How to Get Unstuck

I just heard Dr. David Drake, founder of Center for Narrative Coaching and Leadership, speak in a webinar for the World Business and Executive Coach Summit. I’d like to share a meaningful exercise he shared with us. He had us close our eyes and think of something in our lives we wish were different. Then he slowing asked us the following questions and please pause between each and you might write down the answers:

  1. What are you doing now about this situation?

  2. What are the results of what you are doing?

  3. Are these what you were hoping for?

  4. What are these telling you?

  5. What will you do differently to get more of what you want?

Remote Job Search Sites

I added four work from home job sites to my website and they are interesting.

Remote Job Search Sites - lists work at home jobs. - devoted to full and part-time telecommuting jobs. - includes programming, sales and other telecommuting jobs - lists tech, management, marketing and other jobs.


Sometimes we don’t follow our dreams or don’t go after a good job because we fear failure. The following from the HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW’S book review gives an interesting perspective.


Overcome Your Fear of Failure by Redefining It


The fear of failing at something — of doing it wrong, looking foolish, or not meeting expectations — can be paralyzing. But avoiding challenges that make you anxious isn’t going to help you grow. To overcome your fear of failure, redefine what the concept means to you. For example, instead of thinking about failure (or success) in terms of what you achieve, reframe it in terms of what you learn. No one gets everything right, and a “failure” can still provide invaluable experience for the future. It’s also important to focus on what you want to do rather than what you want to avoid. When you’re dreading a tough task, you may unconsciously set goals around what you don’t want to happen. Creating a “fear list” can help: Write down the challenge’s worst-case scenario, how you can prevent it, and how you’ll respond if it comes true. Creating a plan for a bad outcome can give you the courage to move forward.

Adapted from “How to Overcome Your Fear of Failure," by Susan Peppercorn


This is especially helpful in job search where we get single minded about “being rejected” or no one will hire me and it isn’t the case and isn’t helpful. Someone else got chosen. There is a better job there for us. That might have been a miserable job. Perhaps we do need to be open to a new tactic and the ever interesting Harvard Business Review’s book review has a helpful idea.

Want to Be More Open-Minded?

Open-mindedness at work — about new products, strategies, business models — is one key to success. But how do you develop it? Research has found there are several things you can do. For one, travel, whether it’s to another country or somewhere closer to home. As you encounter ways of living that differ from the ones you know best, your brain will get better at accepting new approaches and ideas. For a cheaper option, read fiction. Books can train your brain to be curious about others’ experiences and opinions. Another low-cost option is mindfulness meditation, which has been shown to help people be willing to revise their ideas. And if you’re someone who tends to get stuck in their ways, there’s a simple trick you can try: Start sentences with “I could be wrong, but…” This conveys your openness to others and forces you to start conversations with a willingness to change your mind.

Adapted from “A New Way to Become More Open-Minded," by Shane Snow

A Way to Handle Stress

Stress Doesn’t Have to Short-Circuit Your Creativity

 From the always helpful Harvard Business Review—it really helps to handle stress in job search and to be creative.

When you’re stressed out, it’s hard to decide what to eat for dinner, let alone get work done. How can you produce ideas when you’re feeling this way? First, take a breath and relax. Trying to force yourself to be creative will only lead to more frustration. Instead of thinking, “I must be creative right now,” tell yourself, “I’m going to play around with some ideas.” Then do an activity that will let your mind wander. Going for a walk or napping, for example, naturally loosens up your brain, which can lead to new insights. If you still feel stuck, give yourself more material to work with: Read about the topic you’re tackling, take a field trip to observe other people’s solutions to similar problems, or talk to experts. Above all else, give yourself time. You’ll have a much better chance of success when you let creative thoughts percolate.

