Republished from http://www.businessinsider.com/moms-want-jobs-for-mothers-day-2013-5
In honor of Mother’s Day, once again, Salary.com, publishes the Mom’s Salary Calculator, which estimates the number of hours a week an average Stay at Home mom works (for her family) and what she is “worth” were she to do all the “jobs” she does daily by just being Mom.
This year’s earnings for a Stay at Home Mom would be $113,000.
What is supposed to make Stay at Home Moms feel validated for all their hard work in reality serves as a cruel reminder of how much Moms are still not valued in the work force or at home. Regardless of a positive April jobs report, many of these Stay at Home Moms, who left high paying jobs for a child rearing hiatus will never earn much again, when and if they are able to return to the workforce at all.
Katrina, mother of two (preferred not to have her last name published) was a former hedge fund auditor. She left her career to be at home with her two children. When she wanted to go back to work, she had no idea how difficult it would be.
She had a three-year, “Mommy Gap” in her resume. It took two years to find a job. She also found she was no longer a viable candidate for re-entry at her former job level. Even as she reached out to recruiters they told her the gap was a problem. “They told me no way was I going to make what I used to make.” Katrina recently found a bookkeeping job on Craigslist that she “had to take out of desperation. It’s way below what I wanted and used to make.”
She is making 60% less than she did before she left her career, but her new job offers some flexibility, which her former auditing job did not.
I asked her what she thought about all the buzz around Sandberg’s theory of “Leaning In” to our careers, Katrina told me she had “Leaned in.” She pushed and reached quite a high level before she opted out.
Kirstin Gaddis, MBA, and a senior marketing manager, took ten years off to raise her kids. She recently accepted a full time junior position at Ebay, She took a significant pay cut compared to what she was making ten years ago. Yet, as her kids are older, 8 and 10, she was eager to get back in. “I knew that if I waited to accept a job that I was qualified for, I would be waiting a very long time.” Instead, in her job search, she looked to good companies, where she would be able to do something interesting and eventually be able to rise up the ranks.
Paulette Light is also an MBA too, and a mother of four. Pre-kids she worked as a management consultant.Paulette wrote an eloquent response on Sandberg’s website about being part of the 43% statistic of high achieving women who leave the workforce and never come back. Her essay was re-published on The Atlantic.
She told me her former career didn’t translate to Motherhood. “My old company tried so hard to have me stay. It just wasn’t feasible for them to have me work 30 hours a week (when she wanted to cut back) and everyone else work 100.” She added, “It’s not that it is a conspiracy against Moms. It’s harder to be competitive.” Paulette wound up founding her own social media business, which offers business referrals to friends, many of them Moms.
Starting your own business is a great solution for Moms that want to re-enter the workforce on their own terms and at a high level. But not every Mom who wants to go back to work is an MBA with skills to start her own company. Is there no other way to work within the corporate structure?
Allison Kelly, founder of Mom Corps had a background in the corporate world, too. She found it difficult to balance career and family. She also knew a great deal of “amazingly talented women that companies would love to have access to.” Thus, her business was born.
Mom Corps is an employment agency specializing in providing flexible employment for Moms. What advice does she give moms who want to re-enter the workforce? She tells them “not to make excuses.” She recommends a positive attitude: “I was at home, I took time off, but now I am excited and ready to get back to work.” Yet, Allison did admit that the longer you are away from the workplace the harder it is to get back in. “Two to three years is easy to explain. If it is longer than that, women should make a good effort to take classes, do internships, volunteer.”
When I asked how companies respond to the idea of flexible work? “Smaller companies tend to be more open to it. Larger companies seem to be moving in the direction of experimenting with flexible work options, the message being, “We are trying to get there.”
