Posts Tagged ‘Women’s Job Counseling Program’

The Job Coaches: The things you can’t control

February 17, 2012

Now that we have come to the end of the semester at most colleges and our young people have processed through commencement on their way to life outside the school environment, a little common sense advice seems in order.

photoNo matter where you work, or what you do, there are things you can control, and things you cannot. It’s good to get a handle on the ones you cannot, so you do not spend unnecessary brain power and body energy stressing about them. This also frees you up to handle the things that are within your own control and makes your life easier.

Here are some tips about what you cannot control, followed by what you can:

1. Weather: There will be days when the weather dictates what you can and cannot do. Storms ground airplanes, bridges wash out and high winds knock out power lines. Frustration and anger aren’t going to change the outcome. Do what you can to rearrange your schedule, then let it go. Be prepared for the inevitable delays. If you are traveling, take a good book, your laptop, and a charged cell phone, so that you can use those inevitable delays productively.

2. Traffic: Getting to work on time and ready to start the workday is certainly important, but sometimes even the best-laid plans come to naught. Your normal commute may be 45 minutes by bus or car, and you left your home base in plenty of time, but, whoops, there’s a wreck at a major intersection. It’s not going to help to sit in traffic fuming and spewing out obscene words. Breathe, and let it go. Besides, don’t you think the person involved in the wreck might be having a worse day than you are?

3. Equipment failure: From airlines to office equipment, it always seems that the machines break down when you most need them to work. The copier gives out when you are running 30 copies of a report due tomorrow; the computer suddenly boots you out of a document you had nearly perfected; the car refuses to start when you have exactly 20 minutes to get to an appointment. Again, railing away at the machinery will not help. Instead, choose how to handle the situation: Is there someone you can call for help? Another place to make copies? Move your mind away from fear of the problem into creating a solution. It’s more likely to get resolved, and you’ll feel better, too.

4. The economy: Yes, we are in a recession. Yes, it may be hard to get the perfect job. But, remember, everyone had to start somewhere. There are still plenty of stories about people who started at the bottom and learned all there was to know and later became a leader in their field. In this day and age, it is estimated that the new college graduate will have eight to nine different jobs, and four to five different careers. Own your own labor, and your attitude toward it. If you are happy with the work you have, happiness will spill over into other areas of your life.

5. Other people’s life choices: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, work is the place we are most likely to actually interact with people of another race or culture in the globalized world. It is not going to help to criticize your colleagues about their choice of life partner, their culture, their parenting styles, their spending habits, or their work ethic. You are only in charge of you, your own attitudes, and beliefs. Listen and learn, understand what emotions may be behind the words, and make good choices for yourself with greater awareness.

One caveat: If you are working with someone you believe is doing something illegal, you want to either report the situation immediately to someone with higher authority or get out of the situation as quickly as possible.

If you look at this list, the biggest commonality around what you can control is your own attitude. It’s clear that this is something within anyone’s control, no matter where they are on the career path.

Hillary Hutchinson, M.A., M.Ed., is a certified career and academic coach specializing in higher education. Contact her via her website,

The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 843-763-7333 or e-mailing If you would like further assistance, make an appointment; a donation of $20 is requested for appointments.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, May 28, 2010.

The Job Coaches: Dealing with layoffs: Keep moving, change lanes later

January 20, 2012
Following 10 years of promotions, Margaret was laid off for the first time in her career. Her company had been hit hard by the recession and needed to dramatically reduce its

Included in those reductions were key performers like Margaret who worked in functions no longer deemed “business critical.” Margaret believed being laid off meant that she had failed. She froze, personally and professionally, and did nothing for several weeks except look back at what had happened, wondering what she could have done differently.

Margaret hadn’t failed at her job; however, she was failing at dealing with the situation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between December 2007 (when the recession officially started) and October 2009, there were 49,357 mass layoffs affecting more than 5 million people. (A mass layoff is when 50 or more people are laid off at the same time.)

So there are many individuals like Margaret who are dealing with an unexpected speed bump in their career path.

Hitting those career obstacles hurts, just like it did when you fell off a swing when you were 10 years old. But, just like you did way back then, pick yourself up and keep moving. View the situation as a “teachable moment” for exploring, growing and learning instead of allowing yourself to withdraw.

As Albert Einstein remarked, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

Use these seven lessons and inspirational quotes to keep moving:

1. Look for lessons to be learned. Work with a trusted confidante to explore your thoughts and feelings about what happened. There’s something positive to be learned from nearly every situation that will make you better the next time around.

