alumni relations


I had an amazing time speaking to the Big Ten alumni crowd at Northwestern University in Chicago (sold-out!  Thanks, everyone, for coming…and thanks to NAA and WAA for organizing).  My topic was the 8 Steps To A Successful Career Transition — and Work/Life balance since work and life are not mutually exclusive.

What strikes me most when speaking to university alumni association groups across the US, is that the concept of SIMPLY being HAPPY and attaining a work/life balance is a universal interest.  Last night’s group was comprised of GenY, GenX and BabyBoomer alumni.  It was 50/50 Men/Women.  Being fulfilled in one’s career and being happy are goals that reach across every race.

Happy.  Yes, happiness.  When was the last time you answered in an affirmative that you were HAPPY in your work?  Believe it or not, a 2006 Harris Poll’s result indicated that a full 84% of people are NOT happy in what they do.  Now, I ask “What the ____?” over that.  How can SO many Americans be unhappy in what they do.  Life is so short.  Don’t they get it?  Are you one of them?  If so, time to pursue some happiness.

Well, as it turns out, it’s the “F” word (fear) that keeps people from pursuing happiness.  We talked a lot about fear last night.  People shared their fears of financial insecurity, loss of identity (ie, “I’ve been an attorney for 20 years.  It’s all I know.”), fear of failure and fear of what family and friends are going to think of a prospective career change.  I recommend Dr. Susan Jeffers book, “Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway” to anyone who is facing fear.

I’m happy to report that I think several hundred people are starting today with a renewed sense of change and optimism in their pursuit of happiness.  It CAN happen.  I’ve worked with thousands of people over the past six years.  I know first hand.  I’ve seen the banker become a happy dog trainer.  I’ve seen the music executive become a happy hotel manager.  I’ve seen a computer sales exec become a happy yoga instructor.  And the list goes on and on.

But the key to pursuing happiness doesn’t occur in a vacuum.  It’s all about finding a mentor in your chosen field(s) to help you make the transition.  It’s a must.  If there’s ONE thing that I wanted everyone to learn from last night’s discussion is that MENTORSHIP, MENTORSHIP AND MENTORSHIP is the key to pursuing and finding career happiness.  See steps #4 and #5 in the 8 Steps:

http://www.briankurth.com/Career_Change_in_8_Steps.html

With that being said, please join the Big Ten alums in their pursuit of happiness — on the job and in life.

Are you ready?  When are your going to start?  What would hold you back?

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Job search is hard.  And it can get expensive.  Times are tough enough right now so the last thing you should do is incur debt, or more debt, in your job search.

So, here are my 5 Tips To Keep Your Job Search On A Budget:

1.  Join a networking organization

Join a networking organization (or two, if your budget allows) that does not cost an arm and a leg.  Now is NOT the time to join that expensive business or athletic club in the spirit of networking.  No.  Pace yourself.  Instead, this is the time that you should join or renew membership with your university alumni association.  And/or, it’s the time to join a trade organization such as PRSA, AMA or ITAA.  Join one organization.  Two if you can afford it.  Prioritize your purchase (it IS a purchase so think of it in those terms!) based on which organization will give you the most bang for your buck.  How many members does the group have?  How often do they meet face-to-face?  How close to your home (include travel, gas, parking costs into your equation)?  What’s their online presence and level of activity?  You want to join an active organization – both “offline” face-to-face and online via the Internet.

2.  Upgrade your LinkedIn account for $50

Upgrade your LinkedIn account for $50 (yes, their prices have gone up…but I still feel it’s worth it).  In doing so, you will be able to directly contact ten people you have targeted in your desired field regarding networking, meeting for an informational coffee and/or establishing a mentorship relationship with them.  These are people you’ve found via researching on LinkedIn by company name, city or vocation type…but to whom you have no direct linkage.  The $50 gives you that direct connection to them.  You know me, I stress the value of mentorship every chance I get and this is an ample time to stress MTR: Mentorship > Transition > Reinvention!  That extra $50 may change your life by linking you with exactly the right person who may help you network and may mentor you – all the way to the point you land your dream job.  MTR is the crux to the proven 8-Step Process for a Successful Career Transition I use day-in and day-out with my clients.

3.  Go to the library.

Sorry, Barnes & Noble, Borders and my beloved Powell’s here in Portland and Strand Books in NYC (let alone, my own publisher).  But you’ll be back shopping there when you’ve landed the job and have more money!  For now, check out the latest career search and business-related books from your local library.  They’ll be happy to see you and you’ll be happy to have just saved some money.  That being said, IF you find a book or two of great value after checking them out at the library, then go to the bookstore and buy them so you have them for long-term reference and you can mark it up all you want.

4.  Write Your Personal Biography

In addition to updating your resume, write a biography of where you’ve been, where you are today and most importantly where you want to go.  This is YOUR brand you’re creating.  It tells a story that a resume simply cannot.  Then have a graphics person create a nicely formatted one-page PDF for you including the content you’ve written.  The formatted PDF should not cost more than $50.  For more on how this fits into the mix of your career search, checking out Step #6, Branding, in the 8-Step Process.

