Written by Debbie Webber
Career Connectors is 6 years told today! Although Jessica Pierce and her husband were both unemployed at the height of the Great Recession, she felt a need to volunteer her time to others in the same situation by providing resume writing services. That small start grew like wildfire and has evolved into the Career Connectors we know today – and it’s still growing! Jessica says that “bad times lead to good things,” and Career Connectors is proof of that!
Stephanie Clerge is a coach, trainer and founder of StrengthsPro, producing radical outcomes. She maximizes the unique strengths of each individual on a team, and thereby strengthens the entire team by developing leadership and professional growth.
Stephanie started by telling us the story of Bohio’s (her son’s) preschool graduation. Stephanie recalled a question the teachers asked each child as they crossed the graduation stage. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” A doctor, lawyer or even an engineer like his mother and father would have been a great answer. But Bohio answered “I want to kill vampires and zombies!” After a bit of reflection, Stephanie decided that she wanted to do that too—by fixing the walking working dead and energy suckers in workplaces. And that is how her path changed from engineering to becoming a strengths-based leadership and career coach.
Stephanie encouraged us to find our path in 3 steps: Know Ourselves, Plan Our Work and Work Our Plan. But how? Where do you start? You start with your strengths. Employees who focus on their strengths are 6 times as likely to be successful in their roles and 3 times as likely to say they have a high quality of life. People who use their strengths are more energetic, engaged, resilient, happier and more confident.
Sign your name with your non-dominant hand. Now look at it. Probably pretty ugly since writing with this hand is a weakness; something you’re not confident in doing. Are you going to spend a lot of time trying to write well with your non-dominant hand? Of course not. But this is what we often do with other areas of our lives. We focus on our weaknesses and not our strengths to become even stronger.
What is a Strength?
A strength is what makes you feel strong, gives you energy and comes naturally. It’s what you do well, it’s the part of you that is unique and special and it helps you succeed. It is the ability to provide consistent, near-perfect performance in a specific task. Your talents are naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling or behavior that can be productively applied—talent is NOT just a behavior.
How do I find my Strengths?
There are various assessment tools that help you with this. As an attendee at Career Connectors, you have free access to the DISC analysis, which helps you define your behavior and strengths.
Another way to find your strengths without using an assessment tool is to look to your “triple E’s.”
- Ease – what comes naturally to you (but is not necessarily easy).
- Energy – Activities that are your strength give you energy; look for your underlying patterns of thought; feelings and behaviors you’ve productively applied.
- Excellence – what have you found that you excel at easily?
Plan Your Work – Preparing for Your Job Search
Define your strong career
You choose your strong career by considering a 4th E: Experience. Your experiences in your previous positions should give you clues. When did you love: the job/task, the team, manager, culture, industry, learning, commute, travel, benefits? Also think out of the box about non-work or work adjacent activities such as internships, volunteer activities, clubs and hobbies. Knowing these strengths about yourself can help you define where your next position or career could be.
Develop your tools
Build a strong resume. Tell potential employers what you’re good at and how you complete job tasks and your impact, not just what you did.
Work on your LinkedIn profile with the view from a recruiter’s lens. Get your profile as close to 100% as possible, and have a clear, concise (not cheesy) headline. In the summary, tell them your beliefs about your job or industry. Have well written recommendations with details. List a contact email and answer any InMails promptly. And finally, be a part of relevant groups and follow relevant individuals and companies.
Develop a list of 3-5 companies you want to work for and research them. This helps you focus your mindset.
Get your story straight. Be able to clearly tell your work history story. Your story should include things like where you worked, how you contributed and why you left. Highlight your greatest accomplishment in each role, your strengths and how they help you at work. Have an answer for gaps in employment or other interesting circumstances. And be prepared for behavioral interviews. This type of question starts with “Tell me about a time when…” Have at least 3 stories you can flex for different situations.
Work on developing a strengths statement for each of your strengths. Describe a task (a distinct kind of work) that you perform consistently well with satisfaction. Be specific enough to be clear – does it matter why I do this activity? Does it matter what this activity is about? Make it broad enough to apply in many circumstances.
Example: My strength is reviewing documentation (data, processes, presentations) written to influence others and providing guidance to make it more compelling.
Work Your Plan
Now that you’ve spent some time getting to know yourself and your strengths, and using tools to further define and develop those strengths into stories, you need to work your plan.
