Why does career derailment happen? Most of the time, it’s the same sort of thing that derails an executive job search; something you thought was unimportant trips you up and leaves you behind in the race. Some of the problem is in the details of what you did, and some of it is your attitude.
Little Details Can Be Big Mistakes
Being disorganized can result in missing something important, and we all do it to some extent. But when the important thing you missed costs you an interview or a promotion, it hurts. Here are a few places where this happens:
- Application mistakes can get your submission rejected by a computer before a person sees it.
- Resume mistakes give the impression that you are careless.
- References can get you the job or get you out of the running if your references aren’t appropriate.
- Disheveled, dirty clothing makes you look like you can’t even do laundry right.
- Online behavior lives forever and can return to haunt you.
Attitudes Can Be Hinderances
When you look at a news story about someone’s career derailment, pay attention to how attitude factored into their fall. Attitudes change your workplace and have a direct relationship to the way you get along with co-workers. When you make mistakes — and we all will make mistakes sometimes — the relationships you have with the people you work with often change the consequences of those mistakes.
In an executive job search, the way you relate to people is incredibly important because an executive position requires the ability to collaborate and build a team. People who are insensitive, manipulative, and easily angered don’t make good leaders. People who are considerate, encouraging, and stay focused on the mission instead of the problems do.
The way you work with people now is seen as an indicator of the way you will work with people in the new position.
Hope Is Not Lost
One last point that can be made about avoiding a career derailment: learn from your mistakes and do what you can to fix them. This gives you an answer when it comes up in an interview and shows you have one of the most important assets for being a successful executive: the ability to turn a negative into a positive. Overlooking details and ignoring bad attitudes can keep you out of an executive position, but fixing the problems can boost your chances of getting there.
“Age is a primary social dimension. We behave differently toward people as a function of how old we perceive them to be. Age perception relies on cues that are correlated with age, such as wrinkles. Here we report that aspects of facial contrast–the contrast between facial features and the surrounding skin–decreased with age in a large sample of adult Caucasian females. These same aspects of facial contrast were also significantly correlated with the perceived age of the faces. Individual faces were perceived as younger when these aspects of facial contrast were artificially increased, but older when these aspects of facial contrast were artificially decreased. These findings show that facial contrast plays a role in age perception, and that faces with greater facial contrast look younger. Because facial contrast is increased by typical cosmetics use, we infer that cosmetics function in part by making the face appear younger.”
This is the abstract of a research article titled “Aspects of Facial Contrast Decrease with Age and Are Cues for Age Perception,” and it should give a professional woman some good reasons to seriously consider wearing makeup at work and in profile pics. The way the study was conducted, people from the community sat before a computer and saw repeated photos duplicated side by side. The viewer chose the healthiest photo, or the most attractive, or the youngest, etc. But the only difference in photos was some slight changes in one.
Those changes were very subtle so the viewer was not necessarily aware of why one looked healthier, for instance. But the subtle changes did change perception.
Professional Image is All About Perception
Like it or not, people judge us by what we look like. Then they’ll judge us by how we act and sound. They have to make that judgement call because all they can see is the way we look and act and sound. So it makes sense that your professional image is based on outward appearances. OK, so I may be biased because I admit, I’m a makeup hound. I love all things hair, makeup, and accessories. I was loving life in the 80’s with the big hair, bright makeup, bracelets, and bows (even though I do look back at pictures and cringe sometimes). However, not all women want to fuss with makeup in the morning– and I get that.
Women working in the corporate world have many more options on dress and appearance than men do. You’d think that makes it easier, but it actually is more challenging because it’s so easy to choose the wrong option. It’s a good idea to study the workplace you are operating in carefully, dress for the position you hope to be promoted to, and look healthy & reasonably attractive in both real life and profile pics. Sad, but true. How you look professionally counts.
This study shows that you can increase a positive perception of your image with a little bit of makeup, so there’s proof that makeup is a good success strategy for professional women. And I’m not just saying that because I still have my Color Me Beautiful palette from 1985. Ahem.
Searching for executive jobs in today’s world can be tougher than ever. It’s imperative that executive-level job seekers stand out from their competition and prove to their potential employer that they offer a high return on investment. To do this, job seekers need certain tools, including the essential job-search documents needed to effectively market oneself in the job hunt: executive resume, cover letter, career biography, reference dossier, etc.
If you are a part of the executive job hunt remember that personal branding is important to strategically position you ahead of the crowd. It links your key personal attributes, passions and strengths with your value proposition. Does your resume brand you? What about your LinkedIn profile? Does that let the reader know that you are the leader their company needs? If done right this will translate into a crystal clear message that differentiates your unique promise of value that will resonate with your target audience. By showcasing your expertise and unique personal brand in the best possible light, you’ll open doors that others can’t and be in charge or your career destiny.
