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The Now, The New & The Next in Careers

Career Management Articles

Stay ahead of the curve with insights from our CTL Associates.

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  • 17 Jul 2010 1:13 PM | Anonymous

    By Joan Runnheim Olson

    What is a non-traditional career?  A non-traditional career is defined as one where more than 75 percent of the workforce is of the opposite gender. Basically it’s a career that is either female-dominated or male-dominated. Some examples (http://www.iseek.org/careers/menandwomen.html) of non-traditional careers for women include: architect, carpenter, pilot, and mechanic.  Non-traditional careers for men include: paralegal, nurse, dental hygienist, and elementary teacher.

    For many years now, there has been a push by the government, including the Department of Labor and the Department of Education, to move more women into non-traditional careers. The main reason? Higher pay! These types of careers typically pay 20-30% higher wages (or more) than the traditional “pink-collar” jobs women most often pursue.

    More recently, men are being targeted to consider a non-traditional career. The growing number of baby boomers reaching retirement age has led to a critical shortage of nurses. Men can help fill that gap.

    With the benefits of non-traditional careers also comes its own set of challenges. As a project coordinator on a grant from the Dept. of Labor, I helped move more women into the auto service industry, as auto service technicians, aka mechanics, and service advisors (those that write up the repair order).

    When meeting with service managers at auto dealerships, I faced resistance to the notion of hiring women in these positions. One service manager actually said to me, “We hired a woman once and she didn’t work out.”  I was astonished. Apparently he felt that that one particular woman represented all women and forgot about the men who didn’t work out.

    Women aren’t alone in facing obstacles in regard to non-traditional careers. Gender stereotypes about what is considered “men’s work” and “women’s work” is still ingrained pretty heavily in our society.  The bottom line? I think it’s important for individuals to be aware of all of their career options.

  • 22 Jun 2010 3:28 PM | Anonymous

    By Charlotte Weeks

    Many people are interested in working for an association. Along with many of the perks of a corporate job, there’s the added bonus of feeling you are making a difference. The power to drive this change inspires many to set their sights on an executive director role. While there is no one set career path, most association leaders share common skills, past jobs, and educational backgrounds.

    Work History. Prior to acquiring this leadership role, many association executives not only held a management position, they also had significant non-profit experience. Depending on the organization, the specific type of experience may be very important. Some boards want people who have worked in the same field (such as a medical or arts association), while others prefer extensive experience from an organization of similar size. 

    Education. On the other hand, the educational backgrounds of executive directors are extremely varied. A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is almost always required, but many association leaders also have their master’s. Regardless of the amount of schooling, majors are just as varied. Bachelor’s degrees may be in social work, business, or liberal arts. Those who have completed graduate work may have an M.B.A., an M.S.W., or an M.P.A. (to name just a few!). They may also be industry specific–for example, the leader of a medical association will likely be an M.D. 

    Attributes. Most executive directors have strong leadership abilities. To ensure that the daily operations of the association are completed, they must be able to successfully guide management and staff. As they are also responsible for carrying out the vision established by the organization’s board of directors, strategic planning skills are usually another major asset. 

    Additional Qualifications.  Those who have the most successful careers in association leadership stay up-to-date on industry trends. They are active in “Associations for Associations” such as ASAE, the Center for Association Leadership, and The Association Forum of Chicagoland. They regularly read trade journals such as CEO Update and Association News. 

    Obviously, there are a variety of roads you can take if becoming the executive director of an association is your goal.  Regardless of how you get there, it helps to have a passion for the area your association serves. This will ensure you have a rewarding career on your way to the top!

  • 21 Jun 2010 4:22 PM | Anonymous

    By Janet Civitelli

    Sooner or later in your career, you will run into someone whose personality is so difficult, you will despair about ever finding a way to work with that person in any productive way. One of these types of difficult people is the narcissistic personality. Narcissistic personality is characterized by an unrealistic or inflated sense of self-importance, an inability to see the viewpoint of others, and hypersensitivity to criticism.

    The mental health community has made strides recently in learning how to effectively treat narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic features. In less severe cases, executive coaches with training in working with narcissistic personality structure can minimize the workplace damage done by people exhibiting destructive narcissism. Consulting psychologists can help organizational leaders to make better hiring decisions or to contain situations where one person's bad behavior is putting the entire organization or team at risk.

    But this blog post is about situations where the narcissistic person is not interested in change and the organization is not actively working on damage control. In an entrepreneurial environment, there are times when you don't have the choice to simply walk away. The narcissist may be your boss, your co-worker, your venture capitalist/investor, or someone on your board of advisors.

