Feature: The Mental Aspect of Career Fitness

Feature: The Mental Aspect of Career Fitness

Feature: The Mental Aspect of Career Fitness

Career fitness is a way to run the race of your life at work each day. If you want to jog in place or just tread water in your career, it’s not for you. On the other hand, if you want to increase both the paycheck and the satisfaction you achieve from work, career fitness will provide a regimen to build up the occupational strength and self-management skills to do so.

As with physical fitness, there are two aspects to developing a healthy career:

  • First, you must exercise the practices that will develop capacity and endurance in your chosen field;
  • Second, you must focus on and exploit the mental dimensions of career advancement.
  • A lot of attention is justifiably devoted to the first aspect-the best practices-because they are steps you can implement right away in a job search or career transition. The mind set you bring to those activities, however, is no less important to your success.

    What is the mental aspect of career fitness? It is the preparation you do and the outlook you adopt before and during career movements. Those movements can represent something as subtle as enhancing your situation within your current employer and something as radical as shifting your work from one employer to another. To execute them successfully, you must use the best practices in conjunction with an “imaging set-up” that positions you for optimal results.

    The purpose of this imaging set-up is to strengthen your stature in your field or industry. Done effectively, it will increase your visibility-your name recognition-and your credibility as a contributor-the public perception of your capabilities and character. Those two facets, in turn, position you to achieve significantly more positive results from the steps you take to advance your career and/or find a new or better job. In effect, they give you forward momentum.

    You can accomplish an imaging set-up with any or all of the following activities:

  • Volunteering for special assignments.
  • Participating visibly in professional or industry groups.
  • Adding meaningfully to the dialogue in your field.
  • Working closely with one or more mentors.
  • Let’s look briefly at each.

    Volunteering for special assignments.

    Most people restrict their image of their role in an organization to the stark outlines of the tasks listed in the formal position description for their job. If you can adopt a larger vision, however, one that enables you to expand the contribution you make to the organization’s success, you will have accomplished two career strengthening feats: you will have injected more challenge and growth opportunity into your work and you will have positioned yourself as an extraordinary performer in the eyes of your organization’s leaders. Both of these outcomes set you up for continued success.

    Participating visibly in professional or industry groups.

    Our day-to-day work is ever more demanding, so those of us who display the initiative and capacity to go beyond it often gain both recognition and stature. Making a substantial contribution (i.e., one that involves more than serving as a silent member of some committee) to your profession or industry (without letting your on-the-job performance slip) sets you apart from others and demonstrates attributes that all employers value: a commitment to personal growth, leadership, and pride in your work. These outcomes also set you up for additional success.

    Adding meaningfully to the dialogue in your field.

    Writing is also a time-tested way to strengthen your visibility and your standing in your field or industry. There’s always a need for new analysis and insights on key issues and questions, but we’re often put off by two tough challenges: it takes courage to express your opinions in public where they will be judged by others, and getting published is no easy feat. If, however, you can overcome the first, the second is no longer a problem. You can put yourself into print right away by:

  • Starting your own Web-log or blog, (you can do so at any number of sites for free);
  • Contributing to the discussion forum or listserv on your association’s Web-site;
  • Joining a newsgroup in your field or industry and participating in its discussion (see Google.com for a directory of newsgroups).
  • Wherever you do your writing, please remember that it has a single, focus purpose: to set you up for success by burnishing your credentials in your field, not to launch a political diatribe or talk about your hobbies.

    Working closely with one or more mentors.

    A mentor can strengthen your career in several critical ways if they actually spend time with you and are interested in and supportive of your advancement. Their traditional role, of course, is to offer important insights and counsel regarding your career decisions and movements. That’s clearly useful, but in today’s competitive job market, it is insufficient to set you up for success. To do that, a mentor must also help enhance your visibility by introducing you to key players in your field or industry and by ensuring that you are considered for important new assignments with your current employer and/or elsewhere. Not every mentor can or will perform these roles, so be selective in whom you seek out as a mentor. And remember, in today’s unpredictable employment environment, even mentors can lose their footing. If possible, therefore, cultivate two (or even more) mentors so that you always have access to this critical level of support. Then, set aside the time and make the commitment to do your part; be a mentor to somebody else.

    A successful career is built with the right moves performed in the right conditions. An imaging set-up enables you to prepare the conditions-to strengthen your stature and reputation-so that the moves you make-those best practices-build the healthy and rewarding career you deserve.

    Thanks for reading,


    P.S. Don’t keep WEDDLE’s to yourself. If you like our newsletter, please tell your friends and colleagues about it. They’ll appreciate your thinking of them. And, we will too!

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    Booz Allen Hamilton released the results of a survey of employers designed to determine their current recruiting practices-exactly how do they find new workers. The survey uncovered an astonishing commitment to online methods; respondents reported that:

  • the Internet produced over half of their new hires in 2005, with 25% coming from job boards and resume database sites, 21% coming from their own organizational Web-site, and just 6% from social networking sites;
  • they intend to use an array of online tools in 2006, including their own Web-site (74%), niche job boards (51%), social networking technology (60%), and general job boards (29%).
  • While recruiters will also be using traditional recruitment methods, these finding underscore the importance of knowing how best to connect with recruiters online. A facility with browsing and instant messaging does not equate to skilled job search practices on the Web. Such practices must be learned and honed if they are to serve you well today and in the future.