Getting a job takes a big plan, so break it down into tiny steps in order to keep yourself and your progress on track. Stephanie offered 6 steps that encompass this process.
- Impact: This is your “Why?”
- Information: What do I need to know and how do I find it
- Inspiration: Use what motivates you – vision boards or affirmations
- Strengths: Know them and how to use them
- Strategies: Break down the big picture to daily, even hourly, activities
- Support: You can’t do it alone. Attend events (like Career Connectors) and use LinkedIn Groups
Write your plans down and incorporate them into your daily life. Only you can do what you can do. No road is easy, but your strengths can help you move along with ease while you learn as you grow. Stephanie’s presentation is available on her website, about half way down this page, under Documents for Work and Life.
So – What is Your Plan to Start Strong and Finish Stronger?
DES: Unemployment Benefits
Jim Sorensen, UI Client Advocate
Jim has been the Phoenix Unemployment Client Advocate since 2000, and gave us some great insights into Unemployment Insurance (UI).
- UI turned 80 this year. It came about in 1935 as part of the Social Security Act.
- Although UI is federally funded, each state is allowed to make its own rules.
- ALL money contributed into the system comes from employers. The higher the number of layoffs, the higher the percentage an employer pays into the system.
- Employees pay NOTHING into the system.
- The key word is insurance. Don’t feel badly about filing. Would you feel badly about receiving a payment from your auto insurance after an accident?
- Your weekly payment is determined by the last 15 months of your income.
- As mentioned before, each state makes its own rules. With a maximum payout of $240/week, Arizona is #49 in the U.S. It’s not much, but it helps.
- If you have moved here recently, you may be able to apply for benefits in your previous state.
- You do not qualify for UI if you quit – you must be separated from your job through no fault of your own.
- You can work part time while collecting benefits, but what you earn will be deducted from your weekly check.
- You must be ACTIVELY seeking work while you collect. You must file weekly claims with proof of your search.
- UI is taxable income.
- Enthusiasm is ALWAYS noticed, so make sure you have plenty during your job search.
ALL information is online – it is a very robust website.
Go to www.azui.com and select Apply for UI Benefits.
Lindsey Jones, Sr. Talent Acquisition Specialist
DHL is an international shipping and delivery corporation. They are in over 200 countries (and growing) and are the number one international express service. The call center in Tempe is growing into a new building and moving from Priest and Washington into a new building across the street on Rio Salado Parkway. Every person who works for DHL receives a week of paid training and becomes a Certified International Specialist. Benefits include medical/dental, 401k, tuition reimbursements, an on-site gym and many career advancement opportunities. Available positions include front line customer service and direct channel (inside) sales. Apply online here.
State of Arizona
Jan Plank, HR Manager III
The state employs approximately 35,000 people in over 100 agencies, boards and commissions. In 2016, fully 25% of State workers will be retirement eligible. So now is a great time to join the State! Benefits include 10 paid holidays, liberal sick/vacation time, disability insurance, 11% retirement match, exceptionally low healthcare premiums, dental, and vision, life and training opportunities. You MUST apply on-line. The majority of the agencies use the azstatejobs.gov website. Although you must follow the website instructions, Jan emphasized that it is important to differentiate yourself when possible. Current open positions range from HR Generalist to Investigator to Senior Paralegal. Positions change often so check the application website.
Mountain Vista Medical Center
Gaynell Jenkins LinkedIn profiles, Recruiter and Rene Batson, Marketing Manager
Mountain Vista Medical Center is a 178 bed acute care facility and full service hospital. They recently celebrated their 8th anniversary at Crimson and Southern in Mesa. Current available positions include case managers, RNs, diet technician, department secretary, cooks and medical technologists. Apply here.
Education Management Group
Carissa Allen, Admissions Manager
EDMC is composed of The Art Institute, Argosy University, Western State College of Law (as part of Argosy), Brown Mackie College and South University. Student success is the strongest value at EDMC and the culture of education and success extends to the employees as well. Open positions include Administration Reps, Academic Counselors and Admission Managers. There are also many other positions available in other locations outside of Phoenix. Benefits include PTO, 401K, health and dental insurance as well as short/long term insurance and a generous tuition program. Find open positions and apply here.
Wednesday, August 5, 2015, 9:00am, North Phoenix Baptist Church
Mingling Your Way to Networking Success, Gloria Peterson
City of Phoenix, Kathy Thiessen
Hiring companies: The Hartford, Discover, Paychex and Education Management Corporation