Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Take Control of Your Life in 2009

December 24, 2008.

Take Control of Your Life in 2009

Feeling under siege due to the economic meltdown? It seems like many of us feel that we have lost control of our lives - jobs, finances, future plans and dreams. However, there are some critical elements that you can control - here, now and today that do not cost a lot of money.

Your Health

Start taking control of your health. This is probably one of the most important factors in your longevity and financial situation. So what are some key steps that you can take to improve your health?

Eat Healthier

Start eating healthy, more fruits and vegetables, more natural foods as opposed to processed foods, more whole grains, less fatty foods.

Start listening to your body when you're eating and stop when you are no longer hungry. Take smaller portions.

Have a salad with lunch and dinner. Have a fruit with every meal or at least two meals. Eat whole grain bread, brown rice, whole wheat pasta. Skip dessert and eat a fruit instead.


Exercise at least 30 minutes a day. The simplest exercises are the best - swimming, which is wonderful for your aches and pains and flexibility and which exercises all your muscles. Walking – put on a pair of athletic shoes and get out there and visit your neighborhood or discover other neighborhoods. You can walk anywhere, at any time, at any place. Indoors – on a treadmill – or outdoors. Start your day by walking to get off to a great start and arm yourself for the day. Keep a pair of sneakers at work to walk at lunchtime.

Manage Stress

Feel stressed out? Try some meditation. Carve out some quiet time, even at your desk, to close your eyes and meditate. Think of your favorite vacation place. Keep a postcard of this place at your desk.

Think of your favorite color. Repeat to yourself a phrase that relaxes you such as “everything will be okay” or even a prayer or chant.

Take a break during the day to walk to de-stress and gain a new perspective. You will kill two birds with one stone – exercise and de-stress. Listen to calm, soothing music to calm your nerves. Identify your stressors and how to minimize them.

Improve your Attitude and Mental Outlook

A positive outlook is key to your success, on a professional and personal level. So, when looking for a new job, focus on your new plans and think positive thoughts. There is no point looking back except to identify the great things that you have accomplished and what you can bring to a new employer or new business.

As looking for a job is stressful, make sure you take some time out to relax, refresh and reflect so that you are relaxed when you network and interview. People will react to your attitude.

Take advantage of the time that is given to you to enjoy your family and friends. Catch up on your medical appointments. Organize your office or home so that you feel more in control. Reward your search efforts by taking some time to visit museums, maybe catch a movie or rent some videos of movies you have missed. Host a movie party at home with friends and family. Host a pot luck dinner during the holidays to discover the culinary expertise of your friends and family.

Enjoy the simple things in Life

Some of the best things in life are free or cost very little. Reading the paper in the morning over a good cup of coffee. Going to free events in the city – there are tons of free events every week. Discovering a new neighborhood. Playing games with your children. Keeping a journal to record your feelings. Volunteering for a worthwhile cause. Reading a good book. Networking with people. Painting a picture. Watching a great movie or program on public television. Getting involved in politics. Cocooning in your home and seeing how you can re-arrange the furniture for a new look or make some little changes or clean out your office.

Count your blessings every day

Finally, count your blessings every day. Every day, at the end of the day, keep a notebook by your bed and record the things that you are grateful for – family, friends, pets, health, new opportunities, professional contacts who have graciously given you their time, your creativity and great ideas.

Focus on the positive and look at the positive side of things and life. Positive thoughts will go a long way in helping you through challenging times. As a saying goes, “Life is not for cowards.” Successfully meeting challenges and learning from them is, in fact, a gift that keeps giving as the lessons you learn you will keep your whole life.

I look forward to hearing your ideas about this topic.

Happy Holidays to you all!
Carla Visser
Global Human Resource Solutions LLC

Monday, December 15, 2008

Five Steps to a new job in the New Year!

December 15, 2008.

Five Steps to New Job

This has been a roller coaster year for many. The transformative election of Barack Obama, the financial crisis, the auto industry in peril, the ups and downs of the stock market that make retirement fading into a dream for many, people losing their jobs - what a cliff hanger of a year it has been! How would you like to regain control of your career and your lives again?

As a holiday present, I propose the following Five Steps to a New Job in the New Year. These five steps will help you identify, pursue and obtain a new job. The key ingredients of success underlying these steps are focus, targeting and perseverance. Leave the negative soothsayers behind. Even in an economic downturn, people are getting hired. Close the radio and TV and open your heart to what you really would like to do.

The five steps are intuitive. They start with you and who you are and what you would like to do.

Step One: Start with you

So what do you enjoy doing, what are your strengths, key values, interests and abilities. What makes you happy? What kind of environment do you like working in? What kinds of things have you done of which you are proud? What are your short-term and long term plans? Identify and explore different career options that would match this profile. Develop a marketing plan with the career options and targeted companies.

Step Two: Develop your Marketing Materials

Now, translate this profile of yourself into materials you will use to market yourself. These materials include a two minute pitch, resume, cover letters, networking letter and perhaps a bio. You will use the two minute pitch when you network, interview and include it in cover letters and networking letters. The cover letter will be used to apply for jobs. The networking letter will be used in email blasts to potential employers or professional contacts to set up networking meetings. The bio can be used when you network to give people an idea of your background.
These tools are part of your marketing toolkit that you will use and customize for each communications. A basic rule of communications is customize your communications to your audience.

Step Three: Pursue your Career Options

Now get out and start contacting potential employers in your targeted companies. The most common means of finding jobs are ads, recruiters/headhunters, direct contact with employers and networking.

While you want to use all methods, the ones you want to focus on are direct contact with employers and networking. Each method, in fact, can reinforce the other.

For example, if you go to professional associations and meet people from a company and you see a job ad from this company, you can use your network to learn more about the ad, get introduced to the hiring manager or contact the hiring manager directly!

Use the web as a research tool to see which companies are hiring but spend most of your time contacting your future boss directly and networking to find out what is happening in your field.

In other words, get out there and talk with people.

Step Four: Shine at Interviews

Interviews are the opportunity for you to learn more about the company, the organization and the job and sell yourself. The goal for an interview is to have more meetings to continue learning about the organization and have people learn more about you.

So put on your consultant's hat. Research the company. Come to the interview with questions about the company, the organization and the job. Bring insights that you can share about what you have learned from your networking and research.

Prepare your stories about your accomplishment and results. Think about who you are and the job requirements and answer the questions: Can you do the job? Will you do the job? Will you fit into the organization?

Practice answering common interview questions. Be prepared to describe how you have handled different situations. You may have a telephone interview before a face-to-face interview. Stand and smile during this telephone interview as people can hear your smile!

Dress smartly and conservatively for the interview. Not too much jewelry or make up, nice suit or dress, nails done, shoes shined, briefcase, copies of your resume in a folder.

Take notes during the interview to note the questions and concerns addressed. Send a follow up note addressing these questions and concerns and how you would handle them.

Suggest a follow up meeting. Call your interviewees to schedule more meetings. Show that you are really interested in the job and you will be noticed.

Step Five: Negotiate your Offer

When an offer is extended to you, make sure you understand the offer, the job and the organization including your function, reporting structure, company structure, financial rewards, the culture of the organization, the management style of the organization, their financial and legal situation. Think back to your profile and evaluate if this offer is a good match and what it does for your career.

Negotiate the offer to ensure that you get the best conditions. If the salary does not meet your expectations but you like the job, the organization and the experience that you will get, negotiate time off and/or flexible working arrangements to help you achieve work/life balance and the opportunity to pursue other interests.

Now you can celebrate and prepare for your new job. If you can, take some time off before you start the new job to decompress and get ready for your new responsibilities.

Contact Carla Visser, career management consultant, to see how she can help you with your career transition. www. 718-793-3451. Let me be your partner in mobility!