Saturday, October 31, 2009

Getting Out of Our Own Way

By Gary Cohen
As a professional executive and career coach, a common thread I find with clients is that they create many of the obstacles that get in the way of achieving their goals. This sounds crazy! If we are determined to achieve our goals, why would we sabotage ourselves along the way? Most, if not all of us, will experience this phenomenon at some point in our lives, but may not even be conscious of it. I was certainly in this position and through the help of my coach, began moving forward and eventually overcame my own obstacles to achieve my goals. Why do we get in our own way and what role does a coach play in helping us navigate around these self-imposed roadblocks?
Often times we get in our own way because of some kind of fear – fear of failure, fear of success, fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of rejection…and the list goes on. The easy way to avoid facing our fears is to practice self-sabotage, and remain nestled in a little cocoon known as our comfort zone. Sometimes remaining in a place where we really don’t want to be is more secure than venturing outside of our comfort zone and going after what we really do want in our lives. Fear is a powerful force that must be confronted head-on to overcome obstacles. When we allow fear to take over, we actually relinquish control over our destiny. Fear holds us back, keeping us from stretching outside of our comfort zones, a key ingredient to personal and professional growth.
We develop specific fears for numerous reasons, far too many to mention in this article. The good news is that everyone has the capability to overcome their fears and get out of their own way, clearing a path for the creation of positive personal and professional changes in our lives. There is nothing better than pursuing our passions without self-sabotage. A professional coach helps us navigate through the obstacles we have created, jump-starting us when we are stuck and accelerating our progress toward achieving our goals. This is achieved through guided self-discovery, with the coach asking powerful questions, challenging the client and creating a new level of accountability. This is accomplished in a safe environment for the client, with the feeling of partnership and support.
Even the best in their field can benefit from a coach. Tiger Woods, arguably the best golfer in the world, has a coach. Professionals hire a coach for a couple of reasons. One is that they have difficulty seeing their own mistakes and the other is the belief that we must continue to improve and get better on an ongoing basis to experience personal and professional growth. Many of the best and brightest in their fields work with a coach, so if you choose to do so, you will be in excellent company.
Gary Cohen is a faculty member at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland and a principal of Forward Action Coaching, LLC where he specializes in executive, career and family business coaching. Contact Gary at and visit Forward Action Coaching, LLC at

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thinking Outside the Box: Your Approach to Finding a Legal Job in a Tight Job Market

By Randi S. Lewis and Ellen B. Feldman
The Current Reality:
The legal job market is slow. But remember, nothing in life is permanent. The market will change.
Dealing With Your Current Reality:
  1. Prepare an updated, accurate resume to be able to provide to anyone at a minute’s notice.
  2. Evaluate your skill set and determine the legal and non-legal market for your skills.
  3. Research the job market via internet, legal newspapers, trade associations, peer groups, professional and personal contacts, and legal search firms.

  4. Determine your flexibility:
    (a) Are you willing to take a pay cut? (b) Are you willing to relocate? (c) Are you willing to take a non-lawyer position? (d) Are you in a position to take a volunteer position in a legal setting? (e) Are you willing to travel for your job?
  5. Do not apply for specialized positions for which you are absolutely not qualified.
  6. When applying for a position, apply once, follow up once by a phone call or email after time has passed. Don’t apply several times for the same position.
Networking & The “About Me” Speech:
  1. Networking is very important. More people get hired because they have a contact somewhere (either the reference or the connector).
  2. Force yourself to attend every personal and professional event to which you are invited. Prepare the “About Me” speech (otherwise known as the "Elevator Speech." It needs to be positive and confident - without bitterness or negativity.
  3. Contact everyone you know: family; friends; colleagues. Give them your “About Me” speech and ask if they know anyone you might contact.
  4. When you talk with people at a networking or other social event, be prepared with your “About Me” speech. Where appropriate, ask for their help AND ask for their business card and their permission for you to email them your resume. Email your resume the next day with a similar “About Me” transmittal email and make sure you are asking them to do something – either passing your resume along or providing you with names of others with whom you can connect.
  5. If anyone offers you a courtesy or informational interview, TAKE IT happily. Conduct yourself like it is an actual job interview. The interviewers may be your next connectors. Also, when the organization’s needs change, you may be first on their minds to fill a position.
Job Search Tips:
  1. Look at traditional ways employers advertise job openings. If you are not finding anything and you are available, you should consider doing contract legal work either by networking with people you know to work on short-term projects or by working through a legal staffing company such as Special Counsel. It has been a very busy time in the temporary legal world.
  2. Look at federal and state government jobs.
  3. Look at law & policy/analyst positions.
  4. Look at other public interest positions.
  5. Look for in-house positions either part-time or full-time, in legal or quasi-legal positions.
  6. If you are trying to switch practice areas, invest in education and volunteer.
  7. Take some CLE’s in that different area.
  8. If you are really serious, get an advanced degree (i.e., LLM, an MBA, MPh, MPA).
  9. Attend a meeting of your area of interest or practice group through the bar association.
  10. Find volunteer work for an organization working in your area of interest.
Current Trends in the Job Market – Who/What is Hiring:
  • Bankruptcy Litigation
  • Federal Government Jobs
  • Insurance Defense Litigation
  • Business & Commercial Litigation
  • Labor & Employment Litigation
  • Estates & Trusts in smaller firms
This was adopted from a presentation prepared for the Bar Association of Baltimore City Young Lawyers' Division ( For more information about temporary lawyer positions, contact Ellen B. Feldman, Esq., Senior Search Director, Special Counsel,

