Lateral Career Moves
Whether you call it moving sideways or a fresh perspective, lateral career moves can help you to grow as a professional, meet new people, increase salary, and position you for promotion. What’s not to like?
In a recent Forbes article on lateral moves, the author sited the US Bureau of Labor Statistics: the average number of years that workers have been with their current employer is 4.6 - only 2.3 years of you’re 20 - 34. While multiple career moves were once seen unsteady, they are now seen as ambitious and smart, as long as bridges aren’t burned, skills are gained, and enough time (at least a year) is spent in each position.
I’ve seen lateral moves work for dozens of colleagues and friends. For me too.
I was in fundraising for 13 years. Fundraising is basically marketing and sales (in the most positive way) for a non-profit organization. I was at a point where I was burned out from the never ending cycles of campaigns, asks, and events. My 50-plus hour work-week wasn’t matching my family needs. I wanted something that met my skill set but that I could do more part time for a while and hopefully grow later. I moved into a part-time public relations and sales position at The Emily Post Institute which increased to more responsibility, more hours, the opportunity to train at The London Image Institute, and eventually positioned me to start Professionality Consulting and work with Ovation Communication. I couldn’t be happier.
If you feel stifled, don’t admire your colleagues or want the opportunity for more financial gain, consider other departments within your company or research other corporations. Here are 5 tips to help you make a successful lateral career move:
- What are your strengths? If you are not aware of what your greatest assets are, you may not be able to best navigate a new path. Do self-assessments like Myers-Briggs, emotional intelligence and 360Reach (free for 15 days) and get a better perspective on yourself. Or find a qualified coach/mentor to lead you through an assessment process (I do this but so do hundreds of other professionals). When you can articulate your attributes, you then can have a better sense of what lateral moves make sense.
- Think strategically. Does the new company have a position you would ultimately aspire to? Does the company invest in its employees? Is the company or department viable? Would the new position require a move? Do you want to move? How do you think you’ll feel about the position/move in a year? These aren’t necessarily barriers - they are hoops to jump through for an informed decision.
- Research. Don’t jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. Talk to current employees: Do they feel respected, useful, passionate, content? How does the manager/supervisor treat her employees? Troll the internet looking for reviews of the company.
- Lateral moves are most successfully done when you can demonstrate that you were critical in your previous roll. If you’re running away from a floundering position, you’re changing jobs not making a strategic lateral move. Might as well be honest with yourself.
- Consider what you’re passionate about. If you’re selling widgets and you don’t admire the company or feel any interest in your day-to-day tasks, but you’re pretty amazing at closing sales, it could just be that you’re not passionate about widget usage. What DO you admire? Consider your passions and research companies that excite you: environmental, tech, non-profit. The world is your oyster.
Feel free to ask me any questions about lateral moves. I’m more than happy to help.
This isn’t fast-breaking news: People with high Emotional Intelligence (EI) have stronger professional relationships, better management skills, and more engaged employees. (And they get the biggest piece of cake at office birthday parties. No, really.) Not as evident are the tangible actions you can take to raise your EI or EQ (if you prefer). There are steps you can take – starting today – to experience greater work success.
Of the seven skills areas of emotional intelligence – self-awareness, awareness of others, expression, reasoning, self-management, management of others, self-control – what area should you tackle first?
Want to increase your emotional self-awareness?
1. Make time for introspection. This can be hard to do if you are on the hamster wheel of a packed work schedule and complicated home life compounded by travel and community commitments. We know. Oh, we know.
2. Journal, meditate or just commit to 3 minutes of quiet thought when you first wake up, right before bed or during downtime between meetings.
3. Keep trying to do #2: it will get easier.
4. Get active. When you engage in solitary exercise or activity (Ride your motorcycle! Weed the garden!), you allow your mind to roam and make connections. As you start your activity, think about a personal/professional concern and see where your mind goes.
5. Think before you act. Asked to take on a project? If possible, consider whether or not that project matches your expertise and ability. If it doesn’t, and you’re able, suggest someone else for the project or ask if you can take on certain components and have someone else do another portion. People like to work with people who understand their strengths and limitations.
Want to increase your emotional awareness of others?
Like Tom Hank’s character in A League of Their Own, (“There’s no crying in baseball!”), some of us dislike the display of “feelings” by others at work. However, those feelings play a significant role in everything we do. In order to better understand how others feel:
6. Practice listening. The next time you catch yourself planning on what you are going to say in response to someone you are having a conversation with…stop. You know those people who always seem like they are “in the moment” and 100% there for everyone. They listen. And people respond well to that.
