Welcome to SixFigureStart®

Career Coaching by Former Fortune 500 Recruiters

SixFigureStart Quoted In The Dallas Morning News

With 7.3 million jobs lost from December 2007 to October 2009, everyone “starts competing down the line,” says Caroline Ceniza-Levine, owner of SixFigureStart, a career-counseling service. “If you have to look for people, why not look for the unsolicited, more experienced people who are coming in droves?” They take the entry-level jobs. That means people who would normally seek entry-level jobs compete just to find “survival jobs.”

Read more about the effect of this tough market on Generation Y in Laura Vanderkam’s piece:  Why recession won’t mean lost generation



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A Parent’s Role in Their Child’s Job Search

Every parent wants their child succeed – especially in the job search.  There are helicopter parents whose stop at nothing to demand their child’s success, and then there are healthy, helpful behaviors that lead to success created by the child themselves, fostering maturity and growth.    Parents….read on!http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/feb/27/in-the-internship-hunt-be-a-guide-not-a-workhorse/

Filed under: career coaching, life coaching, philosophy

How Taking Vacations Help Your Career

Since it’s a blizzard outside today (in NYC anyway) what better time to think about taking a vacation?!  Yet many people think that they should skip taking one, especially in this bad economy, because it will prove them indispensible to their boss and to their company.  I believe the opposite to be true.

I was recently interviewed by Forbes.com on whether or not employees should take vacation time when times are tough.  Instead of missing out on much needed R&R that can re-energize your creative juices and give you the rest you need to outperform your competitors, focus every day on being the very best employee possible when you are working.  Every piece of work and every interaction with a client should be top notch, complete and without error.  Check your numbers twice or three times, cover all angles, uncover any danger zones, and think of every alternative.  Your focus should be on improving your company’s bottom line and making sure your boss achieves his/her goals.  Now that is exactly they type of thing that will make you indispensible!  

Read this article, and afterwards, plan a warm & sunny vacation!  http://www.forbes.com/2010/01/12/vacation-job-relaxation-leadership-careers-employees.html

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The greatest hurdle is convincing yourself that what you want is possible. — Author Unknown

Do you believe your dreams are possible?  When you think of your target company or dream job, can you really see yourself there?  Prospective employers hire people already doing the job.  You have to project that you belong to get invited.

Filed under: life coaching,

Position Your Career Accomplishments At The Right Level

Experienced managers and executives typically have a range of roles and accomplishments to draw from.  Recently I coached a senior sales executive who had achieved major sales milestones but also managed sales teams and also designed and implemented sales processes.  Is she an individual contributor, a manager or an innovator/ leader?  Clearly, she’s all three but what she chooses to highlight is going to determine how prospective employers envision her at their companies and therefore determine the roles she’ll be offered.  Because she hasn’t positioned herself proactively, she has recently been relegated to a string of individual contributor roles and hasn’t felt challenged or rewarded accordingly.

Use the very top of your resume as your positioning statement.  If you want to be an individual contributor, highlight your sales results (or other bottom line metric).  If you want to be a manager, highlight number of direct reports, size of teams, and budget overseen.  If you want to be an executive, growth and profitability are key metrics, as are examples of innovation or visionary thinking.

Frame your networking pitch around the position you want.  Give examples that correlate with the role you wish to play – use the resume highlights from above as your guide.  If a target company is focused on your individual contributions and you want to manage or lead, then you need to shift the conversation or you need to realize that their target role does not match your needs and move on. 

Positioning is very much for the employed, not just for jobseekers.  To proactively manage your career – get assigned the plum projects, get promoted to roles you want, get compensated according to your value – you need to position yourself at your target level.  There are no one-size-fits-all career paths.  Even similar job functions will have different paths at different companies.  So you need to understand how it works where you are and navigate accordingly.