Michael Abelson, a partner at the Los Angeles law firm, Ableson/Herron LLP, was encouraging. He told me, “We love hiring Moms.” When he and his partner opened their own firm they had came from a larger firm where they saw a significant pool of talent, specifically Moms, be forced to “bow out of the big firm talent pool.” Women in his firm are "from the best law schools, are extremely talented, and all they ask is some modicum of flexibility.” He does not require his lawyers to be in the office on any given day. “They use their own judgment,” he said. “We hire these people for their judgment, so they do their work when they need to do it, and they are able to manage their responsibilities at home…These women are professionals who care about their jobs.” Ableson is surprised that more companies have not caught on. He went on to say, “To think that a company would waste such talent by not offering support or flexibility blows my mind.”
In honor of Mother’s Day this year, instead of flowers or chocolates or a chart highlighting her “fictitious” wages, how about giving a Mom a job? A real one, that pays her well and gives her a true sense of what she’s actually worth.
Visit www.momcorps.com for our current job listings as we work hard to give more moms great jobs!
Spring is the time for cleaning out the old, and bringing in the new.
Is it time to spring clean your career?
Many people avoid working on changing their career direction, because let’s face it – it is tough. It takes time, energy and commitment. There is also risk involved and it is easy for so many reasons to sweep your job search under the rug and stick with what you know, even if it makes you unhappy.
I joke with my clients that they stay in a career path that is not a fit for them because it is like an old pair of slippers. Even though they no longer fit, you at least know what to expect and there is comfort in that. Have May be your month to make some changes, even if they are small. And by the way, the key to career transition is baby steps… If you break it down into small manageable steps you will be less likely to get overwhelmed and less likely to throw in the towel.
Here are five steps that you need to take this month to determine your ideal career path:
1. Brainstorm career options with people you know. My client David in Atlanta invited 5 friends over for pizza and brainstorming on a Saturday night. He walked away with 30 new career ideas. Those who know you understand what is important to you, your skill set, your experience, what you would enjoy and be qualified for, ask them!
2. Use online resources to research new ideas. Take five minutes to make a list of keywords based on your interests and skills. Plug those into Google (for example, careers in history, careers using data analysis, etc) and into websites like www.mypursuit.com and www.onetonline.org.
3. Conduct informational interviews with people in the industries that you are considering. Set up two per month. This is an invaluable way to learn from the horse's mouth what it is really like to work at a certain job and stop making perhaps incorrect assumptions about what it is like or why you may not be qualified. Reminder, informational interviews should be set up with the expectation that you will be able to ask the person 3-5 questions about their job and industry, not to ask them to help you find a job. Although they may assist you as a result of the interview; an added bonus.
4. Attend 2 networking events this month. In industries that you are considering, to learn more from the participants you meet, or the speaker who is talking about a relevant trend in the industry.
5. Take a career assessment. We use the Strong Assessment and the Strengthsfinder in our career coaching. There are many assessments you can take including the free assessment at assessment.com. The Strengthsfinder, a wonderful assessment, is available as part of your purchase of the book – low cost, great results.
Remember two things to keep your search manageable and realistic so that you do not become overwhelmed. Break it down into week-by-week action items – baby steps. Do not try to figure it out all at once. Realize this process takes time, and be patient with yourself. You would not choose your spouse based on one week of dating them. You do not want to make a career move based on one week’s worth of thinking. Take your time but continue slowly taking action.
About the author:
Hallie Crawford is a certified coach and founder of Create Your Career Path. Her team of coaches help people find their dream job and make it a reality. She is regularly featured as an expert in the media including the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and US News & World Report.
In a recent blog post for LinkedIn, Lou Adler, headhunter and author of Hire With Your Head and The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired shared what he calls, “the most important interview question of all time”, saying:
“Over the past 30+ years as a recruiter, I can confirm that at least two-thirds of my hiring manager clients weren’t very good at interviewing. Yet, over 90% thought they were. To overcome this situation, it was critical that I became a better interviewer than them, to prove with evidence that the candidate was competent and motivated to do the work required. This led me on a quest for the single best interview question that would allow me to overcome any incorrect assessment with actual evidence. It took about 10 years of trial and error. Then I finally hit upon one question that did it all…"
And here is Lou's perfect interview question:
"What single project or task would you consider the most significant accomplishment in your career so far?”