7. Learn more about and pay attention to body language. Most of us know that crossed arms can mean that the person we are speaking to isn’t agreeing with or is uncomfortable with what we are saying. But did you know that if you are sitting talking to someone and his or her legs are turned away from you he or she may be unintentionally signaling discomfort? If she keeps looking away that she may be distancing herself? If he touches his face, hair or neck that he is feeling insecure?
Actors are naturals at emotional expression – but they work at it too. It’s about being able to express the right emotions in the right way at the right time. Want to increase your emotional expression?
8. Ask a family member, friend or close colleague to give you some honest feedback on how you appear to others.
9. Study presentation skills. Many of us like to think we are naturally great at leading meetings, facilitating discussions and presenting in front of groups small and large. Our perceptions don’t always meet the realities. Outstanding presentation skills – that are authentic and engaging – allow us to be aware of how we are expressing ourselves – and to be comfortable with changing what we need to change.
10. Back to tip #6: Use open body language. When you use open-handed gestures and open posture – head up, shoulders back, facing the person or audience in a neutral position, people perceive you as confident and comfortable.
The entrepreneur Richard Branson is a perfect example of someone with high emotional reasoning. Want to increase your emotional reasoning?
11. Ask for input, even if you’re concerned you won’t like what you hear. People with high reasoning skills are curious, listen to new information and either adjust their sails or reason out why they want to keep with the same tack.
12. Work to enhance communication skills so that you can deliver hard information and navigate difficult situations in a way that people can respect and hear what you’re saying.
13. Trust others when they make reasoned decisions. Individuals with high reasoning skills take all stakeholders into account and recognize that others can make decisions and manage consequences.
Want to enhance your emotional self-management?
14. Engage in activities that make you feel positive at work. If many of your personal satisfaction needs aren’t met through your regular workload (and hopefully this isn’t the case), volunteer to help a co-worker with a project in your expertise area, join a work committee.
15. Create routine for yourself that works for you and stick to it. For example, some people feel overwhelmed by e-mail. Establish a policy for yourself that you won’t check email until 10:00 am. Or check email immediately and only tackle the “musts” – leave the rest until 4:00 pm. Stick with what works for you.
16. Even the most successful corporate leaders work with mentors, coaches and counselors: why shouldn’t you? Experts can help you identify your trigger points – anger, feeling undervalued or disrespected, over-worked – to increase your ability to manage them.
Are you a leader? Then you may want to work on your emotional management of others skills:
17. Role model the behaviors you want to see in others. This is the first rule every parent needs to learn and it’s just as applicable to managers in any workplace.
18. Create an “open door” policy or create times that you are available for anyone to approach you for a discussion.
19. Don’t shy away from hard conversations. Make the effort to be upfront and honest even when the news isn’t positive.
Tend to fly off the handle or break down in tears? Then you need to work on your emotional self-control skills:
20. Recognize that home stress, over-commitment, health and wellness issues are difficult to hold at bay. Daniel Goleman, EI expert and author, writes, “To the body, there is not division between home and work; stress builds on stress, no matter the source.” Know when you need to take a day off to take care of your personal business.
21. Be aware of what makes you lose your cool or focus. Is it when you feel that you’re not being listened too? Or is it when people don’t meet deadlines? If you can identify what makes you lose your self-control, you can be proactive in your communication; for example, “I need to stress that we have to meet our deadline of Tuesday. Let’s build out a schedule right now together to ensure we do.”
22. Go running before work. Take an actual lunch away from the office or in a quiet spot. Practice deep breathing before that meeting.
Don’t be overwhelmed! Just focus on one or two at a time. Whatever works for you. Let me know how it goes.
NOTE: This article was originally written for Ovation Communication’s blog. If you enjoy professional development tips - communication, relationship building and presentation skills - follow their blog! Goodness knows, I do.
I hate to say it but September is days away. Here in the Northeast that means cooler nights and mornings. A poncho seems like a good step towards cool-weather wear: It’s easy to throw on and drop off. Really not much of a commitment at all.
These Burberry ponchos are gorgeous! Ponchos aren’t just for boho/romantic fashion personalities: almost anyone can wear one.
