Tips for workers who spend more time traveling than in the office

businesswoman using tablet at airportTraveling for business can seem glamorous to those who spend most of their time at work in one zip code. However, workers who regularly travel know the less attractive side of their role requirements: the large amount of time spent at the airport or in the car, missing fun events and co-workers who are in the office, time spent away from family and the technology issues that can stifle business.
When more of your time is spent traveling for work than in the office, you need tips and tricks for making your workday more efficient and staying connected to your manager and co-workers.
A number of resources and tools have been developed by (powered by Citrix) for workers who regularly work outside of the office. Here to weigh in on those resources and offer tips for workers who are more nomad than permanent resident in the office are Bernardo de Albergaria, vice president and general manager of SaaS Products and Markets at Citrix, and Gihan Perera, co-author of “Out of Office: Using the Internet for Greater Freedom in You Work Life.” 

Here are their seven “workshifting” tips for better collaboration:
1. Tell your team where you are.
Being out of sight and out of mind can be a benefit when you’re trying to get some work done, but it can be a drawback for collaboration. So make it easy for people to find you when they want to involve you in a discussion. You can do this in a variety of ways — for example, by sharing your calendar, agreeing to be available during certain fixed hours and days, checking messages regularly, forwarding phone and email when traveling and so on.
2. Look for opportunities to meet.
Don’t wait for other people to invite you to meetings and discussions. Take the opportunity to plan, invite and host them yourself. Of course, you shouldn’t create meetings just for the sake of it. But many workshifters become too comfortable working alone, and it’s a good idea to step out occasionally and be the person who calls the meeting, not just one of many who turn up.
3. Choose immediate (rather than deferred) channels.
Blogs, discussion groups, wikis and even email are deferred communication tools – because people don’t have to be there at the same time to collaborate. They are efficient, and you might like them because you can participate in your own time. But they don’t reflect the dynamics of immediate “in time” tools, such as teleconferences, video conferences, chat rooms and in-person meetings.
4. Choose the right collaboration medium.
If you have control of the tools you’ll be using, choose the right medium for the tone of the discussion. Video conferences can be more informal than teleconferences, webinars are better for presentations and text chatting works best for, well, chatting.
5. Contribute!
It goes without saying that you should participate and contribute. However, it’s worth making a special effort, because workshifters are often forgotten because they aren’t physically present. Make your presence known by the quality of your contributions.
6. Allow more time in meetings.
As a workshifter, you might be used to scheduling non-work activities around your work – for example, collecting children from school or meeting a friend for coffee. Keep in mind, though, that your non-workshifting colleagues usually don’t have such a tight schedule and don’t mind if meetings run over time. So allow extra time in meetings, especially important meetings.
7. Go outside your work team.
Finally, practice! Join a committee, collaborate on LinkedIn, start a Meetup group, whatever. Choose a mix of online and offline groups. Collaborating with new people sharpens your communication skills, and doing it in person reminds you how your non-workshifting colleagues work.

8 Easy Ways To Get Much More Done

9 low-tech ways to manage our time more wisely In the workplace, it's all about getting it done faster and with less help. Employers, always looking to do more with less, expect workers to be efficient and effective. Sometimes, this means one person is assigned work that two people might have handled in the past.

How can you overcome these obstacles and walk out of the office without feeling like a chicken without a head? Follow these steps:

1. Get organized. You wouldn't travel to a new place without a map, a GPS or directions. Don't expect to be productive without a list of things to do and a workspace that is conducive to getting it done. Arrange your workspace so that you have everything that you need handy. Don't forget to straighten up your computer's desktop so it's easy to find files. You'll save yourself valuable time and a lot of aggravation when you plan ahead so that you can find things you'll need.

2. Be realistic. There's nothing worse than starting the day full of optimism and with a to-do list a mile long only to realize that you only had time to check off one or two items. Consider your day and the constraints on your time when you put together your list. You'll be more productive when you set out to complete a reasonable amount of tasks.
3. Don't multitask. Workplaces seem to encourage multi-tasking; don't we all seem to do more than one thing at all times? While you may think it makes sense to check email throughout the day while you're in the midst of other projects, for example, all you're doing is setting yourself up to fall down a potentially never-ending hole of things that will distract you from your important priorities. Make times during the day for all of your major activities, including returning phone calls and emails. You'll likely notice that you can get more done by the end of the day.

4. Figure out your most productive times. What are the best times for you to get your work done? Do you get your best work done first thing in the morning, or are you a true night owl? When possible, try to schedule your most challenging tasks for when you'll be at your best. In addition, consider the ebbs and flows of your workplace. If you know you'll be interrupted constantly in the mornings, you'll be more productive if you plan to complete short tasks during those times and save your projects that require more focus for quieter periods.

5. Don't waste time on the computer. Do you stare unproductively at your computer screen for extended periods, even if you know you aren't getting your work done? This is a big waste of time. You'll be more productive if you take a break. Take a walk, read something or clear your head and get back to the computer once you get re-inspired.

6. Just say no to meetings. You want to be a team player and volunteer for committees and to help with events at work, but be selective. Try to identify ways to help out that don't involve a lot of in-person meetings, which tend to be big time sucks. If you are in charge of a program or activity, limit the number of scheduled meetings and try to get things done via email or brief phone calls.

7. Use social media as a break. We all know how easy it is to get distracted when checking social media. One minute, you're checking out a friend's photo, an hour later, you're still posting comments and making updates. Unless you're incorporating social media as part of a professional strategy at work, it's probably best to save yourself a lot of time by only viewing social networking sites when you have free time outside of work. Also, your boss may notice if you are always updating your status during the work day, so it's best to avoid even scheduling posts during those times.

8. Identify ways to keep up with the news you need to know. While mindless social media use doesn't improve your productivity, when you use Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn and Facebook to help you stay abreast of the news you need to know, it can help you be more productive and in-the-know at work. Make a point to identify several great online resources who share details that help you get your work done and follow them closely. Select a time or two each day to review their updates and you'll be well prepared for your productive day at work.

6 Habits of Remarkably Successful People

successful people habitsI've had the privilege of being career coach to some of the world's most successful people: from college presidents to Fortune 50 C-level executives to world-class scientists. Here are commonalities among them:
They aim for world-best. They realize the excellent risk-reward ratio of trying to make each work product world-class. Even if one doesn't become that august, they and their employees will be more invigorated about having aimed high, and the project will have gone further than if their goal was merely to be good. As Jill McLemore wrote, "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land amongst the stars."

They treat time as treasure. Most of those super-successful people recognize the truth of what Thomas Edison said, "Time is really the only capital that any human being has and the thing he can least afford to waste or lose." Before pursuing any activity, they consciously ask themselves, "Is this a good use of my time?" And as they're tackling each task, they ask themselves not, "Is this the best approach," nor "Is it the fastest approach?" but "Is it the most time-effective approach?"

And most of them believe that time beyond the standard workday is often more wisely spent on work than on recreation. Yes, they veg out but less often than do mere mortals. They believe that spending more time building their company or nonprofit, doing more research, or seeing another patient benefits society and themselves more than spending every evening with their kids. Most of them believe that good parenting is more a matter of quality than quantity time.

