Managing Your Career in the Age of Acceleration

Managing Your Career in the Age of Acceleration

In case you haven’t noticed, the world of work has changed. Securing a stable job, working for one company until retirement or steadily climbing the ladder is a thing of the past.  Tom Friedman, New York Times Columnist refers to this state of transformation as the age of acceleration. We are in a relentless race to keep up with the fast pace of advances in technology and the impact of globalization.


Flux and More Flux

These trends are creating uncertainty in the workplace. Artificial intelligence and automation have displaced workers in many traditional jobs. While new jobs are being created, many employers are finding ways to streamline costs by hiring independent contractors or temporary workers as opposed to hiring permanent workers. This trend has set in motion the gig economy (hiring for a single project or task) adding to the unpredictability in the job market.

How to Succeed in Your Career

If you want to survive and thrive in this age of acceleration, you need to develop entrepreneurial skills. You don’t have to become an entrepreneur; you just have to think like one. Consider this new approach to your career as the “startup of you”, a term coined by Reid Hamilton, the founder of LinkedIn and Ben Casnocha, in which your success depends on being self-directed and creating your own career opportunities. As the investor of your personal startup, you will advance your career and competitive edge by building skills in problem solving, creative thinking, written and verbal communications, relationship building and collaboration. The continual flux and chaos from technological acceleration will also require qualities such as initiative, curiosity, flexibility, adaptability and resiliency.  In order to have a competitive edge in the current world of work, you need to take risks, commit yourself to lifelong learning and continue to build your professional network. Sound overwhelming?  It doesn’t have to be if you follow these five keys


1. Tap into Your Talents

The best place to start towards establishing success in your career is to think of ways to capitalize on your natural talents and skills. Think of an area considered leading edge or identify a project or task that would enhance your knowledge and abilities. Figure out the criteria for the project or initiative and plan out how you will approach your supervisor or professional group.

2. Be Visible

Keep your manager and team or Board updated and informed on projects and accomplishments. Whenever you have the opportunity, highlight new concepts and innovation to senior leaders. Don’t be afraid to solicit support and advice from your boss or thought leaders as you work on projects. It is likely that your project will add value to the organization and securing guidance and support from a senior manager can result in their buy in and ultimately winning their acknowledgement for a job well done. And don’t forget the power of social media to spread the word on your special achievements. Highlight special projects and accomplishments on your LinkedIn profile or Twitter away when something major happens in your career.

3. Commit to Learning

Seek projects or tasks that will enable you to identify new tools, methods and concepts and improve your overall knowledge. Find ways to keep up to date on current trends by attending professional conferences and meetings and reading professional journals. Taking a course, participating special training or pursuing a certificate program offer some excellent opportunities to expand your knowledge.

4. Commit to Networking

Networking doesn’t mean you have to always attend a big event. There are many opportunities to build on your current network and cultivate new professional contacts.

Serving on a community board or professional association offers you the chance to meet new people and also contribute your expertise and experience.  Alumni groups help graduates make connections with other graduates that can turn into a new opportunity.  You might also provide your expertise as business or professional advisor to a nonprofit organization or Startup. There could also be an opportunity in your organization to participate in an internal strategic planning group or a central committee. Social media offers a variety of ways to connect with other professionals; you can stay connected to people you meet at professional events and you can post articles that may trigger responses from other professionals.


5. Work towards Balance

All the changes in the world of work can easily cause you to feel anxious. It is important to take care of your mental and physical health as you continue to cope with the transitions in the workplace. Unplug from technology after work hours, pursue hobbies and interests, get physical exercise and spend quality time with family and friends.  Despite the pressures at work, don’t miss out on opportunities to build your interests and stay connected to those very important relationships.


Hold On to Your Job

Hold on to Your Job

Eight Building Blocks to Succeeding at Work

Economic turbulence. Unpredictable job market. Competitive workplace.  These words may have you tossing and turning on your pillow at night conjuring up images of your job on the chopping block. But it might help you to stop staring wide-eyed in fear at night if you take specific actions to increase your chances of achieving job success, and building a career that will make the future seem more rosy than scary.


Be open to challenge and show you are willing to take on new projects. As you work with, and observe senior level staff or your manager, determine how you might be able to assist them and further the organization’s mission.  Then suggest how you can employ your particular talents and skills to help achieve important goals.


In a world of rapid change, there is always room for new ideas or fresh approaches for the potential to streamline costs, increase efficiency or enhance marketability.  Creative thinking skills are in high demand. This adventurous approach may result in your coming up with an idea that might offer a perfect solution to a problem or improve a process.