If you have an elegant fashion personality, keep your other clothing items and accessories lux; if you’re more classic, wear classic colors like navy and solids with the poncho - try monochromatic; and if you’re dramatic, do what you will!
Professionality’s Top 10 Tips to Build Your Personal Brand
This is a super simple list I just shared during an interview.
- Be Aware! Everyone has a personal brand: It’s what people say when you walk out of the room. Whether you care or not is up to you.
- Do the work: Understand your inner strengths.
- Do the work: Understand your personality type.
- Be able to name your top 3 attributes – these are your personal brand’s calling card.
- Do the work: Make sure your exterior reflects your internal strengths.
- Do the work: Understand your communication style and develop voice, tone, pitch; vocabulary; body language; presentation skills.
- Make sure your social media reflects your personal brand. Choose 2 - 5 social media sites to focus on - you don’t need to do everything.
- Keep it real: Be authentic. If you’re trying to project strengths that truly aren’t yours, people will see through the veneer.
- Invest in building relationships through personal interactions and networking. Follow up and offer to help others.
- Work with a mentor.
Level 1 and Level 2 Professional Clothing Choices: 2014 Edition
We all struggle to purchase clothing that we will wear over and over again. We want to buy clothes that that look amazing for our position, figure, coloring; make us feel strong and confident; and that are reasonable for our personal brand, budget and lifestyle. We can all do it!
A year ago (or was it more?), I did this post on Level 1 and Level 2 dress at work. To keep it short and simple: Put all your pieces through the Level 1 and Level 2 filter before you side your card:
- Level 1 items should be the best quality you can afford, classic cuts and fits that work for you, and that meet your personal brand needs. Generally, you should consider solid colors and traditional (time tested and still current) pieces.
- Level 2 items branch into seasonal and trend. If a trend/pattern/color works for you, great! You may not want to spend as much money on these pieces if you have a limited budget. But these are the pieces that liven up those black pencil skirts and classic jackets.
In the set above, I’ve chosen classic cuts (midi-skirt), time-tested styles (tuxedo-like jacket), and modern classics (black bootie) for Level 1 pieces. Level 2 pieces add excitement and pattern: plaid skirt (that goes with tuxedo jacket and classic cut button down); moto jacket (trend that goes with plaid skirt and midi-skirt); patterned varied length sleeveless top - that can go with everything in this set (mixing patterns can be amazing).
Don’t jump into buying amazing designer pieces that you’re not going to wear. Most of us just don’t have the money. Think and buy Level 1 and Level 2. (Okay, go crazy — but just once in a while!)
Networking Tip: Name Tag Placement
When you’e at a networking event and handed a name tag sticker by a well-meaning event organizer, are you like, ‘Where exactly am I supposed to put this thing?” I assume you know on your chest and not behind your right knee.
I’ve seen some people place the tags way up on their shoulders. One woman I saw had it down on her boob.
I’m not one for defining “exacts” - to each his own - but the standard protocol for placing a name tag makes sense and is as follows (I’m not making this stuff up):
- Right side
- Below clavicle
- Not on the shoulder
The idea is that when you extend your right hand to shake hands, it’s easy for the person-you-are-greeting’s eyes to easily glance down at the name tag.
That will be $500, please. I’ll invoice you. ;>)
When you type “depression” into the tumblr search, this is what comes up. Thank you to the professionals at Tumblr.
I think many of us are thinking about Robin Williams today. Depression is debilitating and sadly resilient. It doesn’t just “go away.” So, if you’re feeling a little glum, yes, watch some funny epic fail videos on youtube, go for a run, chat with a friend, eat Nutella off a spoon. If you’re thinking about hurting yourself, and feeling like maybe the world and everyone one in it would be better off without you? Tell someone you love, talk to a professional, call a hotline. You are important and we need you.
Professionality will return to its normal sunny outlook tomorrow. See you at work.
What shoes do you wear with linen pants?
A buddy of mine is attending an event at a local folk arts museum this Saturday. He has a new pair of tan linen trousers and wanted to know what shoes he should wear.