They laser-focus. Dabbling is fun: learn a little about this, a little about that, and then when, to get to the next level, you have to mess with difficult details, you just move on to dabble at something else. Alas, that's a formula for mediocrity if not termination.

That doesn't mean that megaproductive people stay with the same endeavor forever. It doesn't even mean that they tackle only one project at a time. But when they take on a project, they are driven, laser-focused on getting it done well. Super-performers take an idea and push it forward to a conclusion with the perseverance of a winning Iditarod sled dog.

They think 'probabilistically.' Before making any decision, even small ones, the super-successful, often at remarkable speed, consider the probabilities and import of all major positive and negative factors. For example, before investing time and money in an idea, they consider:
  • All the factors affecting the probability of the idea becoming a success: the team, competition, time to market, cost and potential for running out of money.
  • The opportunity costs: What could the resources otherwise be used for?
  • How important would the success be to him/herself, the organization and society?
  • How hurtful would a failure be to him/herself, the organization and to society?
  • The side effects of taking on the project: Would tackling it be fun, toxic, etc.?

I attended a talk by Alan Webber, founder of Fast Company, who has interviewed most of Silicon Valley's heaviest hitters. He said that most of them operate from "Ready, fire, aim." They know they're more likely to succeed by getting started after only moderate deliberation and then revising as experience dictates.

They are storytellers. The remarkably successful recognize that while they are mainly persuaded by data and logic, most people are more influenced by story. So the hyper-successful take the time to develop powerful stories and the art of telling them well. They pepper their talks, meetings, sales pitches, and media appearances with such emotional appeals.

They never look back. They recognize that revisiting past failures and mistreatments has little value. It usually serves mainly to engender unproductive anger or depression. Indeed, my father, a Holocaust survivor, rarely talked about the experience. When I asked him why, he said, "The Nazis took five years from my life. I won't give them one minute more. Never look back, always take the next step forward." I can leave you with no better advice.

9 tips for staying productive during the summer months

Outdoor workWorking during the summer comes with its own unique set of challenges. Co-workers are sharing plans, stories and pictures of their tropical vacations and weekend getaways. Commutes become hotter, longer and sweatier. Out-of-the-office email responses are more frequent, and there’s a near constant distraction of warm weather and the wish to get outside. When summer comes, are you left choosing whether you or your work suffers?
Laura Lee Rose, a business and efficiency coach, says, “The idea isn’t to ‘ignore’ or deny yourself [in order] to stay focused at work. The harder you work on blocking out summer — the more you feel distracted, disgruntled and penalized. The idea is to allow summer to be properly integrated into your work schedule.” She offers tips one through five to help you stay productive during the summer months:

1. Schedule and publish your vacation days to your managers several months in advance.
The best way is to schedule all your vacation at the start of the new year. This assures that you take the vacation days that you need to recharge. You may not know what you want to do during those vacation days — but you typically know what weeks are available with spouse, children and other family/friends. Publishing your dates well in advance allows your managers to manage project resources around your absence. Continually reminding your manager of upcoming vacation in your one-on-one manager meetings, reminds your manager the need to work around you during those dates. If you plan these things well in advance, there should be no reason for you to cancel your vacation because of work.
2. Take short breaks and walks outside during the work day.
Bring and set your timer to remind you to return to the office when the timer goes off.
3. Take advantage of the summer weekends.
Schedule some weekend hours with family in the outdoors or summer-related activities: take tours of your town, attend water parks or amusement parks in your area, bike ride and visit neighborhood parks, play tennis with friends, etc. Pack a summer activity during your time off. This fulfills the feeling that you just got back from a mini-vacation. Summer brings some rainy weekends — include family board games or other indoor games.
4. Bring summer into your office.
Bring summertime fruit juices and fruit, summertime lunch snacks; put on coconut hand lotion; wear colorful and light (office appropriate) outfits; do things that help you feel like you are relaxed and calm while you are doing your work.
5. Socialize near and outside of the office.
Schedule a long lunch at least every two weeks during the summer — and make plans to meet friends at a special outdoor restaurant.
Enjoying the perks of summer even while you’re at work are just some of the ways to keep your productivity up. Other important tips include a focus on your mental and physical well-being. Jackie Chu is a media and organic search specialist for the advertising agency TRAFFIK. She shares tips six through nine to help keep your mind and body focused and feeling well during warmer weather:
6. Stay cool.
Drink ice cold water throughout the day and keep the office at a reasonably cold level. It’s proven that being warm makes you sleepy and fatigued while being (slightly) cold keeps you more alert and awake
7. Stay hydrated.
Try to drink about 2.2 liters a day for women and 3.0 liters a day for men. For a more accurate measure, take your body weight in pounds, divide in half and drink that amount in fluid ounces. Most people are dehydrated, and this causes them to overeat, oversleep and have poor energy levels and digestion. If you drink enough water you’ll notice that you’ll eat less, be less groggy and be more alert throughout the day.
8. Schedule tasks when you’re most up to complete them.
I try to write in the morning when I’m more focused and alert. This is also when I complete tasks that involve strategy. After lunch — when you can be more sleepy — try to focus on things that are more time consuming but involve less mental exhaustion. This helps me use my day, time and energy effectively.
9. Make a schedule and to-do list.
I write in everything, from when I can go to the gym or yoga to every task that needs to be completed that day. By seeing a written list of what needs to be completed it helps me stay on task (and it feels awesome when I get to cross things off)!

9 Reasons You're Failing At Your Job

successful people habitsIt can be overwhelming keeping up with day-to-day responsibilities – at work and at home. Sometimes, it seems like everyone wants a little piece of you, and it's easy to forget your priorities, plans and targets.

If you want to stay on track and give yourself the best shot at being as successful as possible, avoid the following habits:

Do not worry about things you cannot control.
The economy, your nasty boss, the weather – you can't change them, so don't spend your time focusing on them. Instead, choose things you can control and focus on how to make changes to improve yourself. At the same time, don't be too quick to label what things are beyond your control.

For example, even though the economy isn't strong, you can influence how likely it is for you to land a new job if you are proactive about networking and create strong job search marketing materials.

Do not obsess about what otherwise insignificant people think about you.

While this negative habit may be most obvious and prevalent in young people, many of whom spend endless hours worrying about what others think about them, peer pressure does not end at high school graduation. If you find yourself concerned about what other people may say about your choices, your appearance or your habits, you'll save yourself a lot of time and aggravation by focusing on only the people you need to please. In most cases, that includes yourself, your boss and your family or close friends.

Do not procrastinate.
Another habit that affects you both at work and in your personal life, procrastinating can only hurt you in both places. When you avoid an important project or conversation, it takes up emotional energy you could be using to make positive changes in your life. Don't think that your boss won't notice if you can't get a project started or if you always wait until the last minute to finish something. No matter how difficult a project or challenge seems, you'll be better off taking care of it step-by-step instead of putting it off for another day.

Don't be careless.
You may be surprised by how even small careless mistakes can affect your professional reputation. If you consistently make spelling or grammar errors, for example, you may lose respect and potentially opportunities to advance at work. When you are disorganized and let things slip through the cracks at work, you will earn a reputation for being someone who can't get things done, so pay attention to even the smallest details.