Consider this quote from songwriter and scholar Bernice Johnson Reagon: “Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”

2. Aim for acceptance. Denying what happened or looking to find fault won’t make the situation go away or change the outcome. Focus instead on what you do well and look for opportunities where you can apply your strengths.

As author Carlos Castaneda reminds us, “The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”

3. Analyze your thoughts and feelings to become more self-aware. Take a long hard look at your reactions so you can better understand your motivation.

Ponder these words from American essayist and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Most of the shadows of life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.”

4. Keep taking wise risks. Expand your comfort zone. Learn and grow by trying something new.

As Aldous Huxley, English writer, tells us, “There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”

5. Build bridges to the future; don’t burn those to the past. You never know when a past boss may be-come a future boss, so you want to assure that the relationship remains posi-tive.

Billy Cox, author of The Dream Book, offers some excellent advice, “Taking the high road is usually not the easy one to take or the most popular … but if you compromise your principles and your integrity, it will always end up costing you far more in the long run.”

6. Be optimistic. Shed those “what if” thoughts or “maybe I should have” worries, and remain positive.

As author Remez Sasson writes, “The difference between can and cannot is only three letters. Three letters that can shape your life’s direction.”

7. Get, and stay, moving. Volunteer, take a class, work out, become a mentor, network. Learn from the past and energetically move on.

Reflect on these words from orator and philosopher Edmund Burke, “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”

The next time you are cruising down the highway and see the road sign that reads “keep moving, change lanes later,” smile and follow the good advice.

Jane Perdue is CEO of The Braithewaite Group. The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Search Assistance Program. Ask them a question by calling 843-763-7333 or e-mailing If you would like further assistance, register for a workshop or make an appointment; a donation of $20 is requested.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, January 1, 2010.

The Job Coaches: Improve your influence skills

December 16, 2011
Do you ever feel envious of that successful work colleague who’s connected to everyone, whose projects and budgets get approved, and whose opinions are actively sought out because people want to know what they think? Don’t waste time being jealous. Instead, expand and improve your influence skills and

Whether at work or in your personal life, your ability to make an appeal based on logic, emotion or a sense of cooperation is essential for success.

Influence and leadership are related in that anyone, regardless of having a job title or not, can be proficient at them. Influence comes into play when you want to build relationships, secure support, inspire, persuade other people to champion your idea, or when you need to spark someone’s imagination.

People with first-rate influence skills combine interpersonal, communication and assertiveness abilities.

The intent of influence is to build a network of win-win interaction between people, not to control or manipulate them.

To determine how effective your influence skills are, ask yourself: Do I get results through and with people? Is my involvement sufficient to make something happen? Do I have the personal power to shape outcomes and cause things to happen?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, polishing up your skills in the following areas will help you increase your sphere of influence.

Become a perceptive observer. Watch what’s going on in your company or around you at home or with friends. Individuals with strong influencing skills examine, ask and validate.

Be knowledgeable and have a bias for action. If you want to have an impact on results, know your organization and its culture, as well as your job, inside and out. Be clear about what you want to achieve. Under-promise and over-deliver on timelines for getting things accomplished.

Be visible by engaging and involving others. Actively listen to what people are saying. People who have highly developed influence skills first pull people to their ideas, and then push those ideas to the rest of the organization through other people.

Be self-aware. Understand and control your own emotions and actions. Know both your limitations and your strengths, and then position yourself to maximize what you do best.

Give, give, GIVE! When you give, people will give back. Never underestimate someone’s heartfelt desire to leave a positive mark. Make your own constructive contribution while seeing, and appreciating, the gifts of others.

Cultivate meaningful two-way relationships. Help before someone asks. Say thank you. Be there when people need you. Be a broker of ideas and information. People like to be around those who make positive things happen.

Be sincere and authentic. Approach situations seeking to find a mutually beneficial outcome; avoid the “I win, you lose” mentality. Assure that your words and your deeds are consistent and rooted in goodness. As Herminia Ibarra, a professor at the Harvard Business School says, “Integrity can be a source of power.”

Ace these skills, and enjoy being called an influential leader!

Jane Perdue is CEO of The Braithewaite Group.The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 843-763-7333 or e-mailing If you would like further assistance, make an appointment; a donation of $20 is requested for appointments.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, December 4, 2009.

