I Love My Paycheck (But Not my Job)

I Love My Paycheck (But Not my Job)

Stock that vests on a 4 year schedule. Annual bonuses. Free healthcare. Really, really good money. 

All of this is fantastic, unless...you don't love your job. In that case, these feel less like benefits and more like you've signed on to an offer you can't refuse, if you know what I mean. And once you start earning those great perks and bonuses, leaving seems impossible. My friend, you are wearing the Golden Handcuffs. 

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How to Be a Good Panel Presenter

Congratulations! You've been invited to be on a panel. Or, maybe you would like to at some point be on a panel and don't want to blow it when your time comes.

As someone who has moderated professional panels in front of large and small audiences, been a panelist myself, and been the audience member at many, many panel presentations, I can tell you that there is a difference between a good and bad panelist. And when I see a bad panelist, I think, what a wasted opportunity! Being on panels is a fabulous way to develop your career by branding yourself, claiming and showing authority in your field, sharing your expertise and opinions, and developing credibility. However, it can do the opposite for you if you are forgettable, too quiet, or not relevant. The good news is that there are several simple things you should know and prepare to make a fabulous impression on your audience, the conference or event organizer, and your peers. Let's dive in. 

1. Introduce yourself clearly. A quality introduction as part of a panel has 3 parts. FIrst, CLEARLY state your name, enunciating so that people who have never heard those syllables together before will understand what you said. Do this even if you have already been introduced, it's an important part of projecting confidence and a sense of self on stage, and owning your professional presence. 

The second part of your introduction on a panel should be your title that is relevant to the event, usually your job title and the company you work at. Note, if you are participating in panel related to your side hustle or volunteer work or other accomplishment like an athletic pursuit or talent, then include this as the second part of your introduction instead of your Day Job Title and company. Keep it relevant. 

The third piece of your introduction is why you are here. Include this even if the moderator has given you something else to explain. Throw in a sentence about why you and your title are relevant to this event. If I were on a panel to speak about hiring at a tech conference, I might say, "I've been working with young and mid-career professionals in tech since 2012, and the majority of my business is now focused on organizational consulting for talent development."

Then, if the moderator has given you another prompt to include as part of your intro, put that in after this three-part initial introduction. Things like, "tell us your first experience with (topic related to this event)" or "Tell us how you got into (topic related to this event)" are common prompts here that you may be asked to follow up with. 

2. Speak up. Speak loudly and clearly into the microphone. Hold the microphone close to your mouth. Most first-time or uncomfortable speakers are too quiet, and hold the microphone too far away from their mouth, scared of the volume of their voice. However if you do this, people will be so frustrated that they will tune you out if they can't hear you clearly, so you must be able to be heard. Project your voice as though you are speaking to the room, not the person next to you. If you know this is difficult for you, practice! You can also get support; Toastmasters is an excellent group for supporting public speaking skills. 

 

3. Prepare in advance. Ask the moderator or event organizer for the questions that will be asked prior to the event. Read them, consider your responses and what you want to say, maybe jot down some notes to get your ideas to stick in your brain before the event. Do a bit of research so that you can cite statistics or examples or case studies in your response and add that degree of validation to your perspective. Make sure you are up to date on current events and news in your field so you can reference that in your responses where needed as well. 

 

4. Answer the question and elaborate. A panel is interesting when the audience hears varying perspectives on a topic, so share your perspective. A good moderator will ask thoughtful questions that should prompt you to have plenty to say, but remember to not just answer the question at the minimum, share supporting points or thoughts as well. When you are asked to take a stand on an issue, take one, and back it up with why you think that. Panels are interesting when they contain well reasoned positions and diversity of thought, so don't be afraid to hold a position and express your stand on the topic. 

 

5. Don't Dominate, Pontificate, or Sell. You are part of a panel because the audience is expecting to hear from a variety of people, you would be doing a keynote address if they wanted to hear from only you. Don't always be the first to answer a question (unless the moderator prompts you directly), and while it's important to give in-depth answers, remember to stop and allow for the other panelists room to share their voice as well. Do not go on long explanations that require whiteboarded diagrams. Do not cut off your fellow panelists or attempt to bring attention back to yourself. Do not sell your company, service or product, self, or anything else. 

 

6. Represent your Company Well. Above all, be a professional representative. If you are accepting an invitation to be on a panel that is related to your job, make sure your boss and company know about it. You'll also want to check with your leadership to make sure you're not conflicting with any established company communications policies; there may be guidelines about what you can or can not say or share as part of a presentation like this. Know your company, you may be asked questions on the panel about the company at large and not just your area of expertise or job, so be prepared to share broadly what you can or speak to trends, culture, priorities, growth, or goals if needed. It looks awkward if, when asked, you say something like, "I'm not really sure, I just work on the engineering team." 

Panel presenting is a great way to contribute to your field, demonstrate leadership on a topic, increase your network, and advance your career. Make the most of the opportunity with a bit of preparation and we'll all be grateful to you. 

