Personality Type in Career Choice: Case Studies

Personality Type in Career Choice: Case Studies

In this week’s podcast, I talk about the role of personality type in career choice. I use the framework of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), of which I am a Master Practitioner.

The MBTI is the world’s most widely used personality assessment. It is a psychological tool designed to reveal your personality preferences…the ones you were born with.

Based on your responses, the MBTI assigns one of 16 personality types to you. Much research has been done around the link between personality type and career choice.

Here are a few personality types and the careers best suited to them:

ESFP: Realistic Adapters in Human Relationships

ESFPs are at their best when free to act on impulses. They value:

  • An energetic, sociable life, full of friends and fun
  • Immediately useful skills; practical know-how
  • Learning through spontaneous, hands-on action
  • Trust and generosity; openness
  • Concrete, practical knowledge; resourcefulness
  • Caring, kindness, support, appreciation
  • Freedom from irrelevant rules
  • Handling immediate, practical problems and crises
  • Seeing tangible realities; least-effort solutions
  • Showing and receiving appreciation
  • Making the most of the moment; adaptability
  • Being caught up in enthusiasm

ESFPs want work that has practical value; as much work flexibility as possible, and a collaborative work environment.

What careers do ESFPs often pursue? Here are a few:

Sales Representative


Social Worker




INTJ: Logical, Critical Innovators of Ideas

INTJs are at their best when inspiration turns insights into ideas and plans. They value:

  • A restrained, organized outer life
  • A spontaneous, intuitive inner life
  • Planful, independent, academic learning
  • Skepticism; critical analysis; objective principles
  • Originality, independence of mind
  • Unemotional tough-mindedness
  • Freedom from interference in projects
  • Working to a plan and schedule
  • Seeing complexities, hidden meanings
  • Improving things by finding flaws
  • Probing new possibilities; taking the long view
  • Pursuing a vision; foresight; conceptualizing

 INTJs prefer a work environment that involves complex ideas and concepts and allows them to develop creative, innovative solutions. They are all about possibilities and originality.

What careers do INTJS often pursue? Here are a few:



Medical Doctor

Business Administrator


ENTP: Inventive, Analytical Planners of Change

ENTPs are at their best when caught up in enthusiasm for a new project. They value:

  • Conceiving of new things and initiating change
  • The surge of inspiration; emerging possibilities
  • Analyzing complexities
  • Following their insights, wherever they lead
  • Finding meaning behind the facts
  • Autonomy; elbow room; openness
  • Ingenuity, originality, a fresh perspective
  • Mental models and concepts that explain life
  • Fair treatment
  • Flexibility, adaptability
  • Improvising; looking for novel ways
  • Exploring theories and meanings behind events

ENTPs seek work that utilizes their creativity and originality in a flexible work environment; work that allows them to dig for deeper meaning, insights, and possibilities.

What careers do ENTPs often pursue? Here are a few:




Marketing Representative

Systems Analyst

I encourage you to go through these lists and make sense of the connection between the characteristics of each personality type and the careers often pursued.

If you’re interested in learning about your personality type, I encourage you to work with a qualified practitioner or a Master Practitioner like myself. Otherwise, you’re taking an assessment online with no one to interpret your results for you.

To listen to this week’s podcast, “Using Personality Information in your Career Choice,” click here:

052: Using Personality Information in your Career Choice


052: Using Personality Information in your Career Choice

The Role of Personality in Career Decisions

This month, I’m talking about using critical information about yourself in your career choice. Last week, I talked about Motivated Skills; this week I want to talk about personality.

I am a Master Practitioner of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the world’s most widely used personality assessment. It is a psychological tool designed to reveal your personality preferences…the ones you were born with.

Here’s the analogy I use with my clients: I have them write their name. Whether they use their right hand as most people do or their left hand (like me), we identify that the hand they wrote their name with is their preferred hand.

That hand is their innate preference.

Next, I have them write their name with their non-preferred hand. We talk about the fact that it was a much more conscious task with that hand…and that the results weren’t nearly as good.

The next step is to have them imagine their preferred arm is broken and it’s in a cast for six months. During that time, they are forced to write exclusively with their non-preferred hand.

They will no doubt get better at using that hand during those six months, right?

I then have them imagine that a co-worker exclaims, “Oh my gosh…your arm is broken! Is that the arm you write with?”

Of course, their answer is “Yes!” Even though they are using their non-preferred hand exclusively, it doesn’t change the fact that that isn’t their preferred hand.

And, as soon as that cast comes off, they are back to their preferred hand.

The MBTI identifies your innate preferences…the way you prefer to handle a situation or task if given the option.

What’s the Flip Side?

Here’s the thing: All of us must access the non-preferred side of our personality on a daily basis.

The Introvert who has to go to a two-day team building event with coworkers and finds it incredibly draining.

The Perceiver whose boss expects her to stick to a tight schedule.