Do not fall down an Internet rabbit hole.
It's easy to get distracted and realize you've just spent two hours reading banal status updates on Facebook instead of getting your work done. Be disciplined about your time. Have a goal in mind when you get online and be single-minded about achieving it. Some days, your goal will be to catch up with friends or share your vacation photos. However, if you know you need to accomplish something specific, such as researching a particular topic or subject, don't veer off task, or you'll never finish.

Do not badmouth people.
No doubt, gossiping with like-minded people can be a quick way to bond, both in and outside of work. However, when you're always looking for the latest dirt to share, you're likely souring your own reputation, and it can be very difficult to recover it.

Don't hold grudges.
You've heard this advice before; holding a grudge hurts you more than it affects the person you're trying to punish. Be the bigger person and move on; you'll be glad you did.

Don't complain constantly.
Every office has a whiner – the person you can count on to complain, no matter what changes come down the pike. Take a close look at yourself and make sure that person isn't you. If you must gripe and moan, consider relying on a pet as your audience. No matter what you do, avoid sharing your every frustration via social media. When you subject friends to all of your unhappy rants, it may make them hesitate to make an introduction or to help you network when you're looking for a new job or growing a business.

Do not obsess about the past.
If you're constantly looking in the rear view mirror you and focusing on past history, you'll miss opportunities just ahead. Instead of worrying about how you could have done things differently, make a pact with yourself to create positive changes. Of course, it isn't always as easy as simply deciding to make a change, but your attitude controls your actions. One step at a time, begin to focus on what changes you want to see in your future and you'll be that much closer to accomplishing them.

Listening skills are a ‘must-have’ for today’s IT staff

It listening skills
By Robert Half Technology

As an information technology professional, you probably think you’re good at listening to others. After all, people in the organization are always coming to you to discuss their technology problems. And if you didn’t hear what they were saying to you, you couldn’t help solve their issues, right?

It may not be that simple. There’s an act of listening but also an art of listening. Knowing the difference can have a significant impact on whether you get ahead in your career in IT.

This is especially true if your goal is a leadership position. Just read through the job descriptions in Robert Half Technology’s “Salary Guide,” and you’ll find that most positions, including the most senior level, specifically state the need for outstanding communication skills. This is largely because technology professionals are now required to interact directly with many different people, both inside and outside of the organization.

But the intensifying spotlight on communication skills has many IT pros feeling exposed. They’ve spent years refining their technical expertise because that’s what the business demanded and have thus given little time or effort to polishing their interpersonal skills.

If this describes you, how can you become a more effective listener? Here are some tips:
  • Be present. Truly hearing what someone has to say requires your full attention. There are so many distractions in the office — many of them tech-related, ironically, such as instant messaging and email — that you almost can’t help but half-listen to anyone who speaks to you, whether it’s in person or by phone. But do what you can to bring yourself fully into the conversation so you can concentrate on the message that’s being imparted to you. (This includes meetings, too, when you may often be tempted to glance at your smartphone.)
  • Empathize. Admit it: When the technology you use doesn’t work properly, you get frustrated. So, don’t be so quick to dismiss or become annoyed with others when they vent to you about their IT woes. You’re the person they need to contact for assistance, so they’re going to look to you to be their calm in the storm. Dealing with people who are not tech-savvy may require even more sensitivity, especially when they come to you with some sincere but odd requests.
  • Notice the nuances. Understanding nonverbal cues is another part of effective listening: Good listeners will sense what is not being said as well as what is verbalized. Learning how to read physical cues, such as facial expressions, or catch subtle changes in a person’s speaking tone takes practice. But it’s a skill that will help you not only resolve problems faster but also diffuse situations before they take an unpleasant turn.
  • Don’t interrupt and get clarification. Giving someone your undivided attention shows respect and can have a positive impact on your entire exchange. It also means you’re less likely to misunderstand, or simply miss, what the person is saying to you. Of course, it’s easy to become impatient when a customer is telling you about a problem you already know the solution for before he has finished speaking. But let the end user give you the full download before you respond. If the person does get a little long-winded, wait for an appropriate moment to interject. And if the problem requires further action on your part, make sure to repeat back what the person said to confirm you understand the issue and what you must do.
  • Tune in to your teammates. IT departments are typically fast-paced with intense workloads, leaving little time for technology personnel to engage in meaningful dialogue with each other. However, make a point not to become so absorbed in your work that you constantly miss, or only half absorb, what others on your immediate team are saying. Otherwise, you may miss opportunities to learn valuable information that will allow you to work more efficiently, find solutions to problems quickly and perhaps even identify issues before they worsen.
Also remember that good listening skills apply when communicating with others beyond in-person or phone conversations. For more insight on proper protocols for communication tools such as email and text messages, check out “Business Etiquette: New Rules for a Digital Age.” Even the most tech-savvy people can benefit from learning how to keep the human factor in all of their business communications.

Your 2013 job-search guide: July through September

Susan Ricker,

It's already the second half of 2013, and if your goals for the year included finding a new job, consider this a call to action. At the beginning of the year, we created a 2013 job-search guide with a quarter-by-quarter plan to keep you focused in your search. Here's an overview of the timeline:
  • Q1 (January through March): Devote the first few months of the year to getting organized: Organize your thoughts, organize your application materials and organize your contacts.
  • Q2 (April through June): A few months in, you should be going full steam ahead with your job search. Your days should be filled with applying, following up, networking and (hopefully) going to interviews. If you're a college student, get a head start in your professional job search by tapping alumni, using your school's career resources and making initial contact with companies of interest.
  • Q3 (July through September): At around the midyear mark, take a step back to review what's working and what's not in your job search. It's not too late to course-correct to ensure that you reach your goals during the back half of the year.
  • Q4 (October through December): During the last few months of the year, take advantage of the season. Network at holiday parties, consider seasonal job opportunities and take the time to thank those who have helped you professionally throughout the year.
Q3: Conduct a self-review and make adjustments
At this point, you've gotten your application materials into good shape and you've been busy searching for and applying to jobs. Your next step is to review your progress and determine what's aided your search and what's held you back. Also review whether your career goals are the same or if you'd be willing to cast a wider net. Here's a closer look at what you should be doing in Q3:
  • Change what's not working: By the midyear mark, you most likely know whether you're making progress or you're stuck in the same spot. The first item up for review is your résumé. Does it need a makeover? By changing its design or format, you may find new strengths to play up that you hadn't previously considered. Have your networking efforts fallen flat? Review the basics and make sure you're ready to mingle. Also assess your social-media strategy: Do you have one, and is it helping or hurting you? Finally, ask yourself if relocation is an option. Would you be willing to move for a job?
  • Consider temporary or seasonal work to gain experience and contacts: They say it's easier to get a job when you already have one, but that really means employers want to see that you have industry experience. Temporary work is a way to get your foot in the door at a company, and seasonal work can add experience to your résumé. Focus on finding opportunities that boost your résumé's experience and skills section.
  • Use advice and resources specific to your background and needs: You customize your résumé to each job you apply for, so you should also customize your search to fit your individual needs. Consider using niche sites to target specific industries or experience levels. If you have trouble fitting a job search into your busy schedule, mobile applications and resources may help you get to relevant opportunities more quickly.
Use July through September to apply strategies that are right for your job-search needs and you'll be in good shape heading into the end of the year.

