Closing the Gap on Your Career Goals
If you still picture a steady progression up the ladder when
you think of your career goals, it is time to shift your
thinking. For most people, climbing the career ladder is no
longer an option. The working world has changed so dramatically
that linear career paths rarely exist, except as historical
But, without those trusty rungs to show the way, how do you
figure out the next step in your career? How do you determine
if you need to go to business school or graduate school? How do
you identify your next job?
You could employ the dartboard method, or a Magic 8 Ball. Or,
instead of struggling to find the next rung on that mythical
ladder, you could identify your long-term career goals, and
then focus on closing the gap between today and your future
goals. By focusing on the long-term, and the skills and
experiences you need to gain, you will increase your options
and give yourself flexibility to operate in today's chaotic
To determine your career plan, first write down your long-term
goal. Then, do a Career Gap Analysis, by following these four
Divide a blank sheet of paper into three columns. At the top
of the left column, write: "Current Skills and Experiences."
At the top of the middle column, write: "The Gap." Finally,
at the top of the column on the right, write "Future Needs."
In the right column, Future Needs, list the skills, education,
abilities, and experiences you will need to be successful in
the future you envisioned when determining your long-term goals. For example, if your future goal is to start your own business, you will need the following: knowledge of how to write a business plan, basic accounting or financial analysis skills, the ability to manage a group of people, experience in writing new business proposals, and marketing skills.
In the first column, Current Skills and Experiences,list all
of the skills, education, abilities, and experiences you
currently have to offer. When making your list, be
comprehensive. Include what you have learned through
volunteer experiences, hobbies,and seminars.
In the middle column, The Gap, list the education, skills,
or experiences you need to close the gap between where you
are now and where you plan to be in the future.
Now that you have identified your long-term goals and the
elements in the gap, instead of focusing on the title or
hierarchy of your next job, focus on the skills and experiences
you will gain to close the gap. For example, if you want to be
a successful entrepreneur, you may look for a job that will
strengthen your planning skills. You may consider an opportunity to work more closely with the marketing or sales department. Or, you may look for a specific type of leadership experience in your next job.
Don't overlook opportunities within your current organization.
If your goal is to strengthen your skills -- instead of to
climb that mythical ladder -- you may find a lot more options
internally than in an outside organization. As a known quantity, your current organization is more likely to risk letting you experiment with a new field of expertise. So, a lateral move within your organization could give you the opportunity to gain new skills and experiences.
To close the gap, you can also look for experiences outside of
your job. Build your entrepreneurial skills by take a workshop
on business plans at your local Small Business Development
Center. Volunteer to manage the financials for a small
non-profit organization. Or, take some business classes at
your local college or university.
By using a Career Gap Analysis, you can create your own unique,
flexible career plan and banish the career ladder to the pages
of history, where it belongs.
Shannon Bradford is a writer and coach, teaching people how
to master their brains to succeed in their careers and
businesses. She is the author of Brain Power (John Wiley & Sons, 2002). Take Shannon's free Career Minicourse at http://www.15minutecareer.com
Thank-You Notes: Your Thoughtfulness will be Rewarded
I get asked these questions over and over: "Should I send separate thank-you notes to everyone who interviewed me? Can I just send one thank-you note to the hiring manager and ask him/her to thank others involved in the process?"
How to Track Your Right Career
Are you lost in the wilderness when it comes to choosing a career? Once, we knew the way. As children, we played at different roles, but some became our favorites. Those favorites hinted at our gifts. They pointed the way to our exciting futures as entrepreneurs, dancers or astronauts. We did what was fun, and, in the process, we began to find and follow our paths.
Confidence Is Critical to YOUR Success....
Make EYE contact when you look at another person. Look at them!! Don't look down at your shoes or away from the other person. Don't look around the room for someone else who may be more interesting.
How To Deal With A Nightmare Boss
It can happen to anyone. there's a change in the organization and -- suddenly -- you find yourself working for the boss from Hell. Arrogant, demanding, ignorant, bullying and insensitive. Do you leave right away? Do you fight back? Here are some tried and tested ways of coping with impossible bosses -- and coming out on top.
