Archive for September, 2008

Economic Crisis and Opportunity

September 29, 2008

I’m as confused as anyone by the happenings of the past week or so on Wall Street and at the U.S. Capitol. Our sense of bipartisan cooperation was activated and then dashed, at least that’s today’s version.

I would never make light of those in genuine loss over this crisis, such as those who are faced with losing their homes, unable to retire, or struggling to come up with college tuition.

But for those of us who soldier on, determined not to look at our account balances, I think this crisis presents an opportunity for renewal, a chance to revisit the values that we used to honor.

Case in point: the approaching season of Halloween. Remember when a little girl’s princess costume was an old robe of Mom’s and a homemade, spray-painted crown? Now it’s a gauzy (cheesy to my eyes) little dress from an overpriced specialty shop. Whereas a treat was a popcorn ball, a cookie or two, or a tiny candy bar, now we are urged to buy not only the treats but a special, disposable plastic dish to put them in. And let’s not forget home decorations – no longer a home-carved jack-o-lantern, but lights in trees, sound systems that make moaning noises, and fake gravestones in the lawn.

What does this have to do with career counseling? Money!

Money is the top reason we work, and we suffer greatly when we don’t have it. But what do we do with our money? Maybe this crisis will remind us to be better stewards of what we have. If a paycheck is precious,

  • we can learn to take better care of it,
  • children can learn that parents make choices and that no one gets it all in life,
  • we can move closer to the simplicity that our ecologically threatened planet requires,
  • we can carry an economic caution into the workforce, making better decisions for the company.

If you would like to share a way that economic awareness has benefited you, your family, or your workplace, feel free to leave a comment.

The toxic workplace: looking at your options

September 27, 2008

Toxicity in the workplace used to mean lead in the drinking fountain or mould in the ceiling, but now it is more frequently used to refer to poisonous relationships, unhealthy power structures, and downright abusive conditions. Has this happened to you?

  • your ideas are appropriated by others who claim and get credit for them,
  • someone tells lies about you, which are totally believed,
  • you work hard and it’s never good enough,
  • some people get preferential treatment and you’re not one of them,
  • you begin to feel worthless.

What are your options? As I see it, you’re in a stay or go forced choice.

If you stay:

  1. line up witnesses
  2. dress and act more professionally than ever in your life,
  3. ask for mediation,
  4. enlist allies, all of whom will speak to different, related points of concern,
  5. remain unemotional,
  6. keep working hard, showing that you don’t bog down under pressure,
  7. activate your network and update your resume.

I would love to say that you will have success, that you will have the poisonous person/persons/policies removed, but I know better than to make rash promises.

If you go:

  1. remember that life is too short to be miserable (and misery is bad for your health),
  2. be proud that you tried hard to remedy the situation,
  3. stay in touch with your talents and experience,
  4. prepare to explain why you left the position without whining (sample: I found that the stress on the job kept me from focusing on what I was hired to do, and I want to focus more on ….),
  5. vow never again to let yourself be so caught up in the job that you get dragged down by drama and power plays,
  6. build a strong team that will be supportive and sharing.

I am assuming in this discussion that toxic situations have not happened to you before. On the next job, you will be more alert to office games and refuse to play them. If, however, this happens to you a lot, then it is time to consult a career counselor to examine the patterns in your work life that invariably lead to grief. It doesn’t have to be this way.

For further discussion, please write a response below. Or visit my website at for contact information.

Career risk taking: just do it!

September 23, 2008

Learning by doing is a risky proposition. Our language is filled with cliches and homey little sayings that make this point:

  • nothing ventured, nothing gained
  • no pain, no gain
  • the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

But beyond the platitudes, when is the last time you took a career risk?

I’m about to take one.

This coming Saturday, at noon central time, I’m appearing on a radio show called The Career Clinic for an hour. The moderator, Maureen Anderson, will field questions submitted by phone and email. Maureen is a seasoned facilitator who has led The Career Clinic for many years. She has interviewed experts in all aspects of career counseling and coaching, both theoretical and practical. I have always found her to be professional, knowledgeable in this field, and a warm and friendly voice.

So please join us this Saturday, September 27, at noon central time. You can listen via the web at You can call toll-free at 1-888-598-8464. You can e-mail questions to

I am anticipating questions on the economy and the job search process as well as customary questions on resumes, interviews, and career choice. I’d love to hear from you.

Yes, it’s a risk. But the next radio interview will be easier and I may make a few new friends along the way. Maybe we can talk next Saturday!

Happy at Work: is anyone there?

September 8, 2008

It’s a Monday morning: are you happy about it?

Some readers are groaning at the very thought. Others are nodding in assent.

It seems to be part of our culture that we moan about Mondays, refer to Wednesdays as hump days and rejoice that TGIF.

I don’t think that work is that bad for many people. Here’s why:

  • we may have good friends and supportive relationships,
  • we may be making ourselves very useful and know that we are making a different in the world,
  • we know that a consequence of our contentment is providing excellent customer service,
  • we are supporting ourselves and our families by our paychecks,
  • we are gaining skills that will lead us in new directions,
  • we are doing what adults do – participating in the world of work.

It seems to be unfashionable to admit to be content (or reasonably so) on the job. Newspaper articles are not done about our comfort on the job, but rather about how many of us are unhappy and planning our escape.

I would love to hear from people who are happy in their jobs. It doesn’t mean that your situation is perfect. But if you have a secret to share about being satisfied at work, being good at developing relationships, or finding pleasure in your daily tasks, I’d love to know.

Feel free to add a comment regarding what makes you satisfied on your job. You might make us smile!

Work is much more fun than fun” – Noel Coward

Career Counseling: what to expect

September 5, 2008

People who contact me via phone or e-mail often confess that they have never done this before, have no idea what will happen next, and are curious about what to expect. These are some questions I get:

  • how long does it take?
  • how much does it cost?
  • what are the stages?
  • how long is an appointment?
  • do you have job listings?
  • what is your training?

And surprisingly, some people don’t ask a thing. They just want to make an appointment and do what it takes. I’m more hopeful about the clients who ask… they have curiosity and critical thinking going for them.

As for the answers, let me try to address the questions posed above:

  • Career counseling is usually rather short-term. There are often several appointments within several weeks, and then, as needed, an appointment every few weeks or each month to check in on one’s progress and fine-tune one’s approach. And of course, you are free to stop at any time, because you are only paying for the counseling one hour (or one test) at a time.
  • The way I practice career counseling is to charge by the hour (currently $80 per). This is true of telephone or personal meetings. Assessments are priced individually, to be discussed with me at the time of the first appointment.
  • The stages include an intake (usually one appointment), assessment ( two to three sessions), and strategies. This last topic, which covers skills such as resume-writing, networking, and interviewing, may last from one to four sessions or longer, depending on the need of the client.
  • An appointment is one hour.
  • No.
  • I’m a nationally certified career counselor, which means a master’s level counselor who has passed a professional-level test and has an ongoing commitment to continuing education and training. I have worked in the field for over twenty years and continue to learn from my clients.

If you would like to speak with me or find out more about career counseling, please visit my website at for more information.