Posted by: Aly Anliker, EdM | October 13, 2014

Job Search Zen – Part One: Perspective for an Oftentimes Hard Journey

Zen1 (2)


Take out a white piece of paper.


What are your gifts?

What have you accomplished?

What is the work of your hands?

Place this on the paper.


This is the hardest thing.

There is help if you are stuck.

A counselor. Breathe.

Send your paper into the cloud.

Push and pull from the cloud.

Be with others. Sip coffee or tea.

Tell your story. Ask for theirs.

Notice everything around you.

It’s that simple and that hard.

Someone needs your gifts.

Know this. Breathe.


Aly AnlikerAly Anliker, Ed.M

Aly is a creative organizational and career consultant with over fifteen years of experience in Training Management, Executive Coaching and Instructional Design. She has a background in Human Resources and Marketing and has worked in a variety of industries including telecommunications, high technology, manufacturing and non-profit.

Posted by: Aubrie De Clerck PCC, CPC | September 24, 2014

Narrowing the Search Funnel

gold_funnel1I think about careers as a funnel shape.  There are narrow areas of focus (being in school, working in a specific role or industry) and wide areas full of possibilities and uncertainty (coming out of school, recreating our work lives, being laid off).  Some people stay in the narrow part of the funnel their entire work lives, but more often we have multiple narrow and wide areas in our lifetime.

When you emerge out of the narrow part of the funnel and face the wide-open space, it can be overwhelming and uncomfortable.  There are so many choices!  How do you decide which direction to go?  The wide part of the funnel can seem really wide.  At the same time, you may not want to return to the place you just were.

There is real value in staying in the wider part of the funnel while in search.  In the classic and ever applicable Transitions : Making Sense of Life’s Changes, author William Bridges calls this space The Neutral Zone.  He advises people to fully explore this space before moving on to The New Beginning, so that you can truly understand what the change is about. “Too many people either deny this aspect of the neutral zone experience or else become overwhelmed by it. To deny it is to lose the opportunity it provides for an expanded sense of reality and a deepened sense of purpose. And to be overwhelmed by it is just as unfortunate, for one then has no way to integrate the experience with the rest of one’s life. In either case, the transition process fails to provide the person with the enrichment that is one of its natural but almost forgotten gifts”, Bridges wisely notes.

So how do you keep the funnel at just the right shape so your search feels manageable, all the while keeping it open enough to allow for possibilities you may not have considered?  Try funnel2these techniques:

  • Get clear on the logistics.  How much money do you want to make?  What kind of commute works for you?  Do you need certain benefits?  How much travel are you willing to take on?  What size organization do you want to work for? Being clear on the practical nuts and bolts of how your work life needs to operate is a first step, and one that most people find easier to start with.
  • Know how you want to contribute. Consider taking your transferable skills to another level of detail.  If you identify as a problem solver, think about what kinds of problems.  People problems or data problems?  The difficult, long-term problems or problems you can check off a list each day? Do you come up with solutions that have social impact or ones that increase revenue?  Challenge yourself to be more specific.

When you know how you want the work to look and what you want to contribute, you can successfully navigate conversations without having to know exactly what title you are aiming for, or what sector.  It also helps you relax and give yourself some necessary room to breathe in the wide part of the funnel.  And what transition doesn’t need that?


Aubrie De Clerck,  PCC CPC

Aubrie is a Career Development and Transition Coach, with her own private practice in Portland. Her career history spans corporate, non-profit and self employment, giving her wide perspective on the world of work. Aubrie is known for being highly inspirational and deeply practical, and loves bringing these qualities to sessions with groups and individuals. Most of all, she is passionate about helping people of all ages and phases of life get the most out of their work life.


Posted by: Bruce Hazen, MS | September 11, 2014

You’re Gone. You’re Breaking News. Leverage it.

News1Unlike planets with gravity fields that attract things, some jobs push you away. A lay-off is like “occupational anti-gravity.” It may seem like a cruel, random, and non-directional, repelling force when it first spits you out. But use it wisely, and you can harness the energy of a layoff for your own mini Big Bang. (I know, I know, “mini” and “big” seem contradictory. Just work with me here.) Just as galaxies are formed with a Big Bang that spews energy and matter out into the universe, a layoff actually contains energy that you may not have realized.

