates have my back.
  4. I have great confidence in my company’s future.
  5. At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me.
  6. I have a chance to use my strengths every day at work.
  7. I know I will be recognized for excellent work.
  8. In my work, I am always challenged to grow.

In my view, this field research should cause every leader to pause and ask of themselves several questions:

  1. Do I as a leader have a well-designed mission? Am I clearly and consistently communicating that mission to my team?
  2. Am I leading with a core set of values? Am I hiring and adding to the team those who inherently share these same values?
  3. Do I develop and sustain a culture that fosters winning as a team, while at the same time recognizing and rewarding individual contribution?
  4. Do I clearly define the objectives and expectations for my team?
  5. Am I aware of my team members’ strengths and weaknesses? Do I purposefully empower them to drive on their strengths and provide opportunities to challenge them?

High performing teams can be designed when you understand the key parameters involved in constructing a winning team.  You no longer need to cross your fingers and rely on luck.  If you would like help determining what and how to strengthen any team dynamic, reach out for a conversation.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Make a Measurable Change in 2018

give gift coachingWith the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays fast approaching, the new year will soon be knocking at our doorsteps.  What I love about a New Year’s Eve Toast is that it represents a new beginning—a fresh start to new possibilities.  Whether a formal declaration is made in the form of a New Year’s resolution or not, I believe the ball drop in New York Times Square causes each of us to reflect on some change we want to make in the coming year that would improve our lives.

Other pressing priorities, diminished willpower, and “good” excuses typically result in us not following through with our good intentions.  The lack of a detailed plan, poor definition of measurable milestones, and no accountability partner reduce the chance that you will meet your stated goals.  Most people benefit from a coach—a partner—someone who helps you develop a plan and set milestone targets, who challenges you, and who holds you accountable. Coaches also help you strategize on ways to overcome obstacles that are standing in the way of achieving your goal.

You may be suffering in your job, struggling to have influence at work and in personal relationships, or needing an overhaul with your personal finances.  Making measurable changes in behavior is a doable yet difficult task.  You may be successful in making these changes through your own education and determination; however, I’d suggest you might improve your success by choosing to engage a coach as your partner.

Is 2018 the year you’ll commit to make a positive permanent change in your life? If so, I’d like to suggest you consider hiring a coach. If you’d like to give the gift of coaching to yourself or a friend, you can take me up on a special offer I would love to discuss with you.  Reach out for a conversation so we can understand what you want to achieve. You have nothing to lose.  The conversation is free!

You can reach me at 281.793.3741 or sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and personal growth.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

The Immeasurable Gift of a Simple Thank-You Letter

As the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays approach, people start to rack their brains, scour the web, and sometimes agonize over what gifts, no matter how large or small, to give their family, friends, colleagues, and business associates.  Although I would wager that no one will completely eliminate this annual tradition of pre-holiday preparation, I can suggest a new tradition that might make it easier to “buy” for at least three people on your list.pen and paper 2

How many descriptively, meaningful hand-written thank you notes have you received? Usually the answers range from never to less than a handful. This year I hope to change that by suggesting a tradition that I started in 2011.  On a Thanksgiving road trip with my then boyfriend, now husband, I suggested we start an annual tradition of sending handwritten thank-you notes to a few people who had the greatest impact on our lives that year.  These less than a handful of friends, family, associates, authors, or public figures could have performed a service, shifted a paradigm in thinking, changed our life path, showed a kindness, or did something worthy of thoughtful recognition.

During a time when electronics rule, cursive is becoming hieroglyphics, and the depth of relationships is being sacrificed for width, the arrival of a handwritten thank-you note that describes the impact someone has made is guaranteed to be one of the greatest gifts anyone can receive.  Why not start the tradition to make someone feel appreciated?