The Thinker whose coworker comes to him very emotional, with a personal problem.

The Intuitive whose project assignment requires her to complete her tasks in a very sequential manner.

What Does This Have to Do With Career Choice?

Career choice, and the role of your personality in that choice, is a macro- and micro-level decision.

On a macro level, you are choosing a career field that meshes with your personality.

On a micro level, you are evaluating job opportunities based on those same criteria. Because sometimes what holds true for the career as a whole doesn’t hold true for a specific position.

Here’s an example: I once worked with a YMCA Assistant Director who was underperforming at work. Turned out (much to everyone’s surprise) that he was an Extravert. You would think a job at the YMCA – specifically organizing the recreational sporting events for children – would be a great fit for an Extravert. And you would be right.

However, at this YMCA the Assistant Director’s office was at the end of a dark hallway – isolated from the patrons coming in and out, and from the other employees. He hated that aspect of his job.

So what are the preference pairs measured by the MBTI?


This pair has to do with where you get your energy. Extraverts get their energy from the people and activities going on around them; Introverts get their energy from being by themselves.

Extraverts are generally comfortable meeting, and speaking with, strangers; Introverts would rather not approach strangers and find it difficult to start a conversation with someone they don’t know.

Extraverts tend to be “open books,” meaning they freely share what they are thinking with those around them. Introverts are much more closed about what they share until they know someone well and feel they can trust them.


This pair has to do with how you prefer to take in information. Sensers take in information by way of the 5 senses – sight, taste, touch, hearing, and smell. Intuitives take in information by way of their sixth sense – their intuition.

Sensers prefer to deal with concrete information that has practical value; Intuitives prefer to deal with abstract ideas and concepts that involve creativity and imagination.

Sensers tend to trust what has worked in the past and aren’t likely to want to make changes to something if it’s working. Intuitives want new and different and will make changes to things even if they are working.


The Thinking-Feeling pair addresses your preference for making decisions. Thinkers make decisions using cool, impersonal logic – they make their decisions with their head. Feelers make decisions using sympathy and values – they make their decisions with their heart.

Thinkers tend to stick to established rules and regulations – treating everyone fairly by treating everyone the same. Feelers tend to consider the circumstances – treating everyone fairly by treating everyone differently.

Thinkers will be brutally honest in evaluating work performance and can come across as harsh because they are telling you the unvarnished truth. Feelers will consider your feelings in giving you feedback; while the interaction may be more pleasant, you may not be given the information you need to improve.


Judging-Perceiving addresses how you organize your life. Judgers love planners, calendars, and systems that create a superstructure of organization in their lives. Perceivers want the freedom to do what they feel like doing at any given time.

Judgers avoid the pressure of last-minute work, whereas Perceivers do their best work at the last minute.

Judgers want structure in their work and prefer jobs with schedules they can control. Perceivers like jobs that are unstructured, and they are at their best when responding to emergencies or changes in plan.

Why Does This Matter?

A lot of research has gone into career fields most frequently chosen by different personality types. I want to lay out just a couple of examples for you:

ENFJ (Extraverted-Intuitive-Feeling-Judging)

When you combine the four letters of your preference, you get a four-letter code that says volumes about your preferences.

Here’s a brief description of an ENFJ:

Imaginative HARMONIZERS; at their best when winning people’s cooperation with insight into their needs. They value:

  • Having a wide circle of relationships
  • Having a positive, enthusiastic view of life
  • Seeing subtleties in people and interactions
  • Understanding others’ needs and concerns
  • An active, energizing social life
  • Seeing possibilities in people
  • Follow-through on important projects
  • Working on several projects at once
  • Caring and imaginative problem solving
  • Maintaining relationships to make things work
  • Shaping organizations to better serve members
  • Caring, compassion, and tactfulness

What careers do you think ENFJs most frequently go into? Fields that involve helping others achieve their goals – looking toward the future to become what they want to become. Using their creativity is essential to ENFJ’s job satisfaction.

-Public Relations Manager

-Social Worker

-Career Counselor


-High School Teacher

-Human Resources Manager

-Advertising Manager

-Marriage & Family Therapist


ISTP (Introverted-Sensing-Thinking-Perceiving)

Here’s a brief description of ISTP:

Practical ANALYZERS; at their best when analyzing experience to find logic and underlying properties. They value:

  • A reserved outer life
  • Having a concrete, present-day view of life
  • Clear, exact facts
  • Looking for efficient, least-effort solutions
  • Knowing how mechanical things work
  • Pursuing interests in depth
  • Freedom from organizational constraints
  • Independence and self-management
  • Spontaneous hands-on learning
  • Having useful technical expertise
  • Critical analysis as a means to improve things
  • Solving problems with detached, sequential analysis

What fields do ISTPs pursue? Those that allow for freedom…of schedule, or daily work…or the setting in which the work is done. Variety is very important to ISTPs. They also like work that is hands-on and practical.