6 Mistakes You Should Never Make On LinkedIn

LinkedInYou've probably heard that social media, especially LinkedIn, can help you find a job. Whether you are currently employed and open to opportunities or between positions, statistics suggest LinkedIn is a useful tool. A survey of hiring managers by Bullhorn Reach says 97.3% of those surveyed used LinkedIn as a recruiting tool in 2012.

Having a profile is a great first step, but if you're like many professionals, you could probably leverage LinkedIn better to help you reach your career and job search goals.

Take a close look at your profile and how you use the network and make sure you aren't making these mistakes on LinkedIn.

1. Your profile isn't 100% complete.
You set up a profile, isn't that enough? Not exactly! Check your profile and make sure LinkedIn tells you it is "100% complete." If it's not, take the steps needed to fill it in. Perhaps you need to reach the required 50 contacts. Have you added your education and filled in some skills? Have you included your zip code, and filled in all of the sections? Do you have a Summary and have you described your work experiences? Don't forget to include a photo; people are much less likely to want to learn more about you if you don't add a picture to your profile. When your profile is not complete, you will be harder to find on LinkedIn, and you don't get the full benefit of the network.
2. Your profile lacks compelling details and keywords.
When recruiters or others search LinkedIn, they see many results listed. What will inspire them to select your profile? To start out, make sure you use a friendly, but professional looking photo. Create a headline (the information right under your name) that makes it clear why someone should want to learn more about you. Don't use your current job title as your headline; be descriptive and tell people why you're great at what you do. When you compose your descriptive headline, or pitch, be sure to include keywords, the words people are most likely to use when they search for someone with your background. Take advantage of the opportunity to tell your story in your LinkedIn profile.

3. You never modify your profile.
Social networks don't work as well when you "set it and forget it." Keep an eye on how often your profile comes up in search and how many people view your profile. (You can see this information when you view your profile - scroll down and look on the right side of your screen.) If the numbers are low, update your titles and your headline and tweak your descriptions to try to capture additional search traffic.

4. You haven't customized your LinkedIn URL.
The most obvious sign of a LinkedIn novice: a non-customized URL. When you edit your profile, look under your photo. If the URL listed is a series of random letters or numbers, be sure to edit it and select your name, or some version of your name if you aren't able to secure your name as a URL. Once you customize your URL, it makes it a lot easier to share it on your business cards and your resume.

5. You never post updates.
There's a reason LinkedIn is called a "social network." The point is to share insights and information with your network. You can do this via the "update" feature. What should you say? Share ideas, links to interesting articles, and pass along links people in your network share.

6. You're not following companies.
You can learn a lot by following a company on LinkedIn. Even if they don't consistently update their page, you can easily see people in your network who work for the company and use the data at your fingertips to see if the company promotes from within (check "Insights"), and where they tend to recruit. Of course, you'll also see any jobs they post, and have the opportunity to be one of the first to apply.

7 Easy Steps to a Freelance Life

Being a free agent is exciting, rewarding and gives you carte blanche to choose your own hours and assignments. But standing out from the more than the estimated 10 million independent contractors in the United States can be a challenge.

"Some workers freelance while they look for a traditional full-time job, but most are freelancing because they've made a conscious lifestyle choice," says Ben Jablow, Senior Business Development Director for, a Web site that connects consultants and freelance job seekers with more than 60,000 contract-based projects. "They want to better balance and integrate their life and work and to be able to control what they do, how many hours they work and how much money they make."

Hiring freelance workers is beneficial to employers, too, because it provides more latitude to conduct their operations. Employers can hire based on specific skill sets for individual projects and outsource more operations, ranging from design and marketing to IT. This allows businesses to easily augment or reduce staff levels based on workflow and control costs by dialing up or down payroll and minimizing benefits coverage.

Are you seeking the flexibility and autonomy of freelancing? Jablow offers seven ways to help build your client base and fatten your wallet:

1. Specialize in a Growing Niche
Examine your skills and background to identify the unique services and value you can offer. Then think of ways to apply them in an area that has high and growing demand - and not a lot of experts to do the work. For example, freelance writer Mary L. was having little luck finding travel and entertainment assignments, but after taking inventory of past projects, found several pieces she wrote for her former employer's IT department. Today, she has a flourishing technical writing practice and more work than she can handle.

2. Nurture Your Network Stay top-of-mind by regularly keeping in touch with your network. Go where the people who can hire you are -- attend the same conferences, join the same associations and read the same magazines and newsletters. Call your friends and colleagues and tell them what you are looking for and what you have to offer. Be sure to contact former bosses and co-workers, too. If you left the company on good terms, this can be an excellent way to get clients.

3. Join a Service There are many Web sites, like, that bridge the connection between independent contractors and employers. Unlike many freelance sites, is not a bidding platform. Job seekers are no longer required to register or log onto the site, and do not pay to post a profile or apply to projects. Instead, employers purchase project postings and access to the 1.1 million profiles and résumés in's database.

4. Build Referrals Referrals are one of the easiest and most effective ways to build your business. And, once you get rolling, they have a snowball effect. To encourage referrals, first be sure to take care of your existing customers in a way that will leave them absolutely thrilled with your services. When the kudos come in, ask for testimonials and referrals. One independent accountant even began his own "referral reward" program, where he sends a thank-you note along with a $25 gift certificate to those who send new clients to him.

5. Subcontracting
Subcontract your services out to other firms or independent professionals in your field. For example, a freelance graphic designer supplements her direct business by subcontracting with a large ad agency that uses her talent when it has more work than it can handle or can't do the task as efficiently or economically. The designer works behind the scenes and is paid by the agency - often at a lower rate than if she got the project on her own. But she says it's a win-win for both parties and has been a great way to build her portfolio!

6. More is Good The more qualified prospects you reach, the more clients you will have. Even if you can only handle several assignments at a time, a larger client base gives you the option of choosing the most exciting and rewarding projects. And isn't that why you became a free agent in the first place?

7. Establish Yourself as an Expert
Becoming known as an expert can be some of the best advertising you can get. Write articles in industry magazines, newsletters and trade journals and arrange to speak at professional or trade association conferences on topics related to your niche. Those who like your articles and speeches will contact you when they want more information, some may even become clients. Post your articles and speeches on your Web site, send "FYI" copies to your clients and associates, and include them in your marketing literature.

9 Ridiculously Easy Ways To Be More Productive

9 low-tech ways to manage our time more wiselyBy Travis Steffen

As entrepreneurs, we're always busy. But where does it end? When you get more successful, do you think your schedule will magically get less busy and fill up with fewer obligations?

Think again. Instead, you'll have to get more done in less time. And unless you have a system, it may prove difficult.