Don’t expect your efforts and accomplishments to be magically acknowledged.  Keep your boss, supervisors, senior leaders and colleagues aware of the energy you are putting forth on a project and keep them posted on your progress.  If you include everyone on your radar, they will have a better idea of the scope, skill and time required to successfully complete the project or a major task.  For special accomplishments, update your LinkedIn contact list. You might grab the attention of a future employer or senior leaders in your field.

Connect with Thought Leaders

Discover who the visionaries or experts are in your organization or industry and meet them online or in person.  Doing this provides a great opportunity to learn more about current and future trends and opens the door to getting advice on how to advance in your career.  Don’t be intimidated by an industry leader’s position or experience; most successful professionals enjoy mentoring or providing advice and the reality is that most people just plain like to talk about themselves.

Support from Colleagues

Building and maintaining strong relationships with coworkers can prove to be highly beneficial when you are struggling with a problem or grappling with a challenging project.  Coworker support can be invaluable in helping your through difficult periods as they bolster your confidence and provide helpful advice and suggestions. In addition to building supportive relationships on the job, don’t hesitate to extend and expand your support system to other professionals in the field via networking events, LinkedIn and Twitter and professional associations. At all costs, avoid building counter-productive relationships that are based on bashing your boss or other colleagues.

Continue to Expand your Knowledge and Skills

If you don’t keep up with all the changes in technology, you will be left behind, so stay up to date on any programs or computer tools used in your workplace. Take advantage of any opportunity to strengthen your technical or job related skills. Read professional and trade journals and have discussions with your boss or senior leaders on current topics to demonstrate your interest and knowledge.

Confront Problems

Deal with conflicts head on and don’t let them fester. If you think your boss is upset with you, don’t go into hiding. You might approach your boss diplomatically by saying, “I have a feeling that you were disappointed with the way I handled the situation last week and I would like to talk with you about your observations and how I might approach this problem differently next time.” 

Work Ethic

Perhaps one the most ignored and important ways to succeed at your job is to demonstrate that you are responsible and conscientious and perform your tasks with integrity and a strong sense of professionalism. There is no replacement for being prompt to meetings, polite to both support and senior staff and completing your tasks with care and in a timely manner.

In a volatile job market, there is no guarantee that your job won’t be eliminated in the future even if you are a star performer.  However building a strong reputation in your field will lead the way to new opportunities in the future.



How to Ace a Behavioral


If you are a player in the center of the challenging job market arena, in order to be truly competitive, you need to be well armed for the interview Chances are good that many of your interviews will include behavioral-style questions. 

Behavioral interviews are based on the idea that the best predictor of future performance is past performance. Instead of asking you questions about specific traits or skills, an interviewer using the behavioral approach will ask you to describe a time when you actively demonstrated that skill or trait. This style of interviewing provides employers with insight into your personality and motivation. In this more structured process, the interviewer is primarily interested in learning about your work results and accomplishments. Your approach to answering these questions can also demonstrate your ability to perform in stressful situations.

To shine brightly in a behavioral interview with insightful, organized and coherent answers, requires careful preparation. This is indeed a test, so do your homework.

Examples of behavior-based interview questions: Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way. 

Give an example of an important goal you had set in the past and describe your success in reaching the goal.

How do you respond to failure?

Tell me about a time when you had to work on a team with someone who didn’t like you.

What are three accomplishments you are most proud of?

How to prepare and succeed in behavioral interviews

The easiest way to begin preparing for any interview that includes behavioral learning is to take out your resume and identify examples that adequately describe or demonstrate your work and personal style.  As you review keep in mind:


  • Your major tasks and responsibilities

  • Some specific accomplishments or results

  • Problems or obstacles you encountered and how they were resolved

  • Skills and abilities developed or strengthened

  • What you learned about the job/field

  • What you learned about yourself including any transitions

  • How you handled difficult people or stressful situations

  • Difficult decisions and what process you used to determine the outcome.


  • How you would describe yourself? Think of three adjectives

  • What do you like to do outside of work?

  • What motivates you?

  • What are your professional goals?

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Strategy-The STAR Method

The STAR method has been shown to be an effective strategy for preparing for behavioral based questions.

Situation or Task: Focus sharply on the situation or task your work required you to accomplish. Then provide enough detailed information to ensure that the interviewer understands the nature and quality of the work energy spent. You can draw on previous jobs, volunteer experience or a relevant event.

Action: Describe the action you took in response to situation or task.

Results: What happened? What did you accomplish? What did you learn?

