Featured Posts

Right Brain Help Wanted — Left Brains Need Not Apply

July 15th, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

left-brain-right-brainMarco della Cava at USA Today wrote a great article about how to retrain your brain to succeed in the new economy. He makes the argument that right brain thinking (big picture, creative) is more valuable than left brain thinking (linear, logical) in new economy careers.

This is one of my areas of focus right now — helping job hunters and career changers become more entrepreneurial and creative (both of these qualities rely heavily on the right brain). Marco quoted me in the article, along with A Whole New Mind guru Daniel Pink and several career changers who recently made the leap from left-brain careers to right-brain careers. He also wrote an interesting  related article about how to train kids for a “right brain future.”

Obviously, no one is purely “right brain” or “left brain.” We all need both sides of that wrinkly grey organ in order to thrive. For entrepreneurs, that is particularly true. We rely on our right brain for vision, innovation, and big-picture synthesizing and strategy. At the same time, we must tap into that left brain for managing our employees, keeping our finances in order, and staying on top of our task lists. We have to be able to switch back and forth between our left-brain and right-brain personalities (or hire/partner with people who have the skills that we lack).

Right now, I’m working on developing seven new training programs for three different clients in three different but related topic areas (this is why my blog posts are kind of few and far-between these days). This has required frequent right brain/left brain switching — from researching to big-picture strategy to organizing to writing to PowerPoint formatting, etc.

The right-brain stuff always comes pretty naturally for me. I have had to train myself in the ways of left-brain thinking — and it can be learned. Twelve years in Corporate America certainly helped with my left-brain development. But ultimately, I had to escape from Corporate America because all left-brain and no right-brain made me a very dull (and unhappy) girl.

Some people say that you can’t learn right-brain thinking, but I strongly disagree. I have led many creativity workshops and watched left-brainers learn to tap into their inner creative genius. For those in career transition, I highly recommend starting a right-brain workout plan. It may very well help you find and/or qualify for a more rewarding career path in the new economy.

Super Bowl Ad Sneak Peek — CareerBuilder.com

January 30th, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

careerbuilderkoala21Super Bowl Sunday isn’t just about football. It’s also a chance to check out all of the crazy new big-budget ad campaigns.

So what companies are willing to fork over millions for Super Bowl ad time even during a recession?

Companies like Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi are in.  And so is CareerBuilder.com.  For the fifth consecutive year, CareerBuilder.com is debuting a new ad campaign during the Super Bowl.  Here’s a sneak peek.

What do you think? The campaign was developed by Wieden & Kennedy and has that touch of  dark humor that we’ve come to expect from CareerBuilder.com ads  (read my review of last year’s campaign). The visuals certainly capture the torture of being trapped in a bad job. Plus there’s a koala bear wearing Lumbergh glasses (see above).

But if nobody’s hiring these days, how can CareerBuilder.com afford a Super Bowl ad? Well, maybe the hiring outlook isn’t quite as grim as we keep hearing.  CareerBuilder.com Chief Marketing Officer Richard Castellini has encouraging words for job searchers:  “Our recent job forecast found that, despite a tough economy, 14 percent of employers say they will be hiring full-time employees in 2009 and additionally, 19 percent say they plan to increase their online recruitment spending.”

Today, I got two emails  from people announcing moves into great new jobs, so maybe Richard and the koala are right.

As part of the new ad campaign, CareerBuilder.com has also launched a new online tool called the Anonymous Tip Giver. Click on over if you’d like to provide some anonymous  “constructive” criticism to your boss  or co-worker via an emailed video clip starring an alligator or a zombie. You can write your own tip or choose a premade one. If your biggest office problems involve annoying ring tones and tuna breath, they’ve got you covered.  I just sent one of my coworkers the news that he smells like an old cabin. Burnnnnnn.

Revolutionary Road — Corporate Desperation, 1950’s Style

January 22nd, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

leonardodicaprio1The 2009 Academy Award nominations were announced today and it looks like Revolutionary Road will not be taking home any Oscars despite lots of critical praise and Golden Globe love.

I haven’t seen the film yet. I love Leo and Kate, but my love for Richard Yates’ novel is even stronger and I’m not sure any movie can do it justice.

Revolutionary Road is about two people trapped in an American dream they never wanted. Frank Wheeler has a good corporate job that he hates. April is trying not to go mad with boredom as a suburban housewife and mother. Frank and April always dreamed of greatness, expected greatness. Instead they are stuck in mediocrity that is just too comfortable to escape from.

Anyone who has felt stifled in Corporate America will identify with Yates’ descriptions of Frank’s office purgatory:

“At first glance, all the upper floors of the Knox Building looked alike. Each was a big open room, ablaze with fluorescent ceiling lights, that had been divided into a maze of aisles and cubicles by shoulder-high partitions. The upper panels of these dividers, waist to shoulder, were made of thick unframed plate glass that was slightly corrugated to achieve a blue-white semi-transparency; and the overall effect of this, to a man getting off the elevator and looking out across the room, was that of a wide indoor lake in which swimmers far and near were moving, some making steady headway, some treading water, others seen in the act of breaking to the surface or going under, and many submerged, their faces loosened into wavering pink blurs as they drowned at their desks.” read more…

7 Reasons to Change Careers Now (Never Mind the Recession)

April 9th, 2008

Written by Pamela Skillings

Think a shaky economy means it’s too risky to make a career change? Think again. In fact, now may be the perfect time to make your move.