Searching for a Federal Job
Many years ago searching for a federal job was a long, complicated and drawn out process. Today, it has been become far less complex and is now just a three-step process. Finding a federal job used to be accomplished through postings in a government office branch and sometimes in libraries. Today, finding an opening can be done right on the Internet. There is a web site that lists federal jobs also lists many state, local and even private business positions. Many of the federal, state and local jobs can be applied for right online. If a position requires a resume, individuals can take advantage of online resume development and transmission.
How to Choose Your Ideal Career
They say that most people do complete and total career changes at least once often twice in their lifetimes. Very few people chose the ideal perfect career for themselves when they're in high school and blissfully happily work those same jobs for the rest of their lives. With the way that technology and everything else changes so fast, I think it's ridiculous to expect to stay in one job from the time you leave school until you retire. Even staying in the same company can be a huge challenge. So how will you pick your first career? Your next major career change?
Hot Business Trends for 2004? And Beyond: Maybe One Will Turn Into a Creative Business Idea for You
I always look forward to the December issue of Entrepreneur magazine. That's the issue that features the publisher's annual pick of hot businesses, markets, and trends for smart entrepreneurs ? or those who aspire to be.
Some of the high tech businesses cited like mobile gaming or online learning tend to require six and seven figure start up costs. This can seem daunting (although not impossible) for the person just venturing into self-employment. So I've decided to focus on the markets, trends, and businesses that speak to someone operating on a somewhat more limited budget. Let's start with hot markets:
HOT MARKET: Middle-Aged Women
Since I've recently entered my last year in my 40s, I thought it only appropriate to start with this group (although like most boomers, I still have a hard time thinking of myself as anything close to "middle aged"). Not surprisingly, products and services for women in their 40s and 50s that center around anti-aging and menopause are hot. The magazine cites such promising areas as counseling, exercise spas, yoga, smoking cessation programs? any product or service that helps women stay healthy and feel good about themselves ? both inside and out.
The reference to smoking cessation got me thinking? Residential treatment facilities for other forms of substance abuse are common- place, but I've personally never seen a retreat, spa, or other residential-type place specifically aimed at people who need help quitting smoking, and who would benefit from doing so outside their home environment. I'm picturing morning walks, meditation, massage, support groups, good food, and of course, lots and lots of punching bags!
HOT MARKET: Toddlers/Tweens/Teens
According to market research firm Packaged Facts, last year 5 to 14 year olds spent $10 billion on food and beverages. Other favorite product areas for kids are sports, fashion, music, and technology.
And apparently home dÃ©cor and remodeling isn't just for adults anymore (who knew?). Stores like IKEA and Pottery Barn are starting to selling home furnishing products aimed at teens.
With baby boomers having more discretionary income with which to spoil their grandchildren, babies and toddlers have also become hot markets. Online start-up ELittle Luxuries offers designer baby furniture and more than 600 other upscale baby items. (http://www.eLittleLuxuries.com)
HOT MARKET: Overweight People
After reading how much kids spend on food and beverages, it's no surprise that 15% of children and teens are overweight. But we adults have them beat. A whopping 64% of Americans are considered obese or overweight. Businesses that offer products and services to help people slim down and develop more healthy habits are the most obvious. But entrepreneurs willing to think outside the "solve the problem" box by looking for ways to make overweight people's lives easier verses trying to fix them, will also do well.
HOT MARKET: Metrosexuals
With the enormous appeal of stylish soccer super star David Beckham and shows like Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy where gay men help straight men with fashion, grooming, home dÃ©cor, and social skills, a growing number of heterosexual men are allowing themselves to tap into their fashionable side.
One enterprising guy who jumped into the metrosexual market early has seen phenomenal growth. With $20,000 and a dream, Tom Granese launched Regiments, an online store that sells high-end grooming products for men. Less than two years later, Tom opened his first storefront in Dallas with a projected $210,000 in first year in-store sales.
HOT MARKET: Hispanics
The Hispanic market is certainly nothing new ? in fact it's made Entrepreneur's list for many years now. The magazine cites opportunities in anything from food and entertainment, to financial services and Web services.
Now let's look at two of Entrepreneur's picks for hot trends in 2004?