Just Say No to Work Addiction


It’s a wobbly job market and many workers fear losing their jobs. Employers are faced with the high demands of producing in this economy and expect employees to deliver strong and measurable results. Cell phones, email and texting all conspire to accelerate work and create clients and customers who demand immediate attention. With all these external pressures more of us are working longer and harder and slowly slipping into a toxic state of workaholism.

Are you always the last to leave the office? Can’t find time to take a vacation or spend time with your family? Do you have difficulty relaxing and allow work to dominate your thoughts after hours? Do you suffer from chronic insomnia or indigestion? If your answer is yes to most of these questions, you may be a workaholic. Although more socially acceptable than alcohol or drugs, workaholism is an addiction that can put a strain on relationships, negatively affect productivity and cause serious health problems.

The process of becoming a workaholic is an insidious one that often defies diagnosis until it is in full bloom. It creeps up in stages which can makes this disorder difficult to identify early on.

Stage 1

In the initial stage, a budding workaholic is constantly busy, putting in more hours than are realistically necessary to complete tasks or projects and finding it difficult to schedule a break during the day or take some time off. 

Stage 2

By this time, the workaholic is distancing himself or herself from personal relationships with family and friends, often forgetting important occasions like birthdays and dominating conversation with what’s going on at work. A workaholic may experience physical symptoms associated with stress such as headaches, insomnia or indigestion.

Stage 3

By this stage the workaholic is completely detached from important relationships and shows signs of physical and mental fatigue.  Often in this stage the workaholic is angry and resentful and becomes easily irritated.  The high level of stress experienced at this stage may turn into a more serious health issue including depression.

Just like any addiction, workaholism is based on needs. Workaholics tend to have difficulty relinquishing control; they don’t easily delegate tasks to others or ask for support.  The workplace is an environment that offers the opportunity to excel but workaholics often base their self esteem on approval from others. They will work longer hours with the hope that their extra efforts will result in achievement and recognition.  Many workaholics are also addicted to the adrenal high of making important work decisions, negotiating big deals and connecting with important clients. They may choose to spend more time in the office because that’s where the action is.

Steps to overcoming the addiction


Understand you have a problem and that there are solutions.  You are a victim of work not a master of work.


Identify what’s most important and tackle that first. Try to under schedule your work on major projects and tasks so that you allow more time than you actually think that you need. You will be less harried by unexpected problems and interruptions.


Just like you schedule appointments and important work meetings, schedule time in advance for activities that you really enjoy from going to the movies, to sports and other fun interests. And be sure to take vacation time.


Make time for exercise, meditation or other expressions of spirituality to support a healthy lifestyle


Ask friends and family to support you in stepping away from work and enjoying your life. Building strong relationships will sustain you in many ways.

Help is on the way if you or someone you know well is struggling with workaholism and needs   professional support.  Workaholics Anonymous offers many resources including groups that meet in your local area and you can find psychologists and counselors who offer support to workaholics through the directory at Psychology Today.

Work can be an energizing and powerful way to express your talents, display your skills and make an impact. Just don’t allow work to control your life or you will miss out on the endless array of fascinating and enlivening aspects of life that you have every right to experience and enjoy.



How to Ask for Flex Time


As work continues to squeeze out more of our energy and time, we want flexibility. Young millennial workers expect it, and baby boomers are asking for part-time work hours as they transition into retirement. While not a miracle prescription, flextime offers some relief for those of us seriously suffering from the inability to manage time against work and family demands. 

According to a recent study conducted by Society for Human Resource Management, 56 percent of companies now offer flextime options to their employees. While flextime is not viable in every work environment, a majority of employees will choose a flextime schedule when this option is offered by their employer.

The beauty of flextime is that it can also benefit the employer. Recent surveys reflect that employees who telecommute from home or have alternate work hours tend to be more loyal to their company, demonstrate high productivity and are generally more optimistic. Not only are they more satisfied with their job, but they also work more intensely. Since flextime tends to increase productivity, it is cost effective for the employer. 

Companies offering flexible work schedules, attract high performing employees who, in turn, value the company’s respect for work life balance. Flextime can enable employees to schedule medical appointments or child care arrangements during daytime hours, which tend to prevent unscheduled absences. 

If you are interested in pursuing flextime hours with your employer, here are some general tips. The key to winning flextime is to clearly demonstrate to your employer how you can continue to add value to the organization.


It is important to have the right attitude. You are not automatically entitled to a flexible work arrangement, even if you are a high performer at your company. Carefully assess your work environment and evaluate when it’s critical for you to be physically present in the office for important meetings and projects. Think carefully about your time challenges and how it relates to family demands. Then begin to formulate a plan that will support the employer’s requirements and your family commitments. At this point, you may want to have an informal discussion with your employer about your proposal. 