Lou goes on to ask readers how they would respond to this question, saying:
“What accomplishment would you select? Then imagine over the course of the next 15-20 minutes I dug deeper and asked you about the following. How would you respond?"
- Can you give me a detailed overview of the accomplishment?
- Tell me about the company, your title, your position, your role, and the team involved.
- What were the actual results achieved?
- When did it take place and how long did the project take?
- Why you were chosen?
- What were the 3-4 biggest challenges you faced and how did you deal with them?
- Where did you go the extra mile or take the initiative?
- Walk me through the plan, how you managed to it, and if it was successful.
- Describe the environment and resources.
- Describe your manager’s style and whether you liked it or not.
- Describe the technical skills needed to accomplish the objective and how they were used.
- Some of the biggest mistakes you made.
- Aspects of the project you truly enjoyed.
- Aspects you didn’t especially care about and how you handled them.
- How you managed and influenced others, with lots of examples.
- How you were managed, coached, and influenced by others, with lots of examples.
- How you changed and grew as a person.
- What you would do differently if you could do it again?
- What type of formal recognition did you receive?
As you can see, this one interview questions captures a ton of information because it leads to many other exposing and insightful questions.
At Mom Corps, we try to help prep candidates for interviews with prospective employers, and think that this is a FABULOUS interview question to prepare for because it enables the candidate to really show the employer why they can handle the job. Additionally, it shows the interviewer what the candidate has accomplished, and how they’ve overcome challenges. The answers also provide conversation material between the interviewer and the candidates’ references.
If you are currently interviewing for a job, we encourage you to take a moment to journal out your response to this multifaceted interview question.
If you are not currently interviewing for a job, consider taking some notes on how you’d respond to this question anyways. Why? Because one day you might need to interview for a job and the details of your current projects may not be as fresh in your mind down the road as they are today.
One idea you might want to consider is to keep a Word document in a folder on your computer along with your resume, and every time you have a "win" at work, quickly type a note to yourself on the Word document. That way, you'll be able to revisit your past accomplishments to refresh your memory before an interview.
Capture your accomplishments and become comfortable talking about your abilities as a professional. The more you practice, the easier it will become!
What was the best interview question you've ever given or received?
As originally published by The Huffington Post.
As an alumnus of Harvard Business School, I recently had the honor of attending the Harvard Business School W50 Summit, celebrating 50 years of women at the school. While it was enlightening to be around more than 800 brilliant, powerful women, I was also left transformed through their experiences with an infinitely broadened perspective. It's always a great opportunity to get outside of your own business to be able to look inside.
Here are some of the highlights of the Summit:
We've come a long way, but we still have a ways to go
History is always interesting. The first women on the Harvard Business School campus had to live "across the river" at the Radcliffe campus and walk back and forth to the business school each day. Once they were allowed to live on campus, the women of Harvard Business School were in rooms that were not retrofitted for women--bathrooms had only one stall and several urinals.
Now, almost 50 percent of students at Harvard are women (I was there from 1997-1999 and the percentage was around 25) and they have modern living quarters to boot. There is far more equality in both the classroom and boardroom than there was 50 years ago. In 2013, women can pursue higher education and an advanced career without sacrificing a family or other passions. But we are still on this journey of equality, both in pay and in anecdotal evidence. Women make 77 cents for every dollar that men earn, and in 2012, only 18 of the Fortune 500 were lead by women.
This message left me with a greater appreciation and respect for the messages of women like Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer. Though it's not the life we all want, their visibility at the top--and the persistence and hard work that got them there--demands attention and respect for the capability and value women bring to the workforce and paves the way in the future, for young women and girls who have big dreams and a vision.
Sheryl Sandberg: Choose your success and get to it
I left with a transformed view of the mission and message of Sheryl Sandberg, author of "Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead." A keynote speaker at the event, she stressed a few key messages that every woman professional--beginning, mature or not yet in the workforce needs to hear.
