Your 2011 “Re-SOLUTION”

28 12 2010

By this time, I’m sure you’ve already read several articles about setting New Year’s resolutions and/or reflection posts about 2010.  This isn’t one of those posts.  It is inspired from the idea, but I’m going to take this in a different direction.  Instead of thinking of resolutions (only 8% of Americans actually are successful in keeping their resolutions according to this study), think more about the SOLUTION or “reSOLUTION”.  Yes, I realize that play on words is a little cheesy, but hey, it’s easy to remember, right?  Think about last year’s goals – why you achieved them, why you didn’t, and what you want to achieve in 2011.

Making a resolution doesn’t hold too much clout these days.  Everyone wants to lose weight, stop smoking, or save money, but how many actually do so?  Make your goals part of your SOLUTION.  A solution should help you achieve your end goals, so think about that as you set your goals.  Will they help you (physically, mentally, spiritually, financially, personally) in the long run?

Reflect. Look back over 2010 and the goals you set.  Which ones did you accomplish? Which ones weren’t accomplished?  Here’s a tip: Set quantifiable goals. For example: Instead of setting a goal “to lose weight”, set a goal to lose a certain amount by a certain date.  “Lose 15 pounds by June 1, 2011” has more clarity and will help you hold yourself accountable.  You’ll know if you’re on track, if you make it or if you miss it.  You won’t have the excuse of saying “well, I did lose weight…” (knowing well enough that you probably did lose some weight, but gained more overall).

Accept failure. You’re going to fail.  Know this.  Even the most successful people in history failed.  But that didn’t stop them from succeeding.  Jason Seiden reminds us all in his blog that we shouldn’t be afraid to fail spectacularly.  I like that phrase a lot.  If you’re going to fail, do it spectacularly.  Here’s the key: learn from failure and move on.  Remember this when you set goals.  It’s easy to set easily reachable goals because you don’t want to fail, but failure is good for growth.

Know your own potential. Set attainable goals for yourself, but don’t let that limit you.  It’s easy to accomplish easy goals and there are some that will be easier than others.  Set some goals that will challenge you to push yourself one step further, whether it’s further in your career, your personal life, etc.

Take it slow. When you set goals for yourself, envision the timeline for achieving those goals.  Set 30 day, 90 day, 6 month, and 1 year goals.  As I mentioned earlier, some goals will be easy to achieve quickly, while others could take years.  My suggestion would be to rank them in tiers by importance and timing.   Also, don’t be afraid to adjust goals as priorities change.  For example, purchasing a new sports car in 1 year could be a good idea now, but priorities could change with a new baby, unexpected financial challenges, etc.

Make goals visual. Post them on the fridge, bathroom mirror, over your desk, and anywhere else that would remind you regularly.  Visuals are extremely motivating!  From personal experience, I can tell you that this works.  Just by posting a fitness plan to my refrigerator, blackberry, and over my desk, I was able to lose over 50 pounds over the course of 1 year!  The posted goals along with a picture of me as I was when I started and a picture of my healthier days held me accountable and kept me motivated!  It also keeps me motivated.  🙂

One last recommendation: Start NOW. Don’t wait until January 1 or January 2 (after the headache is gone) to get started.  Start now and get in the routine to achieve your goals.  Get a jump-start on everyone else!

I hope that these suggestions and tips, along with past blog posts, have been helpful to you in your job search as you seek to find your true passion.  For more articles to help you succeed, check out the Job Search Success Guide by clicking the tab above.  Congratulations on your success in 2010 and best of luck to you as you work towards your SOLUTION in 2011!!


Congratulations! Now What?

21 12 2010

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, I’m not singing the Andy Williams song (although it’s appropriate for the season). I’m talking about college graduation. Most people think of graduation only in May, but there are more and more students graduating in December these days. I don’t know if it’s because they’re a semester late, or if they’re ahead of plan. With this economy, most students are drawing out their education longer so they can pay the bills. I was a December grad (one semester early) and this past Saturday, my youngest sister graduated from college (three semesters early).  My wife snapped a quick picture of little sis and her proud big brother to the left. I caught myself thinking about student preparation and the wisdom they’ve gained through their academic experiences.