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Bright Side of Job Loss

By Gary Cohen, MBA, Certified Executive & Career Coach
♦ ♦ ♦
Losing your job during these tough economic times is a traumatic event and the realization of one of our greatest fears while we are employed. This is particularly difficult for breadwinners who feel the self-imposed pressure to “bring home the bacon.” When this misfortune strikes us, our first thought is to search for the same type of job in the same industry, simply because this is what we know, are comfortable with and believe to be our best opportunity. Few executives and managers take the time to evaluate their career satisfaction over the past several years, simply because we are creatures of habit and by nature resist change. However, we are assured a better quality of life if we are passionate about our work and look forward to it each and every day. Shouldn’t we be taking stock in this truism?
♦ ♦ ♦
My point is simply that job loss is a golden opportunity to revisit our career aspirations and make positive changes. It is a time to consider reinventing ourselves. We don’t have to lose our jobs to go through this exercise. I speak from experience, as I left a senior management position to become a business school faculty member and certified executive and career coach. Think about what you are passionate about and the activities that feed your soul. Wouldn’t it be great to earn a living around these passions? Many people successfully transition to new careers where they experience the delight of doing what they love every day.
♦ ♦ ♦
If you are out of work and love what you were doing, look to continue in your field with another firm. If you are no longer passionate about your work and need a paycheck now, it would be prudent to search for a position in your current field, but don’t ignore the opportunity to reinvent yourself and follow your passion. You may find that losing that job was a blessing in disguise.
♦ ♦ ♦
Gary Cohen is a faculty member at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland and a principal of Forward Action Coaching, LLC where he specializes in executive, career and family business coaching. Free 30 minute consulations available.
Visit Gary's website at

Saturday, August 01, 2009

100 Best Blogs for Your Job Search

If you are a recent casualty of the economy, you will be joining the ever-growing list of professionals who can claim they were the subject of an economic layoff. Although many "experts" recently have opined that the economy is in an upswing, I am not seeing that as a resume writer and interview coach.
  • Frankly, in the last month alone, we are working with professionals at the D and C levels who have been laid off with no notice. We are seeing the same upswing in layoffs of lawyers at all levels.
  • Students with hefty student loans are having difficulty navigating the new economic realities. (If you are a parent of one of those students, we are going to Blog about how you can help them.)
  • On the upside, our clients ARE finding jobs. But, it is taking longer to land new jobs and the job searches require hard work, determination, and focus.
Here is a list of Blogs that may help you in your job search. We are delighted to have made the list of resume blogs. To learn how our resume consultants can help you, visit us at Randi Lewis, Founder © 2009 Resume Boutique LLC. All rights reserved.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Importance of Informational Interviewing in A Down Economy