The Job Coaches: Coping with a difficult boss

December 2, 2011

Think you’ve got the worst boss in the world? Well, your boss may have serious competition according to a recently released five-year comparative study commissioned by Lynn Taylor Consulting.

photoAccording to this study, seven out of 10 people believe bosses and toddlers act alike.

“Self-oriented” is noted as the top offending boss behavior, with stubborn, overly demanding, impulsive and interruptive rounding out the top five.

A recent Gallup management study of one million employed workers confirmed that having a poor relationship with the boss is the No. 1 reason people quit their jobs.

“People leave managers, not companies … in the end, turnover is mostly a manager issue,” Gallup wrote in its survey findings.

However, with the economy in tatters and jobs hard to come by, quitting may not be a viable option.

While you cannot control how your boss behaves, you are in control of how you manage the situation.

–Is your boss a glory grabber who takes all the credit for your good work? Sure it rankles to see the boss accept all the praise and fail to mention your contribution, but there are a few things you can subtly do to favorably remind others of your involvement. Send e-mails containing pertinent work information to your boss and include other key management personnel in the distribution. Casually mention your input on a project if you get to share an elevator ride with your boss’ boss.

–Are you dealing with a weathervane boss who changes the rules without notice? The most effective way to deal with this impulsive behavior is to clearly define the work outcomes with your boss when the assignment is given, and then send a confirming e-mail to him/her that outlines the established expectations. When your boss flip-flops on what is to be done, calmly share the e-mail and renegotiate the results.

–Does your boss remind you of a helicopter hovering overhead, constantly interrupting and micromanaging your work? First, you need to recognize and accept your boss’ deep-seated need for control; and then manage around it. Reassure him that you have the bases covered and keep him updated on your progress by sending periodic e-mails, reports, phone calls, a quick coffee chat or whatever communication vehicle your company uses.

–Could your boss be doubling as a secret agent, that mysterious person who’s missing in action and who communicates irregularly? With a boss like this, you must take responsibility for getting on his radar (sure it’s a pain, but failing to do so only hurts your performance review) by scheduling meetings or popping into his office to quickly chat, ask questions and confirm work assignments.

Bosses typically fall into one of three categories: those who are totally clueless about their behaviors, those who know they aren’t a good boss and do want to get better, and those who plain don’t care.

If your boss falls into one of the first two categories, you may want to discuss your concerns with them. Organize what you want to say, present it in a thoughtful manner and do not respond in anger, which only hurts you.

If your boss falls in the last category and/or may be behaving unlawfully, talk to your HR representative if your organization has one; otherwise speak with another trusted person in management or decide if you can continue to work for the company.

Always take the high road in dealing with a bad boss so your performance is above reproach.

Jane Perdue is CEO of The Braithewaite Group.The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 843-763-7333 or e-mailing If you would like further assistance, make an appointment; a donation of $20 is requested for appointments.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, November 20, 2009.

The Job Coaches: Learn company’s ropes to get promoted

November 4, 2011

Jane PerdueQ: Someone else got the promotion at work I was hoping and working for. I’m feeling angry and disappointed. What do I do?

A: Feeling let down is a normal reaction when you are passed over for a promotion. It’s OK to be disappointed, but monitor your emotions. Coming across negatively won’t help your chances for future opportunities. To understand why you did not get the job, take a look at yourself and your current work situation and answer some challenging questions.

Do I have the right technical skills? Ask your boss what knowledge, skills and/or abilities you lack, either for your current position or the one you were seeking. Create a plan to fill in those competency gaps: volunteer for projects, attend training programs, work with a coach, read books, take classes or ask for a mentor.

Am I known as a team player? While you may have all the right technical skills, how you conduct yourself might be holding you back. What you do AND how you do it are equally important. Do you have a reputation for being difficult? Do people want you involved in their projects? Technical brilliance alone won’t get you promoted. You need sincerity, authenticity, top-notch interpersonal communication skills and the ability to build relationships.

Have I built a solid network? It’s important to be connected with individuals at all levels within the organization: people who know you, know what you do and who actively support you. It’s pretty powerful when someone from another department is talking with your boss and they compliment your work.

Is my work ethic strong? Consider the quality and quantity of your work: do you do just enough to get by, or do you regularly go above and beyond? In these difficult economic times, employers value people who can do more with less.

Do I look like a professional? Hey, we all know the days of the three-piece suit are long gone, but looking clean, neat and appropriate never goes out of style. Observe what senior leaders at your company wear. A good rule of thumb is to dress for the job that you want.