HOT TREND: Outdoor Living Spaces
Into gardening or design? According to Joanne Kostecky of the American Nursery & Landscape Association, and president of her own garden design company, the concept of outdoor living rooms that is so popular in the south and some urban areas is beginning to reach the rest of the country. The fact that more consumers are investing in courtyards and elaborate gardens means the gardening and outdoor design businesses are bound to grow!
HOT TREND: Fast-Casual Food
Health and taste conscious consumers on the go are turning to fast- casual restaurants and chains. In my own small town of Northampton, two of the more popular joints are benefiting from the fast-casual boom. One serves upscale burritos (my favorite is the Thai burritos) and the other is a hip soup, salad, and sandwich joint that opened in a greatly remodeled former Taco Bell restaurant.
Idea: Back in my old softball days I always wished someone would cater to all those hungry players and fans by starting a high quality food wagon.
Other Hot Trends? Boating and water sports, the hunger for low- carb foods (a trend being taken seriously by restaurants, grocery stores, and food manufacturers), oils and sauces, and multiculturalism which includes the gay and lesbian markets.
Hot markets and hot trends lead to hot businesses. Here are some of Entrepreneur's picks?
HOT BUSINESS: Children's Enrichment Programs
With so many parents in the workforce, more kids than ever before are engaged in extracurricular and after school activities. If you like the idea of working with kids, you can opt to open a physical location like a gym, dance or art studio, or camp, take your program into the schools, or provide private lessons.
If you think opening your own place is financially out of reach, think again. While $12,000 is no small sum of money, it's a lot less than a lot of people might expect they'd need to shell out to start their own dance studio. But that's how much former dance student turned instructor Archer Alstaettter dug up in cash and credit cards to found Dance Emotion in Irvine, California. That was five years ago. Today Archer's studio has 500 clients and expects 600-plus to be enrolled by spring. You go Archer!
HOT BUSINESS: Home Improvement
Remodeling, refurbishing, and redecorating are all the rage. There are some 30 cable shows on home improvement alone. And home improvement isn't all about dÃ©cor. Worth noting are businesses that help home owners maximize the space they have as well as those making homes more accessible to an aging population. (To read about a unique, highly successful, and legitimate home business opportunity that matches home owners with reputable home repair contractors go to http://www.ChangingCourse.com/hrnsuccess.htm)
HOT BUSINESS: Yoga & Pilates
According to Entrepreneur, companies are bending over backwards to cater to the growing market of people practicing yoga. Clothes, mats, DVDs, music, and classes aimed at seniors, pregnant women and children as young as three are just a few products and services aimed at this growing market.
And with a reported 47 million Americans taking Pilates, a work out that builds abdominal muscles, opportunities abound for gym owners and instructors alike. If you like the idea of teaching Pilates, studio owner Maria Leone recommends starting out by keeping overhead low. She suggests renting space for one-on-one sessions from a small gym or chiropractic office. Fees for a typical Pilates session range from $50 to $70 an hour. Meditate on that!
HOT BUSINESS: Upscale Pet Services
According to the American Pet Product Manufacturers Association, Americans spent an estimated $31 billion on pets in 2003. A few of the luxury services cited include pet hotels complete with heated floors, limousine rides, day cruises, and personal shoppers. And apparently the spa trend has extended to the pet world with exfoliating treatments, aromatherapy, liposuction (I kid you not), and chiropractic services.
HOT BUSINESS: Outsourcing
Outsourcing is one of those good new-bad news things. If your job is being eliminated because it's cheaper for your company to outsource functions like HR, accounting, and network security, then outsourcing is a bad thing. Outsourcing is particularly hot in IT ? and when it comes to outsourcing jobs overseas, it's also controversial. The good news for freelancers is the federal government plans to open 850,000 jobs to outsourcing, with $85 billion in federal IT contracts to be awarded over the next three years
Other Hot Businesses: Spas, organic foods, online matchmaking, senior care, wireless, tech security, and voiceover IP (VoIP).
If you believe as I do that it's better to be the boss, than to have one, why not make 2004 the year you start putting your entrepreneurial plans into action? You don't have to quit your job or mortgage your home to get the ball rolling. You might resolve to do some research, start putting together a business plan, take a course on marketing, glass blowing, woodworking, web design, or whatever sparks your fancy, get certified to teach yoga, buy a book on how to launch a successful on-line business, start a Barbara Sher style Success Team? or just order a subscription to Entrepreneur.