In a nutshell:
- Linen/cotton blend trousers are informal
- For day/casual, try loafers/slip ons
- For evening/more dressy, try a brown monk strap/brogue/oxford
How not to look “mumsie” at work in plaid
I’ve got Outlander on the mind. With the Scottish-themed Starz series’ premier tonight — in an hour! — I have every belief that we’ll be seeing plaid everywhere, on lads and lassies. Plaid, however, can be challenging to wear. The bold patterns and colors can overwhelm a small frame or make a large frame look even larger. And while I loved wearing my Nanny’s (grandmother’s) kilt in high school (it was a preppy time — it worked!), some traditional plaid items, such as jackets from Woolrich, shirts from L. L. Bean, and pants/skirts from other classic clothiers) can project a bit staid and “mumsie.” So, how can you wear plaid to work and look more than a wee bit bonnie?
- Fit: Make sure the cut is excellent and works for your body type.
- If you’re small, opt for a finer plaid pattern.
- Consider mixing patterns: If the plaid jacket has a bold pattern, add a scarf or handbag with a different tartan pattern - lighter and finer. Or an entirely different benign pattern with a color tie in.
- Modernize a plaid jacket with wide-leg pants or a leather skirt.
- Plaid pants can be quite a statement. Do whatever makes you happy but pants with a bold plaid pattern work best on women who have a dramatic (or perhaps preppy/classic) fashion personality, the fashion forward, and the slender. Try a skirt instead.
- The above Versace dress with the leather side panels is slimming. If the plaid travelled all the way around, the dress might not look as flattering on some body types (read oval, pear, and even some hour-glasses).
At work, we want to project our internal and external strengths. So if plaid doesn’t work for you, don’t go there. Or just opt for a Burberry scarf this fall.
Look, I have to go have a wee dram and get settled in for the Outlander premier. I’m having a party with all my friends who are Outlander fanatics like I am. Slainte! I’ll see you at work on Monday.
3 Checked Dresses at Work
We all have fashion personalities whether we’re aware of it or not.
If you like to keep it simple and tend to shop at J. Crew, Ann Taylor, Talbots, you’re probably classic/conservative.
If you like unique finds, statement pieces and unusual proportions, and shop vintage, designer and boutique, you’re probably dramatic (or artistic).
If you like bows and scalloped edges, flowers and soft fabrics, and adore Anthropologie and Betsy Johnson, you’re likely “Romantic.” (There’s also “Sporty/Natural,” “Elegant,” and “I Just Don’t Care!”)
If you buy a piece that doesn’t fall into your personality’s preferences, you’ll find that you struggle to wear it. And when you do, you’re self-conscious about it. That doesn’t mean you can’t expand your repertoire, it’ll just take some experimenting.
Not sure of your style? Check out my fashion personality collection on Polyvore.
Believe it or not, August is Admit You’re Happy Month. Sure. Sounds good to me. We can’t be happy all the time: life is sloppy. But we can take steps to move towards being in positions that hit our strength areas while we help others as well as ourselves. Here’s a short and sweet post I wrote last year about how to be happy at work.
How to be happy at work: Super-simplified version
I know, it’s easy to give advice. But please, consider this: Find a way to use your strengths at work and in your private live. If you have the luxury of choosing your place in this world, take steps toward doing things that make you happy during the work day and beyond. Many people have little to no choice. But maybe you do.
Here are 4 steps to create happiness at work (and beyond):
1. Understand your strengths (you’ve got many) and your limitations (yeah, you’ve got a few of those…me too);
2. Use those strengths - your greatest attributes - at work (if your job isn’t hitting those expertise areas, take on projects that do - run a United Way campaign or spearhead the healthy work environment committee;
3. Mentor other individuals - even if you don’t feel worthy: You do have something to give;
4. Always remember, it’s not all about you. The more you can give, the more you will ultimately get back.
Do these things in your personal life as well. Try it for X amount of time: 2 weeks? 3 months? 6 months? A year? Let me know how it works out.
Hi! Thanks for asking - and here’s your answer: Call human resources and ask what they recommend for interview dress for individuals applying for this position. OR dress one notch up from what you think you should. I’d recommend dress pants and a button down shirt. Dress shoes, not sneakers. You will, no doubt, be wearing a housekeeping uniform but you want them to know you’ve got it together, care about how you look, are responsible for yourself - so you would be responsible in the job. If you’re a man, like this - but without the jacket (unless you choose to wear the jacket - you can always take it off if you feel overdressed). If you’re a woman (sorry, I don’t know!), consider this - black dress pants, flats or loafers, and a modest top or button down shirt. What do you think? Dress pants, button down and dress shoes. Carry a notepad and pen. Good luck!