Archive for the ‘Career Change’ Category

Problems at work: I am being bullied or harassed

March 1, 2009

Abusive, threatening or humiliating treatment is unacceptable in the workplace, regardless of who the person is. There is a growing awareness of workplace bullying and harassment, but it doesn’t help the person affected unless it is reported and dealt with. Often, being treated this way can rob you of the power to act and may make you feel like you are not worth much anyway. If you feel put down, it can be hard to maintain a positive attitude and self image.

But this is not true. It is important to remember that you are worth more than this, and that you will not continue to allow bad treatment.  

What can you do about these situations?


You need to focus on the areas you can actually control as this is where you can make changes. It is difficult to change someone else’s behaviour. But you can alter your own behaviour by avoiding that person, refusing to engage with them and not reacting to situations. You can also report them through the appropriate channels if the problem is serious.

What can you control about the situation you are facing? What is within your power to change?

You have the following options:

·         Talk to the person involved. Ask them about their behaviour and involve a third party as a witness if you are uncomfortable with this. Put it in writing if you like, but make your feelings known. However, this is easier said than done as many of us avoid conflict and painful situations.

·         Don’t respond in kind. You will keep a stronger position if you do not resort to tactics that put you in the same category as the other person. It can actually be more powerful and disarming to be positive and kind to the other person and demonstrate that you are not bothered by them. By reacting, you give them power over you.

·         If you are not sure how serious the situation is, or if you just want to know your options, you can talk to someone else in your HR department. Be careful to make the situation hypothetical so as not to jeopardise your position, especially if the person involved is senior. You can also try talking to friends, Employee Assistance programs, use anonymous phone help-lines or go online for support. It is important to discuss the situation with somebody as you will feel more stressed if you don’t have emotional support.  

·         If the situation is serious, report the person to your direct manager or HR manager. This will involve talking about the details as making a complaint like this can be a serious move, so take any emails, or notes on situations that have happened. You need to be calm and rational and not overly emotional in your approach. Find out whether anyone else has been treated in this same way. It is likely that this person has behaved in the same way before which will help your case. Before you give any details, make sure the conversation will be kept confidential.

·         You always have the option to leave this position or the job entirely. If things are very bad at work, it is better to walk away than continue to be subjected to a situation that will wear you down with stress and anxiety. The majority of work situations are not like this, so move on and you will find somewhere more to your liking. You may need time to evaluate your options and look for different work, but this may be the best option.


What are the three steps you will take to address your situation at work? 


Trapped in your job?

February 15, 2009

These are the most common reasons people feel trapped in their jobs.

  •          Money: The job brings in money needed for the rest of life. It gives income security and may be within an industry that pays well. When people are well qualified for a job they are paid more than for a job they are new at. Starting at the bottom again means less income and families rely on the money for living. All these add up to make people feel they have to stay in their current job as moving is too risky. 
  •          Status: If people feel they have a certain status based on how much they earn, or the job they do, they may also feel trapped by the need to live up to what other people think of them. For example, going from an accountant to a dressmaker may be considered a status drop as well as an income drop, even though it may be what someone really wants to do.
  •          Perception: Sometimes people are trapped by their own idea of what opportunities they have and they don’t know how to get out of the situation. They perceive that there are no options for them other than to stick with the job they are in.

Do you feel trapped in your job? What are you trapped by?   

The theory of ‘learned helplessness’

The theory of learned helplessness explains how people can become trapped in situations that they feel they can’t get out of (Source: Martin Seligman). When life is painful or difficult and people learn to live with their problems for a long time, it is difficult to see a way out, even when the door is open. The more you allow situations to be in control of you, the less you are able to break out or see opportunities.

It is important to break this cycle of thinking and change your perception of what is around you. What you perceive is just a tiny piece of the actual reality. There are unlimited possibilities; you just need to break down the mental barrier that stops you seeing them. 

“Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing,

that we see too late the one that is open.”