-Building Inspector



-Athletic Trainer

-Financial Manager

-Software Developer

-Mechanical Engineer

-Police Officer

Using personality information in your career choice allows you to align your preferences with your work. Think of my analogy: if you don’t do this, it will be like writing all day, every day, with your non-preferred hand. It will be tiring, less fulfilling…and you won’t excel to the degree you could.

A note about taking the MBTI: There are lots of online “knock offs” of the assessment. If you want to take the actual MBTI, I recommend doing so with a qualified professional who will interpret your results with you. Otherwise, you won’t know what to make of the information contained in your results. The MBTI is a psychological assessment, and as such, and only be administered and interpreted by a qualified professional or Master Practitioner like myself.


Do You Actually LIKE What You’re Doing?

Do You Actually LIKE What You’re Doing?

In this week’s podcast, I talk about Motivated Skills vs. Burnout Skills. Let’s dig into this concept a bit deeper.

Motivated Skills are those skills that you are both very good at and get a great deal of pleasure from doing. The reason they are called Motivated Skills is because the more you do them, the more motivated you will be about your work.

The opposite of Motivated Skills is Burnout Skills. Burnout Skills are those skills that you are very good at, but DON’T get any pleasure from doing. In fact, these skills suck the motivation right out of you. The more you have to perform Burnout Skills in your work, the more likely you are to…you guessed it…burn out.

Here’s why this is important: Many people have difficulty separating the specific job they’re in from the career path they’ve chosen. In other words, they are unhappy with work but they don’t know why.

If you find yourself in that boat, here’s what I recommend: do the Motivated Skills activity found in my free 5-day course and determine what your top 5-6 Motivated Skills are. Then compare that with the 5-6 skills on the list you are most frequently using in your current job.

I’m guessing there’s not a lot of overlap.

Here’s the link to the course:

This will help you drill down to what you really do best and enjoy the most. This will also help you identify whether you’re in the wrong career field, or just the wrong job.

What Can I Do About This?

So what to do about it? Here are my top 5 suggestions:

Pick one and go after it.

 Choose one of the Motivated Skills you aren’t currently using and come up with a strategy to utilize it at work. Talk to your boss, rearrange your schedule…whatever you need to do to make it happen.

Find a way outside of work.

I’ve often coached people who have to use certain skills outside their work, because their job just doesn’t allow it. I’ve met accountants who were concert pianists, physicians who were artists and photographers, and an engineer whose hobby was quantum physics (?).

Whether it’s a hobby or a side hustle, utilizing that skill outside of work will actually bring more satisfaction to your work.

Minimize the Burnout Skills.

Maybe there’s a way you can limit your use of skills that are burning you out – those things you are good at but don’t enjoy doing. Do what you can to make this happen.

Seek equilibrium.

On days when you use a Burnout Skill extensively at work, consciously plan your evening or weekend to restore equilibrium.

For example, one of your Burnout Skills might be “Detail Management.” If you’ve spent the entire work day managing details, that’s not the day to go home and pay bills or plan a trip. You’ll probably want to be unstructured, spontaneous…perhaps engage your creativity in your free time.

Start looking elsewhere.

Of course, there’s always the option of jumping ship to a job that makes better use of your Motivated Skills. Just make sure you’re crystal clear on what they are…as well as what your Burnout Skills are. Otherwise, you risk making the same mistake again.

To listen to this week’s podcast, “Identifying Your Motivated Skills,” click here:



051: Identifying Your Motivated Skills

Identifying Your Motivated Skills

For the last quarter of 2018, my podcast and blog theme is “Making Crucial Career Decisions.” This month, we’ll be drilling down on your skills, personality preferences, core values, and expertise. Each of these things can, and should, play a role in your career decisions.

Keep in mind that, whenever I talk about career decisions, I am speaking on a macro- and micro-level. The macro level is this: Does the career path you’re considering allow you to make optimal use of your skills and expertise? Does your personality type mesh with this career? Does this career fit within your most critical values?

On the micro-level, you are looking at particular job opportunities within that career. Keep in mind that, while a career may fit with your personality and values, etc., a particular job may not. The more you know about yourself, the more aware you will be of what is most important to you…I call them your non-negotiables.

Defining Motivated Skills

Today’s topic is “Identifying Your Motivated Skills.” Let’s start with a definition.

Motivated Skills are those skills that you are both very good at and get a great deal of pleasure from doing. The reason they are called Motivated Skills is because the more you do them, the more motivated you will be about your work.

The opposite of Motivated Skills is Burnout Skills. Burnout Skills are the skills you are very good at, but DON’T get any pleasure from doing. In fact, these skills suck the motivation right out of you. The more you have to perform Burnout Skills in your work, the more likely you are to…you guessed it…burn out.