• Don't get in your own way for success. To me, this means not being afraid to go after what you want whether that means more flexibility, fair pay or a promotion, whatever. Fear of a "no," or the possibility of seeming selfish or ungrateful, so often holds women back ... otherwise, we would have asked for what we wanted already. Do your research and present your case with confidence. Hearing a "no" never hurt anyone. Your employer won't give you more money, more flexibility or a promotion if you don't ask. Trust me. Have the courage to ask, and the resolve to be okay with the answer.
• It doesn't matter what success looks like, you define it for yourself and go for it. This really resonated with me. I left a promising corporate career--what I thought I wanted my whole life-- when I had kids to define a new kind of success. It's not the path I envisioned when I left Harvard with my MBA, but entrepreneurship and the platform Mom Corps gives me to help other women, provides me with a greater level of "success" than I could have ever imagined. Truly what I want for every woman I know.
Other key messages from summit speakers
Timothy Butler, Director of Career and Professional Development Programs, MBA Program Administration, discussed "the path to career vision." Much of his talk was spent on the topic of finding meaning in your career, and the importance of making decisions first with your heart, and letting the rest follow. What an obvious point that professionals so often neglect. If your heart is not in it--perhaps a new high-profile position, or opting to stay out of the workforce for a while to raise children--why do it? It won't make you happier or "better" to do what the media, peers, or even your old self would want. Spend some time in reflection when a new career opportunity comes up. It will save much frustration and backtracking down the line.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter a Harvard Professor of Business Administration, focused her talk on the topic "from inclusion to influence to impact." She shared how power so often goes to the connectors and how you need to do the "extras" to move ahead in the workplace. This is and will continue to be a major handicap for working moms until the workforce goes through an evolution. Professor Kanter also spent a lot of time telling the women in the audience to "brag," "claim our vision" and "get our credit." All necessities for getting noticed and moving up.
Overall, I learned a great deal, met a host of new connections, and walked away more inspired than ever. There is much value in opening our minds and learning from others, and then sharing the wealth and wisdom. Did you attend this event or another talk or seminar where you feel you learned something valuable. I would love to continue the conversation.
Allison O'Kelly is founder/CEO of Mom Corps, a national talent acquisition and career development firm, with a focus on flexible work. Launched in 2005, Mom Corps has helped champion the view that flexibility is a benefit to not only professionals but to the companies that employ them.
Follow Allison O'Kelly on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AllisonOKelly
Good news for our Philadelphia candidates:
We're holding a live workshop event in Philly!
5 Steps to Achieving Flexible Work
Tuesday, April 23
9:30 - 11:30 AM (EST)
40 Monument Road
Bala Cynwyd, PA
Spend the morning with Mom Corps CEO Allison O'Kelly and Mom Corps Philadelphia President Nicole Harris to learn the essential steps that will help you achieve a flexible career that fits both your personal and professional needs.
*Special Mom Corps member promotion: $10 off entry. Only $35 to attend! Select "Mom Corps Member" ticket type.
Yesterday was April Fools’ Day, but unfortunately professional scammers strike every day of the year. Make sure you aren’t getting pranked when you browse online job postings by being aware of these common scam tactics:
Asking for payment
One popular job scam requires the applicant to deposit a check into their bank account and then send the employer the money. A real company would never ask an applicant to do that… think about it… why would that make sense?! Protect your personal information and never give out bank information until well into the hiring process for direct deposit.
Hiring without an interview
If you’ve been out of the workforce, you might be nervous about interviewing with companies and find job postings that advertise “no interview required”. Although that may sound very appealing, real, legitimate companies would NEVER hire anyone without a job interview. Would you take on the liability of an employee and pay someone you’ve never met? We didn’t think so… and neither would a good employer.
Too good to be true scams
Any job postings that call out to job seekers to sign-up and get paid to do data entry, envelope stuffing, pyramid schemes / sales models, assembling products, processing rebates, and wire money transferring are almost definitely a scam!!
Professionals don’t find telecommuting / work-from-home jobs through questionable online job ads. Ask anyone who works remotely and you’ll find out that they went through a very traditional interview process before landing their legitimate and rewarding telecommuting job!