Now, there are tons of apps, online tools and time management methods out there, but it wasn't until I began experimenting with more nontraditional, seemingly archaic means of managing my time that I truly began to harness the full power of time management. Everyone is different, and not all of the strategies that work for me work for everyone else. But here are 9 unconventional tips that have helped me manage my time far more effectively:

1. Ditch the smartphone and use a paper and pen. Just because a method is more technologically advanced does not necessarily make it more effective. In my opinion, nothing beats a good old-fashioned notebook and pen - it's clunky, annoying, inconvenient and therefore difficult to ignore. I could always place my smartphone in my pocket, and I often do. Unless I'm wearing some sort of MC Hammer-style parachute pants, I can't put my to-do list notebook in my pocket – nor should I. The annoyance factor is what makes it so powerful.

2. Use a to-do list template. Since your end goal is to manage your time more effectively, it would be ridiculous to spend a ton of time writing out your most common to-do list items each day. I created my own to-do list template which includes all of my daily tasks. This ensures I don't spend time writing them down, and I can schedule them in with my more unique tasks that I only have to perform today.

3. Include even the most menial tasks. On your list, you should include every single solitary thing you do during the day that takes up time. Seriously. I'm talking meals, working out, taking a shower and calling your mother. This is not a business task management list, this is a time management list. If you spend time on things you think you'll remember on your own, include it.

4. Prioritize your list items. The order in which you perform necessary tasks is where the magic happens. Think about the most optimal order in which you can accomplish your tasks - you can often squeeze three or four things into the same amount of time that it would otherwise take you to accomplish just one.

5. Start your list with 5 small, easy tasks. The Brian Tracy acolytes are going to hate on me for this one. I've never been a big fan of completing your largest task first. Or second. Or even third. Say I've got a long list of 35 items I need to perform on a given day (which is common). Then, let's assume my three largest list items take an hour each (which, again, is common.) That means three hours into my day, I look down at my list and I still have 32 list items that have yet to be completed. This becomes very intimidating and, in my experience, makes it far less likely that I'll complete everything on the list that day. However, if I decide to start my day with five quick, simple tasks before tackling my first large list item, I look down at my list about an hour later and I've already made a dent. I feel like I'm on a roll, and I'm more likely to ramp up my productivity for the day.

6. For every big list item, perform 3-4 small list items. As an extension of the previous tip, I advocate performing at least three or four simpler list items for every long, arduous one. This not only continues to release endorphins at a more rapid rate – which happens every time I check something off a list and boosts my mood – but it also makes it seem like I'm burning through a larger percentage of my list more rapidly.

7. Include a project management grid. Your to-do list not only serves as a way to manage your time during a specific day, but it also keeps you organized and productive across all your projects. If you're an entrepreneur, juggling multiple projects is often a challenge, and that's why most people assume it's more productive to focus on only one project at a time. I disagree with this assumption. I think that you can truly be more productive by juggling multiple projects - if you manage them all effectively. Include a grid on the back of your to-do list devoted to project management, displaying every project in terms of phases of development (i.e. brainstorming, outlining, development, testing, etc.). I prefer one with a similar structure and rules to what Eric Ries recommends in The Lean Startup, but feel free to experiment.

8. Use shorthand. I use my own form of shorthand to populate my to-do list. To a third party, nothing would make sense. But you're the only one who uses your list, so use whatever form of shorthand you like. It's quicker than writing everything out in full, and every second counts.

9. Make tomorrow's list before today ends. Before I sleep each night, I take a few minutes to make tomorrow's list. I'll take anything I didn't accomplish today and push it to tomorrow, and add new list items in where necessary, based on what tasks I need to perform next. I'll also then number my first dozen items so I have some direction on what to dive into first.

How to become an urban planner

Buiness Woman In The CityHave you ever visited a new city and easily found your destination or noticed how well-organized a town’s directions and layout were? There’s probably a talented urban planner to thank for that. These professionals develop plans and programs for the use of land, and create communities, accommodate growth and revitalize physical facilities in towns, cities, counties and metropolitan areas.*
Behind every neighborhood, downtown area, expanding business and open lot, there’s likely an urban planner weighing in on how best to engage the community and work with the surroundings. If you’ve ever looked around your neighborhood and uttered the words, “You know what they should do?”, consider if becoming an urban planner is the right career for you.
The demand for urban planners
As the economy continues to recover and cities and neighborhoods redevelop, urban planners will be needed to accommodate growing populations and revitalize local communities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the employment of urban and regional planners to grow 16 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as average for all occupations. Population growth and environmental concerns will drive employment growth for planners in cities, suburbs and other areas. Urban planners are also commonly employed by engineering and architecture firms for consultation services about land use, development and building.
According to the BLS, “Urban and regional planners identify community needs and develop short- and long-term plans to create, grow or revitalize a community or area. For example, planners may examine plans for proposed facilities, such as schools, to ensure that these facilities will meet the needs of a changing population. As an area grows or changes, planners help communities manage the related economic, social and environmental issues, such as planning a new park, sheltering the homeless or making the region more attractive to businesses.”
Urban planners may specialize in certain areas of development or planning. Suburbs are the fastest-growing communities in most metropolitan areas. As suburban areas become more heavily populated, municipalities will need planners to address changing housing needs and to improve transportation systems.
An increased focus on sustainable and environmentally-conscious development also will increase demand for planners. Issues such as storm water management, permits, environmental regulation, and historic preservation should drive employment growth.
Employment growth should be fastest in private engineering, architectural and consulting services. Engineering and architecture firms are increasingly using planners for land use, development and building. In addition, many real estate developers and governments will continue to contract out various planning services to these consulting firms, further driving employment growth.
Education and work experience
An advanced degree is required for most urban planning positions; usually a master’s degree from an accredited planning program is needed to qualify for professional positions. Many people who enter master’s degree programs have a bachelor’s degree in economics, geography, political science, or environmental design.
Depending on the school’s location and economic surroundings, course offerings and focuses may differ. For example, programs located in agricultural states may focus on rural planning and programs located in an area with high population density may focus on urban revitalization.
These jobs also often require several years of related work experience. Entry-level planners typically need one to two years of work experience in a related field, such as architecture, public policy or economic development. Many students get experience through real-world planning projects or part-time internships while enrolled in a planning program. They often complete summer internships during their master’s program. Mid- and senior-level planner positions usually require several years of work experience in planning or in a specific planning specialty.
Important qualities
While education and on-the-job experience are major factors in determining how qualified a candidate is to be hired as an urban planner, there are other important qualities that employers look for. Some of those qualities are:
  • Analytical skills. Planners analyze information and data from a variety of sources, such as market research studies, censuses, and environmental impact studies.
  • Collaboration skills. In making planning decisions, urban and regional planners must collaborate with a wide range of people. They often work with or receive input from public officials, engineers, architects, and interest groups.
  • Decision-making skills. Planners must weigh all possible planning options and combine analysis, creativity and realism to choose the appropriate action or plan.
  • Management skills. Planners must be able to manage projects, which may include overseeing tasks, planning assignments and making decisions.
  • Speaking skills. Urban and regional planners must be able to communicate clearly and effectively because they often give presentations and meet with a wide variety of audiences, including public officials, interest groups and community members.
  • Writing skills. Urban and regional planners need strong writing skills because they often prepare research reports, write grant proposals and correspond with colleagues and stakeholders.