If this concept sounds intriguing, I would suggest this perfect gift is no further than the pen and paper sitting in your desk drawer.   Spend some time reviewing the conversations and interactions you’ve had this year and select 2-3 people that are worthy of a shout out of praise in how they’ve impacted your life.  Get into the details as you write those letters.  Surprisingly, you may find that as you think of those people of influence, the gift you receive in return is one of gratitude.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

How to Successfully Transition from Field Sales to Sales Manager

sales manager 2Most sales manager positions are filled through the field sales pipeline.  Although sales person and sales manager both share the word “sales” in their titles, their roles, responsibilities, skills, and schedules are different unless the sales manager has the dual role of sales.  In fact, some highly successful sales people do not enjoy or make the best sales managers. However, if your expertise is sales, and you are now responsible for managing a sales team versus only yourself, below are some strategies that might set yourself up for success in your new role.

Organize Your Time

As a sales person you likely had one primary goal—meet your sales target.  As a sales manager, you will be managing multiple people, programs, and priorities. Multi-tasking will be required, because you will likely be pulled in several directions on a daily basis. Although everything will seem urgent, one of your most important assignments will be to manage and lead your sales team.

Leveraging a 2-month rolling schedule, you should block out time to travel with your sales people as they visit customers.  Treat this time as untouchable.  You will use this valuable time for those one-on-one conversations to strategize, coach, and invest in your sales people so they feel part of the team.  While spending time with them, keep the phone turned off to minimize distractions.  Spending time in the field will also allow you to get a pulse on the market, gather first-hand information on your customers, and strengthen your relationship with your sales team.

Manage Your Boss

If you were a sales person meeting your sales targets, you likely did not have to manage your boss. Your focus was managing your customers.  By default the numbers managed your boss.  Your boss likely left you to your own devices as he focused on more pressing internal demands.

In your new role as sales manager, you may need to manage your boss to minimize your daily distractions.  Using your calendar, establish a reoccurring weekly meeting with your boss—preferably on the same day and time of the week.  Agree to save items to discuss during this uninterrupted time. This ritual should help to minimize daily distractions that break your concentration.  Prior to your regular meeting, send an email listing the topics you agreed to discuss.  If you overlooked any or your boss has additional items, you can add them to the list and still have time to prepare.  One hour should be sufficient.  If you find yourself routinely short of time, agree to schedule separate meetings to discuss those weightier topics.

Exercise Your “No” Muscle

You were your customers’ advocate for price, quantity, quality, and service.   You were chartered and commissioned to sell.  Because you were conditioned to say “yes” to the customer, telling the customer “no” was likely a word that made you feel at least slightly uncomfortable.

A sales manager has a responsibility to weigh all the benefits and costs from the customers’ requests and make a decision that is aligned with the overall interest of the company.  Successful sales managers typically find they say “no” more frequently than they did as a sales person. Get comfortable saying “no,” yet be open to negotiation and compromise.

Build Alliances with Internal Stakeholders

As a sales person, you were by design externally focused on winning your customers’ business.  You likely spent little of your valuable time developing strong relationships with the internal stakeholders beside Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service.  The reality—no one in the office was buying the products you were selling.

The sales manager position is part of the company’s leadership team, and in order to lead well, you will need strong relationships with other members in Finance, HR, and Operations.  These relationships with other department leaders will make it easier to negotiate requests for deadlines and streamline work.  You are now an advocate for the sales staff, clearing the path for your sales team so they can meet their sales goals.

Putting It All to Work

Although these four guiding principles are not all-inclusive or a one-size fits all, incorporating some or all of these strategies will likely help you successfully transition from sales person to sales manager.  If you have any other suggestions that worked for you, I welcome your comments and stories.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Why OVER-QUALIFIED Can Deliver UBER-VALUE

Average life expectancy continues to climb with Americans in good health easily reaching their 80’s.  Age and financial necessity are influencing how long people are working and in what capacity.  Many seasoned professionals are trying to redesign their work/life balance and are surprised in how challenging the process has been to secure that desired lower responsibility job.