    ExecuNet, a career management and recruiting network for executives and those who recruit them, released its latest Recruiters Confidence Index. According to the poll of executive recruiters, the current and near term employment prospects for senior managers looks very strong. Over three-quarters (76%) are confident or very confident that the market will improve during the next six months, and 77% expect the same outcome over the next three months. What does that mean for those actively in transition or contemplating a job change? Now is the time to position yourself so that you can take best advantage of any opportunities that might arise. That includes:

  • determining the kind(s) of opportunity that would best serve your immediate and longer term employment goals;
  • dusting off that resume and bringing it up-to-date with details that support your goals;
  • increasing your visibility in your field and industry (see the feature column above); and
  • talking with your spouse about the possibility of change and why that would be appropriate and beneficial.
  • JobSerf.com launched as a new general purpose employment site that has … well, a twist. For a fee, it will act as your slave. It will outsource to India the labor involved in hunting for and applying to your dream job on the Internet. All you have to do is shell out $98.00 per week (which gives you 20 hours of support). As the site puts it, that’s “less then $5/hour and possibly tax deductible. Would you work 20 hours for $98? Do you?” Those are not inappropriate questions, but they ignore the larger issue. The irony of outsourcing job search when at least some people are looking for work because of outsourcing gives the site a Twilight Zone feel. So, what’s my take? The idea has as much merit as serfdom.

    The National Association of Manufacturers reported that 83% of U.S. manufacturing employers are having a hard time finding the talent they need to fill open positions. What are they looking for? According to the survey, most say they need machinists, operators, craft workers, distributors, and technicians. The shortages cut across all industries and sectors of the economy. How can you position yourself for success with manufacturing employers? Regardless of your profession, craft or trade, develop a resume that is “database friendly.” There are obviously many other issues to consider, but a resume that is compatible with the applicant tracking systems used by most large employers today is a good place to start. Why? Because the paper resume you send in to the HR Department or attach to your application will be scanned into a computer and stored in its database. Unfortunately, those scanners have lousy eyesight, so you have to compensate by:

  • using black ink on white paper to provide the greatest contrast between the text and background of your resume;
  • switching to a font without serifs to help the computer “read” individual letters and words accurately; and
  • removing any graphics that you may have used to emphasize certain aspects of your background (e.g., underlining, boxes, shading).
  • WEDDLE’s introduced a new audio-based seminar to help you find your dream job on the Internet.

    Called How to Look for a Job on the Web … and Still Look Like a Winner, the program will be presented by WEDDLE’s Publisher, Peter Weddle, on:

  • Friday, March 24th
  • Tuesday, April 4th
  • It begins at 11:00 a.m. EST, 8:00 a.m. PST and is one hour long.

    What are the benefits of the seminar?

  • Training is delivered to you-there’s no need to get dressed up or disrupt your day.
  • The content is practical and inspirational-giving you a head start on success in the job market.
  • The instructor knows what he’s talking about-Peter Weddle is one of the country’s most highly-rated trainers.
  • What’s the fee? Just $49 per person! Sure, it’s hard to spend money when you’re looking for a job. But think of this program as an investment … an investment in your future.

    Registration is limited, so reserve your seat now. To sign up, please call WEDDLE’s at 203.964.1888.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    1. You’re a seasoned police officer looking to move from a major metropolitan force to a department in a small-to-mid-sized city. Which of the following sites would arrest the progress of your search for appropriate opportunities?

  • TheBlueLine.com
  • LawEnforcementJobs.com
  • 911HotJobs.com
  • Badges.com
  • 2. You’ve built a solid career as a construction engineer specializing in bridge and road projects. Which of the following sites would help you build a strong foundation of positions for which you are competitive?

  • ConstructionExecutives.com
  • BridgeBuilders.com
  • ENR.com
  • EngineerJobs.com
  • 3. After watching the news over the past six months, you’ve decided to look for work with an environmental project along the Gulf Coast. If you have expertise in ground water treatment, which of the following sites might help you build a steady stream of openings you could consider?

  • EcoEmploy.com
  • WEF.org
  • EnvironmentalCAREER.com
  • EcoJobs.com
  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2005/6 Guides and Directories



    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – All

    Distribution of jobs: International

    Number of jobs: 350

    Salary levels of jobs: Up to $100K/yr

    Offer a job agent: No

    Resume database: Yes

    How long are resumes stored: 6 months – renewable

    Restrictions on who can post: None

    Other services for job seekers: Career information, Links to other sites with resources

    Member, International Association of Employment Web Sites: No

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. Badges.com, the site of a software services and consulting firm.

    2. All but BridgeBuilders.com, the site of a custom timber bridge building company.

    3. All of them.