Job Search Tips

Job Search Tips When Starting a Career During the Coronavirus

Job Search Tips When Starting a Career During the Coronavirus. Graduating from college or otherwise applying for your first professional job is stressful in any circumstance. But it feels especially daunting when the economy, the job market, and the world, in general, seem to be turned upside down.

But career experts say it’s critical to continue to look for work and stay connected during the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. “Don’t go into a place of fear and stagnancy,” warns Muse career coach Chelsea C. Williams, founder of College Code, a Manhattan-based talent development firm.

Here are a few ways to build relationships, find work, and move forward in your career.

1. Check-in on Your Job Offer

You might’ve already had a job lined up, perhaps through a previous co-op or internship or via on-campus recruiting, and are likely wondering if that offer still stands. If your college career office was involved in helping you land that offer, that should be your first stop, says Susan Weil, co-CEO of Weil and Wein, a Manhattan-based career coaching firm.

If they don’t know anything about the status of your offer or weren’t involved, you can reach out to whoever extended the offer to you, whether that’s a recruiter, the company’s campus recruiting coordinator, or your future manager.

2. Be Flexible

“Many first-time job seekers have a vision of what they thought their first job would look like,” Williams says. That vision might still be valid but you might need to take some turns and twists to get to that end goal.

For instance, while you might have had your heart set on a full-time job with full benefits, it might be time to consider a six-month internship or fellowship or to look for contract work to tide you over until companies start hiring for more full-time roles again. Maybe you can’t get a full-time job at a public relations firm right now. In the meantime, you might be able to get an internship assisting the firm as it helps clients with crisis communications during the pandemic. That would be an impressive addition to your resume and could even transform into a job offer.

3. Continue to Network

Reach out to people you already know relatively well to ask them to keep an eye out for relevant opportunities for you. Make a list of people in your network you feel comfortable approaching—such as favorite professors, internship supervisors you got along with, family members, and friends—and let them know you’re looking for a job.

Just be mindful of the current situation in your communications, Williams says. For instance, you can say, “I realize the current situation is challenging but if you do hear of anything, let me know. I have a skill set in digital communications and I’m open to contract work or volunteer work.”

No one knows how long the pandemic, social distancing, and the resulting financial crisis will last. So focus on what you can control—responding to job postings and reaching out to contacts as well as being mindful of your overall attitude and how you react to the situation.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are home to the #1 San Francisco career coach and Los Angeles career coach, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Essential Tips for Working From Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Essential Tips for Working From Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Essential Tips for Working From Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic. In the midst of the new coronavirus pandemic, many companies are implementing voluntary or mandatory work-from-home policies. That means lots of us are dealing with an unusual challenge: working from home for the first time, full-time.

Even if you’ve done it before, working from home because of coronavirus might feel like a whole new world: It’s probably sudden. It might be for an extended period of time rather than a couple of weeks (and you’re not sure how long it’ll last.) Your whole company is involved. And you aren’t supposed to socialize in person outside of work.

These tips will make sure that you’re successful, both at getting your work done, and at maintaining your mental well-being:

1. Get Dressed

You don’t need to dress as formally as you might for work, but the simple act of changing clothes serves as a signal that it’s time to wake up and get things done. “Don’t underestimate the power of putting on clothes suitable for public viewing. It makes you feel human [and] confident and helps draw the line between being at work and being at home,” says Heather Yurovsky, career coach and the founder of Shatter & Shine. “Feeling human” might seem like an odd thing to have to actively think of, but it’s especially important at a time like this when the breakdown of your everyday routines might make you feel cut off from your “normal” life and the “real” world.

Besides, just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean that no one from work will see you. It’s 2020 and we’re all about to have a lot of video meetings.

2. Designate a Workspace or Home Office

One of the big challenges when it comes to working remotely is keeping your work and home lives separate. “For some people, it becomes very blurry,” says career coach Lynn Berger, who specializes in helping people navigate career transitions. If you never fully disconnect from work, your work productivity will suffer and your home life can take a hit as well.