After all, long-term job market forecasts project severe labor shortages ahead as Baby Boomers continue to retire or scale back their careers in record numbers. While short-term job prospects don’t look quite as cheery, that doesn’t mean that opportunities don’t exist or that you’re stuck in job purgatory for the duration.

If you’ve been feeling unhappy in your current career, there’s no time like the present to kick-start your career change and position yourself for years of future success. Here’s why:

1) Your current job is not secure.

caution career change

You may be tempted to grit your teeth and cling to your current position until the economic forecasts start to look sunnier. In today’s workforce, that’s a dangerous strategy. When an 80+-year-old Wall Street institution like Bear Stearns can disappear practically overnight, no job is truly secure. It doesn’t really matter how good you are at your job or how much boss butt you kiss.

If you have been contemplating a career change, there’s no good reason to put it off until the unemployment rate falls again. I’m not suggesting that you make any rash moves like quitting before you’re financially ready, but you can start developing your career change strategy now. Get started on the homework you need to do while you’re still collecting your paycheck. Update your resume, step up your networking, explore your options, and develop your skills.

You will be taking a career risk whether you resign yourself to staying in the job you hate or start moving toward the job you’ll love. Why not put your energies into the risk that could have the biggest reward?

Put your career change in motion now, even if it’s only taking baby steps in your spare time. Not only will you be ready to launch your dream career that much sooner, you will also be better prepared just in case your name pops up on one of those downsizing lists unexpectedly.

2. Plenty of companies are hiring right now.

for hire

The overall job forecasts may look bleak at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that nobody’s hiring. There have been a flurry of articles about “recession-proof jobs”  in the media lately.  The fields that are expected to stay strong despite a possible recession include education, energy, health care, environmental careers, and international business. That doesn’t mean that you should flee blindly to these professions if they don’t inspire you. However, if your dream career is connected to any of these growing industries, you may find it fairly easy to make a move. 

Lots of other companies in all industries are also hiring. Yes, there are fewer job openings than there were at this time last year. Then again, you only need one good one. It may take a little bit longer to land a great position, but there’s no reason to abandon all hope.

3. But if you really want job security, you have to work for yourself.

pencil holder pig

When you work for yourself, you never have to worry about getting fired. Today, just about anybody with a computer and an Internet connection can start a business. You can even keep your day job if you want to (or need to for financial reasons while you build your business).

Of course, you’ll have to be prepared to put in some work. Running a successful business is no cakewalk and entrepreneurship may not be the right career move for everyone. However, it’s definitely the best way to go if you really want to live by your wits. You’ll have to find your own clients, manage your own time, and pay for your own bagels. But you’ll never be at the complete mercy of one boss or one company ever again.

4. Living in fear isn’t healthy.


When layoff rumors start flying, it’s easy to get caught up in worry and speculation. We gossip about who deserves to go, we curse the stupid managers who got us into this mess to begin with, and we waste a lot of time on scary worst-case scenarios. If it goes on too long, this can sabotage your job performance and have an impact on your mental and physical health.

The best thing to do to stop the madness is channel your energy into something constructive – like preparing for your career change. You’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel once you’ve taken charge of the situation and are actively working toward your next career move.

5. Sometimes you need someone to light a fire under your ass.

lit match

Apologies if that sounds harsh. But the truth is that lots of people stay stuck for years in careers that are uninspiring or downright miserable. Why? Because it never gets quite bad enough to force them to make a move. I know I stayed in my corporate career for a good couple of years longer than I should have because of my belief that “it could be worse.” Nice words to live by, huh?

A layoff or the threat of layoffs could be just the spark you need to get moving on the career change that you’ve been fantasizing about for a while. I can’t tell you how many people I know who felt overcome with relief after getting served with pink slips. They had been ready to leave for a while, but just hadn’t been able to work up the nerve to walk away on their own.

6. You can turn a layoff into a stroke of luck.

luck clover four leaf

That’s not to say that I take layoffs lightly. I know how devastating it can be to lose your job when you’re unprepared financial and/or emotionally. I’ve been in that position and it’s not a lot of fun. Not at first, at least.

That’s why I think it’s so important to get moving on your career change plans now, no matter what the economists are saying. Then, even if the layoff fairy visits before you’re 100% ready to leave, you’ll still be several steps ahead of the average job-hunter. 

In fact, if you do your homework and prepare for your career change in your spare time, you might soon find yourself longing for a layoff. After all, a good severance package can give you a nice head start on your new career if you’re adequately prepared. Even some of us who weren’t perfectly prepared have managed to leverage severance packages as start-up funds for our new careers.

7. There’s never a perfect time to change careers.

thinking career change

The bottom line is that there will never be a perfect time for a career change. The perfect opportunity will never just fall into your lap. You will never achieve anything great without at least a little bit of risk and some hard work.

If you are unhappy in your current career, it’s worth taking a calculated risk. And it’s better to start now than to waste more of the best days of your life stuck in a dreary job hoping for the right moment to come along.