Adapted from “How to Be Creative When You’re Feeling Stressed," by Elizabeth Grace Saunders

Shift Your Perspective at Work by Telling Yourself a Different Story

From the Harvard Business Review:

We all tell ourselves stories about work, and these stories shape the way we think, lead, and make decisions. For instance, if the story that runs through your head all day is “Everything’s a battle in this office,” you’re more likely to expect hostility and be primed to attack. Negative stories like this one generally don’t help you, so consider shifting to a new narrative. Start by identifying a challenge you’re facing, and then ask: “What is the basic story I’m telling myself about this issue?” Consider how the story is affecting you and your team. Is it constraining or liberating? If the latter, think about what you’d like to change and how your story needs to shift. What reimagined (and true) version of the story would be more useful for pursuing your goals or doing things differently? Rewriting a story is often a matter of choosing to see a situation from a different, more-positive, perspective.

Adapted from "To Make a Change at Work, Tell Yourself a Different Story," by Monique Valcour and John McNulty

Getting Better at Handling Disappointments

From the Harvard Business Review:

Disappointments are inevitable and unpleasant —­ a missed promotion, a failed project, a poor investment — but you can always learn something from them. To constructively deal with your next setback, think through what happened. Distinguish situations that were predictable and preventable from those that were unavoidable and beyond your control. Ruminating over something that didn’t go your way — and that you couldn’t control — will only frustrate you further. For situations that you could have handled differently, consider them in positive terms: What can you do differently next time? What lessons can you learn from the mistakes you made? And remind yourself of what’s going well in your life, so you don’t let the disappointment take an outsize role in your brain. It might sound like a cliché, but keep the setback in perspective — and try to let it go. You may be tempted to play the situation over and over in your head, but staying preoccupied with it will only create unnecessary stress.

Adapted from "Dealing with Disappointment," by Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries

How to Deal with a Difficult Boss

I recently listened to a webinar led by Annie McKee, best selling author and internationally recognized leadership adviser on “How to be Happy at Work.” She was asked a question about how to deal with a difficult boss. A part of her answer was to ask yourself,

  • What do I think is riding my boss?

  • How can I see him/her as human?

  • How can I set emotional boundaries and keep a good sense of self?

She then reminded us that much of what is going on is the boss’s problem and to try a little empathy.

Having worked with difficult bosses, I know how easy it is to get into negative spin. I talked to a former peer after leaving one challenging job and she replied that our company President had calmed down after a few years and was probably nervous his first years in such a role.


Eons ago, when I had a particularly hateful job, I had what seemed like 52 interviews in 52 weeks until the boss whom I had written up for sexual harassment laid me off.  I was eminently qualified for the jobs where I interviewed.  I had the experience, had a Master’s degree and Senior Level Certification but no offers.  As someone who interviewed candidates for a living, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong or what was wrong with me.  A retained search recruiter friend told me that I was going for jobs for which I was over qualified and that firms like to compare their ideal candidate with the top of the heap (but not hire them) and were merely using me as a measuring post.  The more I interviewed the more my self-confidence decreased and the lower down on the rung were the jobs I chose.  It was a self-defeating cycle.  So if this reminds you of anything you are experiencing, try to put on your big person pants and go seek the job you deserve.

Good Advice on Job Search

Read online


From the Harvard Business Review

July 31, 2018


When You’re Looking for a Job, Focus on the Process


When you’re applying for jobs but aren’t getting them, it’s easy to feel desperate. But don’t lose your confidence — it’s a key trait that hiring managers look for. To keep desperation at bay, shift your focus from the outcome you want (“I need a job!”) to the process you’ll use to reach it (“Here are the specific steps I’ll take”). Check for job openings and apply for positions that suit your experience. Attend networking events to get to know potential employers. Talk to friends and colleagues to find out who’s hiring. And take classes to improve your skills. Keeping your attention on these small-scale goals will ease your frustration and help you feel productive, especially if finding a job takes longer than expected. And many of these tasks are things you need to do after you get hired as well, so you’re laying the groundwork for your future success once you do land a position.

Adapted from “Stay Confident During Your Job Search by Focusing on the Process, Not the Outcome,” by Art Markman


LinkedIn Hint About Key Words

I heard this suggestion at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management bi-annual coach's meeting last week and perhaps it is old news to you.  To see what key words people are using to search for you:

1.  Click on your name on your profile to get to your Dashboard

2.  Under your Dashboard, Search Appearances

3.  Scroll down to see Keywords that searchers used.

When I did, I was pleased to see that the words were mostly ones used in the "title" under my name.  See what comes up when you do this search.