Entering your workspace will help you turn “on” at the beginning of the day and get down to work. On the flip side, leaving your workspace will also help you turn “off” at the end of the day and fully disengage. That’s why it’s also important not to spread yourself across your home—while it might seem great to be able to move from desk to couch to bed, if you let your laptop creep into your downtime space, it makes it harder to keep your work separate from your home life.

3. Keep Clearly Defined Working Hours

Just as you designate and separate your physical workspace, you should be clear about when you’re working and when you’re not. You’ll get your best work done and be most ready to transition back to the office if you stick with your regular hours. Plus, if your role is collaborative, being on the same schedule as your coworkers makes everything much easier.

“The biggest difference between working from home and working in the office is that you are in charge of your environment and have to treat yourself like an employee,” Yurovsky says. This means holding yourself accountable, but also recognizing when enough is enough, just as a good manager might. “If you feel yourself extending your work hours because you aren’t doing anything in the evening…tell yourself it’s time to put work away, recharge, and start tomorrow with a fresh mind. The work will be there in the morning.”

4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

If you don’t usually work from home, chances are there will be some bumps in the road if you have to suddenly go fully remote. The key to steering through these bumps is communication—especially with your manager and direct reports. Either before you make the switch or as soon as you know it’s happening, come up with a plan that lays out expectations for how often you should check-in and how you’ll convey any changes or new assignments to one another. Do the same with anyone you usually work collaboratively with throughout the day.

“Do not default to email if you would have spoken to a coworker face-to-face while at the office,” Yurovsky says. You might find it’s best to check in with your boss and coworkers over the phone, Slack, or through video chat. This will cut down on miscommunication and break up some of the social isolation that can come from working from home.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you if you have any questions about how to maximize your working hours. We are home to the #1 San Francisco career coach and Los Angeles career coach, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Tips for Using Social Media to Help Your Career, Not Hurt It

Tips for Using Social Media to Help Your Career, Not Hurt It

Tips for Using Social Media to Help Your Career, Not Hurt It. Social media can also be a powerful tool for your professional life. You can use it to build your personal brand, grow your network, establish yourself as an expert in your field, or give prospective employers a glimpse into your personality.

It can also be full of pitfalls. More employers and recruiters now regularly check candidates’ social media profiles before hiring them, and screenshots of status updates and tweets mean your electronic words can live forever, even if you delete them later.

And it’s not just your own posts—your activity, including those stealth “likes,” can come back to haunt you, too. “One thing people are often surprised to learn is that an employer can not only see their LinkedIn profile but also see every post they’ve liked, commented on, or shared, in addition to any posts they’re sharing to their feed,” says Michelle Merritt, executive partner at Merrfeld Career Management. “We remind clients to be cautious in what they react to.”

These crucial dos and don’ts will help you navigate the social media maze.

1. Do Be Respectful

Avoid attacking others, and use your best judgment about your own posts. Could they be viewed in a negative manner? Would you shout what you’ve just typed into a crowd? Think before you post, and of course, steer clear of profanity. “Once you’re an adult, that’s not cool,” says Jason Patel, founder of Transizion, a college- and career prep company. “It means you can’t control yourself.”

2. Don’t Post About Politics or Religion

Unless you work in politics, it’s best not to take any sort of controversial stance on public social media, especially if you’re applying for a job in a sensitive position where you need to protect data, protect client information, or be someone that others go to for advice. “If someone’s trying to hire you for a job, don’t let them think all your advice is going to be biased from the get-go,” Patel says.

3. Do Have a Presence on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an important tool for networking and professional brand building, so you should have a complete profile there—with a professional headshot. (Please, no selfies.) “It’s really your electronic resume now, and a lot of the same rules apply,” says Susan Hosage, senior consultant and executive coach with OneSource HR Solutions. “Make sure the content is grammatically correct and spelled correctly, and that all the jobs and titles and dates are accurate.”