When most companies have a downsizing, layoff, right-sizing, reduction in force, slicing the salami (a series of layoffs), or clearing the deadwood (how politically incorrect do you want to get here?), it may make the news. If the company conducts layoffs all the time or only has a small layoff, it may not be big news. But when you lose the one job you have, it’s BIG NEWS to you and the People-Who-Know-and-Love-You: the inner circle of your network. You’ve got to use the energy embedded in this newsworthy moment. It’s newsworthy because YOU—not just anybody—are gone from your job. There is attentive energy around this moment that needs to be carefully harvested by you—and right away. This window of opportunity closes in about six weeks.

Clients have reconfirmed this phenomenon over and over. I recall the first time I was personally caught up in a layoff. Before I had the sense to call out to colleagues, the inbound calls came from people in my inner circle. Then the calls came from people I didn’t even think knew where I worked. My network had started to send the alert and mobilize people’s energy and curiosity. Other business opportunities started to emerge. Interviews began and, sure enough, an offer was made.

Generally speaking, once the word is out about your departure from your last employer, you have approximately a six-week window of time during which your departure is newsworthy to your network. During that time, people will genuinely want to know:

  • What happened (do you have a clean, clear exit statement?)?
  • What you’re going to do next (have you written your 1-page personal marketing play to show them?)?
  • How can they be of assistance (Have you prepared a Focus of Inquiry? See below)?

This valuable potential energy (others’ genuine curiosity) is given to you by the occupational anti-gravity that expelled you from your last job. Here’s what it can enable you to do:

  • Enhance your ability to get face-to-face meetings with people.
  • Hold people’s interest as you talk about lessons learned from the downsizing.
  • Mobilize people to think out loud with you about opportunities.
  • Motivate people to give you feedback about what they’ve seen as your strengths.
  • Foster people’s sense of urgency about taking action to make an introduction on your behalf, to find a piece of information you need, or sign a contracting or consulting agreement with you.

Remember, you’ve got approximately six weeks before the “Your gone. You’re breaking news.” window closes, and then you’re pretty much like every other person who is networking. That is, unless you have a Focus of Inquiry. See Design Your Focus of Inquiry for Lower-Stress Networking.


BruceHazenheadshotsmBruce Hazen, MS
Three Questions Consulting
Bruce is a career and management coach working with professionals who are at career crossroads and wanting answers and action strategies for one or more of The Three Career Questions:

1. When is it time to move up?
2. When is it time to move out?
3. When is it time to adapt my style for greater success?

Posted by: Anne W. Bryant, MA, LPC | August 20, 2014

Returning to School Part One : 4 Myths

adultlearnerHave you been thinking about going back to school as a path to advancement in the work you already do, or to launch a new career? If so, you will be joining the 8.7 million older students (ages 25 and over) who returned to college last fall. Your lifetime earning potential will increase by finishing a college or graduate degree, if you are diligent in researching your new direction. In fact, earlier this year a report by the Federal Reserve stated that a college education is worth $830,000 more than a high school diploma. Earnings continue to increase with advanced degrees, in most instances. Yet for many people, even the prospect of a better standard of living may not be enough to overcome barriers, both real and perceived, to begin school again and graduate.

One of the biggest barriers is F.E.A.R. – False Expectations Appearing Real. Here are some common misconceptions I have heard from my clients.

  1. I didn’t do well in school when I was younger. When I ask clients what else was going on in their lives either in high school or before they abandoned college, their present circumstances have changed. Maybe there was too much disruption at home for them to be able to focus on school, or maybe they no longer party like they did when they were younger. Maybe they had a learning problem which went undetected, such as ADD/ADHD or dyslexia, both treatable and both unrelated to intelligence and learning ability.
  2. I am too old. I’ve had clients tell me this as young as their 20’s. If you were to start a 4 year degree this fall, you would be 4 years older when you plan to graduate. How old will you be in 4 years if you don’t go to college? And what are the chances you’d be stuck at the same job? One of my clients just turned 67 and completed a Master’s Degree last spring. She is entering a field where her previous work and life experience give her a distinct advantage. Even the prospect that she might still owe student loans at the end of her life was not enough to dampen her enthusiasm for the work she is now beginning.
  3. I don’t want to be the oldest student in the classroom. The prospect of competing with younger classmates who are native computer users is daunting. Even if you are an immigrant in computer land, you will be among other adults who are practicing new skills and teachers and staff who want to help you succeed, if you only ask. As a former instructor of college courses with both traditional age and adult students, I can assure you that faculty welcome older students. At the risk of stereotyping younger students, I found that most of my adult students (and some of the younger ones) possessed a strong work ethic for the effort required in college, didn’t complain, were highly motivated, and brought depth and breadth to class discussions based on their life experiences.
  4. It will be too hard. Yes it’s hard, stressful, time consuming, and possibly the biggest challenge you might choose to take on. Once you discover what you want to do and what you get to learn about in order to do it, you might also find that it’s fascinating, compelling, even fun, and possibly the best way you have ever spent your time or money.