How to Take Action When You're Stuck

How to Take Action When You're Stuck

I've had it. Things must change. Something must be done. Now is the time. Enough of this bull*shit. No more! Never again. 

These are thoughts and words that inspire action. They are crystalizing phrases that I say, out loud, in the moment that I am simply, truly ready to change, and not usually before. I found myself saying these things in the car this afternoon, thinking about my 2018 goals, and in particular one goal that has been carried forward year after year without me actually making concrete progress on it. As I thought about this goal, I felt mostly depression and despair, failure and disappointment. These are really common feelings for me when I feel stuck on something that I want and just can't seem to achieve. 

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Want to Level Up in your Career? Take these 4 steps

Want to Level Up in your Career? Take these 4 steps

Hello class of 2015 (or thereabouts)! Right about now you might be getting antsy. You've been in your first (or second) gig for a while now, you are no longer a young spring chicken bright eyed and bushy tailed fresh off of campus. You now have experience. You know all the deep inner office workings like the right amount of pressure to apply when you slam the coffee maker lid shut. You have "your" bathroom stall. The zippy thing on your keycard dongle is a little frayed. There are interns and new hires coming in behind you, and you might be getting a bit bored actually. What's next for you? Where do you go from here? What are you even qualified for at this point? Here are the key considerations as you look to level up from entry to mid level jobs. 

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5 Ways to Improve Your Career in 2018

5 Ways to Improve Your Career in 2018

What will 2018 be the year of for you? For the economy, it might be a year of downturn. For your rent, it might be another year of high cost. For your political party, a year of transformation, reclamation, or evaluation. What will 2018 bring for your career? As we look toward to a new start in January, here are five things that I hope for you as you confront career choices in the year to come! 

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How long do I need to stay in this job?

How long do I need to stay in this job?

You've heard about it: the warnings against being a job hopper. The people who tell you that you need to stay where you are and if you have too many jobs, you'll be seen as unreliable or someone who can't commit. "I once knew a recruiter who counted the number of jobs on your resume and if there were too many, he wouldn't even consider the candidate for the role," the rumor goes. Are these people right? Do you need to stay in the job you're in? Even if you hate it? 

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Are You Wasting Your Potential?

Are You Wasting Your Potential?

We have a huge problem. A lot of huge problems, actually, the world is full of them. Climate change, poverty, unemployment, bad drinking water, bad politicians, malaria, obesity, cancer, animal abuse, traffic, affordable housing, air quality, poaching, disaster preparedness, the plight of the pandas, the list goes on and on. There is an endless stream of problems to be solved in this world. But the problem I care about the most, the one that causes me to soapbox in the car or at the bar or interrupts my zen bathtime, is the problem of you: You are not living up to your potential. 

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What Your Parents Want...You Don't Really

What Your Parents Want...You Don't Really

The thought of disappointing them puts you in actual physical pain, that's how bad you want them to be happy with your choices. They raised you. You respect them. They love you. They paid for school, maybe. You love them. And they have some very particular ideas about what you should do with your life. But you...don't want to do that. 

Maybe you don't know exactly what you want to do instead, but it's clear it isn't what they are thinking. How do you get out of this situation? How do you respect them, love them, show them that you want them to be happy, while also doing something that will make YOU happy? 

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How to Fail (Part 2): The Recovery

How to Fail (Part 2): The Recovery

There are lots of ways to fail, you could do something quick and catastrophic (like crashing your car), or simple and slow that didn't quite turn out the way you thought (like crocheting a hat that turns out to be too small), or by doing nothing at all (like not responding to an invitation to a concert with friends and regretting it). All of us fail, and according to popular business literature and my own blog, we should being doing more failing. Failing is healthy, it builds resilience, and gets us to try new things, without which we would never learn and grow. 

But that doesn't take away the sting or the misery when it happens. So when you fail, whether it's catastrophic, slow, or by doing nothing at all, how do you bounce back? How did I bounce back? 

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It's Not Your Resume That Matters, It's Your Purpose

It's Not Your Resume That Matters, It's Your Purpose

It is accurate to say that my job is to help other people get jobs. I do that by helping you craft a stand-out resume that shows off your skills, by helping you write a cover letter that doesn't sound just like everyone else's, by modifying your LinkedIn profile, and by answering interview questions with perfection. 

The thing is, the mechanics of all that don't really matter. Not really. The thing that matters more than any resume edit or cover letter sentence or interview answer is the level of interest and purpose and energy you bring to the job opportunity you want. 

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How To Fail (Part 1)

How To Fail (Part 1)

"I think we're going to lose the business," he texted me. I had asked my entrepreneur friend how work was going. "It's gotten worse," he said, and then that. "I might have to go get a job," he added. 

My friend is a young entrepreneur, really proud of and excited by the fact that he's a business owner, and to lose a business and have to go back to work is absolutely a failure, no doubt about it. It's probably what most of you are afraid of if you're thinking about starting your own business. Because, what do you tell your parents? And your friends? And what do you say in your interview for your next boss? And if you fail at something what does that mean for who you are? 

We have a lot of fear of failure and a lot of social shame associated with the idea of something that isn't successful. Ours is a culture that worships success, only wants to hear about success, and expects that you will be successful in everything that you do. We talk about bootstrapping and working hard and how, if you put in the time and the effort, success will come to you. Failure isn't in our cultural narrative. 

And so, when you do fail, it's impossible. So impossible that you avoid trying or doing things that might lead to failure simply because you really don't want to deal with those consequences. What does this look like in action? When I was in university I avoided taking French, even though I'd always wanted to learn it, because I was worried it would be hard and it might drag down my GPA. In fact, the list of things I've always wanted to learn and haven't is long and riddled with fears, because I really like to be good at stuff. I'm a person who is good at stuff. 

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Salary Negotiation Landmines (And How to Work Through Them)

Salary Negotiation Landmines (And How to Work Through Them)

Ugh, salary negotiation. I know how hard this is, even when you know you're supposed to do it and even if you've done it before it can still be hard (trust me, it's still hard for me, too!). I think it's hard because it triggers so fears about whether you'll be liked, respected, and whether you'll still be able to get the job if you ask for more. My earlier post on Salary Negotiation and Self Worth tackles some of that. But if you still really struggle with salary negotiation, and most of us do, I have a few more tips that can help you get through it and hopefully to a resolution that feels good for both you and the person making your offer. Here we go: 

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Don't Go To College Just Yet

Don't Go To College Just Yet

"I'm not sure what I want to study, is there a good general degree I can take?" one of my students asked. She was on campus to explore her options to study and dropped in to see me for some advice on how her choice of major could impact her career. "What do you mean by a general degree?" I asked. "Well," she said, "I really don't know what I want to do so I'd like to study something broad that will give me the best chance at a job when I'm finished." Ah. Right. No. Don't do this. 

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The First Job Career Crisis

The First Job Career Crisis

You graduated. You made the choice. You started working. And now it's been about, oh, six months, maybe less, and you thought you'd be happy. You thought you'd feel this sense of "Yes! Good choice! Right job! Go me!" But instead you feel "meh, it's not great..." or even "This sucks." But why? And what would be better? What do you do now? 

I see this a lot and you are definitely not alone. Pull up a chair, there is a way forward. Here's your 6-step guide to fixing it. 

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First Steps to Working Abroad

First Steps to Working Abroad

Living and working abroad is one of the most rewarding, terrifying, uncomfortable, exciting things I've done in my life. Most expats I talk to say something similar, it's a way to grow yourself beyond what you thought was possible for your life and your career, and a chance to add value globally and not just in your home community. It's a great way to get more comfortable with risk, grow your network, and to learn. It's an amazing opportunity, and if it's something you want to do even a little bit, you should go for it! Here's how to get started. 

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Want to Quit? Be True To Yourself

Want to Quit? Be True To Yourself

I resigned last month. I don't have another job lined up, and I don't have a specific plan for what will happen after my last day of work. This is the kind of thing your mom always advises against, and the kind of news that makes your friends say, "Really? Wow..." with a stone-cold look of "I'm not sure what to say because that sounds kind of stupid" on their faces. 

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Hate Job Applications? Don't Do Them.

Hate Job Applications? Don't Do Them.

Job applications suck, I know. They are time consuming, and if you are one of those nimble 21st century professionals who could be useful to at least 5 different types of roles (hint: you probably are), it feels like you have to reinvent yourself and all of your personal marketing materials each time you apply for something. And the agony of writing the perfect opening cover letter sentence? I know that pain. Set it aside and pour yourself a beverage, you have better options. 

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Job Searching for Work-Life Balance

Job Searching for Work-Life Balance

I started to get the sense that work-life balance would be a problem at this company when I noticed that the girl setting up my interviews was sending emails and meeting invitations at odd hours. I had been interviewing for a role at a Very Cool Tech Company, and the scheduler was sending me messages at 7:00 pm, 8:00 pm. There were subtle signals that the pressure to meet the expectations of the job would be large. And then, the kiss of death, the phrase that made the work-life balance question clear: "This is not a 40 hour a week position." It was clear that it would indeed be much more than that. 

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When Work is Bad: Getting the Guts to Leave Your Job

When Work is Bad: Getting the Guts to Leave Your Job

"Every day is like being in an abusive relationship," Liz said of her job. She was miserable. And yet, not SO miserable that she had to leave immediately, only miserable most of the time. There would be some good days, a week or two that were fun or engaging. But mostly, she was miserable, and it was only getting worse. Her boss was terrible, either criticizing her behind her back or avoiding her entirely. Her motivation was shot and had been for months on and off. Instead of starting new projects she would job hunt at work, looking at listings online and thinking about leaving. Most days she couldn't muster the cheerful hello to her colleagues, and quietly went straight to her desk in the morning. She would question decisions instead of act on them. Sometimes she would argue, she just couldn't help it. "I don't think my manager is very happy with me," she told me. And at about 2:30 pm, she would watch the clock tick ever slowly toward the end of the day. She was slipping slowly into the void. 

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