4. Don’t Overshare Personal Information

You don’t need to post everything that happens to you. “I have a friend who posts every time she’s in the ER,” Hosage says. “You don’t want to say that discrimination exists out there, but discrimination exists. If somebody does a search and they see something that isn’t appealing to them, it could affect a hiring decision.” Before you share, consider: What would a potential employer think if they read this?

5. Do Learn to Love Your Privacy Settings

We know what you’re thinking: How are you supposed to have any fun online if you can’t be yourself? It’s fine to be a little looser on Facebook or Instagram—if you keep those profiles private. Either lock down your privacy settings (you can also change your profile name to a nickname or first-plus-middle for extra anonymity) or keep your posts aboveboard.

6. Don’t Trash Talk Your Employer

“We’ve seen this occur on multiple occasions where an offer letter is rescinded due to a candidate’s bad-mouthing of a current or former employer on social media,” says Robert Moses, founder of The Corporate Con/noisseur. Doing so makes you look unprofessional and negative—qualities most hiring managers aren’t eager to add to their teams.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you if you have any questions about using social media to boost your personal brand. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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4 Phrases Your Boss Wants to Hear

Fact: At some point, every one of us has (or had) a boss.

We wish they had all the answers. It would be ideal if on every rung in the ladder, we could look to our bosses to actually lead us, guide us, and be our mentors.

But managers don’t know everything, and more often than not, they need our help, too. Unfortunately, only the best leaders actually ask for it.

But why wait to be asked? Here are four tiny sentences that every boss is secretly dying to hear you say, and that’ll help you manage up and make both you and your manager shine.

1. “I’ve Got This”

Maybe your manager has a few bosses of her own who have just joined on. These new players are demanding, and she may not know how to manage them and their requests. Projects she used to oversee—like the ones you work on—may not be her top priority right now, nor might she be the best person to guide you. So, what do you do? Easy. You tell her “I’ve got this.”

Why it Matters

A great boss knows that to succeed, she has to set priorities—which means she has to hand them off to someone else. Letting her know you will own this might give her the confidence she needs to let you run with it. And then you have an opportunity to flash your best work.

2. “It’s My Responsibility”

Too often people are either not held accountable or refuse to be, pointing the finger elsewhere. Usually, there’s a fear of retaliation if we make a mistake or if we shine a light on what went wrong. (Note: If that’s the culture you’re in, you might want to ask yourself if it’s where you really want to be.) But all things considered, taking responsibility for something you did or raising your hand when you see something that could be potentially damaging to your company is what leaders do.

Why it Matters

At the end of the day, stepping up to own our mistakes shows great character and courage. It’s what every great boss should praise (and not punish) in a direct report.

3. “I Disagree Because…”

Your boss may not always like or agree with what you have to say, but he’s far better off with a team that’s unafraid to speak up, instead of a bunch of “yes” men and women. You were hired for your judgment and counsel. Be respectful but be sure to speak your mind when it serves the company and its goals. True leaders will heed what you say and respect you back.

Why it Matters

Confident leaders won’t make you feel as if you’re walking on eggshells when the truth may hurt; rather, they’ll seek out direct reports they know will always give it to them straight.

4. “Can I Help?”

Why not periodically throw them a life preserver? Asking if you can help is an open-ended invitation to your boss, letting her know you’ve got her back and recognize that her workload is split between delivering to her higher-ups and managing you.

Why it Matters

“Can I help?” is another way of asking “Are you OK?” Letting her know she’s not alone will mean more to her than she may let on and will help you earn her trust as someone she can count on in times of need.

Sometimes, people think it’s “safest” to keep their heads down and say nothing. But, if you want to make a difference where you work, and you believe that what you have to offer can do that, then don’t hesitate to give these phrases a try.
Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you come up with more phrases your boss wants to hear. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Questions to Ask if You Want to Win Over Your New Boss

Starting a new job is all about making a good first impression. You have this amazing opportunity to start over—to build strong relationships and set your new career in the right direction—so don’t just enter your new office without a game plan or the same old routine you did before.