Alexander Graham Bell, Inventor of the telephone

Book makes national papers: How to enjoy your job…even without it!

January 27, 2009

In the last week I have been laid off, and have found another fulltime position. I was also interviewed for MX, a commuter newspaper for Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Australia. They used tips from my book, “How to Enjoy Your Job” to help people looking for work, and I took my own advice! 

Here’s the article and the full page is below. 

MX article 27 Jan 09Here’s the full article. 

MX 27 Jan 09

Lost your job? What you need to do now

January 18, 2009

Unemployment has been rising steadily for the last 6 months as the global financial crisis deepens. Many white-collar professionals have been laid off including management, sales staff and office workers. 

So what can you do if you have lost your job? 

  • Use all the information and help that your company will give you to improve your chances of re-employment. Take any courses you can that they will pay for and use the work time you have left to its best advantage. 
  • Update your resume – you may need to include more detail about aspects of other jobs you have had to broaden your appeal in the market
  • Cut back on expenses and look at your budget
  • Use the time to think about what you really want to do for a job. Maybe this is your chance to move into something new?  
  • Try to stay positive – there are jobs and it is not personal. Your skills can be used elsewhere, you just might have to be flexible in what you do and for how long. 
  • Actively search for work opportunitiesget a profile on LinkedIn or other social networks and see what is out there. Many jobs are not advertised, but if you know someone who can submit your resume, you might just find something. 
  • Remember temp agencies if you have office skills. Many companies may lay off staff and then find themselves without key people. They will use temp agencies to fill the gap instead of employing staff. You may be in a different place every week, but many people also find fulltime work after being placed with a company. 
  • Consider being a contractor or self-employed. You can offer a daily rate making it easier for companies to afford you short term. 

You are not the only one unhappy at work…but you are the only one who can change it

January 10, 2009

“This is exactly what is wrong with my life. 

Travelling home in the dark after a long day at work, I feel I haven’t achieved much, but no-one notices anyway. I have a stress headache and my neck hurts from my bad desk posture. I am tired even though I have done nothing physically active all day. I don’t have the energy to go to the gym now – I just want to go home, have dinner and watch TV. Looking around, I know I am not the only one on this train to feel like this.”

Terri, on the commuter train home

Can you identify with this?

Do you feel as if you have been doing something you don’t like for far too long?

Don’t worry. If you feel like this right now, you are not alone.

A multitude of surveys and figures indicate how many people don’t enjoy their jobs. Here are just some of the studies:

  •          “Approximately 60% of today’s workers and 50% of middle managers are unhappy in their current jobs.” (Source: Accenture)
  •          “Americans hate their jobs more than ever before in the past 20 years, with fewer than half saying they are satisfied. The trend is strongest among workers under the age of 25, with less than 39 % satisfied with their jobs. Overall, dissatisfaction has spread among all workers, regardless of age, income or residence.” (Source: Live Science)
  •          “Only 29% of Australians polled said they were happy in their jobs. The number one cause of unhappiness is stress”. (Source:
  •          “A quarter of working Brits, more than 7 million people, are disillusioned with their jobs. One in three Londoners are trapped in jobs they hate”. (Source:
  •          “Some surveys have found that 87 % of Americans don’t like their jobs. About a million people a day phone in sick. It costs the nation an estimated $150 billion per year in treatment for stress-related problems, absenteeism, reduced productivity and employee turnover”. (Source: Forbes)

With figures like these, each of us has to rethink the way we work!

It is not sustainable for people or for businesses.

There is a problem, and you can only solve it for yourself.  

There are many reasons why people don’t enjoy their jobs – which apply to you?

January 5, 2009

I’m Bored

My work is boring, repetitive and doesn’t challenge or interest me. I count the minutes I have to be there and I am desperate to leave at the end of the day.

I’m Stressed
My job is too stressful. I have too much work/too little time/too much travel/ not enough holiday/not enough time for relationships/family and no time for the rest of my life. I am overworked, exhausted and heading for burnout or a breakdown.