What I have observed over the decades I have worked with adult students is this: at first they are very concerned about earning decent grades. That’s usually not the collegecourseshardest part. What’s a bigger challenge is to set up their lives around being a student again. Life stressors, and not lack of achievement, more commonly are the reason why returning adults might not succeed. It’s quite a balancing act if the adult student has to juggle a family and a job, in addition to classroom, lab, and study time. Consider making a lifeline of your life so far, predicting as much as you can in to the future, including events in the lives of immediate family members. You might decide to postpone beginning an intense period of retraining until your youngest child reaches an important independence milestone. Perhaps in the meantime, you could prepare by ordering your old transcripts and finding out how many credits will be accepted, or taking one prerequisite course each quarter. This can be done with the help of an adviser at your chosen college.

If you have school age children and a spouse/partner at home, you are going to need their understanding and cooperation to help out more than before. By sitting down to do homework together, you are modeling discipline, time management, and good study skills. Plus everyone has much to gain by a parent becoming qualified to go after a better paying job after graduation. The bigger the change in lifestyle, the more support you are going to need in order to be successful. That is why beginning to continue your education will take careful planning and preparation, and consulting a career professional can save you a lot of trouble later on.

Career Counselors can offer you a number of assessments, pieces of the puzzle to figure out what direction would suit you. My fellow blogger, Andrea King wrote about additional means to making a choice of college major and career. Read it here.

Your chances of uncovering your answers improve by first learning about yourself through synthesizing results of career assessment tools in order to make informed decisions about what to explore. Then learn about the career options you have uncovered by talking directly with people already working in those jobs. A career counselor can help you stay on track, analyze, and digest all the information you have gathered. He or she can also help you get clearer if you become overwhelmed along the way.

In Part Two of Returning to School, I will address how to overcome external barriers, the big one being money. How will you be able to afford to go back to school? I will write more about creative ways to fund education as well as guerrilla tactics applied to learning new skills.


Anne Bryant, MA, LPC
Anne has thirty years of experience offering practical skills and support to people experiencing transitions in their careers and personal lives. Openings available for individual and group sessions.



Posted by: Andrea King, MS, NCC, MCC | August 5, 2014

Decreasing Work Stress Part I

stressLet’s face it, work can be stressful. Depending on one’s level of resilience and coping strategies learned over time, a person’s ability to manage stress effectively varies. This stress exists no matter which line of work, industry or company you are at. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines stress as a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc. and something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety.

What level of stress are you currently experiencing in relation to your work? In reading the tips below, think about whether you are already engaging in these or similar activities. If so, what other stress reduction techniques may be appropriate to reduce your stress? Is stress from your personal life following you to work? Or perhaps these tips simply don’t work for you and it is time to take a deeper look at what triggers at work cause your stress?

  1. Wake up on time and get a head start to work each day.sleepy

You may have heard the proverb “the early bird gets the worm”. When you wake up late you’re already scattered and in a hurry, starting off under some stress, and often without a good plan for the day. People who wake up early and plan their day are typically more productive. If you get up late you probably come home late. How does this affect your personal life? Practice getting to work early for a period of one month and see if this is a routine you find beneficial to continue.

  1. Do not skip lunch.

I am amazed at how many people I come across both personally and professionally who do not eat lunch on a regular basis. From past experience of skipping lunch, the loss of energy caused some errors in my work and kept me at work longer. I was likely not as pleasant to be around! According to The Risks and Rewards of Skipping Meals, researchers found that skipping meals during the day and eating one large meal in the evening resulted in potentially risky metabolic changes. Schedule time in your work day to eat and stick to your schedule. One idea is to find a colleague who eats regularly to use as a role model. See if this person would be open to eating lunch together. Another idea is to find a colleague who is skipping lunches and both commit to eating lunch together, holding each other accountable.