Unemployed? Here's how to nab an interview

If you're out of work, looking for a new job can be challenging, especially if you've been unemployed for an extended period of time. Here are some expert tips for staying on track and nabbing an interview:
Convey confidence
"Remember to be enthusiastic and interested throughout the interview, regardless of how frustrated you may be with your job search," says Lynne Sarikas, director of Northeastern University's MBA Career Center.
Yes, being unemployed isn't fun. Getting turned down from previous interviews can make the feeling even worse. Still, if you bring those feelings into your next interview, you might jeopardize your chances.
The antidote for this negativity? Focus on how you can still produce results on the job. "You are competing with current workers, so you have to show that you are still capable, knowledgeable and that you add value to the company in this position," Sarikas says.
Show you aren't rusty
Employers want workers who are up to date on their knowledge and skills. If you want to impress employers, review all the tools you used in past jobs, and make sure you're familiar with all the relevant industry language.
"Know the software you used in each role you've worked," says Sarah Connors, staffing manager in the human resources contracts division at WinterWyman. "Software is becoming a bigger item to help get you in the door, and those names should roll off your tongue like you used them yesterday. [Saying] 'Um' ... because you can't remember a name makes it seem like you don't remember the software, and if you don't remember the software, then it's not a value-add you're bringing to the next company."
Another way to prove your value? "Use your network: Connect with former co-workers and managers on LinkedIn to get a great referral that shows what a capable, valuable employee you can be," Connors says.
Prove your fit
"Fit is the most critical determination in hiring for both the hiring manager and the candidate," Sarikas says. "For the hiring manager, there are typically multiple candidates with the skills to do the job. The challenge is finding the best person for the job based on how they fit with the team and the culture of the organization."
So how do you communicate fit? Be yourself, says Kevin Ricklefs, senior vice president of talent management at CHG Healthcare. "Don't just answer the question; add some personality and passion into each response," Ricklefs says. "Your personality comes through when you convey enthusiasm for certain topics, you tell stories that explain your 'why's, and you ask questions of the interviewer in areas that interest you."
Explain any long-term unemployment
If you have not worked for a while, you may be asked about it in your interviews. Invest the time in creating a strong answer to this question.
"Being honest is always the best option," Connors says. "If there's something you feel is too personal to share, you'll want to talk to a recruiter, mentor or trusted friend about how to discuss it. Highlight any volunteer work, contract positions or classes you have taken that show you've been active and keeping your skills fresh. It's too competitive a market to not give yourself every advantage."

11 Habits of Superb Bosses

woman speaks to group at conference tableBy Miriam Salpeter

Most people have worked for a bad boss, but superb bosses often don't get a lot of press. Most employees would give a lot for the opportunity to work for a boss with even a few of these characteristics:

Gives constructive criticism
There's a big difference between a critique and a conversation that engages the employee and helps him or her constructively plan how to change for the better. A great boss knows how to approach a subordinate with the right mix of mentorship and direction.

Provides consistent feedback
In today's workplace, it's not unusual for supervisors to be overwhelmed with their workloads. Often, something that's first to fall off the "to do" list is providing regular feedback and supervision for employees. A strong boss makes a point to offer feedback regularly and to comment on improvements or negative developments so the employee knows exactly where he or she stands.

Rewards good work
While the boss' hands may be tied when it comes to salary or benefits, a good boss recognizes the best employees, even if the recognition is nothing more than a written note filed with personnel.

Knows how to coordinate and juggle
All employees today are taking on more responsibilities, and it's up to each person to manage details for multiple projects simultaneously. The best bosses don't pass on the stress to the people they manage. Instead of acting as if every project is like a fire to put out immediately, good bosses adjust and delegate work based on what needs to get done immediately.

Mentors and coaches employees
Very lucky workers have the opportunity to serve under a boss who is really interested in their careers and in helping them get promotions. The best bosses make a point to identify and enhance their employees' strengths and direct them to projects that will allow them to shine and get noticed.

Accepts responsibility, not just credit
Most people have worked for bosses who are happy to take credit when things are going well, but fewer have a chance to see a real leader in action: the one who steps up and accepts blame when the going gets tough.

Communicates clearly
Good bosses know that communication is only as good as how it is received; it doesn't matter if you think you've explained what needs to be done if your employees don't understand what you've said. The best supervisors understand how to explain what they want done succinctly and directly, and they are available to answer questions as necessary.

Offers challenge and support
This delicate balance eludes most people: how can you challenge your workers to improve while providing the resources and support they need to succeed? Employees need both in order to improve themselves.

Takes calculated risks
Sometimes, it's a real risk for a supervisor to trust an employee with a project that the boss knows is just beyond his or her strengths. The best supervisors will know when the time is right to take a step back and allow people they supervise to take the reigns of a big project.

Recognizes a healthy work-life fit
Most workers loathe the idea of reporting to someone who seems to have no life outside of the office. The unstated message is, "I have no life, so neither should you." These employees often spend long hours at the office because they think it's the only way to impress the higher ups. Confident and competent bosses can motivate people to work overtime when necessary, but don't expect 100% devotion to work all of the time.

Doesn't play obvious favorites
If it's obvious who is the favorite at work, it is challenging for the rest of the team to come together as a unit because there's extra, unnecessary, competition. The best bosses try to eliminate this unhealthy competition that comes from trying to be the favorite and instead instill a sense of working together for the common good of the organization or department.

The something extra that gives IT professionals an edge

IT professionals
By Robert Half Technology
As business and technology become more entwined, IT professionals are finding that companies expect them to deliver more than just expertise in their core competencies. Companies want candidates who combine their tech skills with business acumen. They want IT personnel who can work collaboratively with colleagues in other departments to identify opportunities to increase the company’s profitability through more effective use of technology.
There are good reasons for this shift in expectations. More companies are embracing business-transformative technologies such as cloud computing and virtualization, social media and mobile. They need professionals who not only understand the nuts-and-bolts of these technologies but also clearly see how the business can use them strategically to increase competitive advantage.
When it comes to IT hiring, more companies are now focusing on the “and” that connects a technology professional’s expertise to the “something more” that they can potentially provide that adds value to the business. The question is, if an employer asks you to deliver an “and,” would you be prepared to do so? Here are some strategies to help ensure that you can:
Understand your industry — as well as your employer’s. No matter what your role is — systems analyst, network architect, database manager, helpdesk professional or something else — stay apprised of trends in your field. New developments in your area of expertise could ultimately have an impact on how your employer conducts its business. This is why it’s also important to pay attention to the demands being placed on your company’s industry, such as competitive pressures or regulatory compliance requirements. Consider building your personal expertise in IT areas that could help your business better meet those demands.
Keep expanding your knowledge. When workplace training opportunities arise, don’t miss the chance to learn new skills that can enhance or expand your current abilities — if you have the time and permission to do so. The training does not have to be IT-related: Perhaps your company is offering a leadership training course or a seminar on business communication skills.
If the training does focus on technology, be willing to explore new areas. Even if you don’t end up working with certain technologies regularly, understanding how to use them — and where, how and why your employer is initially implementing them — may help you think of ways they might be applied elsewhere in the business. In addition, by expanding your knowledge and skills in both business and technology, you’ll likely improve your mobility within your organization, as well as increase your marketability in your field generally.
Be proactive about adding value. Make it a part of your everyday job to find ways to increase efficiency and profitability for your department — and for the broader organization, wherever possible. Such contributions can help to raise your visibility in the company. Even small improvements can be significant enough to help move a business forward over time.
Unsure where you can add value? Review your current job description and compare it to those in leading industry resources, such as the “Robert Half Technology Salary Guide.” Are the expectations that your employer has set for your position in line with industry norms? Being aware of what you should be providing to your company in your current role — and then making a point to deliver it, whether or not you’re being asked to do so — can go a long way toward adding value.
Sometimes the “and” employers look for in IT staff is additional technical skills. As more organizations look to emerging technologies to boost marketing efforts, improve operations, gain business insights and produce superior customer experiences, the demand for professionals with expertise in more than one of these in-demand areas is also rising. (So, too, are starting compensation levels for some specialized roles.) In these cases, too, technology professionals who have demonstrated solid business acumen by helping their employers find ways to increase profitability are likely to have an edge in the hiring environment.