And of course, our #1 tip is going to be to visit www.momcorps.com to browse jobs because all of our jobs are high-quality positions posted by our professional recruiters. No scams allowed! Just sayin’…
With Best Buy and Yahoo re-thinking their telecommuting policies, the work environment question is on our minds yet again. Whether telecommuting is right for you or not, work environment is a critical piece to defining the right industry, company and career path for you. It is a good idea for companies to have flexible policies to try to fit different workers ideal work situation within reason. You as an employee need to consider what will work for you long-term in terms of the right work environment because bottom line, it can be a make or break in determining how much you enjoy your job.
I had a client in Chicago who loved her work, enjoyed her peers and staff but her boss was difficult and the organization’s values did not fit her well. She ended up leaving this job. The tough part about work environment is, it needs to fit your personality and your personality for the most part is what it is. You can change or improve upon your skill set but you cannot change your personality, at least not dramatically. You must consider work environment when you are considering different possible career directions. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are vetting out your ideas:
1) Your personality type. Take a free quick online personality test. Even better, use a career assessment. Understand how you operate, the types of people you interact with the best, and the culture that works best for you. Are you more introverted or extroverted? A more creative or traditional type? All of these factors will impact the right fit for you.
2) Corporate culture. What are the company’s values? What is their mission and what is it really like to work there? You want to understand what their culture is like to find out if it is a fit for you. Are they forward-thinking and progressive, or more conservative for example? The product or service they provide can give you clues to what the culture might be like, but take the time anyway to find out first-hand what it is really like to work there. You can find out a little more about a company’s culture by talking with people who work there and looking on sites like www.glassdoor.com.
3) Co-workers and employer. Ask during the interview if you can meet with others you will be working with. Find out what your boss’ management style is, hands on or more laissez-faire? Who you will be working with is as critical to know about as the role you will be playing. You need to determine whether the people you work with will be a fit for you to dig into a project with.
4) Schedule, location, physical space. These are all things to consider as well. For some people they will not matter as much as others. For example, a recent college grad may be willing to re-locate almost anywhere for a new job. The single working mom may require that her job is as close as possible to her son’s daycare and choose the position that is closer to that location even if another position offered is slightly more appealing. It is all about priorities. And it is up to you how high you place these on your list of priorities or importance.
5) Values – yours and theirs. Finally, consider the values of the organization as well as your values. Are they a fit? Will you be doing something at your job on a regular basis that fulfills you in some way? And do your company’s values align with yours or at least, not step on them? You need to consider the intangible elements as well as the tangible elements like skills and talents when you are considering your long-term career path.
There are obviously more elements to consider for your career path long-term in addition to those above. The list depends on your needs and priorities and current situation. But at the very least, take these factors into consideration when you are applying for a job or choosing between different positions because environment can greatly impact not only your fulfillment but also your success.
About the author:
Hallie Crawford is a certified coach and founder of Create Your Career Path. Her team of coaches help people find their dream job and make it a reality. She is regularly featured as an expert in the media including the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and US News & World Report.
Last week, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer made waves yet again with the decision that Yahoo employees can no longer work remotely, stating in a company memo:
"To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices."
Additionally, it looks like this decision will force long-distance employees to either relocate or resign. Critics internally and externally have voiced opinions on why this decision was made as the next step in Mayer’s campaign to save the failing company. Others believe that it’s a move to encourage turnover in a company that needed to reduce their workforce numbers (without laying people off) with even the occasional teleworkers put on notice.
And just as we were face-palming the mismanagement of this situation, Best Buy turned around yesterday and released a similar initiative, ending its ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) program.
As we discussed on Facebook earlier today, historically, companies tend to make short-sighted business decisions in tough economic times. It makes sense that these two struggling companies are making an effort to re-work their culture and rally all hands on deck. It’s clear that telework was mismanaged at Yahoo from the beginning and that some employees probably “went native”, losing sight of the culture and company goals. But we believe that the decision to make a sweeping policy to ban all telework is a shot in the foot for Yahoo for many reasons. One reason being -- it’s a major backstep for productivity.