Written proposal

Your boss is more likely to take your proposal for flextime hours more seriously if you present an organized and well thought out written plan. Be sure your proposal initially highlights how you can continue to perform your work at a high level and increase your contribution to the division or department. Then outline your proposed options for flextime hours. To expand the options your employer can choose from, consider more than one flextime arrangement. Even if there isn’t a current company policy for flextime, you can still propose a plan to your employer.

Evaluation period  

The biggest worry for an employer who is considering flextime hours is whether you will meet your responsibilities. There is also concern that your flex schedule will increase the workload of other employees. Suggest a trial period of three or four months, and identify how your performance will be measured. Most importantly, reinforce how you will keep the communication channels open during the time you are not in the office. 


After spending time drafting a proposal, it’s natural to want an immediate response. Your boss may need a few weeks to evaluate your flextime request and may also have to run it by a more senior manager. You might also need to wait for final approval from the human resources department. It could be several weeks before you get the final word on your flextime request, so be patient. 

As the forces of technology, the economy and the competitive job market push us to work more hours, work time will continue to compete with family time for parenting, elder care or pursuing advanced training and education. Flextime at least offers some hope for managing both work and family life.




Blazing the Trail to a New Career

Blazing the Trail to a New Career

Directions for Changing Your Career

As you take delight in the blooming flowers of spring, you might be inspired to plant some personal seeds that will blossom into a new career. Trying to figure out what you want to do with your life can be both challenging and exciting. You can often find clues to your future by stepping back in the past and reflecting on your experiences, accomplishments and those unique and special talents that you may have been taking for granted.

Think of your career as a life long process requiring a careful evaluation of your values, skills and interests. Most of us hope to find work that exercises our abilities, stimulates our ambitions and suits our personalities. This search is no easy task. If you take the time to focus on your interests, belief system and strengths, there is a good chance that you will be able to generate some novel career ideas that have the potential to be a good fit.

Below are some basic, but undeniably essential steps to help you identify and explore that new career direction:


A simple place to start as you begin to identify your skills and values is to consider what you have achieved. Look back through your whole life storybook from work to volunteering to family life. Nothing is irrelevant. If you are proud of designing and planting a garden in your backyard it demonstrates creativity, spatial ability and organization skills. If you have received promotions in your job, it may reflect leadership, analytical thinking skills and diplomacy.


Values highlight what is most important to you. These essential indicators signal how you feel about the work itself and how you might want to contribute to a work setting.  Do you want to work in a large organization or small company? Is working with other people more appealing than working alone? Do you like your responsibilities to be well defined or do you prefer some room for creativity? These are just a few examples of how to define your work values.

Think about work experience and any outside activities that you especially enjoyed and see if you can identify some common trends. Even the most unpleasant work experiences can provide insight into what drives your need to work and your personal satisfiers.


What you enjoy spending time doing can offer clues to solving the puzzle to your career. Some people are able to develop their careers based strictly on special interests.

  • What were some of the topics and subjects you most enjoyed studying in high school or college?
  • Think of a hobby or activity that you enjoy so much that time seems to fly by when you’re engaged in it.
  • When you catch the news or read a newspaper/magazine, what issues grab your attention?
  • If money were no object, what would you spend more or most of your time on?

Think of personal interests as another way to identify your values, skills and abilities. For instance, if you enjoy writing stories, this may reflect a talent for communication, creativity and a fascination with the motivations behind human behavior. There are many careers that would support this combination of interests, values and skills, such as journalism, social media and marketing.


A systematic assessment of your skills often reveals your strengths and how you might use these in a work setting. Functional skills reflect the ability to work with people, data and information or objects. You can further break down your skills by looking at your natural talents as well as your intellectual, creative, leadership and problem-solving abilities.

If you have a tough time assessing your values, interests and skills and how these translate into a career, a helpful resource is ONET ( ).  In addition, many local college career offices provide links to online resources that include career tests and general occupational information. 

A career transition requires patience, optimism, resilience and persistence.  At certain points you may feel discouraged. However, if you have a good understanding of who you are and where you have been, and are willing to persevere through the maze of career information, you are bound to discover some new and interesting career paths.


Creating a 30 Second Elevator Speech

If you are stuck about the whole career networking process, think about creating a 30-second elevator speech. This simplified approach provides an organized way to introduce yourself to a professional contact.  Think of the 30-second elevator speech as a personal pitch, or as a script that you develop with the distinct purpose of establishing rapport or a relationship with a potentially valuable contact. This short-hand introduction can also act to stimulate interest on the part of your contact.