For Those Who Don't Know What They Want to Do

Thanks to Sarah Hyche, fellow Kellogg Career Coach, for bringing this article to our attention on LinkedIn.  Please read Stacy Kim's WHY YOU NEED TO TRY THE LIGHTHOUSE METHOD; Want more out of LIfe--but you're not sure what?  This non-goal goalsetting method can help.

Dr. Kim, not only a PhD but a life coach helps women (but I strongly suggest that men can adapt her suggestions as well) find enjoyable work by using what she calls the Lighthouse Method.  See the link below to read the whole article for a description of the method and simple steps.

A Perspective and Way to Handle Conflicts

To Get More Comfortable with Conflict, Stop Making It Personal

Conflict is a normal, healthy part of working with other people. And yet many of us avoid it at all costs — often because it feels personal. To get more comfortable with disagreements, and to reap the benefits of productive conflict, let go of the idea that it’s all about you. If you model that you’re comfortable with productive conflict, you’ll show your team that it’s OK to disagree, encouraging people to raise their ideas. To move a work conflict away from the personal, think about the bigger picture and the business’s needs. Disagreements often arise over objectives and processes, for example. When you and a colleague have different views about something, ask yourself: Why is this difference of opinion an important debate to have? How will it help the organization or the project you’re working on? The more you can keep a conflict focused on the business, the better chance you have of resolving it in a way that benefits everyone.

Adapted from “Why We Should Be Disagreeing More at Work,” by Amy Gallo and as mentioned in the Harvard Business Review's Management Tip of the Day from May 16, 2018.




If you're applying to jobs using LinkedIn, you might find it useful to know that it may be looking at your skills section to determine whether you're qualified for the position.

To clarify, I'm told the Top Skills identified for a job on LinkedIn link to the skills you're endorsed for on your LinkedIn profile. In other words, if the role is seeking Sales as a Top Skill, its not enough to list the keyword Sales in your profile. Its looking to see if you're endorsed for the Sales skills in your Skills & Endorsements section. So, the Top Skills are essentially serving as the ATS.

As always, LinkedIn changes frequently. However, someone confirmed to me this was the case for one of their clients.

Grounding Yourself During an Interview

The following is from the always wonderful Harvard Business Review and can be applied to interviewing.  When you have a phone screen, you might be able to walk around.  During an in-person interview, you will have to use the place your feet firmly on the floor portion of the suggestion. 

March 15, 2018


Stay Calm During a Tough Conversation by Grounding Yourself


Having a tense conversation brings up a lot of negative emotions, leaving you feeling like an active volcano. To prevent an outburst and stay in control of your emotions, physically ground yourself in your environment. One of the best ways to do this is to stand up and walk around, which activates the thinking part of your brain. If you and your counterpart are seated at a table, and suddenly standing up seems awkward, you might say, “I feel like I need to stretch. Mind if I walk around a bit?” If that doesn’t feel comfortable, you can do small physical things like crossing two fingers or placing your feet firmly on the floor and noticing what it feels like. Mindfulness experts call these actions “anchoring.” Whatever you can do to focus on your physical presence and your senses will help you stay grounded and get through that tough conversation.

From “How to Control Your Emotions During a Difficult Conversation,” by Amy Gallo

Management Tip of the Day from the Harvard Business Review

Get Over Setbacks by Learning from Them


The next time you feel that you’ve royally messed something up at work, avoid self-flagellation and think about what you can learn from it. Don’t interpret setbacks as “I’m not cut out for this challenge.” Instead, tell yourself, “I haven’t yet developed the required capabilities for it.” Framing the setback this way will not only help your self-esteem but also allow you to candidly reflect on what went well and what didn’t. Those insights will help you set challenging learning goals and experiment with alternate strategies. You can make sure you stay in learning mode by worrying less about demonstrating your ability to perform certain tasks and focusing more on your development. When taking on a new challenge, ask yourself, “Am I in learning mode right now?” The question will prime you to stay open to what you can discover, rather than diagnosing your inadequacies.

Adapted from “Good Leaders Are Good Learners,” by Lauren A. Keating et al.


