A Surprising Secret to Success

Don’t forget to show gratitude every day for what you have.

This is a refreshingly positive little article on Inc.com about what leads to true success in a career — and it’s not what you may think.  It’s about gratitude.  We’re all so stressed and so busy (present company included!) that most of us don’t take enough time to stop and be thankful for what we have, what we contribute to our companies, clients or customers or for the people around us who support us (spouse, loved ones, business associates, childcare professionals).

There are so many people out there without jobs or in jobs they hate that it’s worth setting aside a few minutes a day to appreciate what you have. We know we will.

Should the Holiday be Renamed Non-Labor Day?

This Labor Day, there’s not much to celebrate. According to a recent piece on Business Insider, which compiled alarming stats from various sources, there was zero job growth in the past decade — the worst 10 years on record — and two million people have exhausted 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, while another four million will do so by the end of this year. What’s up, America? How is it that the job picture continues to get grimmer and grimmer?

As co-authors of Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work, we offer career advice to people at all levels through our book, as well as speaking engagements, coaching sessions and workshops, on how to land that dream job or client — or move up in your current position — by making yourself invaluable, unique and indispensable. But when the job market just keeps getting bleaker, how can you focus on the positive? How do you keep your confidence in tact when you’ve been pounding the pavement for months with no end in sight? How do you avoid letting the fear of losing business, staff or — worse — your job stand in the way of your success? In honor of Labor Day, here’s some hopeful advice and wishful thinking that the job market will rebound by this time next year:

1) It’s all in the spin: When you leave a job, lose a job, or can’t find one, think about yourself as self-employed versus unemployed. If you position yourself to the market as a freelancer or independent contractor, you’ll come across as more confident and likely more employable. Even better, rather than just collect unemployment and send out resumes, try to pitch yourself for freelance work — many companies who have had to cut full-time staff must now rely on less expensive outside contractors whose benefits and insurance they don’t have to cover.

2) Demonstrate value: Okay, so we thought we would never experience what we went through in 2009, with budget and job cuts across the board, but unfortunately we’re dealing with a potential double-dip recession. However, if you still have your job, be thankful and, what’s more, make sure you’re showing value to your company so that when they do have to evaluate headcount and performance, you’ll be the one they simply can’t do without.

3) Stay on the circuit: If you’ve been out of work for a while, don’t give up and sit at home wallowing. Even if you are happily employed, you must continue to connect with as many people as possible.  In fact, studies show that 80 percent of senior level jobs are filled with personal connections, so keep in mind that the bigger your circle, the more job leads you’ll get. Go to networking events, schedule informational interviews with folks in your industry, book coffee dates with anyone you think can help you and connect with people on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

4) Don’t get defeated: Even in challenging times, the best people — the ones who make a positive impact and stand out in a unique way — will ultimately get hired and promoted. While this Labor Day may be overshadowed by our high unemployment rate in the U.S., hopefully it will also serve as a catalyst to get Americans back into the workforce. Some of that will be up to the government, but some of it will be up to you and how well you leverage your skills, talents and connections.

How are you staying upbeat in a tough job market? Share with us here, on Facebook or Twitter (@bestpublicist).

DON’T PUT YOUR CAREER ON ICE THIS WINTER

The weather across the country had turned colder…and so has the job market. Recent stats took even the White House by surprise. According to the recently released numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate edged up to 9.8 percent and the number of unemployed persons was 15.1 million in November. Scary. But, what can you do to keep warm during this extended and early freeze?

Hatch a plan.

In “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” Alice asks the Cheshire Cat, “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” to which he responds, “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”  When she says, “I don’t much care where,” the Cat points out, “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”  Take a lesson from Lewis Carroll’s heroine: Think about what your goals are during this (seemingly) long cold employment period and start breaking down how you’d like to accomplish them. It could be as simple as hanging on to your job; it could be slightly more difficult (i.e. getting a raise). For the former, work on ways to be your own best publicist in the workplace (for example, by volunteering to work on additional projects). For the latter, start compiling evidence of the ways you add value or how you’ve saved–or made–the company money through the work you’ve done.

Help others to help yourself.
You know the saying “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”? Consider a different perspective: Do something nice for others and they will likely be more apt to do something nice for you. For example, if someone you know is a fledgling graphic designer, recommend them for a project.  At a minimum, they’ll remember you.  More importantly, perhaps you’ll come to mind when they come across an opportunity that would be good for you. Given that the majority of job leads and new business come through people you know, it’s smart to increase the odds.

Keep calm and carry on.
When faced with a winter of discontent, an important thing to remember is that it will ultimately turn to spring, even if it doesn’t feel that way. Take stock of what is going right in your life: family, friends, job, bank account, puppy, etc. At the risk of sounding too Holly Golightly, it’s always good to look at the bright side.  There’s always someone worse off than you.  While we don’t wish an unfortunate situation on anyone, it may put your own in perspective and stop you from wallowing, particularly if you are sinking into the “woe is me” portion of the broadcast.

Instead, enjoy the holidays with friends and family, have a cup of eggnog, relax and then as the New Year arrives, think about your career resolutions for the year ahead so you can start fresh and confident about what you want to accomplish in 2011.

What are you doing to keep your options warm in this cold snap? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter (@BestPublicist).

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