Am I visible? All too often, we believe that hard work will take us to the top, but hard work alone isn’t the answer — your boss and others in your company must know about your contributions. Many of us are taught not to brag and feel uncomfortable talking about our accomplishments. The workplace reality is that you need to tactfully tell people; otherwise they may have no idea of your great ideas or output.

Am I aware of my company’s culture? Every company has its own ways of decision-making, rewarding good performance, communicating up and down the ladder, handling conflict, etc. Get plugged in to how work gets done at your company so you are working with the flow, not against it.

Learn from your experience and get better positioned for the next promotion that comes your way.

Jane Perdue is principal/CEO of The Braithewaite Group.

The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 843-763-7333 or e-mailing If you would like further assistance, make an appointment. A donation of $20 is requested for appointments.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, September 25, 2009.

The Job Coaches: Increase your stock value at work

October 21, 2011

photoEverywhere you turn these days, the conversation is about the state of the job market.

Pundits debate the recovery given still sky-high unemployment rates and people everywhere are more concerned than ever about finding jobs and keeping jobs. What does it take to make sure that your name is on the short list of people who are valued and viewed as “keepers” in the slippery world of business today?

1. Understand the business. I’m talking about the big picture of the business. It’s not enough just to master your job or even your functional area. Think in systems terms about how what you do every day affects the success of your business on a macro level. Study the marketplace. Understand the context in which your business operates and who its competitors are. Figure out how the job that you do contributes to the ultimate experience of your company’s customers.

2. Get clear on the strategic direction of the business. Time and time again, when I ask people what they need to be successful at their jobs, what they say to me is, “Just tell us where we’re headed.” If you don’t understand your company’s vision, it’s hard to add relevant value. Don’t be afraid to ask your company’s leaders to share their vision for the organization. And if you’re one of those leaders yourself, remember that a huge part of your job is to clarify strategic direction for the people you’re depending on to get the job done.

3. Build relationships. High tech or not, every business is a people business. The quality of your relationships often contributes as much if not more to your success as the quality of the job you do. Take the time to invest in connecting with the people that you work with in a way that builds trust and respect.

4. Be proactive. The business environment in which we operate today is far too complex for most directives to come in the form of a tidy list of instructions. One of the most important skills you can develop is the ability to ferret out critical information, study it, and then take the initiative to do something about it. Don’t wait for somebody to tell you what to do, or you may just find them telling you where the door is instead.

5. Take on the tough assignments. If you know or suspect that you have the ability to successfully complete challenging projects that have not yet been offered to you, ask for them. If you know that there are assignments that other people shy away from, put your name in the hat. Your visibility can increase exponentially if you take on the thorny jobs and do them well.

6. Focus on outcome vs. activity. Many people make the mistake of thinking that the significance of their jobs is all about how they spend their time each day, as if being busy is what matters. Businesses value results, and what you do to produce them is far less important than your bottom-line ability to deliver the goods. Make sure you understand exactly what results the company is looking for, how they are measured, and how you can exceed their expectations.

7. Understand the culture. Every organization is unique in terms of what it values, how it operates and the kinds of behavior that are expected and rewarded. Getting a handle on the culture of your company is kind of like mastering the unwritten rules. The playbook may be elusive, but it’s important. Make it your business to understand what matters.

8. Manage perceptions. The currency of value in any organization is how you are perceived by others. You may be the most talented person in the world, but if the decision-makers in your company don’t see that, it doesn’t count. Make sure that your behavior, how you communicate, dress, act, etc. reflect the image that you want to convey and the substance of what you bring to the table.

9. Be a team player. Virtually any environment these days, regardless of industry, relies on teams to deliver its products or services. Being a good team member requires compromise, adapting to different styles, and learning to collaborate in a way that produces results that you couldn’t achieve on your own. Invest in developing a camaraderie and flexible working style with your team members that makes it a pleasure for them to work with you.

10. Study the superstars. Every company has them — the top producers, key contributors. Observe how they operate. What makes them effective? How do they communicate? What do they prioritize? What can you learn from them? Sometimes the best way to get ahead is to heed the example of those who have gone before.

Advancing your career is largely about increasing your own stock value at work. Make sure that your strategy helps you to bring the best of yourself to the business, and have others take notice!

Barbara Poole is a master-certified coach and president of Success Builders, Inc.

The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 843-763-7333 or e-mailing If you would like further assistance, make an appointment; a donation of $20 is requested for appointments.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, February 5, 2010.

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