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a career expert, writer, speaker and co-founder of SixFigureStart (www.sixfigurestart.com), a career coaching firm comprised of former Fortune 500 recruiters.  Caroline is a co-author (along with Donald Trump, Jack Canfield and others) of the upcoming “How the Fierce Handle Fear: Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times” due out March 2010; Bascom Hill Books.  Formerly in corporate HR and retained search, Caroline most recently headed University Relations for Time Inc and has also recruited for Accenture, Citibank, Disney ABC, and others.  Caroline is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Professional Development at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs, a life coach (www.thinkasinc.com) and a columnist for CNBC.com, Conde Nast’s Portfolio.com, Vault.com, Wetfeet.com and TheGlassHammer.com.

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How to Answer Those Crazy Interview Questions

Why do some companies ask crazy interview questions like:  “if you were a car, what kind of car would you be?” or “why are manhole covers round?”  They are asked because interviewers want to observe a couple of things:

1 – how comfortable are you with a crazy question – can you think on your feet and not panic?

2 – are you creative?  can you say “you’d like to be an oak tree because they are the tallest and the strongest – and your performance will be stronger than any of my peers”

3 – are you fun to be with – can you poke fun at yourself and laugh – If I were a car, I’d be a mini-Cooper because I’m versatile and I can have a checkered roof – which is different, fun and unexpected!  Good on gas mileage too – so I watch expenses! 

I prefer traditional questions – behavioral questions – because past performance does indicate future performance and success.  However, asking an unconventional question like this shows that the candidate is confident enough to have fun and enjoy the interview.  Confidence is a huge characteristic that I used to look for in top candidates when I hired for Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and Warner-Lambert. 

Interviews skills can be improved because you can practice.  You can Google traditional interview questions and you can Google non-traditional interview questions.  The best candidates will be prepared and are comfortable enough in their own skin to answer any question that comes their way.  So don’t get caught being unprepared.  Download the comments I made today on NPR by clicking on this link:  http://www.thetakeaway.org/people/connie-thanasoulis-cerrachio/

Filed under: career coaching, life coaching

Book Review: Escape From Cubicle Nation by Pam Slim

“Escape From Cubicle Nation” by Pam Slim is a good mix of inspiring and practical strategies for people considering the transition from employee to entrepreneur.  If you are on the fence, the opening of the book is a good summary of the pros and cons.  I particularly liked how Slim doesn’t push entrepreneurship or any one particular path.

The practical info Slim shares (how to test ideas, how to pick the right legal entity for your business) includes a good basic overview but if you are serious about launching or have launched a business you will need further resources each step of the way.  Also, while I liked how Slim called out so-called business coaches who encourage entrepreneurship but may not give a realistic picture of the financial and emotional sacrifices, I was hoping this book documented more specifics on these.  Fo example, Slim chides Internet marketers who hawk overnight success products, but how long is a reasonable wait for success?  Slim recommends several months of savings, but does that mean she thinks you can replicate your corporate income in a business after several months?  That seemed aggressive to me, while the rest of her advice was straightforward and conservative, so this issue was one major place that left me hanging.

Still, “Escape From Cubicle Nation” is a motivational read with good foundational basics.  I wanted more but only because what was shared was good, solid stuff.

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When we long for a life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure. – Peter Marshall

Every success means you will have encountered and conquered adversity.  If you are facing obstacles, this doesn’t mean you’re on the wrong track.  It may mean that you are stretching your limits.

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Office Romances and Your Career

Since it was just Valentine’s Day, and since Vault.com conducts an annual survey on office romances, I was interviewed to give my opinions on the topic.  Vault found that more and more people will “risk” an office romance even in this bad economy.  Office romances can be risky because when emotions run high, common sense usually runs low … but if you keep your wits about you, you can come up smelling like a rose, no matter what!  http://www.mysanantonio.com/business/Workplace_romances_in_full_bloom.html

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Today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present. – Eleanor Roosevelt

What is great about today?  What are the 1, 2, or 3 things that would make tomorrow great?  You don’t always have to plan so far in advance.  Pause.  Reset.  Be present.

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