It's June 2009. Jobs in most sectors of our economy are scarce. If you are looking for a job, it is likely you've experienced your share of "thank you but no openings" responses. Or what's worse, no response at all. You need a job now. "What is the point of setting up informational interviews," you ask.
In more prosperous times, you might want to set up informational interviews for two reasons: (1) to gain information you need to help in your career choice; and (2) to make connections.
But, in this economy, it's a buyer's market and you are the seller. You want to use the informational interview process as part of your long-term job search strategy. Your goals should be (1) to build relationships for the future, (2) to ask for advice and contacts for your job search, (3) and to leave a positive impression. Here is how you start the process:
  • MAKE A LIST OF PEOPLE YOU KNOW THROUGH YOUR OWN CONTACTS, CONTACTS FROM FAMILY, AND CONTACTS FROM FRIENDS, with phone numbers and email addresses (placing the information in chart form with a column for comments/ follow up.
  • CALL OR EMAIL EACH CONTACT AND LET THEM KNOW: (1) your job status and area of expertise (or that you are a graduating student seeking an entry level position); (2) that you are looking for a position; (3) why you are searching; (4) where appropriate, the name of the person who referred you.

Keep notes of your conversations, follow up, and the contacts recommended. Then, send a thank you note or email. Include something you found helpful during your conversation. Contact each person to whom your contact referred you, going through the same process.

Keep an open mind, cast a wide net, and maintain a positive attitude.

For more information on informational interviewing, contact Randi S. Lewis, Founder, Resume Boutique LLC, at or 410.602.2500.

© 2009 Resume Boutique LLC. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

When in Doubt, Take it Out! Social Media Users - Beware of Your Content

Blogs, facebook, My Space YouTube, Twitter, Diggs, and more. Millions of people use social media outlets to share personal information, some minute-by-minute. To some of us, they have become addictions, like the "Crackberry!"
  • Whether we are obsessively connecting on facebook or responding to Tweets delivered to our iPhones, we seem to forget - or disregard - the fact that we have no expectation of privacy in this manner of connecting.
  • That's particularly true when we are at work or looking for work.
  • Last September, I gave job seekers eight tips for using facebook. Take a look.
Job seekers aren't the only ones who need to be mindful of their postings. We know employers increasingly use these new technologies to check the backgrounds of job applicants. But, senior management also read blogs, monitor their facebook accounts, and follow Twitter. Clients and customers - the same.
  • Have you ever written that you had too much to drink the night before and called in sick? Posted photos that could be offensive to others? Used profanity in exchanges with others? Probably.
  • Have you thought about who's reading your musings? That's right. Co-workers. Clients. Customers. Are they laughing? Maybe not so much.
Employees and job seekers take note:
  1. When in Doubt, Take it Out!
  2. No bare skin photos or videos. That's right. Lose the skimpy bathing suits.
  3. No photos or videos of excessive drinking or partying.
  4. No foul language.
  5. No negative comments about co-workers, customers, or clients.
  6. Remember, the standard is NOT what you think is appropriate. It's what employers, clients, colleagues, and customers think.
  7. Be smart. Keep your job.
Randi S. Lewis Founder, Resume Boutique LLC ~ 410.602.2500 ~ © Resume Boutique LLC 2009. All rights reserved.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Job Search Etiquette: Nay to the Word, "Hey!"

The word, "HEY," is an informal way of saying, "HELLO." When you are in the job search process, should you use that word to address your potential employer? Our clients have asked us that question more frequently in this competitive economic climate - particularly in the context of exchanging emails.
Our Answer Remains the Same: Don't Use the Word "Hey"
Always be safe. Address people as Dear Mr. or Mrs. You can't go wrong with that. If your professional setting is much more informal, then use the words, "Hi" or "Hello." But, it depends on the industry. In the young tech world and in the entertainment industry, the rules are more relaxed. To be sure, we asked employers who are on the front lines of the hiring process to tell us their thoughts. Here's what five of them said:
  1. Fifty year old lawyer and former Recruitment Committee Chair: "I am old school so my answer is no way."
  2. Forty-something Recruitment Manager for Professional Services Firm: "Using 'hey' to address an employer is too informal and an immediate turnoff. It leaves me with a bad impression."
  3. Thirty-something New York Casting Director: "I use it all the time, including in my emails to full-time job and summer internship applicants. I went back and looked at my emails after you posed the question and I noticed that most young people responded with a word other than 'hey' even when I used it as a greeting. I am fine with the word but I guess it's more respectful to use 'hi' or 'hello' when you are not in the driver's seat."
  4. Forty-something Medical Practice Administrator: "I absolutely detest when people use that word and I would find it very disrespectful if an applicant sent me an email addressing me with the word, 'hey.'"
  5. Forty-something Human Resources Director for Fortune 100 Business: "Hey is for horses. Don't ever be that informal in the interview process and don't write that in any email or correspondence if you want to work with our company."
  6. Twenty-something Tech Entrepreneur: "Depends on the industry. In tech? Yes, by all means."