Take the Assessment

If you’re interested in taking a Motivated Skills assessment, I recommend you opt-in to my 5-day course, “Finding Your Professional Purpose.” Day 2 includes Motivated Skills and Values activities.

To optin:

Here’s how the Motivated Skills activity works: First, you sort each skill by your skill level with it. A “5” means you have a superior skill level; a “1” means you have little or no skill.

Next, you sort those same skills by your Motivation Level. A “5” is Superior enjoyment in using that skill; a “1” means you are completely unmotivated to use that skill.

The idea is to come up with a core list of just 5-6 Motivated Skills. Any more than that, and you are unlikely to find a career or job that includes them all…and you may sacrifice the most important ones for those that aren’t quite as essential to you. Any fewer than that, and you may be lacking in self-awareness…you just haven’t lived enough, or been present enough, to know what you like and don’t like.

Why This Matters

Let’s talk about why knowing what your Motivated Skills are is so important. Obviously, you want this information to inform your career decisions on the macro- and micro-level; knowing your Motivated Skills will also help you answer some of the tough interview questions you’ll likely get asked.

Even within a job, knowing your Motivated Skills will help you make intelligent decisions about projects, committees, and assignments you volunteer for.

Of course, sometimes you don’t get to pick these things. However, by letting your boss know what your Motivated Skills are, he will be far more likely to put you on projects, committees, and assignments that align with those skills. After all, you doing a great job makes him look great…so it’s a win-win.

The Alternative

What’s the alternative to identifying, and capitalizing on, your Motivated Skills? Here are five downfalls:

-You don’t find fulfillment in your work…that soul-satisfying need to do what you were put on this earth to do.

-You don’t excel in your work…thereby limiting your potential to move up (which you don’t really want to do anyway…at least not in that career).

-You jump from job to job, not realizing what’s really wrong.

-Your dissatisfaction at work bleeds over into the other 2/3 of your life…it impacts your personal relationships and your sleep suffers.

-People who need what you were put on this earth to do miss receiving that from you. If this sounds esoteric, I promise you…this is what it’s all about.

What are these Skills?

I hope I’m made a compelling case for identifying and capitalizing on your Motivated Skills. So what are these skills anyway?

There are general categories of Motivated Skills, under which you’ll find several sub-categories.

Under the general heading of Communication Skills, you have skills in all forms of communication including verbal, written, presentation, sales, and negotiation. This group of skills involves the transfer of information in an accurate, persuasive way.

For Marketing, Public Relations, and Customer Service Skills, there is a wide range of skills that include being at ease in social settings, the ability to identify customer needs and preferences, and the ability to translate objective feedback into self-improvement and self-identify deficiencies to improve performance.

The general heading of Quantitative Analysis Skills includes computer skills and the ability to compile and analyze numerical data.

Under the general heading of Analytical Research Skills are scientific curiosity, research, and the ability to understand and use engineering or industrial principles, tools, and equipment to improve processes, services, or products.

Technical Reasoning Skills include mechanical and spatial reasoning, working outdoors in a technical capacity such as construction, environmental, or landscape projects, managing operations, or gathering technical or environmental data. Technical Reasoning Skills also include technical problem-solving or troubleshooting.

Creativity and Innovation Skills is the ability to use color and shapes to create visually pleasing images and to create new ideas and forms with existing objects. It also includes the ability to use imagination to create new ideas, projects, or programs.

Under the general heading of Teaching, Training, Instructing, or Counseling Skills: These are pretty self-explanatory. You are conveying information to an individual or audience in a teaching/training/instructing capacity, or you are counseling people to improve some aspect of their lives.

The final grouping is Project Management, Leadership, and Motivation Skills. These include managing and directing the work of others, motivating people to perform at their peak level, planning programs or projects, organizing people, data, or objects, and making decisions. It also includes the ability to manage detail-oriented tasks.

Again, I highly recommend opting in for my free 5-day course so you can take my Motivated Skills sort activity. That URL again is




Ways to Restore Equilibrium When Work is a B****h

Someone asks you how work is going. You roll your eyes, make a farm animal-like sound, and feel yourself gearing up for a diatribe.

Even if you love your job, there will be rough times. Times when the thought of going into work brings dread. Long hours, working weekends, and doing tasks that don’t play to your strengths.

In other blogs, I’ve talked about how to change your thinking so you’re getting the results you want at work no matter the circumstances. Today, let’s talk about how to get back to normal when things at work aren’t, so you aren’t damaging your evenings and weekends (and alienating friends and family).

For the purposes of this article, I’m focusing on what you can do outside of work, rather than changing what is happening at work.

Make physical activity a priority

For some reason, when we’re overworked one of the first things we take off our “to-do” list is exercise.

If you have to let some things go in your personal life during a stressful time at work, there are two things you MUST keep as priorities, and one of them is physical activity.

What can you do that you a) enjoy, and b) will give you the biggest bang in the shortest amount of time?