When I think of this topic, it really comes down to three stages: college seniors, recent graduates, and alumni who have been out of school for over one year. I’ll break down each stage with a few highlighted points on how to maximize the experiences. Some of the points in each section can be carried over into the next one. It’s not a one-size fits all approach. Feel free to add your own points below in the comments section!

College Seniors

  • Have a little fun, but more importantly, have a plan.
  • Do the research on your targeted industry; know the plan, your options and what exactly you can do with your college degree.
  • Ask for help. Use the resources available in your career center and wisdom from academic advisors.
  • Network like crazy, but have a focus and follow up!
  • Join professional organizations that are relevant to your field. Student memberships are cheap and well worth it!
  • Pay it forward as much as possible. It’s good karma.
  • Know you’ll have to start somewhere and be willing to work your way up.
  • Find a mentor or two and learn from their life experiences as well as their career experiences.

Recent Grads (with jobs)

  • Inform your alumni network, whether institutional (college) or organizational (fraternity, sorority, SIFE, etc.) where you’re working and update your contact information. This is important! Don’t assume they know – help them report and share your success as a college graduate!
  • Ask questions. Don’t assume anything. You’re not expected to know everything on the first day of your new job.
  • Keep networking. It shouldn’t stop when you land the job. Get settled and stay engaged. You never know – you could land that business deal, learn something new, or make new friends. And, you never know when you’ll be back on the job hunt. Don’t be a user.
  • Keep in touch with your mentors from college. Find a new mentor in your field and one that is completely unrelated to what you’re doing now. Challenge yourself to learn something in addition to providing your own value.

Recent Grads (without jobs)

  • Stay positive. Until you’ve landed a job, think of the search as a full-time job.
  • Keep your network informed. If you’re seeking opportunities, let them know! Don’t assume your network contacts automatically know you’re looking.
  • Stay in contact with your college professors, alumni association, and university career center. These people can help you if you just ask!
  • Pay it forward and get involved in your community. This goes for grads with jobs, college seniors and alumni. Find a cause that you’re passionate about and help others. You’ll be glad you did.
  • Reach out to your mentors. Learn from their experience and wisdom. It’s all about the network.


  • Continue your mentor relationship. Offer to be someone’s mentor and share your experiences with a new grad, helping them past the obstacles you faced.
  • Keep your network informed. Again, this pertains to all of the above, but is important to repeat. If you keep them informed and updated, all sides benefit.
  • Pay it forward. Whether it’s community involvement or simply helping a struggling job seeker, pay it forward every day. It’s a wonderful feeling and believe me, people notice. But don’t do it for the recognition. Do it because it’s the right thing to do.

All these points are recommendations to help you maximize each stage of your career or job search. As you can see, several are repeated throughout each stage. This was intentional. Find what fits for you and create your plan. If you need a little help, just ask. That’s the beauty of having a network – they’re there when you need them, especially if you’re offering value to them first.

If you’re a college senior, know that the power is in your hands when it comes to your career preparation. The tools are there – use them. Recent graduates, congratulations on your academic success and welcome to the real world. Don’t forget about those that helped you get here and remember to pay it forward. Alumni – help the new kids on the block get past the challenges you faced. When everyone works together, we’ll go far!

The Power of Positive Thinking

14 12 2010

As 2010 winds down with the worst unemployment rate (9.8% as of 12/3/10), over 15 million people are seeking new opportunities.  Over the last couple of years, we’ve found that Baby Boomers didn’t retire, giving way to Generation Y and their “entitlement” (which I don’t think applies as much, by the way) of having the corner office, company car, and generous expense account.  The housing market hasn’t recovered, and analysts aren’t so sure it will any time soon.  2010 also brought history’s most trying tests of nature and mankind with BP’s catastrophic Gulf oil spill, the Chilean mine collapse, and devastating earthquakes, outbreak of cholera, and alleged corruption in Haiti to name a few.

But, through all of the bad, there’s also been good.  Whether it is the immediate relief for those that were personally affected by things like I mentioned before, career experts and coaches that have dedicated themselves to get job seekers back on their feet by empowering others (Check out Top 3 Twitter Chats for Job Seekers) to make a better life for themselves, humankind has proven to be more resilient than ever.

So, with all the doom and gloom out there, are you staying on top of your game as a job seeker?  An even better question would be how are you staying on top of your game? What keeps you going?”