I don't keep New Year's resolutions and so don't ask my clients to do so.  However, I think it is interesting to envision a better future and so liked the recent post of Andy Evans that I came across.  He calls this a goals exercise.

Posted by: Andy Evans <> on 11:10am Dec 17, 2017.

- What would your life be like if it was the same in all ways as it is now?
- What would your life be like if it was 10% better in all ways than it is now?
- What would your life be like if it was 20% better in all ways than it is now?
- What would your life be like if it was 30% better in all ways than it is now?
- What would your life be like if it was more than 30% better in all ways than it is now?

Choose one of the above as a goal for 2018 that you would commit to.

Reflect on your choice - why did you choose it? What would you need to do in order to achieve it in practice? Emphasizes the Importance of LinkedIn in Your Job Search

See the information below from a website I have recommended in the past for candidates to run their resume and desired job posting through to see how well their resume stacks up. also does a LinkedIn Optimization of your profile.  Let me know how it works for you, if you try it.

“138M people or 62% of employables in the US are on LinkedIn

44k job applications are submitted through LinkedIn daily

87% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates for jobs

94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet job candidates”

Recruiters and hiring managers can’t find you without a complete and fully optimized LinkedIn profile.”

“Whether you’re using LinkedIn to attract recruiters or supplement your resume in your job search, your profile will only make an impact if it’s tailored to the jobs you want with specific keywords and search engine optimized profile sections.”


Book recommendation: WEIRD IN A WORLD THAT IS NOT by Jennifer Romolini

I was asked by TLC Book Tours to preview WEIRD IN A WORLD THAT’S NOT by Jennifer Romolini and given full permission to dislike it.  I have slogged through many career books and disagreed with many parts of them.  This one I enjoyed and agreed with 99.9999% of it.  If you are a young career woman, you should read this book.  It is an engaging and valuable read.  Jennifer might think she is weird (and perhaps she had a weird start) but she is a good human being with real values and she is a terrific writer.  By sharing her missteps, she generously shares how to get a start in the work world, how to manage, how to live, how to be.

She preaches without sounding preachy being authentic and kind to oneself.  Her message is positive, life affirming.  She begins with helping you find out what do you want to do when you grow up, proceeds to resumes, interviewing, handling rejection, networking, how to get out of your own way at work, how to be the employee who is hard to fire, how to tolerate a difficult work environment (FYI, sometimes, it just is), how to ask for a raise and how and when to quit.  She next moves to how to be a Boss, a good Boss, after sharing an example of when she wasn’t one.  You will laugh while learning as she covers all that you need to know to kick off your career.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing a copy for my review.  The opinion is all my own.

Good News about that Dreaded Salary Question if You Interview in NYC, Philly or Massachussetts

New York City Bans All Inquiries Regarding Salary Histories of Job Applicants

New York City has joined other states and cities across the country – including Massachusetts and Philadelphia – in banning employers from inquiring about a job candidate’s salary history. Per legislation signed on May 4, 2017 by New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, effective November 1, 2017, all employers in New York City, both public and private and regardless of size, may no longer:

(1)        inquire about the salary history of an applicant for employment; or

(2)        rely on the salary history of an applicant in determining that applicant’s salary at any stage in the employment process, unless the applicant “unprompted” and “willingly” discloses his or her prior salary information.

The law prohibits both asking the applicant directly about his or her salary history – whether on an employment application or during the hiring process – and searching of publicly-available records or reports.  The law’s prohibition also applies to the negotiation of an employment agreement.  However, the law specifically allows employers to continue asking about objective measures of an applicant’s productivity, such as revenue or sales generated, which should make this change in the law more palatable to employers hiring salespersons.

Instead of inquiring about salary history, employers should discuss a job applicant’s expectations regarding salary, benefits, and other compensation. 

In preparation for this new law to go into effect, employers should carefully review their employment applications, standard interview questions, and hiring processes.  Employers should also train their employees responsible for interviewing applicants and negotiating employment agreements as to the requirements of the new law.  We recommend doing so sooner rather than later to ensure a seamless transition once the law does take effect on November 1, 2017.

Constance Unger
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