For more interview tips and advice, contact Randi Lewis, Founder, Resume Boutique LLC, at 410.602.2500

© 2009 by Resume Boutique LLC. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Job Search - Harder and Smarter

It's April 2009.
Some businesses, organizations and governmental agencies are hiring even in today's uncertain economic climate. But more people are applying for the jobs you want. Take your job search up a few notches. Make yourself standout. Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Federal government jobs are on the increase. Check out weekly. Search trade organization websites. Send your resume and a brief note asking for any leads to any one who might be in a position to help.
  2. Make it personal. Pick up the telephone. Where appropriate call the contact person and try to introduce yourself. You can't do that with federal government jobs but you may be able to make the connection in the private sector.
  3. Polish your resume. One size doesn't fit all. Try not to use a template.
  4. Use Keywords. Study job postings online and create a list of common words and competencies used by the employers. They're called, "keywords." Place key competencies that include key words in a core competency section at the top of your resume just below a profile section that defines/summarizes your professional achievements.
  5. Lock your fear of rejection in a box. Stop planning, revising, and re-writing. Perfect your resume and just start looking for suitable positions. Send your resume to headhunters that post positions.
  6. It's likely to take longer to find a position in this economic climate. Therefore, patience and determination are critical.

For a free resume critique, please contact me, Randi Lewis, at 410-602-2500, or by email at

© 2009 by Resume Boutique LLC™. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Note To College Students Looking For Summer Internships

Accept the offer on the spot!

"Why?" you ask. "It's the economy, stupid," to quote a line often stated by President Clinton's campaign officials when he was running for President in 1992. I know you live in an insulated environment and that most of your parents support you. But, the economy is contracting every day. In this economy, it's hard to find work for interns when companies have less work for their paid employees. People are getting laid off from their jobs - more than 1.2 million in January and February alone. Some newer professionals are taking unpaid internships just to stay in the working world and in the hope that they might turn into paying jobs. I have completed resumes for many young people in that position, including 2008 college grads without jobs.

If you are fortunate enough to land a few interviews for unpaid internships, do your best, learn as much about the company as you can. Know WHY you want that job and be ready to discuss YOUR CAREER GOALS and how that internship aligns with those goals. There are no certainties that you will land that internship. After all, there are hundreds of students just like you lining up for those couple of jobs.

So, if you are telephoned on Friday from one of your interviewers who calls to give you the good news, JUST SAY YES!! And sound very excited and honored. You don't have the luxury of sounding non-committal and asking when you have to let them know. You might find yourself in a situation where your offer is rescinded and given to one of the 99 people anxiously waiting behind you. That's the real world. Operate from a place of gratefulness and you will do very well in this environment.

[Do I sound like your mother or father? I hope so!] Randi

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Career Coaching for Women

Are you at that time in your life where you stop and take stock of your career choice and the path ahead? It's helpful to be able to talk about it with a non-family member, non-friend, who has the training and life experience to help you take ownership of your future. One of my clients in 2008 was at that crossroads in search for a different meaning in her life. I helped this business professional, with an MBA and Wall Street experience, to create a powerful resume. More importantly, a career consultant helped her reach a deeper personal understanding and re-define her goals. Robin Kahn, that brilliant consultant, works with women professionals and entrepreneurs who feel stuck. I have known Robin for many years. Her intellect combined with her professional experience and keen listening/analytical skills enable her to make a difference in people's lives. According to Robin,
"these feelings can be especially pronounced at life transitions such as midlife when we may question our purpose, or for businesses looking to get to the next level of growth. As a coach, my goal is to listen to and support clients to get from where they are to where they wish to go."
If you are at that crossroads, contact Robin.