    In these situations, you need some skill in dealing with a narcissistic personality. In the short-term and when everything is going their way, narcissists are often charming, charismatic, compelling, and persuasive. In fact, a little narcissism may provide surface advantages to succeeding as an entrepreneur. The problems arise when the narcissist feels challenged or threatened.

    If the flow of admiration from others starts to slow down or stop, if funding fails to materialize, if the marketplace doesn't behave as the narcissist hopes, narcissists are prone to angry outbursts and attempts to retaliate. Narcissists specialize in making everyone else's life miserable, so how can you avoid having your career trashed by one? Here is expert career advice for dealing with narcissists at work.

    Be genuinely helpful. Because narcissists are preoccupied with looking good and with getting what they want, aligning yourself with their goals will buy you some time before conflict heats up. If you can make the narcissist's life easier, work can proceed smoothly, at least for a while.

    Appeal to the narcissistic person's self-interest. Dr. Vicki Vandaveer of The Vandaveer Group advises, "A leader - even a narcissistic one - is keenly interested in his/her ability to get results or have an impact. We can help polish the image...help them find more effective ways to achieve goals.”

    Accept that you will probably not receive credit for your accomplishments. Dr. Rob Kaiser of Kaplan DeVries Inc. (http://www.kaplandevries.com/) observes, "You can get anything done, if you don’t mind who gets the credit. (It’s always the narcissist’s idea, no matter where he picked it up)."

    Don't take anything personally. The narcissist doesn't view you as a human with wants and needs but as a source of self-esteem for herself. "It is never about you," says Dr. Kaiser.

    Lower your expectations. For example, you aren't going to get consistent care and support from a narcissistic boss. Dr. Ben Dattner of Dattner Consulting (http://www.dattnerconsulting.com) comments, "Gordon Gecko articulated the narcissistic boss's worldview when he advised Bud Fox in Wall Street: 'If you want a friend, get a dog.'"

    Avoid making yourself a target.  Criticizing a narcissist can result in "narcissistic rage," where a narcissist wards off shame by retaliating against the person who caused the narcissistic injury. These reactions are extreme and out of proportion to the trigger event. Dr. John Deleray of Deleray & Associates advises, "Don’t talk about their one big flaw unless they bring it up first."

    Line up emotional support. It is draining to clash with narcissists, and interacting with a narcissistic person can leave you feeling like you did something wrong or make you question your own competence or judgment. Often this is because of an unconscious process where a narcissistic person manages to transfer their own bad feelings onto you. To stay psychologically centered, you'll need help to reality test and to process negative emotion.

    Prepare for the worst. You may lose a power struggle with a narcissist, so you should be prepared to find another job if a situation escalates and you find yourself fired. While still employed at a workplace made toxic by a narcissist with power, quietly network and build your professional community so that you will have job-related connections if you need them.

    Try to muster some empathy.  Even though narcissists are terrific at appearing as if they are on top of the world and as happy as they can be, it feels awful to be a narcissist because they need constant affirmation of how good they are. "You get to go home at the end of each day, but they have to live with themselves all the time," notes Dr. Lynn Friedman (http://drlynnfriedman.com).

  • 23 May 2010 5:27 PM | Anonymous

    By Janet Civitelli

    The word “intrapreneur” has been in dictionaries since the 1990’s. I like Wiktionary’s definition of intrapreneurship:  “the practice of applying entrepreneurial skills and approaches within an established company; being creative with ideas and procedures.” Intrapreneurship is a wonderful way for innovative progress to occur in a speedier way than it would otherwise happen in more traditional environments.

    The advantage of intrapreneurship is that the intrapreneur has the benefit of all the financial support and resources of a large organization. The challenge for the intrapreneur is that business objectives must be met while continuing to navigate the structure and complications inherent within any large organization. (Some writers argue that intrapreneurs can ignore the corporate structure when working to achieve their business goals, but I think that is naïve).

    So if you want to behave in an intrapreneurial way, here’s how to proceed:

    Choose a project to launch and implement. The project should have clearly defined objectives and metrics via which you will define success. This project should be congruent with the overall mission and values of the organization that employs you and should be clearly beneficial to your employer if you succeed.

    At minimum, make sure you have buy-in from your immediate manager and try to find out if your manager’s manager is in agreement with your goals and proposed strategies to achieve them. Also consider your surrounding colleagues who might be necessary and instrumental in assisting you. Think about how you will persuade them about the value of your project and how you will convince them to be helpful to you or at least stay out of your way if they are not directly involved.

    Check your ego. If what you really want is to operate unfettered by organizational complexity, and you resent any involvement by any corporate employee in what you are doing, ditch intrapreneurship and go start your own company, stat. (Then you’ll get to deal with other types of complexity, but that is a different blog topic).

    Honestly assess your strengths and find colleagues to complement them. The ideal team is made up of people with a variety of strengths. If you don’t have the luxury of a large team to assist you, then create a plan for how the work will get done given that you are not going to be able to exclusively play to your strengths.