4 types of interviewers and how to make them love you

Private DetectiveEven if you’ve prepared for the standard interview questions and feel ready to ace your job interview, there will be some apprehension as you wait to see what your interviewer will be like. Will he be tough and wait for you to impress him? Will she give you trick questions? Will he throw creative curveballs at you, like asking how many jellybeans are in that jar he’s snacking from?
While every hiring manager and interview will be different, there are some common personalities and experiences you can prepare for in advance. Here are four types of interview personalities and how to make them love you.

1. The Poker Face
This interviewer won’t let you know how the interview is going, and can throw your confidence if you’re not ready for her. While she may not give any emotional or physical cues to indicate if the interview is going well or not, you can still win her over.
Instead of responding based on what you think the interviewer wants to hear, take your time and form your own answers, since you won’t be able to read her reactions anyways. You can impress her by showing your knowledge in the field and how you’ve taken the initiative at work and in your career. And most importantly, remember that you’re interviewing her as well. You can get The Poker Face to open up by asking thoughtful questions about the company, as well as her experience there and what career path this job leads to.

2. The Detective
Bordering between nosy and paranoid, The Detective wants to see proof of every certification or skill you have, as well as track your every move in real life and on social media. While this interview personality may come off too strong, there are ways to turn this snoop into a friend.
First off, listen carefully to each question he poses, and be sure to give complete answers that address his concerns. You’ll be able to pick up clues of your own in his questions, and figure out what the company values and needs. For instance, if he’s pressing for proof that you’ve handled projects on your own, he may need an employee who can take the initiative and be a problem-solver. Also, be ready in advance for The Detective and come to the interview with any materials or technology that will be relevant to the job. If you do forget anything, assure him that you’ll send the information immediately after the interview, and be sure to get his contact info.

3. The Intimidator
Some interviewers get carried away by the power that comes with being an interviewer. Or perhaps they’ve been in the field so long that they’ve forgotten what it feels like to be a newcomer to a company or role. Either way, this interviewer’s going to be tough on you and expect you to prove your qualifications for the job.
Don’t back down under pressure. It’s important that you demonstrate your industry knowledge and what steps you’ve taken to better yourself. You want to make it clear that you can add value to the team and will bring your own strengths. If The Intimidator’s hardly impressed by your accomplishments, there’s still the opportunity to do well in the interview. Express an interest to learn more and point to this company as a clear example of industry leadership. Also ask questions about The Intimidator’s own career and what steps or advice they’d have you follow.

4. The Headless Chicken
This interviewer may not have known he would be meeting with you today, or that he’d be interviewing job candidates at all. Or, The Headless Chicken is extremely unorganized and hasn’t prepared to meet with you. Either way, you may accidentally be the one in charge in this interview.
Even though your interviewer will need some time to get the interview rolling, don’t let this fluster you or dash your hopes of an ace interview. The Headless Chicken  will hand you a lot of the questions and hope that you’ll carry the interview, which works to your advantage. Give complete answers about your background, education and training, areas of expertise, and future career plans. If you have any strengths or bragging points, be sure to work them in, since you may not be given another opportunity. If the interviewer’s erraticism raises red flags, though, listen to your gut. The interview is a chance for you to decide how you feel about the company, too.
No matter who’s interviewing you, remember to show up early and prepared, and be confident in your abilities. When you’re a strong candidate for the job, every interviewer will be interested.

How To Get Successful People To Answer Your Emails

How do you get successful people to answer your emails?By Reggie Hall Jr.

If the Internet were a real place, most emails would be the equivalent of that shady guy trying to sell you items from his kiosk at the mall. He's annoying. He doesn't give a crap about you. He wastes your time. And that foreign lotion bottle he extends to your terrified nostrils doesn't smell good.

He's trying (and failing) to connect with you. Don't laugh! You write emails to successful people the same way. These five tips will help you help you write emails that generate responses and build relationships:
1. Be brief
You're busy. You work hard, you create side projects, you hustle for new connections and you cram room in for a social life. (Damn, take a break!)

Successful people live even busier lives. A long email is like the stranger who reveals their life story five minutes after you shake their hand. Ain't nobody got time for that! Short messages decrease the chance your contact drags your email into their trash folder.

2. Keep it genuine
"Hello friend. I have a special secret that has saved me $10 million..."

Next! Automatic delete.

It's an extreme but too common real-life example. Stop writing emails that reek of dishonesty. Don't underestimate how deeply people crave authentic connections. Successful people develop a B.S. detector after constantly having others compete for their time and attention. When you hide your true intentions, beep, beep, beep! -- their B.S detector explodes.

If you want something, make it clear. If you have a great idea, share it. Most importantly, be upfront about why you are sending the email and why your message is great for the person receiving it. This will establish trust, which is the foundation for all positive relationships.

3. Be likeable
Ever stare at a date across the dinner table while they talk only about their life? It's unattractive and rude. In the same vein, center your emails around the contact instead of yourself. Primarily, focus your message on their background, their needs and how your email impacts them.

The second part of being likeable is making your request for information, meetings or feedback easy for people to say yes to. "Do you have 10 minutes to chat?" is easier for someone to agree to than "Can I talk with you for an hour?"

Give people outs when you make requests on their time. Applying too much pressure on them increases the chance they'll decline your attempts to connect. Phrases like "I know you're busy," "at a time convenient for you" or "let's discuss this further when you're back in town" demonstrate that you're conscientious about their time constraints.

You always become more likable when you relieve the burden on others.

4. Provide value
Your iPhone rings. It's the friend who only calls when they want something. Ignore! Ten minutes later, though, you answer your phone for a different friend.

Why did you accept one call and not the other? Because one friend shares cool news and invites you to interesting events, while another friend only takes.

Similarly, being a giver invites people to your cause. In your emails to successful people, share an interesting link or new information within their niche. Your email isn't just about receiving; it's about establishing a relationship. And good relationships are built upon helping people with shared interests and aspirations.

5. Show you're already winning
You want to contact successful people because you know they get important things done. You gain instant credibility by showing them you're already winning.