As a coach, I see many clients in their late 40’s and 50’s who have had a long and expansive career and are eager to either transfer their skills to another industry or gain back more work/life balance by applying for jobs in whichadding value they are knowingly over-qualified. These career or job changers initially assumed it would be easy to step down into a position of less responsibility.  On the contrary, they were surprised at the inherent prejudice in the hiring process when they routinely encountered managers who were not interested in interviewing an over-qualified applicant.

I can only assume that these employers are fearful of over-qualified candidates that will leave as soon as a better job comes along or that the supervisor feels threatened by the candidate’s experience in a direct report role.  For these reasons, many over-qualified candidates appear to be intentionally passed over.  I propose 5 reasons why hiring an over-qualified person may be the best hiring decision a company could make this year.

  1. Value, Value, Value: Over-qualified candidates understand a company pays for the roles and responsibilities of the position and not the qualifications of the person. If this candidate is willing to accept a competitive salary, a company is certainly getting more value for its money. What a great return on investment to report to the stockholders.
  2. Faster Growth: Having already seen and done that, over-qualified candidates may be able to get the team where they want to go faster.  Prior experience and learning can be helpful in developing a more effective strategy and in executing plans well.  Experience is a great asset!
  3. Mentorship: People who intentionally accept lower responsibility jobs usually enjoy mentoring less experienced colleagues. These over-qualified candidates are both knowledgeable and capable of becoming trainers and mentors to other employees without a great investment of other resources.
  4. Performance: Not only do these candidates bring a wealth of information, they are typically happier with their work/life balance. They bring an energy to work that can be contagious.  They perform well in their jobs and set an example for others.
  5. Leadership: Companies need leaders throughout the organization.  Leaders are the ones that companies rely on to rally the organization and get the job done.  Over-qualified employees inspire and support others to perform well and are usually the best cheerleaders on the team!

Not all over-qualified candidates will necessarily be a good fit.  I acknowledge some candidates apply for jobs they are over-qualified for based on financial necessity and continue to look for an upgrade.  There are, however, many overqualified candidates who are intentional in finding an environment where they can contribute despite a salary below their historical pay grade.  Identifying these over-qualified candidates, who bring uber-value, is best handled through a conversation versus making assumptions on why they applied for the position.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Behaviors That Make You a Better Leader

lead learnWhen you recall those times you were led well, what were some of the affirming behaviors that stood out to you in those leaders?  Because leadership is about influence, we are all affected by leadership acting within our lives.  We learn about leadership by reflecting and putting into practice those behaviors that we feel were constructive in our success.  I share a few traits that I believe great leaders embrace based on my role models.  Better leaders do the following:

  1. Create a productive work environment by reducing bureaucracy and minimizing roadblocks. Although they don’t do the work, they create an atmosphere where the team and its individuals can get their jobs done.
  2. Acknowledge and give credit to those who do the work. Credit can be recognized for effort, creativity, and results.
  3. Encourage and praise. Leaders are intentional in identifying and calling out specific things that warrant recognition.  They don’t simply use flowery language such as “great job” but provide concrete examples that demonstrate that they recognize the value of the contribution.
  4. Never micro-manage but are liberal in their coaching. They understand the strengths and weaknesses of their team, brainstorm with its members, challenge with powerful questions, and ensure the team has the resources to tackle the job.
  5. Create a safe environment where people don’t feel threatened to take reasonable risks. They don’t focus on punishment and expect people to learn from their mistakes.
  6. Provide clear vision and objectives, set priorities, describe desired outcomes, and define appropriate boundaries. They understand the importance of helping the team to focus.
  7. Genuinely care about their teams. Leaders respectfully learn about the non-work lives of the people they support and have insight in how other life areas may influence job performance.

What leadership characteristics are you strongest?  What weaknesses could you improve upon to grow your leadership?  If you’ve identified another leadership trait that impressed you, tell me about it by leaving a comment.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.