Hopefully your 30-second speech will cultivate curiosity and generate questions from your contact that will provide more information about your background and interests.

There are many situations where the 30-second elevator speech can be useful from meeting a new client or colleague, to engaging with a former classmate or potential employer. When people meet for the first time, the initial exchange is usually based on, “Who are you and what do you do?”  If you have a well thought out introduction organized ahead of time, the delivery will be smoother and more cohesive … and might very well result in a greater chance to make a good impression at the crucial starting point.  Once you have created a basic introduction you can tailor it to any situation.

Basic Elements of 30-second Elevator Speech

Your Name and Title

Nothing complicated here.  A simple “Hi, my name is John and I am currently a business analyst” will do.  If you are a student or a recent grad, it is fine to use these terms as your title.  For the unemployed, the focus can be on past titles and capacities and the fields and industries that fill your resume.

Your Role

The description of your role can be an extension of your title embellished with more information.

“I am a nurse who specializes in emergency room patients and recently developed expertise working with patients who suffered traumatic head injuries.” Or for a college grad, “I recently graduated from Temple University with a fine arts degree in graphic design.”

Your Interests

Expanding on accomplishments or exciting developments in your experience presents a unique opportunity to build enthusiasm and more fully engage your contact.

“I enjoy working with my patients and have had the privilege of watching many seriously injured patients fight courageously to improve their physical condition.”

The positive energy that you display can prove to be contagious and can act to further your contact’s interest in finding out more about you.

Future Conversation

If your initial introduction and conversation goes smoothly with a contact, it can open the door to a more formal meeting or discussion via Skype or telephone.  As you develop your introduction pitch, it is also a good idea to think in advance about how to present your desire for an extended conversation.

“I am looking to expand my nursing experience and talents and pursue opportunities in Hospice care.  You have substantial knowledge and experience in this area and I wondered if you would be willing to talk with me further about trends in the field.”

Additional Tips

Practice your elevator speech with friends or colleagues and make sure your delivery comes across as natural.  Keep in mind you can use the pitch in building your network of friends, colleagues, leaders in your field and professional acquaintances. You can tailor the pitch depending on who it is you are trying to build a relationship with but a basic introduction will always help you break the ice with a new contact.

Avoid being blatantly direct by asking your contact for a job. In the same spirit, do not ask the contact if he or she would consider interviewing you. This kind of approach is a turn off since the contact does not really know you well enough and will consider your request an imposition.

The 30-second elevator speech is about developing a relationship which can simply produce a warm and valuable relationship or lead to an opportunity now or in the future.

Take a Stab at Freelance

Take a Stab at Freelance

It’s no fun pounding the pavement, wearing your shoes and your spirit out, looking for work opportunities. You dutifully post your resumes online, network your heart out and attend career fairs, all with negative results. If you are frustrated by a tough job market, consider freelance or contract work as way to tide you over.  With some luck, your temporary job could turn into a full time job. However, freelance work provides an opportunity to continue to develop your skills and earn some money at the same time. Many professionals in full time positions pursue freelance work as a way to enhance their salaries.

A Day in the Life of a Career Counselor

A Day in the Life of a Career Counselor

For most of my professional life I have been a career counselor and coach.  I spend countless hours guiding people through an intricate maze that includes their experiences, talents, skills and interests. The goal is to come up with job options that have the potential to be life changing and satisfying. I have had many opportunities to educate and advise students, young professionals, seasoned workers and Baby Boomers on all areas of career development. On a personal level, I have benefited from learning about the highs and lows of their experiences and found a deep sense of pride inspiring clients to take initiative and risks that have unfolded into exciting new opportunity and positive change.

Networking for Your Career

Networking for Your Career

The prospect of creating a professional network can be intimidating and confusing.  But the most compelling incentive for getting beyond your angst is the fact that a lot of folks are finding the right job because they developed a healthy and vital professional network. It is not really a new concept. Even before the economic downturn, many people found their jobs through connections.

While You Are Waiting for Something to Change

While You Are Waiting for Something to Change

The search for an exciting new career or even the less adventurous prospect of finding a decent job is a unique challenge in a sluggish economy. Admirable qualities such as patience, a positive attitude, creative thinking, a willingness to take the initiative and some old fashion finger crossing can only take you so far before the sturdiest, most optimistic personality crumbles a little at the edges. Even a sparkling, polished resume combined with an effective job search strategy no longer guarantee immediate success.