This means asking a lot of questions as soon as you get started. You may worry about being annoying, but asking questions is actually a great way to quickly understand the inner workings of your new company and also get on your boss’s’ good side.

While there are no bad questions, there are some that will boost your reputation better than others. For example, here are four that are worth asking in the first few days and weeks if you want to get ahead.

1. “How Are You Doing?”

First off, this shouldn’t be a one-time question. In fact, you should be asking this regularly of your new boss, if not daily. (And hopefully they’re asking the same of you.)

Why? Your boss is probably very busy, very stressed, or in some instances feels ignored or underappreciated, so making them feel noticed is an instant plus for you. And, it gives them a chance to open up. This could lead to more transparency, even more opportunity for you to get involved, and it’s the number one strategy for managing up.

We are aware that not every boss is going to take this kind of question and immediately become your new best friend. But at the very least it’s a nice thing to ask and that will help you build rapport.

2. “What Can I Take Off Your Plate?”

Their answer might be nothing (you’re new to the job, so it’s possible they’ll let you know when they’re ready to hand stuff off to you.) Or maybe they’re currently working on something that could use an extra set of hands. By asking rather than waiting for them, you make it easier for them to delegate—and shine a spotlight on your work ethic. Even when you aren’t asking this question directly, you need to be asking yourself this question. If this is top of mind when it comes to your boss, not only is this a leadership perspective, but you can be sure you’re headed in the right direction.

3. “Who Should I Meet with in My First Week/Month?”

Networking in a new job is crucial. You should be meeting with not just your new teammates, but other teams and executives (if possible) to get a better sense of your company’s goals and initiatives and how they tie back to your role.

Getting your boss’s insight on who you should interact with shows you respect their opinion but also are proactive about collaborating.

4. “What Are Your Goals for Me in the Next Month/Year?”

Thinking long-term shows, you’re driven and ready to hit the ground running from day one.

It’s possible your boss doesn’t know yet, or maybe their sole aim is to get you onboarded. In that case, turn it on them: “What are your goals for the next several months?” If nothing else, you can set your own goals and actions by figuring out how you can contribute to theirs.

Looking for more ways to impress your boss? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Out-of-Office Templates for the Holidays That You Can Copy and Paste Now

You’ve been busy planning out your tasks, tying up loose ends, and working ahead to ensure you can actually disconnect, recharge, and relax over your holiday break.

When you’ve finally powered your way through that seemingly endless to-do list and are ready to check out of work mode once and for all, there’s one final thing you need to take care of: setting your out-of-office response. 

But, what exactly should you say in that automated message of yours?

Whether you’re looking for something strait-laced and formal or over-the-top festive, here are six different holiday out of office messages you can use that are perfectly suited to you and your company.

For the Person Who Works in a Traditional Office

Hello,

Thank you for your email, I’m currently out of the office until [date].

I’ll reply to your message promptly when I return. But, if you require immediate assistance, please send an email to [Contact Name] at [contact email] in my absence.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season,

[Your Name]

For the Person Who Wants to Keep it Friendly, But Professional

Hello,

Thank you for your email. I’m currently out of the office until [date] to celebrate the holiday with my loved ones—without my phone in front of my face.

I’ll be sure to reply to your message when I wade through my inbox upon my return. If your message is time-sensitive, please send an email to [Contact Name] at [contact email].

Sending wishes for a happy holiday season,

[Your Name]

For the Person Who Keeps Things Festive

Season’s greetings!

It’s my favorite time of year, which means I’m currently out of the office chugging mugs of cocoa, stuffing my face with cookies, and attempting to fulfill my life-long goal of memorizing every single line of [your favorite holiday movie.]

I’ll be back in front of my computer on [date] and will respond to your message at that time. If you need immediate assistance, please send an email to [Contact Name] at [contact email] so that the other elves in this workshop can help you out.