At Mayer’s all-hands strategy meeting, she said that Yahoo’s goal is to personalize the web for its users. We hate to break it to her, but eliminating telework all together is a productivity killer – especially for those in creative areas like web development and design.
Mayer noted that Yahoo would focus on more “acqui-hires” over the next two years. Wonder how they are going to attract diverse, top talent while barring remote workers? Many employees joined Yahoo because of the flexibility; and top talent in the tech industry is often earned by bringing on workers from a variety of locations.
As for Best Buy, Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson (former Best Buy employees and creators of ROWE) said it best on their blog:
“[Best Buy is] sending a clear message that they are more concerned with having leadership excel at monitoring the hallways, rather than building a leadership team that excels at defining clear, measurable results, and holding people accountable for achieving those results. While we agree that Best Buy must take drastic measures to turn their business around, moving back to a 20th century, paternalistic 'command and control' environment is most certainly not the answer. It's our hope that the Best Buy leadership team quickly recognizes that the managed-flexibility game is old news, and that organizations who will win in the 21st century will learn how to effectively manage the work, not the people.”
Would you work for a company that refused to allow remote work? Why?
Name: Sarah Kocmond
City/State: Charlotte, NC
Family: Husband (Pediatrician), two sons (14 & 11), daughter (7)
Education: BA Psychology, Brown University
Customer Service Manager for S’well Bottle. Virtual Position. Started at 10-15 hours per week about 18 months ago, grown to a full time job (35-40 hours per week) with flexibility to determine my own hours.
Summary of your professional experience:
Media Director for Advertising Agency (7) years, worked in Event Planning and Alumni Relations (3 years). Had our first child at this time, relocated and decided to stay at home, had second child and filled my time with volunteer positions and community involvement.
Why did you turn to Mom Corps?
I had read an article in the Charlotte Observer when they first opened their new branch here. Although I was not actively looking at the time to get back to work, I kept that resource in the back of my mind. Mom Corps echoed what I was looking for and reaches out to those looking to hire exactly the type of candidate I am; a stay-at-home mother who once had a successful career path all mapped out, that has been ‘out of the game’ for quite some time, and is looking to re-enter the workforce. I wanted to avoid having to explain myself to those that wouldn’t understand my career choices (or lack thereof). I wanted to find a company that embraced a SAHM with open arms. Mom Corps attracts the type of company offering those types of positions.
Describe your experience working with Mom Corps:
Easy as the click of a button. I updated my résumé (with the help of Mom Corps input) and started searching for virtual positions that could let me slowly ease back in to the work environment and would be adaptable to transforming into a SAHWM (Stay at Home Working Mother). Luckily for me, when I was ready to apply, there were a multitude of jobs to choose from. Happily, the perfect scenario was out there and I got the job.
Please summarize how having a flexible job through Mom Corps has affected/improved your overall work-life synthesis and your professional and/or family life. What is different now?
My job with S’well Bottle has given me a chance to be a part of a company that stands for reducing plastic waste while giving back to a charitable cause; that in and of itself is so rewarding. The combination of just working again, and working for a company run by an inspiring and smart woman is such a gift. Yet it’s gifts of self-preservation, personal-growth and a whole lot of self-improvement that I cherish the most. Being a mother and wife can be a full time job in and of itself. And you shouldn’t feel less of a person for wanting something else. Something just for yourself. Being selfish to fill your own needs. Mom Corps helps moms like me fuel and fill that desire. I’m blessed to know that I don’t have to work, but more blessed to know that I can. And so grateful that Mom Corps showed me a new type of career path. It’s like I’ve expanded that road (after 10 years of construction!?!?) to a two-lane highway, and work and family can cruise side by side.
What is your go to stress reliever?
Reality (yet so far from reality) TV shows on BravoTV. Especially Andy Cohen interviews. Total brain candy.
Summarize your overall experience with Mom Corps?