    Implement. Know that you may fail, and honestly discuss this possibility with the powers-that-be that gave you permission to proceed with your venture.

    If you succeed, your team might be integrated into the larger organization. This can be experienced as bittersweet for the intrapreneur, so be prepared for some feelings of loss. Choose your next business goals and start again.

  • 26 Apr 2010 7:15 PM | Anonymous

    By Janet Civitelli

    This post introduces a couple of entrepreneurs who aren’t naturally patient by temperament, but who intentionally learned patience as a business and life skill. I will also suggest a three step process to learn patience.

    Andrew Cagnetta, CEO of Transworld Business Brokers (http://www.tworld.com) recalls, “Patience came tough to me as a New Jersey Italian American young entrepreneur. I thought I would be financially independent at 25.

    Now that I am older and not financially independent by my definition (although successful by others), I have learned that real business success is a marathon, not a sprint. Change in degrees requires patience. You have to let repetition and education ferment/mellow like a good wine.”

    Tina Paparone, co-founder of children’s gift company, BeMe, says that before she became an entrepreneur, she equated patience with being lazy or boring. After she co-launched BeMe, Ms. Paparone tried to use pushy and overbearing business tactics that worked well for her in the past, but she quickly realized that these strategies were not working well at BeMe.

    Ms. Paparone forced herself to slow down and practice patience, commenting, “I still believe that if you build it, they will come, but it might take awhile… by accepting I cannot control everything, I have actually re-established control of my own environment.”

    Are you motivated to learn patience? If so, here is how to do it:

    1. Accept the necessity of patience in work and other spheres of life. Until you make it a conscious goal to be patient, you are less likely to achieve it. 

    2. Find a mindfulness/stress management strategy that works well for you. Experiment with exercise, meditation, yoga, journaling, etc. Doing this helps you to have a longer fuse, making it much easier to feel patient during challenging circumstances. 

    3. Be patient about learning to be patient. You probably won’t go from chronic impatience to blissful patience overnight. Instead, your journey will likely be one of ups and downs, successes and failures. As long as the overall trend is toward increasing patience over time, consider it a victory!

    Echoing one of Ms. Paparone’s favorite quotes: “He that can have patience can have what he will.” Benjamin Franklin

  • 07 Apr 2010 7:44 PM | Anonymous

    By Abby Locke

    I remember early in my own MBA career, I consistently brought a high-level of energy, enthusiasm and drive to every project that I took on. It was never too long before I gained the reputation as an entrusted source of information, creativity and new ideas among my colleagues and my direct boss. However, the “party” and “fanfare” always seemed to go south when it came time for my annual performance review and associated raises and promotions.

    I would walk away from those review meetings feeling discouraged and disappointed because I felt like I was not being appreciated or rewarded for my efforts. It would only be a matter of time before I would lose interest in my work and been to seek greener pastures in another company.

    Does this scenario sound familiar to you? Are you going into performance review meetings with low expectations? As professional women, we often face an internal struggle that we bring upon ourselves – we feel bound by an unspoken oath to not openly talk about our achievements or contributions, but secretly expect to get promotions and gain visibility. Wrong strategy!

    I remember getting to a point in my MBA career when I realized that being silent and hoping for the best was simply not going to work anymore. I challenged myself to move beyond my comfort zone and started to proactively market myself within the company and became very diligent about chronicling my career achievements and project updates. Then, something miraculous started to happen – within the first year on the job, I achieved the following:

    -- I was repeatedly sought to serve as company representative for local and community-related events.

    -- I was selected by the president to spearhead a high-profile, but complex project.

    -- I received the highest percentage raise among my peers and recommended for promotion to next level in my career path.

    What changed? I took full control of my career success instead of leaving it up to my boss. Here are a few lessons that you can take from my story.

    -- Keep good notes on your ongoing projects and special assignments and summarize the outcomes in the Challenge-Action-Results formula – this strategy will benefit you tremendously in your self-assessments.

    -- Establish rapport and maintain open communication with your project leader and boss – many of the opportunities I got for external projects or volunteer activities came about through casual conversation.

    -- Actively solicit and encourage feedback and advice from boss and colleagues – my willingness to learn and improve my skills was readily rewarded with company-paid training courses and programs.

    -- Speak up about inequities (real or perceived) in a logical manner and use real facts, not heresy, to support your concerns – I always got a listening ear from my boss because I had strong facts and quantifiable examples to demonstrate my point.

    Every company and work environment will have its challenges, and you cannot leave your career success in someone else’s hands. Take a more proactive role in your professional development, and start documenting your successes and highlights now.