Make sure you do your research! Tap into the hidden job market by taking advantage of all that’s available online in the way of targeted industry and company research. Check out websites of companies that interest you and start by identifying the challenges they’re facing, learning about the company culture and attempt to track down warm leads at those companies. It’s important to pinpoint how you can have a positive impact and help those companies reach their goals. Save time by identifying and connecting directly with top decision makers at companies through LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or other online social networks when possible. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you’ve never met. LinkedIn is known for its members welcoming connections from unknown contacts. The point is to expand your network and make new connections.
A good executive resume will be the backbone of your job search. It’s important to identify exactly what you want your resume to convey before you get started. Remember, every resume is a one-of-a-kind marketing communication that should tell your story. In order to do that it’s imperative that you make sure your executive resume is well designed and executed. There are a lot of DIY resources and resume writing tips available on the internet that you should take time to review, but in the end it may be better to hire a professional to convey your personal brand. Either way, with a good executive resume in hand that translates your unique attributes you are sure to be on your way to the executive job of your dreams!
Sometimes the idea of “Reputation Management” seems like a big business thing, but each one of us has a reputation, right? Your reputation is not based on who you actually are or what you actually do. Reputations are what other people say you do and who they think you are based on what is being said.
Why Are Reputations So Important?
Reputations are important because they either limit us or allow us to grow. A reputation for always doing a good job is going to be pretty helpful when a prospective employer checks your references, but if you never finish what you start, that may be what keeps you from being hired.
With all the technology we use today, reputations are global. You might need help with your online branding or you may think you have it under control, but the reality is that nobody controls what people are saying about you by clicking a button and making them stop. What happens is influence of opinion based on data collected over time.
Job candidates are viewed in light of all the data that can be compiled about them. That includes references, past employers, and anything that comes up on the internet via social media sites and search engines.
What Can You Do About It?
First, be someone who has integrity and actually is the kind of person you hope people see you as. Next, look at what your track record is and do what you can to fix anything in your power. Some things cannot be changed, so be prepared to show how you will be different because you learned your lesson.
You see this in the public arena quite often: the politician or celebrity makes a gigantic error in judgement. The way they handle the fallout determines how the public discourse about it proceeds. On a private level in the workplace, people who know you will give you the benefit of the doubt if all the other things they know about you are positive. Online, the strategy has to fit the scenario, but the idea of keeping the most recent information positive is usually the best idea for reputation management.
Your career and your reputation are intertwined and cannot really be separated, so it’s important to be aware of how others view your contributions.
There’s something that can cut deep into the benefit of changing jobs.
Before you actually look for new employment, make sure you understand the benefits you currently have, like health insurance, and how those will be affected. Health insurance is a complicated thing so you have to be aware of how a job change changes your status. In a recent survey, almost a quarter of the respondents said that their insurance benefits and out-of-pocket expenses worsened their financial situation more than anticipated.
That survey is cited in an article at the NAIC (National Association of Insurance Commissioners) consumer site, Insure U. Job Seekers Beware: Prospective employer’s financial offer is about more than salary is part of some very helpful resources on Job Change that would be good to keep in mind.
NAIC Recommendations For Job Changers
To avoid surprises, consider the following before saying goodbye to a current employer:
- See if your current group life insurance plan has a conversion privilege. If so, you may have up to 31 days after leaving your job to apply for coverage.
- Find out if you can convert current group disability coverage into a portable disability plan that stays with you from job to job.
- If your job change includes a move, check your homeowners’ policy to make sure personal possessions are covered in-transit. If not, consider a trip transit or floater policy.
- Insurance rates and coverage vary greatly from state to state. Before a move across state lines, contact your state insurance department so you know what to expect.
- Before accepting a new job, compare your current health plan with plans offered to assure the available mix of deductibles, co-pays and coinsurance will cost-effectively meet your needs.
- Find out if your new employer has a mandatory waiting period before health insurance coverage takes effect. If so, consider a short-term plan through new health insurance exchanges to cover the gap. More than 10% of NAIC survey respondents said their overall financial situation was worsened by issues related to “the effective date of new health insurance coverage.”
- If you have children and anticipate a coverage gap, you may also look into government-sponsored programs such as Children’s Health Insurance Plans (CHIP). These plans may provide coverage at low or no cost.
- Finally, if you’re thinking of starting your own business and plan to use your personal car to make deliveries or visit clients, consider business auto coverage. If you’re involved in an accident while conducting these tasks, most personal auto policies won’t cover the losses.
One More Thing To Think About
Before you decide to search for a different job, get acquainted with all the job search resources on our site. You don’t have to explore each one, but the more you know about what you are getting into, the better prepared you will be for making that switch. Something as elementary as health insurance gets missed by many in the promise of a bigger paycheck, so plan carefully.