Get sufficient sleep

This is the other priority you MUST keep, no matter what is happening at work.

You KNOW you can’t possibly give your best effort at work if you are sleep-deprived. Further, your family and friends aren’t going to want to hang around you if you’re only half-awake.

Set a personal goal

Having a goal that has nothing to do with work can be a powerful motivator to make the best use of your non-work hours.

Do you want to train for a half-marathon, learn a foreign language, or hone your painting skills?

Identify something you’re passionate about and give it a regular slot in your schedule.

Cultivate your relationships

When you’re in a stressful period at work, it can be easy to forego plans with friends and family. It can also be difficult to initiate such plans if you’re afraid you’ll have to bail at the 11th hour.

The key here is to go for quality over quantity. You might not be able to set three or four social engagements during a stressful week at work, but can you schedule one? Or do you have a friend or loved one who is game for a last-minute activity when you find yourself with an unexpected open block of time?

Let go of the unimportant

When your personal time is limited, this presents a great opportunity to eliminate the unnecessary and inconsequential from your life.

What can you stop doing? What can you hire someone else to do, such as cleaning or yard work? Are there relationships in your life that no longer serve you? Can you create personal time by having groceries delivered or purchasing pre-made meals? Could you turn off the t.v. in favor of a workout or visiting with a friend?

Look at your daily and weekly activities with a critical eye, and eliminate or minimize those that aren’t enjoyable for you.

Ask for help

Let those closest to you know what’s going on at work, how long you expect it to continue, and ask for their help. Parents, a spouse or significant other, and your closest friends might be able to pitch in with such things as shopping, childcare, and simple errands.

Don’t suffer in silence! “No one can fill those of our needs that we don’t let show,” says the classic song “Lean on Me.” So true.


Interested in a deep dive with me? Register for my next webinar. In addition to great content, you’ll have the opportunity to ask me questions and even get coached by me live! Here’s the link to find out about this month’s topic, date, and time: click here

To listen to this week’s podcast, “Work/Life Blend (Balance is a Myth)” click here:

050: Work/Life Blend (Balance is a Myth)


050: Work/Life Blend (Balance is a Myth)

Why Work/Life Balance is a Myth

Think about it: Work/Life balance, to me, is like Work is on one side of a teeter-totter, and Life is on the other side.

When one side of the teeter-totter gets “heavier,” meaning you spend more of your time and attention on it, the other side gets “lighter,” meaning you spend less time and attention on it.

In other words, focusing on Work is at the expense of your Life, and focusing on your Life is at the expense of your Work.

I don’t think this model serves anyone.

Rather, think of Work/Life blend, meaning a delicious mixture of both where the Work ingredients are indistinguishable from the Life ingredients.

Sometimes your recipe calls for a bit more Work. Sometimes your recipe calls for a bit more Life.

You always have a choice when it comes to what you put into your mixture. You may think you don’t, but I promise you do.

When Work Takes Up More of the Recipe

For example, let’s imagine you’ve just gotten a promotion. There’s a fairly steep learning curve for your new job, and you’re under the gun from day one to get a major project completed on time.

It may FEEL like your recipe will be all Work and no Life. But you actually have options.

You could:

-Turn the promotion down

-Negotiate with your new boss for help with the project

-Look for a new job that won’t require as much of your time and attention

-Seek help with aspects of your Life you can delegate, such as housecleaning, grocery shopping, and errands, so you can focus as much time as you need to on your new job

-Eliminate some time-stealers from your personal life in favor of engaging in more meaningful activities

When Life Takes Up More of the Recipe

Let’s imagine one of your parents has just been given a terminal diagnosis, and you are the person to take care of your parent during the illness.

You could:

-Seek help with your parent from other family members or close friends

-Seek a facility that will provide your parent with needed care

-Quit your job so you can focus entirely on your parent

-Ask for a leave of absence from your job

-Speak with your boss about sharing some of your workload with others

There are probably many more options you might consider. The point is, you have options, and it doesn’t serve you to think “I’m trapped,” or “How am I going to manage this?”

Particularly in times when one area of your life is “heavy,” it’s a good idea to set goals for the other area of your life so you’re getting maximum bang for your buck.

Think of it this way: What one ingredient can I put in my mixture that will make the most impact?

How to Make the Most of the Time You Are at Work

-Complete something you’ve been working on a long time

-Organize your physical space and/or computer files

-Get on a committee/project that won’t take a tremendous amount of your time, but will have a high return for your professional reputation and career

-Go deep with the aspect of your job you most enjoy…perhaps it’s creativity, analytical, organizing…

-Take a critical look at what you are currently doing: What can be eliminated? What can be put on the back burner? What can be delegated?

How to Make the Most of the Time You AREN’T at Work

-Make time for exercise. What can you eliminate from your Life to make this a priority? Is there a different type of exercise or way of exercising you could use during this time?