  • 12 Mar 2010 9:04 PM | Anonymous

    By Louise Garver

    Do you dread Monday mornings and can't wait for Fridays? Have you dreamed about being your own boss? Are you eager to get your severance package and never go back to your corporate job? If you have been wondering about a better path such as starting your own business, but are not sure what that would be or how to do that without risking everything, franchising may be an option.

    If you have experience managing a project, department, division or business unit, then you have the potential skills for success as a franchise owner. The franchiser provides the industry expertise, training, systems, procedures, and marketing support that you need to succeed.

    Most people associate franchising with fast food companies.  However, more than 1600 registered franchise companies exist in diverse industries in the marketplace. To explore and determine if this option is viable, you can work with a franchise consultant, and it won't cost you a dime. A franchise consultant helps you sort through the possibilities and match you with the appropriate franchise opportunity.

    The process begins with specific questions such as:  What are your reasons for wanting a business of your own? Have you ever owned a business of your own? What hours do you want to work, and do you want to work full time or part time? Where do you want your business to be located? How do you feel about managing people? How much capital do you have to start a business? Will you have partners? Do you want to build multiple units? How soon do you want your business to open? 

    If, after a thorough assessment, you move forward with a good match, the franchiser pays the franchise consultant's fee. You would pay the exact same fees with any franchise company you choose whether you decide to work with a franchise consultant or not. It's about ensuring that there is a fit on both sides.

  • 11 Feb 2010 9:23 PM | Anonymous

    By Abby Locke

    You have completed your MBA degree, you have made a solid commitment to your career, and you consistently work hard – all the smart steps for long-term career growth and success, right? Wrong. Despite the increased representation of women leaders in the business world, surveys have found that a small percentage of officer-level positions in some of the largest companies are occupied by women.

    So how do you make significant strides to move beyond the “glass ceiling” and overcome any career obstacles, when hard work alone is not the answer? Well, it starts with having a good understanding of your work environment, making deliberate shifts in your mindset about career success and embracing effective career growth habits from a very early point in your career.

    Increase Your Professional Voice. If you are silently plugging away at desk, putting in very long hours and going beyond the scope of your job responsibilities, that is very admirable. However, it does nothing for your career path if your actions and efforts go unnoticed. While being humble is noble, you must become a public relations expert for your own career.

    -- Take advantage of opportunities to participate in meetings, readily share your ideas with colleagues and frequently make references to special projects or assignments that you are working on.
    -- Learn the language of confidence – don’t lose your audience in a sea of “uhs” and “ahs” – make a practice of starting sentences with phrases like: I feel strongly that… My experience suggests… I recently observed… My idea is… I recommend…
    -- Join a local Toastmasters’ group to improve your verbal communications skills and increase your comfort level with public speaking.

    Promote Your Brand & Career Achievements. Unfortunately, the ability to “boast” of career achievements and actively promote personal strengths continues to be an area of challenge for many professional women. Traditionally, we were raised to be modest and told that “bragging” was somehow inappropriate or unacceptable for women.

    However in today's workplace, if you are not consistently communicating your personal brand and referencing past career achievements and individual contributions, you are in a disadvantaged position for promotions, salary raises, bonuses and high-profile projects. It is critical that not only your immediate boss is aware of your value proposition, but also the company's vendors and clients.

    -- Maximize popular social media tools and resources to build and maintain a strong online brand identity.

    -- Chronicle your career achievements carefully; take inventory of your progress every quarterly and compile a Word document that summarizes your contributions to the company.

    -- Think carefully about your contributions not only in terms of new revenues, cost savings, customer acquisition, new market share, public relations and staff leadership, but also focus on anything you have done to make the company or your department perform better.

    -- Don’t overlook leadership opportunities outside of the company through non-profit, community and civic organizations that would provide you and your personal brand with more visibility.

    -- Get involved in a cause that your company supports and funds like United Way or American Cancer Society so that you can expand your network beyond your immediate department colleagues.

    Build A Support Team. You can have all the resources in the world and read through every book and article on leadership in the corporate world, but it can never take the place of a supportive network of personal and professional friends.

    -- Identify another well-connected, successful woman leader within your company or your industry/profession who can serve as a mentor. Mentors are essential for long-term career success as that person can help “sell” you for major assignments, help position you for promotions and serve as your personal cheerleader as you advance in your career.

    -- Build a large, diverse strategic network; don’t limit your connections to only people who work in your field. Instead, reach out to other individuals who can offer a different perspective and often valuable insight on your career challenges.

    -- Join a professional and/or industry organization that focuses on career development and leadership issues for professional women. For example, check out the National Association of Women MBAs.

    Overall, true career success will not happen overnight, but it will happen. It takes careful planning, a strong desire to grow and an open mind to try new strategies if the old ones are simply not working.

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