Did you just complete a cool project? Create something unique? Briefly tell your contact. The message conveyed is that you don't mooch, and that establishing a professional relationship with you won't be a waste of their time and effort.

Here's what it looks like put together. This email was sent to New York Times bestselling author Chris Guillebeau, resulting in an interview and new relationship:

Reginald Hall's email

The first line establishes a common link. Line two shows genuine flattery. Lines three and four give a clear intent of the project, which makes it easier to say yes.

The fifth line shows why Chris fits for the email's content. Line six is about being likeable and gives Chris an "out." The second-to-last line reads "at a convenient day and time for you." This goes back to taking away the burden for Chris.

The final, "P.S." line briefly shows how I'm already winning without bragging.

Note: Notice the title of Chris' book is spelled incorrectly. (It's "world," not "word.") This mistake proves you don't have to write a perfect email to have successful people respond positively to you! (Although you should always proofread.)

Influential people want to help you reach your goals! Your next connection is one strong email away.

Your turn: What's your secret (or biggest hurdle) for writing a great email to successful people?

Career Anxiety: Dreadful, Common And Totally Necessary

By Susan Ricker

When you're entering the workforce for the first time, it's natural to be nervous about your career and uncertain of how things will turn out. But what about later in life, when you're ready for a change or career switch? You may have years of experience under your belt, but that may not do much to quell your anxiety about what the future holds.

However unsettling it may be, uncertainty is necessary for a career switch. This is especially true for an encore career, or a career change made later in life that combines personal meaning with social purpose. "Encore careers are commonly sparked by something on the work front -- a layoff, the approach of retirement, an itch to reinvent," says Marci Alboher, author of "The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life." She adds, "Just as often, an encore is shaped by what's happening outside of work -- an empty nest, the loss of a parent, the end of a marriage, a new romance, an illness or a move from the suburbs to the city."

If you feel like you're alone with your uncertainty about a career switch later in life, think again. "Research shows that roughly 9 million people are already in encore careers, and another 31 million are keen to move in the same direction," Alboher says. "Although they come from different places, large numbers of people in their encore years are looking for the same thing: making a living while making a difference."

Key to getting 'unstuck'
Your discomfort may stem from wanting a change but not having a clear path to take to make change happen. This doesn't mean that you have to stay stuck, though. "You are part of a huge club," Alboher says. "In the domain of work, nearly all of us, whether we work for ourselves or for organizations, now feel a nearly constant sense of transition and uncertainty. If you're going to remain in the workplace, it's a given that you'll be tweaking your career again and again as you and the circumstances around you continue to evolve. And as part of the first generation with both the time and ability to craft a meaningful encore, you have plenty of compatriots."

Just as you would for any other uncertain part of your life, it's essential to reach out to others for advice. At the very least, sharing your career frustrations will force you to put into words what you don't like, which can be a good starting point for figuring out what you would like in a career.

Begin the period of exploration
Once you've admitted that you're looking for something different, the uncertainty in your life will give way to the changes you open yourself up to. "No two encore careers are the same, but nearly every one begins with a period of exploration," Alboher says. "Your exploration is a time to get used to a new version of yourself, one that is still evolving, one that doesn't know what's next. It's about going public with your desire to make a change. It's about opening your eyes and ears to new possibilities. It's about asking questions, asking for help."

Alboher recommends a number of different ways to open up your life to change:
  • Take your time, and give yourself space to reflect on the past and what you want in the future.
  • Meet with a career coach or join a group for people trying to make a career move.
  • Let people in your network know that you're looking for a new position and offer specifics.
  • Ultimately, trust your instincts.
Whether you choose the time to make a career switch or it chooses you, you'll likely have mixed feelings about the change. "All career transitions include a mix of things you can control and things you can't," Alboher says. "You may not have much say in the timing or the outcome. But you can initiate the process of self-discovery. You can work to be open to change. And you can control the decisions you make when options present themselves."

Uncertainty may be the last thing you want when making a career switch. But it can actually be what helps you discover a career you may never have considered before and the catalyst that gets you started.

7 Ways To Become Your Own Boss -- Profitably

Career coach and blogger Marty Nemko has been writing about the biggest career myths, from "Do what you love," and "Networking is the only way to get a job" to "Job seekers must sell themselves. This post is the fourth in the series and takes aim at the rosy assessments of entrepreneurship and self-employment.

You've probably heard that self-employment is the best path to financial freedom. I started out believing that too. That was how my father made enough money to move my mom, sister and me out of a Bronx tenement and into a middle-class neighborhood. In addition, I've seen that most employers pay employees as little as they can get away with; some even replacing workers with interns and volunteers so that they can avoid the minimum-wage law. But having been a self-employed career coach for a long time and having tried to help many clients become successfully self-employed, I've become less sanguine. Being self-employed is more difficult than many people imagine. It requires not only that you be good at what you do but that you be willing and able to market and sell.

Also, it helps to have the knack of acquiring things at very low cost, for example, convincing someone to let you share space for free. In addition, in a tiny business, there's no support structure: no IT department, no accounting dept. It's all on you, and if you hire people to do all that, it's difficult to net a decent income. That's especially so if you have to pay an individual not group rate for health insurance.

So which start-ups make sense? You've heard, "It takes money to make money." That may not be true, though. For people cut out for self-employment, I am bullish on businesses that provide a service and require little money to start and run.

  • Spacemaker: Clean out basements, garages, and attics and then install shelves and cabinets. Many people will pay serious money to convert a space from unusable to valuable.
  • Run people's garage, yard, or estate sales for a percentage of the take.
  • Tutor: Some make over $100 an hour, especially working with learning disabled or autism-spectrum students.
  • Relationship ad coach: You help people create their dating website profile. That work is well-suited to counselor types who also could develop the ability to take photos that capture the person's essence.
  • Fundraising auction planner: An auction can raise big bucks for a nonprofit but that's a complicated project, so nonprofits might gladly outsource it to you. Event-planner types could do well at it.
  • Job agent: You help people land a job by making those initial inquiries that many job hunters hate. You're like the agents that represent performers and authors. Job requirement: You're good at cold-contacting.
  • ·Class-project broker: Ask corporate and nonprofit managers if they have a project they'd like a classful of top MBA students to tackle. For example, if a company is planning to introduce a new product, each student in a marketing class could, instead of a term paper, develop a marketing plan for that product. To buy that much expertise would otherwise cost the company a fortune but you offer to have it done for, say, $10,000...all of which you get to keep. Then pitch instructors of a marketing course at prestigious universities: "Your students will get to do a project of real-world value and that they can put on their resume, unlike a term paper, which just goes into the ether." A cart at a busy bus or train station, at which you sell gifts such as scarves, ties, candy, flowers, or fancy soaps.

But what about high-tech businesses? Most people will more likely succeed in the businesses above. For example, countless people have tried to earn a living by creating an app. But for an app to sell, it must be and stay among the world's best because a Google search easily enables customers to find world-best apps, including those that may cost $0. In contrast, if you're, for example, selling flowers from a cart at a train station, they needn't be world-class. They just need to be good and the best at that station. And unlike with an app, you won't have to worry that a competitor at the station is selling flowers for $0.

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