Happy ho-ho-holidays!

[Your Name]

For the Person Who Will Be Checking Emails

Hello,

I’m out of the office until [date].

However, I will be taking periodic breaks from binge-watching everything I’ve missed to check my email [once per day/every evening/occasionally] while I’m away.

If this matter isn’t time-sensitive, rest assured that I’ll respond when I’m back in the office. But, if this is an urgent request, please resend any messages that require my immediate attention with a subject line of “URGENT: [Original Subject]”.

All the best,

[Your Name]

Whether you prefer to stick with something simple or have a little fun with your holiday out-of-office message, it’s important that you always make sure to at least include the basics: your return date and an alternative contact people can reach out to for urgent matters. Then, all that’s left to do is turn it on before you abandon your desk.


Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you if you have any questions about potential out-of-office emails or big career changes. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Tips for Work Travel

Below are the Ignite Your Potential coaches pointers for making “the bag drag” a bit easier. Know that you can never guarantee a “restful” journey, but these tips will help you feel more polished when you get there.

Dress

To state the obvious, get a few no-brainers, no-wrinkle, all-purpose work outfits down cold, so you don’t have to think about what to pack (especially for relatively short trips). Invest in a large silk scarf or cashmere wrap. It’ll serve as a travel blanket first and foremost, but make sure it’s also polished enough to function as a compact layer for meetings. (It’s impossible to escape the tyranny of male-biased air conditioning, no matter your destination.)

Pack

Bring a carry-on only, ever. End of discussion. (And even if you have a bag that fits the carry-on dimensions, be sure to check weight limits on international flights. Another tip is to bring an extra tote bag in there, in case there’s space to cram your nonessentials in the overhead bin at the last minute (and give yourself some extra leg-room). Also, make sure that the bag at your feet stands up on some sort of base; you don’t want a shapeless laptop bag dumping your belongings all over the aisle.

Self-Care

Pack a sheet mask or two for your final destination to help restore moisture at night. Hey, it’s a spa trip! Bonus: Put some rose water in a travel-sized spray bottle and use it to freshen up your face and/or underarms after a flight or long day.

To (help) avoid getting sick, take Emergen-C before and immediately after a flight. And—this is where it gets a little socially awkward—always clean the tray table, arms, and entertainment screen of your seat with a travel-friendly pack of disinfecting wipes.

Need more tips on how to successfully travel for work? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Why You Need a Professional Headshot

Many professionals assume a headshot is something you upload to your LinkedIn profile and then never touch again. That assumption is wrong! 

Your headshot will come in handy throughout your career. It will grace the “About Us” page on your company’s website, be sent to new coworkers so people can easily recognize you, and be asked for by event organizers to advertise your speaking engagements.

Maybe you’re thinking: Speaking engagements? Please, I am never going to need a professional headshot in my career. 

If so, you need a reframe. Our Ignite Your Potential career coaches can point out countless blurry or inappropriate LinkedIn profile pictures (or no photo at all) that affect whether or not people reach out and collaborate. 

A headshot is useful for many professional situations:

  • Your Email Account
  • Your Email Signature
  • Your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram 
  • Your Website or Portfolio
  • Your Posts or Bylines
  • Your Company Bio

Convinced? Great, now it’s time to take one. And the good news is, it’s really easy.

Step 1: Pick out a shirt that you feel confident in (Tip: Avoid busy patterns or anything you would not wear to Grandma’s Sunday dinner).

Step 2: Find a plain, but ideally interesting backdrop (Tip: Avoid posing in front of windows or busy backgrounds unless you’re a lighting and photography editing pro.)

Step 3: If you’re a woman, you might consider makeup. Even if you don’t usually wear it. Without it you may look a little faded out in a photo. Time to smile and take the photo.

Step 4: Save it and use it for everything.