If you don't already subscribe to Entrepreneur you can do so at http://www.Entrepreneur.com. The site also features a ton of free resources for anyone who already is ? or dreams of ? working for themselves. For other free resources for people who want to start their own businesses visit http://www.ChangingCourse.com/newbiz.htm
Okay, but what if you don't see a trend, market, or business here that speaks to you? Then find the one that does! I had a client who is crazy for horses and photography. It took me all of 30 seconds on Google.com to find a group called the Equine Photographers Network.
In addition to their conference this February in Florida, the group offers a free public online discussion group with over 700 members who range from top-of-their-field working pros to amateur photographers to magazine editors and writers to horse owners, all interested in improving their equine photography skill and knowledge. Learn all about the Equine Photographers Network at http://www.EquinePhotographers.net.
The way to find the "hottest" business idea for you is to get in touch with the passion that burns the brightest in your heart. Then make 2004 the year resolve to you take those first bold steps on behalf of your dream!
Have Enough Money to Change Careers - Five Key Steps
At every talk I give, I ask the audience to tell me the reasons why people don't change careers. The most common answer given each time is "lack of money." So many people have such an exaggerated fear about money that they will not even take the time to determine how much they will need to do work they love in the first place!
Can Nurses Be Entrepreneurs?
Yes, Nurses can be entrepreneurs. In today's market place nursing has a unique service to offer not only to hospitals but nursing homes, private care and doctor offices. We as nurses have the skill, knowledge and motivation to be successful entrepreneurs. Nurses are tired of being told how much our services are worth. The economy is ripe for the nurse entrepreneur. Why wait? The nursing shortage is just beginning and there doesn't appear to be a quick fix in the near future. Much of the nursing workforce is coming up on retirement time, which is only going to compound the lack of skilled nurses to deal with the oncoming baby-boomers.
5 Characteristics of a Dynamic Loan Processor
Not everyone is cut out to be a mortgage processor. Find out if you or a team member has what it takes to be a dynamic processor.
Everyone Should Have a RED BALL in the Job Search
May I explain what about what a red ball means to me and how I counsel others as a career coach.
Managing The Boss Is Essential To Career Success
Your boss is the gatekeeper of your career. Unless you are able to
manage a positive relationship with him at each step in your career you
will fall short of your potential.
Can You Actually Fail A Personality Quiz?
Q. I didn't get a job that I interviewed for. The employer told me that I had "failed" the personality quiz. How is that possible? Does this mean that I have no personality?
Making Yourself More Relevant To The New Workplace
Being a current job seeker can be quite a challenging prospect as there are many changes in the workplace. Life-long employment is no longer the norm and workers must also learn to adapt with the complementary expertise of foreign talents. We are very much living in a global village.
Book Summary: How to Work with Just About Anyone
This article is based on the following book:
Fear of Being Outsourced? Fight Back
Me, outsourced? Impossible. How could they replace a business-humor columnist? But my brother-in-law, the radiologist, told me his hospital was threatening to cut his position because they had found a medical group out of India that would read MRIs at half the cost.
Effective Resume and Cover Letter Writing - Part One
To begin, make a decision to discard any former knowledge learned about the "rules" of resume and cover letter writing. People commonly become stuck in "bad" writing habits from a time gone by.
Freelance Work: The Changing Face of Employment
The world sure is changing, and if you look at job employment you will see what I mean. Let's just go back to our grandparent's generation, even though I'm sure if we went back further we would see very different structures of work in the tribal periods of our history. Our grandparents usually found a skill, and then used that one skill to work for their whole career. An example is my grandfather who was a salesman for the same suit company for 44 years. There is nothing wrong with this. His job was secure; he knew there would be a superannuating fund when he retired, and that there would always be food on the table for his family. These days in the 21st century things have changed, and they are still changing rapidly as we speak.
How to Close Your Interview and Leave a Lasting Positive Impression
Closing the Interview
The 4 Job Search Facts You Need To Know!
Are you harboring bitterness or anger towards your current or past employer?