-Look for time wasters, such as watching t.v., and replace them with more satisfying activities.

-Make sure you’re getting enough sleep.

-Get creative with your meals to eliminate time spent in preparation, without sacrificing food quality. Especially during this time, you need your nutrition to support you.

-What activity restores your equilibrium? Here are some possibilities;




-Getting out in nature

-Spending time with friends/family

-Learning (something that has nothing to do with work)


-Making art or music

The bottom line, then, is to make sure your ingredients are meaningful to you. When you have less time to spend on Life, make sure the time you do spend gives you the greatest ROI. When work has to be diminished because of things going on in your personal life, make sure you’re focused on the most important aspects of your job…and be willing to put others on the back burner.

Interested in a deep dive with me? Register for my next webinar. In addition to great content, you’ll have the opportunity to ask me questions and even get coached by me live! Here’s the link to find out about this month’s topic, date, and time: click here


049: What to Do if You’re Not Growing at Work

So you’re not growing at work.

There are two facets to this topic I want to cover:

-You’re not being given new tasks or assignments to stimulate you (this is a management issue)

-You aren’t feeling motivated to do the work anymore (this is an internal issue)

You’re not being given new tasks or assignments.

If you’re not being given new tasks or assignments, it’s time to speak with your boss.

Be sure to listen to episode #47, where I talk about internal professional development possibilities, and how to take advantage of them.

For some of you, the boss is the reason you’re not being given new tasks or assignments. What do you do then?

I think it’s useful to figure out what’s really going on. Here are some possibilities:

-Your boss is afraid you’ll take her position and wants to hold you down.

How do you know if this is your problem? Look for evidence that your boss is an insecure person. Defensiveness, blaming others while refusing to take responsibility for her mistakes, and a general nervous energy are symptoms of an insecure boss.

Solution: Many times, this is a situation that requires you either move elsewhere in the company or leave the company altogether.

-Your boss isn’t aware that you want more of a challenge, or of all the skills and talents you have.

 How do you know if this is your problem? Your boss isn’t tuned into her employees, either professionally or personally. She doesn’t make an effort to get to know you or her other employees through such things as team building activities, happy hour, or going to lunch together. Distant, detached, uncaring are words you might use to describe your boss.

Solution: Set up a meeting with your boss to express your goals and concerns, without placing any blame on your boss. Let her know, directly and respectfully, that you want more challenge. Bring with you to the meeting ideas you have for ways in which you can better utilize your motivated skills.

-Your boss has so much on her plate that developing her employees has gone to the back burner.

 How do you know if this is your problem? As opposed to the previous situation’s detached and uncaring boss, this boss is overworked, overwhelmed, and overcommitted. She’s probably not a good time manager and may have trouble saying “no” to her boss. She may frequently cancel staff meetings at the last minute, she barely slows down all day, and seems distracted when she’s with you.

Solution: You have a chance here to offer to take something off your boss’s plate. You can take on an activity you’re excited about while relieving your boss a bit. Win-win.

-Your boss hasn’t been properly trained on how to lead and manage others and doesn’t understand that developing her employees is part of her job.

How do you know if this is your problem? This often looks like someone who isn’t comfortable in the supervisory shoes she’s been placed in. She consistently says and does the wrong thing in supervising her employees, or conversely, avoids actually supervising anyone. There’s also an element of fear here, because she may be terribly afraid she’ll be “found out” as incompetent. Often times, these people don’t recognize the failure of their own bosses to properly train them.

Solution: There’s not much you can do here, so this is a situation that probably requires looking for another job. If developing employees is not a company value, then an internal move probably won’t resolve the problem – you’ll need to look outside your current employer.

-Your boss is narcissistic, concerned only with her position and status within the company and not her employees.

How do you know if this is your problem? Appearances are everything to this boss – it’s all flash and no substance. You are certain she would throw you under the bus without a second thought in order to make herself look good. You certainly aren’t going to get the leadership, coaching, and mentorship you want from your boss if she’s a narcissist.

Solution: Run, don’t walk, because narcissists think only of themselves and won’t have your back when you most need it. Seek an internal transfer or look outside your employer.

You’ve lost your motivation.

If the problem is you’ve lost your motivation, here are my top tips to get it back:

Your thoughts

I promise you the lack of motivation you’re experiencing is a result of thoughts you’re having about your job, your boss, your coworkers, or your employer. NOT the job itself.

The first step is awareness of the thoughts you’re having.

The second step is to gently direct your thoughts to ones that serve you better.

For example, if you’re thinking “I hate my job,” you might redirect your thoughts to “I have a job.”

From there, you can practice thinking more positive thoughts about your job.

Shake Up the Repetition

Often times, a dip in motivation comes from feeling like you’re in a rut…doing the same things day after day, in exactly the same way.

How can you shake up what you do, how or when you do it, to infuse some motivation into your work?