I’m Under-rewarded
I am not paid enough, not rewarded enough for my work, and not recognised for the job that I do.

I’m Trapped

I feel trapped in this job. I need the money to pay the bills. I am not qualified for anything else, or I won’t get paid so much if I go elsewhere. People depend on me so I have to keep this job.

Other People
Other people make my job a nightmare. I hate my boss/manager. Other work colleagues upset/annoy me. I am treated badly/bullied/harassed at work. I feel undermined, micromanaged or not trusted to do what I am employed to do.

I’m Mismatched

There is a mismatch between what I want to do and what I am actually doing. I don’t know exactly what I want, but I know it’s not this. There’s no meaning in my job. I feel the work itself is pointless.

Work has become something that has to be done, rather than something people look forward to. This can leave people feeling trapped in jobs they don’t enjoy. Everyone wants to work at something that is meaningful, that they enjoy, that utilises their skills and is appropriately rewarding. In general, people don’t want to stop working completely, but they want to stop working at their particular job. They may not know what to do about it or how to change the situation. The big question they ask is: “How do I find the right job for me?”  

Many people focus on being happy ‘sometime in the future’ when they earn more money, or when they retire. But what is the point of waiting that long and living life being miserable now?

Top 10 Career Related New Year’s Resolutions

December 20, 2008

December is almost over and it’s time to look forward to the New Year. …

 Most people are giving up on what can be achieved by the end of 2008, and instead are looking forward to what they can do to make 2009 a brilliant year. New Year’s resolutions generally fall into certain categories – finance, health, family, happiness, and career.

 “You may be surprised by how much you can change about your job and your life, when you look at it in detail.
Spend some time reflecting on what you want to change in your working life over the holidays and come back ready to make that change in 2009″, says Joanna Penn, author of “How To Enjoy Your Job” which is packed with strategies, tips and inspiration to help you change your job and your life

 Here are the Top 10 Career Related New Year’s resolutions: 

1) Reduce work stress levels. People’s jobs are the single biggest cause of stress (Source: Hazard Magazine), and stress can contribute to health problems, obesity and depression as well as affecting your personal happiness. Identify what is stressing you about work, and aim to reduce or remove it from your job entirely. Life is too short to be miserable

2) Work part time or work from home 1 day per week. Technology now enables people to do a portion of their work from home. With broadband internet and phone access, you can do your admin tasks and attend phone conference meetings and avoid the commute. Productivity is greater at home as there are fewer interruptions. You can get more done in less time, and feel greater job satisfaction as well as seeing your family. Working 4 days a week may also be attractive to companies in this economic climate, if you can afford it yourself. Ask your Manager for the opportunity and demonstrate the value for them.

3) Up-skill and get a more challenging role. If you are bored in your job, the best way to get a new one is to up-skill and improve your resume. There may already be opportunities within your workplace to improve your skills, so look for those first. You can also do evening classes or a correspondence course to open up your career horizons.

4) Make more money. Finances are worrying for many in this climate so making more money in your job is a common goal. If you want to ask for a raise, demonstrate your value to the company first and explain why you deserve it. You might also look at ways you can make money outside of work – a small part time business or clearing your clutter and selling it on EBay.

5) Stop taking abuse from co-workers. Many people find work difficult because colleagues harass, abuse or just annoy them. Make 2009 the year you stand up for yourself, or report the co-worker who is making your life a misery. Make an effort to stay away from toxic work colleagues who drain your energy with gossip and negativity.

6) Find out what you really want to do with your life and career. Many people say they hate their job but they don’t know what else they would like to do. Identify what your skills are as well as what you would love to do. Ask other people what they think you are good at. Read some career related books and dream bigger than your current situation. You can have the career you want – it may just take some time to get there, but if you start now, you’ll get there sooner.