  1. Learn to say “no” if a task is not a priority.

It is common for workers to take on too much. After all, we don’t want to let our supervisors and co-workers down. Given how competitive our society is, there is a lot of pressure to perform at a pace that makes us feel successful. Analyze in the coming weeks when you take on more tasks than you can handle in a productive manner. Would it have been healthier and more productive to be more selective in choosing tasks to add to your list of duties?

When saying ‘no’ to your manager, realize that she/he may not have a realistic understanding of your existing workload. The most effective tactic is to avoid confronting your manager about your overall workload. Instead, restrict your negotiation to a specific task or project that is taking up too much of your time. When saying ‘no’ make sure that you do not fall into the trap of being over-apologetic. Say what you need to in a concise way so that it doesn’t sound like you are trying to make excuses to avoid taking on the extra work. You can say “no” in a positive way by focusing on what you can do. For example, “I can complete those two reports and the third one I will complete in three days.”

Stand your ground. If people get the impression that they can talk you into it then they may persist until you give in. Don’t.

Saying ‘no’ will get easier as you go along, just remember to think it through so that the person who is being refused can see that you have seriously considered their request.

Stay tuned for more tips on decreasing work stress.

“Working hard and working smart sometimes can be two different things.” – Byron Dorgan


andreaking482014Andrea King, MS, NCC, MCC
Careerful Counseling Services
Andrea specializes in assisting clients achieve rewarding employment. She works with adult clients from all industries and stages who are either unemployed or employed (or somewhere in between). Whether you are looking for work, trying to figure out what career to pursue, or unsure whether to stay in your current position, Andrea can assist you with these issues and more.

Posted by: Dave Gallison | July 22, 2014

Anything But Job Search – Minding Distractions


During my career counseling clients’ follow-up sessions, I usually ask them to share what job search activities they have engaged in and the results if any. Many of these individuals lost jobs involuntarily, and all too often they apologize and report little accomplished with mixed results.

This can be viewed two ways: the career coach in me knows that the amount of focused, evidence-based job search activity is directly correlated with the incidence and quality of job offers. So, if a client is not dedicating sufficient time each week to job search activities like researching targeted employers and making a certain number of face-to-face employer contacts every week, searching for and landing a job will likely be drawn-out.

From a counselor’s view as well as someone who has been “between jobs” more than once, I know that in the challenging quest to get from last employer to that elusive new employer, all too many distractions take us away from productive search activity. And in most cases those distractions aren’t just disrupters to be managed (watching TV, doing the laundry, surfing the internet) but often they function to protect us from having to look at our present state (unemployed), feeling what we feel (depression, shame), and not having to see what we see (I’m at home during the day).

The word “distraction” means to be pulled away. When you are distracted, it is as if something outside of you has captured your attention. Nothing is wrong with the distractions per se. We all suffer lapses in concentration that keep us from getting things done. However, some distractions from productive job search activity are charged with emotion and function to pull us away from the pain of our unemployed circumstances and a hurt ego. Can you relate?   You may notice that once you actually settle on what is bugging you, sometimes the world and its bevy of distractions seems to slow down.

Mastering the discipline of effective job search. Clients may begin their job search with the romantic idea of finding and pursuing a long-neglected ideal job. But as they start the practice of calling strangers for informational interviews or begin to learn an awkward new skill to improve employability, romanticism fades away. They are left with the nitty-gritty of a time-consuming, unsettling, open-ended career transition process. Not surprisingly, this letdown can fuel an increase of distractions.

The emotional factors in a job search can be compounded as the length of the search grows, say beyond three or four months.   Our minds can be endlessly creative to keep us from facing troubling shirtfeelings like disappointment, anger, frustration, or fear about engaging in new job-seeking behaviors. In this way, releasing the hold that major distractions may have on us entails having courage and internal space to accept the pain of what we are being distracted from.   The first step to developing viable strategies to deal with distraction in healthy ways is to recognize the underlying emotions arising in this uncomfortable and shifting state. Often the process of emotional coping is best accomplished by talking with an experienced counselor, confiding in a close friend, journaling, or attending a support group.

One technique to keep littler, less consequential distractions at bay, is have a pad of paper or sticky notes handy, and when a distraction arises—did I pay the electric bill?—simply capture it by jotting it down for later. It may be shocking to realize how much of the time we are distracted during a day, perhaps daydreaming—probably more than when we were employed. Try the “distraction catcher” and see if it helps you get better at taming the little distractions.

Above all, as you notice that you are needlessly checking your smartphone notifications or whatever, STOP, and re-focus your mind on the moment at hand: what is the highest priority search activity on which I can next focus my attention? This is the “job” for the near-future, you are essentially self-employed, and it is critical that you be productive by structuring your weekdays with activities known to give the highest payoff. The workday is for working on your job search; the rest of your life is for enjoyment and taking care of yourself and your family.

To summarize, there are best practices to pursue in job search, distractions can get in the way as with all endeavors, and often it is not merely a matter of managing the distractions, but of coming to terms with what distractions are keeping you from facing about yourself. We have established that the first step in minding distractions is seeing them for what they are. And there is an additional upside: A growing awareness of distractions and learning not to get trapped in them might also open us to a larger experience of life and reality. For further understanding and insight, you might look into the growing body of literature on mindfulness from authors like Jon Kabat-Zinn (Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment–and Your Life) and Thich Nhat Hanh (The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation) among others, as well as try body-mind practices like yoga.


latest square crop 48 Dave Gallison, MS, LPC
Dave specializes in a short term, action-oriented approach to providing career management solutions to clients seeking to choose, change or advance their careers and reach their professional and personal potential. His unique strength as a career counselor is preparing you for informational interviews and directly assisting you in gaining access to employed contacts within desired organizations.

Posted by: Gail Nicholson, MA, LPC | July 8, 2014

What is Social Entrepreneurism?

lightbulb1Career counseling clients looking to work for a values/community-based organization and earn a decent living are often stumped. They think they must choose between a non-profit whose mission they believe in and not make any money, or sell out their values to earn a better wage. When I’ve asked folks over the past few months if they knew about social entrepreneurism, a hybrid of business and non-profit zeal for social, economic and environmental change, all but one said “no.”

Marci Alboher, author of The Encore Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life says social entrepreneurism is:

 “Loosely defined, it’s when entrepreneurial techniques are used to achieve social change. Social entrepreneurism is a big tent, covering those working on global issues, those starting organizations to solve community problems; and lot’s in between. It includes for-profit businesses with a social mission; innovative nonprofits that use ideas from business to have a bigger impact; and those adopting new business structures to create hybrids that combine aspects of both nonprofit and for-profit organizations.”

Not a novel approach but one that is gaining in popularity culturally and among academic researchers. The phrase “social entrepreneur” was first used in the 1960’s and 1970’s as a part of the discussion on social change. The term came into wider use in the 1980’s and 1990’s promoted by Bill Drayton the founder of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. Another early promoter was Michael Young of the School for Social Entrepreneurs in the UK, Canada and Australia. Although the terms are fairly new, examples can be found through out history.   A few examples; Florence Nightingale, founder of the first nursing school and developer of nursing practices, and Robert Owen founder of the cooperative movement. Thirty years ago, the community mental health services and resource knowledge of The Family Crisis Center in Costa Mesa, CA, re-purposed itself to offer EAP services to industry in addition to the community services offered to families and adolescents.

A multitude of forms, evolving over time are reaching new levels of synthesis. Corporate giving can now look and sound like social investment and community involvement. Businesses such as Paul Newman’s Salad Dressing donate all profits to charity; other businesses a smaller percentage, resulting in helpful relationships and funding resources for the non-profit and beneficial PR for the business. Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream pioneered limiting the wage gap between owners and employees. Starbucks recently announced that it will cover the cost of on-line college degrees for it’s employees, helping juniors and seniors obtain their degree. Portland’s Central City Concern, a non-profit working to end homelessness, has a business enterprises arm that offers painting, maintenance, janitorial and pest control services. They advertise changing lives, building communities and creating opportunities in the process. Some folks call it the birth of a fourth sector; a converging of motives and methods beyond the commingling of business, government and nonprofit.

We’re very lucky to have a thriving, social entrepreneur community in Portland, Oregon with leading edge incubators, supportive foundations and educational opportunities for upstarts, as well as great coverage from the Portland Business Journal.mind

“Nonprofits keeping close eyes on the bottom line” reports Wendy Culverwell in Portland Business Journal’s “Non Profit Spotlight” May 9, 2014.   Roundtable participants from Portland’s nonprofit scene declare “earned income matters…(and) are increasingly developing business plans that generate earned income.” Relevant headlines in todays hot discussion of social entrepreneurism.

Then there’s PSU, a wondrous land of resources “for those individuals and organizations committed to fostering economic, social and ecological prosperity through entrepreneurial action.” Quote taken from a description of June 20th’s “Elevating Impact Summit: Lifelong Changemakers” a project of PSU’s network of Impact Entrepreneurs and the Master’s in Business Administration program. (Wish I could have attended, hopefully they’ll do another next year!)

Getting it dialed in? Any immediate responses? Perhaps you’d like to percolate with this information a while. Any next steps you can identify of the exploratory variety? And lastly, who might you want to speak to, or text about any of this?


Gail Nicholson Gail Nicholson, MA, LPC
Gail is passionate about working with individuals who want to explore and connect with a more authentic sense of self as a basis for defining their lives, work lives and roles in the larger community. She offers a blend of personal and career counseling, as she has found that attending to personal issues or mental health concerns can reduce barriers to moving forward. Gail works with clients on defining purpose and direction, handling stress and tackling career exploration, job search and small business start-up.

Posted by: Aly Anliker, EdM | June 26, 2014

Is Virtual Career Counseling Right for You?

headWhat comes to mind when you think of virtual career counseling? If you are like me, I imagine a robotic figure programmed to spit out generic answers to my questions. Or a cardboard cutout of a career counselor who, by the silent nature of being an inanimate object, requires me to discover my own answers to the deep career questions vexing me.

The reality is that a significant number of career counselors and counseling professionals are conducting at least semi – virtual coaching sessions to the satisfaction of both parties.

Let’s start with the basics. How does virtual career counseling work? In conversations with counseling professionals, I found that virtual counseling or career counseling can occur in different ways. These include:

  • Pure tele-therapy or just talking over the phone.
  • Emailing back and forth. Licensed career professionals are bound by their licensing Boards to pay very strict attention to protecting client confidentiality. Phone counseling offers that confidentiality. Emailing with clients is not considered a confidential form of communication, because it is easily hacked.
  • Tele-therapy with visual aids or using tools like Skype, Webex and other eLearning and virtual meeting platforms. VSee is another Skype-like alternative. It is free to download, no more difficult than Skype to use, but hack-proof. The reasons for this are pretty technical, but with VSee it comes down to no third party handling your private information. VSee may be a better choice for those career counselors who must follow Board guidelines of confidentiality with their career clients.

When polled, clients say they like the time savings provided with remote counseling. You can also combine approaches by meeting in person first to establish a connection, and then move forward virtually.

At times I use a combination approach with clients. Our first meeting is conducted in person to establish a relationship and discuss commitments on each side. Then remaining sessions are a combination of phone and Webex .phone

As you can imagine, there are pluses and minuses for this kind of approach. A clear plus is more availability. A minus can be the connection may not feel personal enough for some.

What are your thoughts on working virtually with a career consultant? Is this something that would work for you? What’s most important to you in the way you connect with a career consultant?

Aly AnlikerAly Anliker, Ed.M

Aly is a creative organizational and career consultant with over fifteen years of experience in Training Management, Executive Coaching and Instructional Design. She has a background in Human Resources and Marketing and has worked in a variety of industries including telecommunications, high technology, manufacturing and non-profit.


Posted by: Aubrie De Clerck PCC, CPC | June 9, 2014



Ever feel drained after work?

We can get drained for a number of reasons – a frustrating interaction, lack of variety, feeling under-appreciated or unfulfilled.  It can be an isolated incident or a recurring theme.  It happens to all of us.

Let’s think of this as if we are using an electrical plug, and plugging it into a wall outlet.  If a particular job, project, or situation at work is fatiguing us, it’s as if we are consistently plugging into an outlet that shorts out.  This makes it tough to maintain the energy to continue – with our current work, with a search, with our daily lives.

If we can show up at work and contribute and have our energy be sourced from a working outlet, a place that fuels us in the bigger picture, we are in a far better position to enjoy our careers and our lives, as well as get through difficulties at work.