If you’ve read through the blog post this far, you really should submit your résumé to Mom Corps.
By Hallie Crawford
Many of us are taught to always say yes, especially when it comes to our career. You have probably heard “a job is a job” and “don’t let an opportunity pass you by”, and so on. Yet sometimes, saying no can be the best thing you can do for your career. The key is to know when and how to do it.
When can you say no?
Here are 6 situations when it is better to say no than to say yes regarding your career:
1) Say no to a job that is not a fit. In the long run if you are not going to be happy it is not worth it. If you have to take a job to remain or become financially stable that is one thing, but have a plan for that. Only stay for a short time, work on your ideal career on the side, do what you need to do to move into something that would be a fit. But in the long run, it is better to hold out for the right fit than just taking the next thing that comes your way. You will be happier, more productive and more successful. Here is an example: My client Hailey in New York had an interview for a business development position. Through coaching with me she became very clear about what she wanted and after the first interview, she knew the job was not a fit. She decided not to go on the second interview. She politely declined the interview, said thank you and sent me an email saying it was one of the most empowering things she had ever done.
2) Say no to a new project that is not going to help you in your career progression. If it is not going to help you achieve your long term career goals, why do it? Identify the purpose for working on that project and how it will help support where you are going long term. Will you learn a new skill, gain new experience, meet new people or gain exposure to another side of the business? Any of these reasons are valid, but you need to know why you are doing it if you are going to invest the time. Do not spend the time if it is not going to support your goals. This could distract you from other opportunities to gain more relevant experience. There may be other reasons you say yes. For example, you need to pitch in to be a team player so you agree but – you choose to limit your time on that project perhaps. If you are saying no, speak with your boss or the person running the project about why so they understand. Politely and professionally decline.
3) Say no to a corporate culture that is not a fit. My client Ben had just left a bad situation when he started coaching with me. His boss was difficult, the work environment was unpleasant, and so on. While we were coaching he identified a great job he was very excited about. But after the interview he was disappointed. He was able to tell that this company’s culture at this position was similar to his last job. He knew he could not take it. While it was tough for him to say no because he had been so excited in the first place, we knew he could not just talk himself into it hoping it would be better. The best thing to do was to say no.
4) Say no when it is not within your skill set. If you are asked to do something outside of your range – your skill set or experience – consider saying no unless it is an opportunity for you to enhance that skill set. Client Casey has found her ideal career, she is thrilled. Recently she emailed me to explain how saying no was one of the best decisions she has made. She was asked to do a project at work that was completely over her head. It was not her expertise and she was not comfortable in pretending it was. She wanted to be honest. She told her boss “That sounds like a great project, but it is something I am not particularly skilled in so I’m not completely comfortable. I would love to be able to do something like that in the future, do you provide training on this or is there a way I can be involved in the project on a lower level to learn and get my feet wet.” Her boss appreciated her honesty and agreed to send her to a class to learn more.
5) Say no to doing something unethical so you do not get caught in a bad situation. This is straightforward. And typically we know in our gut when something is wrong, we just do not always listen to it. If your boss or a peer asks you to do something you sense is not ethical, say no. Better to avoid a sticky situation than get caught in something that could ruin your career.
6) Sometimes saying no does open the opportunity you were looking for. It can be scary to say no to a job that is offered, especially if you have been looking for a long time. While I was working with client Anthony on finding his ideal career, he had two job opportunities that he was interviewing for, one week apart. He was offered the first job before he had heard back from the second. Something did not feel right about the first job, and he felt like he should turn it down. He went with his gut instinct, which was difficult because he did not know what would happen with the second position. As it turned, he did land the second job and has been very successful in it for 8 years. Sometimes we need to listen to our gut instinct and say no even when it is scary.
Keep in mind that saying no is sometimes necessary in order to progress in your career and achieve your career goals. You say it politely, professionally, up front and before another decision is made based on your response. A lengthy explanation is not usually required; a succinct answer usually will suffice unless you feel your reasoning behind your decision is necessary. Keep it short and sweet unless you need to say more.