5.  Negotiate Your Terms.

Get a career coach or consultant.  BUT….negotiate with them.  They may not negotiate on their price, but they will (should) work with you on establishing a payment plan.  To be honest, I find it frustrating to hear that some of my career-consulting colleagues insist upon a client signing a one-year agreement and/or a minimum of ten or twelve sessions.  That’s overkill.  A lot can be accomplished in as little as five sessions, in my not-so-humble opinion.

Once you’ve found the right consultant or coach, ask them to establish a payment plan.  For example, I offer my clients the ability to split their payments in two.  They also can either pay by check or by debit card (Avoid using your credit card unless you know you can pay it off in the next payment cycle).

One last point:

Talk to an accountant and save your receipts for everything mentioned in all five tips.  Most, if not all, should be tax deductible.

Now, get out there and find that job….AND STAY ON BUDGET!

Cheers,

Brian

Career Consultations:  www.briankurth.com

Career Mentorship Programs:  www.vocationvacations.com

Test-Drive Your Dream Job:  A Step-by-Step Process To Finding And Creating The Work You Love – Hachette, 2008

Hi Friends,

One of the coolest things about what I do is that my career coaching clients and speaking engagement audiences are so diverse. This includes age diversity.  I will speak with a GenX client one hour…then give a speech to a Boomers audience….and then conduct a workshop with GenY recent university alumni.  Additionally, I get to partner with a lot of really cool experts across all three generational groups.

One of my favorite Generation Y experts is best-selling author and speaker, Lindsey Pollak.  I asked Lindsey to guest blog for me today.  She has provided us with some excellent tips on how GenY’ers can compete for jobs in this ever-challenging marketplace.  Enjoy and learn!

Cheers,
Brian 

www.briankurth.com

www.vocationvacations.com

Author of “Test-Drive Your Dream Job:  A Step-By-Step Guide To Finding And Creating The Work You Love” – Hachette, 2008.

 

It’s Not Easy Being Green:

5 Tips for Young Job Seekers in a Competitive Market

It used to be so easy: entry-level professionals applied for entry-level jobs; mid-level professionals applied for mid-level jobs and senior-level people eventually retired.

Ah, the good old days.

Today, due to the economic recession, it feels as though everyone is competing with everyone for a limited number of positions. When this happens, the lowest ones on the totem pole are particularly vulnerable. According to a survey from Qvisory and the Rockefeller Foundation, nearly 19 percent of young adults are unemployed or looking for work.

What can you do if you’re a recent grad competing with experienced professionals who are willing to take a step back? Here are some suggestions:

1.  Seek out honest feedback. Find someone you trust—a former colleague, relative, career services professional, etc.—who will be candid. Do you say “like” or “you know” too much when you talk? Should you dress less “slacker”? Are you applying for jobs you’re really not qualified for? Take this feedback seriously and address any areas where you’re getting in your own way.

2.  Become an active user of LinkedIn.com. LinkedIn is the largest and most active professional social network, but many young professionals are unaware of it. Don’t miss out on this resource! (Full disclosure: I am a global campus spokesperson for LinkedIn.) First, set up a profile that includes keywords an employer might use to find someone with your skills. Include all experience you have, including unpaid internships, volunteer gigs and extra curriculars. Next, scour other profiles to uncover potential employers and professionals who might agree to an informational interview (alums from your college are ideal). Finally, use LinkedIn to help others with suggestions, job leads and recommendations—the more people you help, the more people will offer to help you.

 3.  Network face-to-face. While online networking is very important, still the best way to make a strong impression is in person. Make sure you are networking across generations to maximize your chances of finding out about opportunities. Don’t feel intimidated if you are the youngest person at a networking event, say at a Rotary Club meeting or a college alumni gathering. Sometimes you have the best chance of making a memorable impression when you’re different from everyone else.

 4.  Play up your assets. Sure, older professionals have an advantage in the experience department. Let that go and focus on what you do bring to the table as a young person. In cover letters, networking conversations and interviews, place emphasis on characteristics and life experiences you can offer, such as enthusiasm, knowledge of the youth market and technical savvy.

 5.  Don’t ever put yourself—or your age—down. No matter what, don’t make fun of your age, joke that you’ll be working for someone as old as your grandfather or laugh about how “clueless” you are. If you’re comfortable with your experience level, others are likely to respond in kind.

Overall, be confident, be willing to learn and maintain a positive attitude. That’s appealing at any age.

Lindsey Pollak is a Generation Y Career & Workplace Expert and the author of Getting from College to Career: 90 Things to Do Before You Join the Real World. Visit her career advice blog at http://www.lindseypollak.com/blog.

I’m really excited about speaking to the Big Ten Alumni here in NYC tonight!