7) Improve work time management and efficiency. So much time is spent answering repetitive emails or attending meetings that don’t run to an agenda. Aim to cut down on pointless administration tasks and improve work efficiency. Work smarter, not harder.

8) Work proper hours and take leave. Somehow people have lost the idea of a 40 hour work week. Think how much time you spend commuting, working through lunch, working weekends, answering work emails at home and skipping leave for work commitments. Aim to reduce these and reclaim your time in 2009.

9) Actively plan your career path. Many people say that they just “fell into” their jobs. They didn’t plan to be in this job but somehow they ended up here. If you don’t decide what you want and plan to get there, then you will find this happening to you. Decide what you want with your career and set specific goals and time periods for this to happen. This will open your eyes to new opportunities and you will be empowered to achieve them.

10) Change jobs. Many of these goals may culminate in deciding to change your job in 2009, whether this is within your workplace, industry or starting something entirely new. Update your tired resume and brush up your interview skills, pump up your confidence and go get the job of your dreams!

For more information on How To Enjoy Your Job, or to order online in print, ebook or audio format, go to  There is also a free e-workbook that you can download and use as a tool for change. A portion of the profits from sales of the book will go to The Outward Bound Trust to fund teenagers on the OB experience, which fosters self-determination and self-confidence.

Resume Tips: 7 Ways to Update your Resume

November 27, 2008

There used to be a “job for life” but now it is more common to change jobs and companies every 2-3 years, and to change careers several times in a working life. In a fast paced job market it is important to keep your resume up to date and ready to send out if opportunity arises. Here are 7 ways you can keep your resume up to date and stay on top of new technologies being used for recruitment.

1.    Keep a Master resume but make each application specific. Use your Master as a template each time but ruthlessly cut out irrelevant content for each application. Create a copy of the master and then cut out the sections that don’t apply or summarise large blocks into sections with relevant information. Highlight the skills and experience most applicable to the job near the beginning of the document. List any specific projects, skills, awards or experience you have gained that are relevant for the role.


2.    Use active language to describe your role e.g. Developed, Managed, Gained, Sold. These words force you to assess exactly what you did and make your achievement stand out. Make your experience positive even if you had a difficult time. You will find that you have learnt something useful from every job. Don’t avoid long absences if you had time off for having children, or to travel or study. Include this time with the benefits and skills it has given you that can help in this job.

3.    Use a professional layout as first impressions count.  Most applications are now done on email with an attachment or through online forms. Make sure your fonts and page layout are easy to read with enough white space to read easily on a computer. Don’t shrink your font size if you want to cram more information in. Either cut down on your content, or add extra pages. Save the final version into PDF format for online resumes so that formatting doesn’t change on download. There are plenty of freelancers online who can do this if you can’t. Check out and get it professionally done.


4.    Create an online professional resume at This is fast becoming the website to post your resume, get referred and find jobs at the group pages. You can load a full resume or attach a document, presentation or link to where you have posted your full page. Make sure you include a recent professional photo as this gives a good impression. As many employers search online now, Google yourself and make sure that all your online hits are professional ones. If you have a personal website, make sure it is also professional.


5.    Make the details count. Make sure your contact details are up to date and include an email address and mobile phone number. Check page numbers, margins and headings to ensure consistency. When emailing your resume, make sure you include your name in the filename e.g. JohnSmith_Resume.pdf so it doesn’t get lost on download.


6.    Update your references. In a technological world, it is easy to fake qualifications, so recommendations are still important. Take off old referees and include your most recent ones with updated contact information. You can also collect references in writing or by email, or ask people to post a recommendation on your LinkedIn page or website.

7. Get someone else to read your resume. It is a sales document and needs to get attention. Therefore you need to say what is special about you and ensure you are highlighting your most important skills and qualifications. Many people do not “blow their own trumpet” well, so have someone else tell you what to change and improve. 

Career Change: Enhance your job seeking: 6 new ways to try

October 26, 2008

Author and new blogger Ron Nash has just posted a great article about  6 ways to enhance your job search dramatically. 