Get creative here. Design a new system, process, or tool to help you do your job better. Is there the possibility of doing your work in a different physical environment? How can you look at your work through new lenses?

Helping Others

Who can you help at work?

Mentoring another employee, volunteering through your employer, or joining a committee that is doing meaningful work can all be ways to infuse your motivation.

Do It Anyway

Give your best every day regardless of whether or not you are motivated.

Sometimes, my biggest accomplishments come from plowing through a completely uninspired day to do the work anyway.


Celebrate even your smallest achievements at work.

Make a game of rewarding yourself for little things…make it fun! If your department doesn’t have any fun awards, set one up and lead it yourself.

Interested in a deep dive with me? Register for my next webinar. In addition to great content, you’ll have the opportunity to ask me questions and even get coached by me live! Here’s the link to find out about this month’s topic, date, and time: click here



Five Quick Ways to Get Branded as Unprofessional

In last week’s blog, I defined professionalism, the characteristics of a professional, and how to polish your professionalism.

The flip side of professionalism, of course, is being unprofessional.

Merriam-Webster defines unprofessional as “below or contrary to the standards expected in a particular profession.”

Here then, are my top five ways to quickly become branded as “unprofessional.” I’ve described them as you might talk about someone who is unprofessional, and given you some of my real-world experiences with unprofessional behavior.

“He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

Years ago, I worked with an IT person who, when I hired him, was up-to-date with his IT knowledge. He didn’t continue to hone those skills, however, so by the time he was terminated, his skills were completely out of date.

Not only did this mean he wasn’t going to get a glowing recommendation from me as his most recent boss, it also meant he was going to have a hard time landing another position in IT.

“She always blames someone else when something goes wrong.”

Gaining a reputation as a blamer is a sure-fire way to get branded as unprofessional.

While I can’t say I’ve worked with a chronic blamer, I have worked with multiple employees who wouldn’t accept responsibility for their own actions.

A particular coordinator I worked with was engaging in some very unprofessional behavior. When I confronted her about this, she denied saying and doing the things I knew were true. Her denial made it very difficult for me to try to fix the damage her behavior had caused.

“You can’t count on him to come through.”

You simply won’t be given the tony assignments if you cultivate a reputation as a ball-dropper.

The afore-mentioned IT tech was in charge of a very important annual report with implications for the entire university. After he was terminated, I discovered that he had used the previous year’s stats to create the current year’s report. I can’t even tell you what a nightmare that was.

“She is rude and inconsiderate.”

People won’t continue to help you, or even work with you, if you’re rude and inconsiderate.

At a former employer, the Director of Public Relations had the reputation of telling you what you were going to do, rather than asking for your help. Further, she wasn’t thankful or appreciative in the least when you did it.

People learned to avoid this individual, get their bosses to say they couldn’t do the thing she was asking them to do…anything to avoid working with her.

“He came to the meeting without the materials he needed, and he clearly wasn’t prepared.”

My favorite example of being unprepared is from a job interview I conducted years ago.

The interviewee, when asked if she had any questions for us, said “Am I going to get another interview? I need to know whether or not to do some research on [company].”

Can’t get much more unprepared than that, and then she telegraphed her lack of preparation.


Interested in a deep dive with me? Register for my next webinar. In addition to great content, you’ll have the opportunity to ask me questions and even get coached by me live! Here’s the link to find out about this month’s topic, date, and time: click here

Here’s a link to this week’s podcast, “External Education Opportunities:”

048: External Education Opportunities



048: External Education Opportunities

In episode 47, I talked about taking advantage of your company’s internal training opportunities. I also talked about 7 strategies for creating one-on-one professional development opportunities for yourself, regardless of whether or not your employer has formal programs like these.

Today, let’s talk about continuing your education outside your current employer.

University Continuing Education Departments

Most universities, particularly those in larger cities, have a Continuing Education department. These departments are an external arm of the university, and typically offer a range of professional development courses.

These courses generally fall into one of three categories:

-A cluster of courses leading to a certification or other professional credential

-Stand-alone courses that provide you with targeted knowledge

-Courses created for a specific employer/industry, with training specific to that employer or industry

A note about any training you attend: keep a folder so that, when you update your resume, you’ll have ready access to the specifics of your professional development. This folder can also be a handy place to keep any certificates or other documentation you receive for attending.

For-Profit Training Companies

When I worked in higher education, I regularly got brochures from Fred Pryor, Skill Path, and other for-profit companies that were providing in-person training in a city near me.

I’m sure some of these companies no longer exist and others have sprouted up, and not all of them have a great reputation. So do your due diligence if you see a course you’re interested in to make sure it’s a good expenditure of your employer’s money.

These for-profit training companies can be particularly effective for you to get training on a targeted subject that your employer isn’t likely to offer.

Targeted Coursework at a University as a “Non-Degree-Seeking” Student

Perhaps you want to take a course in marketing or accounting at a university as a non-degree seeking student. You may also be able to audit a class, which simply means you take the course but don’t get a grade or any formal recognition that you took the class.