Imagine you’re at an organization that is not a good fit for you.  Going in to work in the morning is dreaded. Interactions are strained.  Any conversation about career shifts to what is wrong with the current situation and the challenging interactions there.  “I will never get a promotion.” “They don’t listen.”  “This project is going nowhere.” “This company doesn’t care about me.”  You are plugged into a power source that keeps you from moving forward.

If you can shift and plug in to an outlet that focuses on why you are choosing to be there, helpful changes can occur right away.  This more positive outlet is defined by what this work situation is giving you – money, stability, and experience to move to another job.  “It’s not ideal, but it is a stepping stone to what I want.” “This project is off track right now, but I can stay in integrity and do the best I can.” “I have a vision for my career that includes but does not revolve around this company.”

To be clear, this does not mean that you stop contributing at work. You continue to do the work – you just source the energy for it from a place that better supports you.

This shift helps with perspective and lessens drain.  From that place, it is much easier to make good decisions about career.

Where are you plugged in?


Aubrie De Clerck,  PCC CPC

Aubrie is a Career Development and Transition Coach, with her own private practice in Portland. Her career history spans corporate, non-profit and self employment, giving her wide perspective on the world of work. Aubrie is known for being highly inspirational and deeply practical, and loves bringing these qualities to sessions with groups and individuals. Most of all, she is passionate about helping people of all ages and phases of life get the most out of their work life.

Posted by: Bruce Hazen, MS | May 16, 2014

Defining Professional Identity

As the market place of work continues to both create and destroy jobs, companies and products, there is something that tends to endure in the midst of all of that swirl – professions. This is why I ask my clients to complete an essential but awkward assignment: defining their professional identity.

Definition of Professional Identity: Your persistent, distinguishing essence or character as a worker that makes you not like others. It is different from your personality in that it focuses not on your psychological essence but your occupational essence.

You have a professional identity as a one-person value delivery system. Not as job or title holder. Not as someone with a specific academic degree or credential. Not as a licensed member of a profession. You are a person who persistently delivers certain value to others in a way that is slightly or significantly different from others who are also professionals.

Your professional identity is you – stripped of all your job titles, awards, certificates, licenses and rank – delivering value to customers or clients in a way that causes them to see you as not like other people. This identity is integral to career management because it is what you pursue and develop regardless of how your work is packaged (job, contract, free-lance, company owner) and how it is titled (Project Manager, Program Manager, Finance Director, Chief Technology Officer, Mom).

You may want to use words related to:




Results delivered


Impact on others

Kathleen had been an internal trainer and OD professional at Nike as well as a consultant in the apparel and sustainable materials. She contemplated redesigning her service delivery model and weighed the benefits of going internal or staying as a consultant. Here are a few aspects of her professional identity that she distilled. Notice she didn’t refer to any of her job titles:

  • I have a farmers mind. I am a systems thinker. I see how everything is connected and value the relationships between things.   I can see and track patterns. I prefer to own the whole of an effort to ensure it’s moved forward.
  • I see process as necessary glue that holds things together. Understanding how an effort needs to move and connect with all the pieces is key to its success.
  • I am a tapestry weaver. I naturally look for the threads emerging then weave those threads according to outcome sought which gives rise to an emerging picture of place and direction.
  • I hold a Line of Sight to the efforts aim, helping ensure everyone’s work and focus is moving toward it and ensure all get to the needed end goal.
  • I am a creative collaborator. I do my best work with others and navigate working together in a way that brings out the best from the group.

Now that you’ve seen what it looks like, try it for yourself. Ask yourself, “What makes me unique from other people who do the work or have the same job as I do? What is the coolest observation or feedback I’ve received that surprised me? Focus on the value you deliver rather than the activities you engage in at work.

Your professional identity is that sense of your Self that helps to propel you along your career path toward best work. Being clear and articulate about your professional identity is what allows you to introduce and position yourself in networking situations without using the narrow and limiting terms of a job title. You might want to work on this instead of polishing your resume for the 240th time. It will help you stand out in both networking as well as job interviews.


BruceHazenheadshotsmBruce Hazen, MS
Three Questions Consulting
Bruce is a career and management coach working with professionals who are at career crossroads and wanting answers and action strategies for one or more of The Three Career Questions:

1. When is it time to move up?
2. When is it time to move out?
3. When is it time to adapt my style for greater success?


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