Whether a friend takes the shot or you hire a professional photographer—it is up to you. But whatever you do, make sure you have one handy—and update it every couple of years. It can costs you very little to make and will save you from having to scrounge through old Facebook albums and crop an adult beverage out of your hand.

Need more tips when it comes to professional headshots? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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15 Better Get-to-Know-You Questions for Your Co-Workers

Maybe you’re brand new on your team, or maybe, you’ve been around for a while, but you really don’t know all that much about the people you work with. Either way, it’s time to pull out some get-to-know-you questions. First, because it’s more fun to work with people you feel bonded to, but second, it’s an excellent strategy to be connected to the people who see your work closely. You will all end up being part of a career network that will last your entire career. In other words, connecting with the people around you is both a better way to enjoy your work and also a more sophisticated career strategy. Throw a couple of these prompts out and get ready to bond with your colleagues on a whole new level.

Strictly Business

1.What do you do at [Company] and when and where can we find synergy?

2.What’s a professional skill you’re currently working on?

3. What’s your go-to productivity trick?

4. Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?

5. What was your first job?

A Little More Personal

6. If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something what would it be?

7. If you could write a book about your life, what would the title be and why?

8. How do you turn things around when you’re having a bad day?

9. What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

10. What’s something you’ve done, but will never do again?

Just for Fun

11. Are you a dog person or a cat person (or neither)?

12. Do you have a hidden talent? What is it?

13. If you could choose a name for yourself, what would it be?

14. If you could only eat one item for every meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

15. If you could only have three apps on your smartphone, which would you pick?

It can be tough to think of questions that go beyond, “What did you do this weekend?” or “It’s a little cold in here today, isn’t it?” Bookmark this list to foster a reputation as the co-worker who can always get an awesome conversation started.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you create a better team environment. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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What to Do When You Hate Your Boss but Love Your Job

What do you do when you hate your boss but love your job? It’s not an easy situation to navigate—but what’s the alternative? Quitting and taking a gamble that everything else will line up?

Yes, having a boss you hate is a big reason that people start job searching, but it’s not the only way to handle the problem. If getting a new gig isn’t something you want to consider, then follow our Ignite Your Potential coaches’ tips on how to deal with the imperfect scenario: great job, nightmare boss.

1. Take a Good Look

Figure out exactly what it is about your boss that’s problematic and determine if there’s anything you can change or address. If there’s nothing (and that’s possible), maybe you could adjust the way you react to her behavior so you don’t escalate situations. For example, if she’s constantly emailing you at odd hours, expecting immediate responses, it’s up to you to gently set guidelines for your response rate—rather than responding snappily.

2. Remind Yourself

Why You Love Your JobMake a list of all of the things about your position that you dig. Write down everything from unlimited coffee to being able to work closely with the talented website developer. Nothing’s too small for this list! And if you are really, sincerely passionate about your position, this should be the easy part.Once you have your list, you can go on doing your work and rejoice in the fact that there is so much that you appreciate and value. Does it make sense to leave all that behind because of a bad boss?

3. Get Some Support

If you think your boss may be a narcissist or even if it’s not quite that bad but you could use some advice fordealing with someone very difficult, Nina Brown has the book for you, “Working With the Self-Absorbed: How to Handle Narcissistic Personalities on the Job.”

4. Wait it Out

If you’ve examined the situation thoroughly and concluded that there’s nothing wrong with anything you’re doing and your boss is, indeed, a really awful person, trust that you’re not the only one who sees it. No matter how much praise is bestowed on them now, it’s probable that, at some point in the future, someone else will take stock of what’s happening, and eventually they will be talked to.

But honestly, if the love-my-job-hate-my-boss situation doesn’t improve over time, you might have to move on. You deserve to work with people who bring out the best in you—so don’t let a great job keep you from working with an awesome boss. Somewhere out there is a position that will provide you with awesome responsibilities and a manager you’ll love.

Do you need more advice on how to deal with a nightmare boss? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you figure it out. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.