I will be covering my 8 Steps to a Successful Career Transition.  It’s the basis and core of how I work with my career consulting clients.  It works.  I love hearing about my clients’ career transition success stories.

Cheers!
Brian

I have to shout out to all the Oregon State Beavers who attended the wonderful alumni happy hour last night.  I had a wonderful time speaking about my 8 Steps to a Successful Career Transition!  Brittaney, I look forward to being in touch about your career transition from being a science teacher to becoming an entrepreneur.  Sonia, looking forward to hearing about how you plan to create your professional brand (Step #6).  Go for it, folks!

I’m also really excited to speak at the Big Ten Conference alumni (Badgers, Gophers, Spartans, etc) happy hour in NYC next Tuesday PM at the Met Bar on Lexington.  I will be covering the 8 Steps to a Successful Career Transition there as well.  If you’re a Big Ten alum (and even if you’re not, it’s OK to join!), please sign-up here!

Cheers!
Brian

www.briankurth.com

Hi Everyone!

I am spending time working through the nuts and bolts of what I consider the EIGHT most important components of a successful career transition with my career transitioning clients.  I am sharing a top-level overview of these eight components with you.  Obviously, as we “peel back the onion” together in one-on-one career consultation, there’s a lot more hard work to be done for EACH component.  That goes without saying, I suppose.  But, this gives you an initial feel for the eight key components. As always, I’m here to assist you in your career transition.   Additionally, if your company, alumni association or club/organization would like to organize a teleclass based on these eight key components,  I am happy to host such a teleclass.  

KURTH’S KEY COMPONENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL CAREER TRANSITION

1.  Define What a “Great Job” Is

What are your passions and interests? What activities give you a sense of purpose and satisfaction?  The career transition process gives you the opportunity to explore, experiment and discover what a “great job” means and how to pursue it.

2.  Address Fear

Financial instability, family disruption, giving up an identity, failing at something new.  These are all fears that may stand in your way of successful career transition. The biggest thing you can do to get past these fears is to meet them head-on. Bring these deepest fears to light and examine them with reason; talk about them; play each one out to its most irrational end. What is the worst thing that could happen?

3.  Create an Action Plan with a Timeline and Goals

Pursuing the ideal career is less a leap than a series of incremental steps that move you closer to your goal. What is critical to reaching that goal is making sure the steps you follow are the right ones. An action plan is needed.  If you make a list of all the things you need to learn and do in order to realize a great new job, you will have mapped out a plan for moving ahead.  A knowledgeable action plan provides you with the power to forge ahead.

4.  Find a Mentor

Inspirational, experienced, realistic, forthcoming and optimistic.  A good mentor is all of these things and eager to help someone else get started.  Recruiting a mentor who is a good match for you requires following a plan of action, asking the right questions and building a mutually satisfying relationship.  Having a mentor is at the crux to a successful career transition.  Whether you are 20-something, 30-something, 40-something, 50-something or even 60-something, you need a mentor in your desired career.   

5.  Test-Drive A New Job or Career

There’s no better way to learn than by doing. Test-driving a new job with a mentor provides a hands-on experience that has the potential to change your life. This is the opportunity to learn as much as possible about the job, how you feel about the day-to-day activities and what it takes to succeed.  The volunteer mentorship experience gives you the required personal and professional due diligence you need prior to making a career transition.

6.  Create Your Professional Brand

Your professional brand (including a professional biography, in addition to your resume) separates you from your competitors and colleagues. Professional branding is not about building a persona.  Instead, it is a way for you to maximize your key passions, attributes, skills, strengths and values – and use them to differentiate yourself in the workplace.

7.  Network, Network, Network

You need to reach out to people with similar interests and goals. Additionally, you need to do your homework and access resources ranging from LinkedIn, Yahoo!Groups, Twitter, etc. within the online social networking world, to the good, old-fashioned one-on-one interaction with people in the field you are exploring, as well as business and university alumni associations.  

8.  Establish Thresholds

The biggest benefit to a successful career transition is increased life satisfaction. It is important to understand how much risk, challenge and uncertainty one can tolerate before the life satisfaction goal becomes blurred by the process.  The career transition process is as much about what you learn on the journey as the rewards when you reach your destination.

Cheers!
Brian

www.briankurth.com

www.vocationvacations.com 

My Career Transition book:  Test-Drive Your Dream Job:  A Step-By-Step Guide To Finding And Creating The Work You Love (Hachette, 2008)

Career Informer JavaJoe informed me of this great position that is available at wonderful Columbia University in NYC:  Sr. Development Officer for the Health Sciences Division within Alumni Relations.  How cool is this?  You’re combining TWO hot vocation types in one:  Education and Healthcare!

Once again, as I keep telling my clients, there ARE great jobs still out there…..

You know what to do:  Spread the word to family and friends….and tell them to apply NOW:

https://jobs.columbia.edu/applicants/jsp/shared/frameset/Frameset.jsp?time=1236975114996

Cheers!
Brian

www.briankurth.com