He uses social networking as one way to expand your sphere of influence, and also suggests monitoring your reputation online to make sure you stay squeaky clean. You can also see my previous blog post on 8 ways to use Social Networking to get a job. 

HR departments now routinely check Google for new candidates and they will check out your MySpace and Facebook for dodgy photos! On the other hand, if you are going for a tech job, and cannot be found online, then you better get posting! 

Information about Ron and his book “How to find your Dream Job, even in a Recession” can be seen at his website 

I could do anything if only I knew what it was: Barbara Sher

October 11, 2008

Sometimes you read a book and parts of it just leap off the page at you. This is such a book! 

Here are some of the key points I picked up – but it is absolutely recommended reading. 

  • Are you doing what you are “supposed” to be doing? Are you pleasing other people – your family, your college, your friends…or are you being true to yourself? Sometimes you have to move away from your tribe and act on what you want to do. 
  • Take action even if you don’t know what to do with your life. By setting off in a direction, you will soon know whether you are moving towards or away from what you want. It is easier to change direction once you are moving. Action will also raise your self-esteem and bring “luck” your way. You will find out much more by moving than by staying still. 
  • Many people say they want “meaningful” work – but what does that really mean? You need to focus on what makes you happy and uses your gifts, not on what other people think meaningful is. [A personal note: I wanted to help abused women and started volunteering at a charity, but I soon found out there were more effective ways to help using gifts I really had.]
  • If you don’t know what job you want, identify the job from hell. Write down all the things you couldn’t stand doing, and that make you feel awful. Describe the place, the people, what you do all day. Then reverse it. 
  • You don’t have to quit the day job to pursue your dream. In fact, it’s better not to as it gives you too much time, and too much pressure. You can end up returning to work disheartened and leaving your dream behind. [Personal note: I took 3 months off to write my book. I didn’t get very far and soon drove myself nuts by not achieving. I went back to work and left writing behind for 2 years. Finally I started again while working fulltime. I wrote on weekends and evenings, and finished my first book, How to Enjoy Your Job, in 9 months. I am now starting on the next book – and still working part-time.]
  • Practice, start part-time and keep your day job. Remember that Einstein was a patent clerk by day. 
  • You can have it all, but not all at once. If you are one of those people who want to do everything, write down your life from now to aged 95 and space out all the things you want to do. There is time. You can have multiple careers, and most people do now, but you have to focus on now first. 
  • If you are really miserable at work, then pay attention and sort yourself out. “Your story has not been written”, so live it. Don’t wait for life to find you. Find life. 
  • “the cure for sorrow is to learn something”. If you hate your work, learn something new in your spare time. Take classes in pottery or art, poetry or country dancing. Anything that takes you into a new place where you meet new people. You will be refreshed and this will spill into the rest of your life. 
  • The corporate world is a good training ground for the rest of your working life. It teaches you the basics of what work entails, how to dress and how to behave, what corporate speak involves, and what you love or hate in a job. 
  • If you aren’t able to set an exact goal, set a working goal. Start moving in the general direction of your goal and change it as necessary. Move towards what interests you, and away from what dulls you. 
  • Be a networker, be a joiner. Meet new people, join groups, ask questions, talk to people. You will find new opportunities for your life and your work. 
  • There are different goals at  different ages. Be gentle on yourself and allow your priorities to change over time. 
  • Life is full of necessary chores, but we have to do them anyway because the rewards are obvious. 
  • Sort out your number one goal first, and then use your energy to follow your dream. [Personal note: sorting out my love life was an important first step to then using that energy on my dreams. Relationship stress sucks a great deal of energy from you.]
  • “…what thwarts us and demands of us the greatest effort is also what can teach us most” Gide 
  • We are human and our lot is is to learn and to be hurled into inconceivable new worlds” Novalis, 18th century poet

You can buy the book from here 

Barbara’s official website is here: