Staying Focused on Your Career During the Holidays

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It’s that time of year again! Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks are churning out their specialty eggnog drinks and candy cane-topped donuts…Holiday commercials have started, and you are sitting at work listening to everyone talk about holiday plans.

Maybe you love the holidays and can’t wait to eat Aunt Tina’s green bean casserole.  But many other people despise the holidays for a variety of reasons: financial issues, divorce, shared custody of children,  or recent deaths in the family, just to name a few… For many people, the holidays and commitments they entail create a time management nightmare.

The difficulty becomes when you have issues during the holidays and realize that yes, you have to keep working.  It may become difficult to put aside these problems and focus on work.  Maybe you are a nurse or doctor and have to work during the holidays and hate it; or, maybe your status as “essential personnel” is a fabulous excuse to let you avoid family gatherings.  Be mindful that everyone has different stressors and experiences during the holiday season and all of that can spill over into the workplace.

Ignore the Chaos Around You At Work: Focus on Your Career Goals

Maybe Sally your boss has been particularly harsh.  The truth is, you have no idea what people might be dealing with during the holidays. Maybe her husband is hoping to get a promotion and was just told he wasn’t getting one.  Your co-worker who seems so annoyingly chipper may actually be overcompensating for some tough family issues she is going through at home.

So how do you manage? Focus on your goals and don’t get distracted.  Make a list of your work goals for the months of November and December.  Maybe you work in sales and need to achieve a certain quota for the final quarter.  Perhaps you are an executive and are working out end of the year bonuses.  Take a look at what YOU need to achieve for the next two months in order to meet your work goals.

Next, ignore everything else.  Maybe you are having a difficult time financially and can’t afford a lot of presents.  That’s ok, we have all been there.  Turn your focus on other things and get creative.  Instead of giving gifts, plan to make cookies for everyone on your gift list.

Make Your Career List and Check it Twice

Make a list of what you can do that is career-related to ease the financial stress.  Maybe you can pick up extra shifts or approach your supervisor about that pay increase.

This time of the year is often a time to prepare for upcoming performance evaluations.  One of my clients recently said that he was happy to be working on his resume now because his year-end evaluation was coming and he needed to work on self-promotion.  One tip is to make a list of your strengths and weaknesses.  Be prepared to address work areas you need to focus on with your supervisor.  If you are sensitive to criticism, remind yourself this is an opportunity to improve.

Revise Your Resume

Take time out to revise your resume.  When was it last updated? Have you added your most recent job? Review your resume to see if you have listed all of your achievements at your current job.  Have you received special recognition at work? Did you increase revenue by a remarkable amount? Land a large and sought after account?

Make sure all of these accomplishments are listed on your resume. You never know when the perfect job might come along so you should always be prepared with an updated resume.

~J.O.

Getting “Unstuck”: Finding a Career You Love

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Are you stuck in a job you hate? There is one thing about that sentence that’s an error in thinking: the word “stuck”. There is no such thing as stuck, in any situation, including your career. The first step you have to take to become “unstuck” is to identify what you want to change.

Making Changes and Taking Inventory of Your Current Resume

But then you might ask yourself, now what? I can’t just drop everything and quit, can I? Well, you could.  You could also hop on a plane to Tahiti and work remotely (wouldn’t that be nice?) but that might not be the most logical approach.  So let’s slow things down a bit.

What are the steps you need to take to make that leap into your new career? Do you have a resume? When was it last updated? You might sit there for a moment, and wonder, how am I ever going to have the time to do this? How do I do it? Where do I start?

Breathe!

Before you find yourself teetering on the edge of a panic attack, stop and take a breath.  Everyone has experienced those overwhelming, frantic moments of wondering where to start and how.  The best way to approach re-creating your career is one step and a time.  Take a few minutes and print out your resume.  Read it once, but then put it away until tomorrow so that you can read it with fresh eyes.

Pick it up again the next day, but ask yourself, Does this piece of paper capture my career goals? Who is my audience? Am I highlighting my achievements? Do I use action verbs and active language to engage my reader? Answering these questions will help you start the revision process.

Taking Inventory of Your Skills

Writing your resume can seem like a daunting task.  Stop for a moment and think about all you have accomplished throughout your career.  This can be the perfect time to revisit your accomplishments! I know when I reviewed my own resume, I could not believe how many skills actually went into starting and running a small business…. So take this time to be proud of yourself!

It may be helpful to take out a piece of paper and make a list of your job duties in your current position.  Think about the tasks that you do on a daily basis.  Do you manage staff members? How many people do you supervise? While these small details may sound trivial, hiring managers like to see specific details about your performance achievements.

Highlight Your Achievements

It may be easy to overlook these details because you do them every day, but it’s important for your future employer to know what you can contribute to their company.  Are you in a field that involves tracking profits or sales? It can be incredibly valuable to be able to quote a percentage or amount of profit in the past quarter.  This shows that you not only pay attention to details but that you are able to highlight a specific achievement at your current employer.  I always encourage clients to focus on performance achievements because they show how your stand up against other job candidates.  Many people also leave out these important details so just mentioning them will give you a leg up on your competition.

So the next time you sit down for a cup of coffee during a break, take a moment to jot down some ideas about all of the things you contribute to your workplace.  You will be surprised how taking stock of what you do every day can make you feel a little better about your current situation.  You have a lot to contribute, both in your current position and in your future endeavors! So don’t give up! ~J.O.

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