Here are some tips that come to mind:

Know your support network. This can be made up of friends, family, really anyone who can help you with positive reinforcement.  The best friends are those that stick with you when life is toughest, helping each other succeed.  On the flip-side, know who isn’t supportive, who brings negativity to everything, and cut them out.  There are enough people out there that are struggling.  You don’t need to keep someone around if they’re going to kick you when you’re down.

Keep your goals in front of you. Posting your goals or aspirations in places such as above your desk or on the refrigerator door (works great if it’s a weight-loss goal) are good ways to keep them in front of you.  Every time you look up, you’ll see the goals set for yourself.  Sure, you can adjust as you go if needed, but having the visual reminder can help a lot!

Take a break, get out and get involved. Stuck inside your four walls because you don’t have money to spend outside them?  Volunteering can help.  It’s a great way to get better connected (to yourself and the community) while giving back.  Plus, while you’re giving back, you’re also going to learn skills such as leadership, communication, and project management.  You’ll find yourself energized when you return home because you’ve made a difference in someone’s life.

I’ll leave you with this quote that I stumbled upon recently that brought inspiration and motivation to my day:

“The best is yet to be.” – Robert Browning

What other things are you doing?  Have a tip for fellow job seekers?  Please don’t forget to leave a comment below.  Your insight is greatly appreciated!

As always, thanks for reading.

The World Is Your Stage . . . and Your Runway!

7 12 2010

By Amanda Guralski:

The daily battle begins—it’s 7:00 am and you are standing at the front lines of your closet wondering which tried and true work outfit you’ll wear yet again. Scanning the possibilities, you realize that all your favorite wardrobe pieces are saved for when you meet up with friends or when that cute guy you have been eyeing up, finally asks you out. Why is it that career wear has this negative image of matchy matchy boxy suits, cotton button ups in an array of colors, and skirts that don’t fit right. Your career wear choices should be just as stylish and trendy as the rest of your wardrobe; however, two important criteria must define that wardrobe . . . professional and classy!

Stylish Tips for dressing up career wear that complements your personal style:

Accessories . . . should be every girl’s best friend! Whether it’s a chunky necklace, wide belt, funky scarf, or a stunning broach—all of these pieces bring style and grace to what you are wearing. Accessories become a very simple and inexpensive way to change your wardrobe without having to buy an entire new closet. If you’re hesitant about the power of the accessory, try this simple test. Put on a regular black crew neck t-shirt, wide-legged pants and tryout the looks that your necklaces and scarves will add to this simple ensemble. The t-shirt takes on a different style every time a different necklace is worn on the same shirt. You can never go wrong with jewelry and whether vintage or retro or contemporary—it makes a great conversation starter!

Jackets: If your closet does not have a section where you hang all your jackets, you need to make room immediately. Jackets should be a staple in everyone’s wardrobe because the look is absolutely fabulous. I am not talking about the traditional boxy jacket where you wear the baby blue button-up underneath. I am referring to the fitted and tailored jacket that doesn’t require anything more than a tank top to be worn underneath. For example, this great jacket from Anthropologie would look stunning with a black pencil skirt. This look would also be great for interviewing!

Polished? Whether you are off to an interview or just another day at work, make sure that before you leave the house, you take a moment for one last look. How does your outfit look? Does it look polished and complete? Is there something missing? These are questions that I like to ask myself. For example, you’ve selected a purple turtleneck, your black pencil skirt and leggings. You look in the mirror and you like what you see, however you feel like there is something missing. Try adding a wide black belt to your out fit, your pencil skirt might not have belt loops but adding something as simple as a belt will tie in your entire outfit.

Whether you are interviewing or have a huge meeting on your calendar, the clothes you wear shows the world how you perceive yourself. Gather that first-date confidence by dressing up, taking pride in how you look and I promise, you will close more deals and make more connections when you demonstrate poise and self-assurance.

Amanda Guralski, an alum of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, is a career coach and is also an accomplished speaker, fashion expert, and entrepreneur. Amanda co-founded the perfect career coach for today’s young professional in, an online mentoring magazine. As a natural extension, she started bizMe Consulting. Amanda provides a dynamic and engaging approach to today’s hot career topics of personal branding, networking, building successful career relationships and career fashion. Please contact Amanda at or find her on Twitter at @bizMebizgal.

Interested in guest blogging? Email Kirk your pitch!