Many of my clients seek out courses they can take at Ivy League schools, so they have that university’s name on their resume.

Conferences, Workshops, or Seminars Offered Through Your Professional Associations

Your professional associations are often the best source for professional development that is specific to the work you do. Many offer an annual conference, along with more frequent workshops and seminars that may be offered in-person or online.

Attending conferences has the added benefit of exposure to other professionals in your field. Many have an infrastructure in place for employers with open positions to source candidates at the conference, and even interview on-site.

Another benefit of professional associations is the opportunity to serve on committees that give you exposure to a wide range of people in your field. I have served on committees for new professionals, the planning committee for the annual conference, and on executive boards. Many of the people I met on these committees are still my friends today.

The Graduate Degree

How do you determine if it’s the right time for you to pursue a graduate degree? How do you determine if you even should pursue a graduate degree? Here are my guidelines:

DO seek a graduate degree IF:

-You are very clear on your career path, and know that a graduate degree will help you move up, OR

-You have maxed out in your career field without a graduate degree, AND

-Your work schedule will allow you to fully commit to the program once you’ve entered

DON’T seek a graduate degree:

-To avoid entering or continuing in the job market (there are less expensive ways to hide from your life), OR

-If you are unclear about what you want to study, OR

-Just because you have an interest in a particular field (unless you are independently wealthy), OR

-If you’ve started a new job less than a year ago. You have a learning curve for your job that doesn’t leave much room for anything else, AND

-If your work schedule is erratic, you work incredibly long hours, or in any way can’t fully commit to the program.

Many employers offer tuition reimbursement for continuing your education, and this is a topic you can ask about in the job interview. Be sure to find out the finer points of the reimbursement program, such as length of time you have to be in the position before you are eligible, or how long you have to work for the organization after completing the degree.

Interested in a deep dive with me? Register for my next webinar. In addition to great content, you’ll have the opportunity to ask me questions and even get coached by me live! Here’s the link to find out about this month’s topic, date, and time: click here







What Makes a Great Employer?

This month on my podcast, I’m talking about professional development…how to take advantage of internal and external opportunities to grow professionally.

Which got me to thinking about what a candidate should look for in a prospective employer. The qualities and characteristics of a great employer.

Use this guide to evaluate your current employer or potential employers when you are job searching.

Flexible work schedule – What is possible varies by job function and industry, but great companies offer as much work flexibility as possible. This may include work from home, hours outside the typical 8-5, and compressed work weeks.

Fun and creative culture – While “fun” and “creative” will vary from industry to industry (and person to person), a great company will facilitate creativity and work to develop an environment people want to be in and can be engaged with.

Cultivating the whole person – Great companies don’t view their employees as robot workers, but are interested in seeing them develop holistically. This may include health and wellness, affinity groups, and encouragement of life outside of work. 

Eliminating under-performers – The great Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, terminated the bottom 10% of performers every year. Rather than generating an atmosphere of fear, this action encouraged employees to perform at their best. It can’t be overstated the damage done to the work environment and productivity when slackers are kept around, and great companies don’t tolerate under-performers. 

Rewarding great customer service – Great companies set a very high standard for customer service, and they make sure they reward employees for delivering. They eliminate any impediments to great customer service.

Encouraging balance – Great companies simply do not expect their employees to work 50 or 60 hours or more every week on an ongoing basis. They reward employees based on results, not hours spent “working.”

Inspirational mission – Great companies articulate an inspirational mission, then ensure that every unit and every employee act in accordance with that mission. Great companies don’t just paint their mission on the wall, they live it.

Competitive wages and a good incentive plan – To be a great company, they must pay at least the prevailing wages for the work they are asking people to do, and incentive plans must align with the company’s mission and goal.

Open to ideas and feedback – Great companies want to hear from their employees, and have an infrastructure in place for employees to submit their ideas. Further, employees can see that their ideas are being considered – and they are rewarded when their ideas are put into place.

Open and frequent communication – Great companies avoid silos at all costs by communicating openly and freely with all employees. No one feels like they are in the Mushroom Club – kept in the dark and fed s**t.

Views employees as partners – Great companies don’t treat their employees as slave labor; rather, that they are their most valuable asset. Enough said.

Forward-looking and future-focused – Great companies have a long- horizon view and are taking steps in the present to ensure even greater success down the line. Great companies are never caught flat-footed when new technology, trends, or market shifts emerge.

Recognition of employees – Great companies recognize employees for behaviors that contribute to the organizational mission.

 Interested in a deep dive with me? Register for my next webinar. In addition to great content, you’ll have the opportunity to ask me questions and even get coached by me live! Here’s the link to find out about this month’s topic, date, and time: click here

To listen to this week’s podcast, “What to do if You’re Not Growing at Work,” click here: