The Right Career Fit: The Path to Closing the Skills Gap

This article is part one of two in a series introducing a new feature of the Highlands Career Exploration report, coming March 2020.

There is a skills gap in the American workforce. Jobs are available and recruiters are looking for talent, but increasingly they are not finding it within the ranks of new graduates from U.S. institutions. Alarmingly, over 90% of CEOs see the skills gap, a result of our nation’s neglect of effective career development, as a serious problem.

“While our nation has invested hundreds of billions of dollars in improving education, we have devoted relatively few resources to providing quality career development: the process that helps individuals establish career and life goals and then develop the skills needed to pursue personalized career pathways…” Coalition for Career Development, Career Readiness for All (Spring 2019).

This growing crisis can no longer be ignored. Too many young people have a degree but no sense of direction and no notion about the type of work for which they are best suited. Even those who stick it out and complete a higher education degree are floundering. They need direction and a concrete career path in order to bridge the gap between education and career readiness.

Finding the right career fit through self-exploration and then mapping out the best pathway to that career has not been emphasized enough in U.S. education, and now it’s time to address the gap.

In response to the crisis, the Coalition for Career Development held a summit in September of 2018 involving some 200 leaders from education, business, government, and philanthropy. Their resulting white paper, Career Readiness for All, proposes a way to address the crisis. Their solution is focused on making career readiness the first priority of American education. The white paper elaborates a process that would help individuals establish career and life goals and to then develop the skills needed to pursue personalized career pathways. 

The Coalition articulates Five Pillars as part of its proposed solutions framework, one of which is “Providing Professional Career Advising.” They argue that professional career advising is necessary in order to ensure that schools and post-secondary institutions make career development a central priority.

The importance of career advising is also being recognized by the government. Recent legislation proposed through the Counseling for Career Choice Act would provide grants to states to implement statewide career counseling to better prepare students for educational and career opportunities. “Empowering students with the tools to succeed starts with making well informed decisions,” said Congressman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA)

Highlands Certified Consultants are Equipped to Address the Skills Gap

The Highlands Company stands poised and ready to help support this challenge. The proprietary Highlands Ability Battery (HAB) provides a rock solid starting place for students to begin the career exploration process by discovering their natural abilities (the things they naturally do well). The HAB provides an objective and scientific report that details actionable guidance. 

Highlands Certified Consultants (HCCs) have extensive training on interpreting the results of the HAB and showing clients how to work to their strengths. The feedback consultation given by an HCC trained to counsel students to understand the work roles in which they would excel is the differentiator and one of the reasons the HAB has lasting effects. (To read more about the importance of feedback following an assessment, as well as a look at the content included with the HAB, click here.) The results of the HAB are not simply meant to be read and filed away; rather, they serve as a blueprint and reference guide that is relevant throughout a person’s life. 

Coming in March 2020, the Highlands Career Exploration report will provide even greater career alignment and direction in matching clients with best-fit careers. In addition to career recommendations based on a person’s unique pattern of abilities, Highlands will release a new career matching tool developed in partnership with a team of scientists from HumRRO, the organization that refines the Occupational Network known as the O*NET. Stay tuned for more details regarding this exciting development. 

There doesn’t have to be a gap for our students between receiving an education and being ready for a skilled career. With access to knowledgeable career counselors and cutting edge tools that match a person’s natural abilities with specific careers, students can enter the workforce with confidence and purpose. 

Job Burnout is a Real Thing!

  • Do you dread going into work in the morning?
  • Do you sit in your car in your workplace parking lot, waiting until the last moment before heading into work?
  • Maybe you can’t wait to be back in your car, on your way home, or heading to do something you feel passionate about?

If you said ‘yes’ to any of these, you may have job burnout. If so, you are not alone; Americans are working longer and harder than ever before, so it’s no wonder burnout is so common.

What is burnout?

  • Job burnout is a ‘real’ thing – it’s classified as a “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
  • Previously defined as a “state of vital exhaustion,” the World Health Organization reclassified it in May, 2019, in the 11th revision of its International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11).

Wondering if you may have job burnout? Here are 4 signs:

  1. You’re not excited about or engaged in work anymore

2.     You’ve stopped putting in the effort (you ‘don’t care’)

3.     Your performance is suffering

4.     You’re totally exhausted from work

What can you do about your job burnout? 

Until recently, the solution was to just ‘suck it up’.  However, with a more accurate understanding of what job burnout is, the actions below can make a difference between feeling excited about going to work or dreading it.

  • Career coaching: Meet with a career coach who can guide you in coping strategies to deal with your current situation. She can also help you discover your strengths, along with work options that won’t cause you job burnout.
  • Manage workplace stress: There are many techniques you can learn to manage your workplace stress. One technique is to write your stress triggers in a journal, along with your negative thoughts and feelings. This can help you express your true emotions in a non-judgmental way, which can also help you reduce stress and clear your mind.

Now that it’s 2020, isn’t it time to make the changes you need to be happier in your career?

Marilyn will guide you to discover your strengths and help you identify a job that suits the ‘real’ you.


Three Simple Steps To Beating Procrastination

There is no doubt that procrastination is a shallow grave in which life-changing opportunities are buried. Procrastination is the lack of taking action. We often prefer to do something else rather than the tasks that lead to a productive outcome. In simple terms, procrastination is a pause in the process that leads to success.

It’s the act of ignoring critical tasks without a concrete or genuine reason. There is always a negative consequence for every task you procrastinate on. One of the major backlashes of procrastination is poor productivity.

Procrastination is a form of stress release. If we are stressed about money, parenthood, health or anything else, we walk around carrying all of these burdens. Procrastination is a mental break from worrying. Usually, this is when we start browsing our social media, checking emails, watching funny videos or anything else that gives us momentary relief.

How Do I Overcome Procrastination?

There are so many ways to overcome procrastination. The following are some tips that can help you on your journey:

Recognize That You Are Procrastinating

The first approach toward eliminating procrastination is to be aware and recognize that you indulge in procrastination. Do you prioritize tasks in the order of preference rather than importance? Maybe you spend more time being busy, but not productive. If you frequently postpone jobs or tasks without a genuine reason, you are procrastinating.

You must recognize this fact before attempting to eliminate procrastination. The most viable way to overcome procrastination in life is to acknowledge it and make a steady effort in overcoming it. This can be attained by prioritizing your daily goals with success-producing activities.

Identify Why You Procrastinate

You must understand and study why you procrastinate. Once you are able to identify the reason why you procrastinate, resolving it becomes quite easy. Here are a few reasons why most people procrastinate:

• Fear: “What if I fail?”

• Frustration: “I have no idea what to do.”

• Perfectionism: “What if I make a mistake?”

• Lack of motivation: “I don’t have the energy to tackle this project.”

Make Use Of Anti-Procrastination Methods

After you have recognized the fact that you procrastinate and identified the reasons why, you can adopt these anti-procrastination methods:

• Forgive yourself from previous procrastination, and promise never to go back.

• Prioritize tasks, and set a schedule to get them done. Each day, set a timer and have “power hours.” Power hours are uninterrupted hours in the day when you work solely on your goal with no distractions.

• Incorporate the “10 Before 10” method. Get the 10 most important things done before 10:00 am.

• Stop overthinking, and just start before you’re ready.

Overcoming procrastination isn’t an overnight thing. You must practice daily and start recognizing your triggers and language that cause you to pause. Overcoming procrastination requires utilizing the new tools that you have equipped yourself with. Follow these tips, and you will find yourself checking things off your to-do list and feeling more successful at the end of each day.

The original article is here and was written by Pasha Carter.

Create Your New Start for 2020: Clarify Your Personal Vision

2020 is here! As you dive into the new year, take time to reflect on 2019 and set your intentions for 2020.

  • No, not necessarily as a resolution, who keeps those anyway?!  But rather, dedicate time to clarify and focus on your intentions for 2020.
  • One of the best ways to do this is with your personal vision statement.

A personal vision statement will help you if:

  1. You’re unsatisfied with your current life/work balance but can’t pinpoint why
  2. You’re overwhelmed with where to begin when you think about the future
  3. You’ve ‘checked all the boxes’ (i.e.; marriage, kids, degree, job) and still feel something is missing
  4. You feel that your life lacks meaning, purpose or direction

Your personal vision conveys how you commit to living your life

  • It will guide you to get in touch with what is meaningful to you – what you truly care about.
  • It influences all areas of your life, including family, work, physical well-being, leisure, social and intimate relationships, community connections, and spirituality
  • Your clear personal vision integrates your abilities, interests, personality, values, goals, skills, experience, family of origin, and stage of adult development

When you take the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB), participate in the Personal Vision program, and design clear personal vision statement, you can:

  • Have a guide for your important life decisions
  • Become meaning-driven and inner-directed (rather than being influenced by superfluous external factors)
  • Think about your life in the long-term
  • Maintain balance in your life
  • Apply clarity from all areas of your life to your career decision-making

This year, give yourself the gift of time – time to explore what it is you want out of your life. Then work with Marilyn to set actionable goals to achieve your ideal lifestyle. Marilyn will work collaboratively with you, at your own pace.


Communication Strategies – Are Your Work Boundaries Intact?  


  • Many of us spend the majority of our days at work. Often, work issues can bleed into our home life.
  • You’ve probably heard the phrase – ‘work-life balance’ – but how do you create a healthy balance for your personal and work life, when you have challenges at work?


  • Creating boundaries around your workplace is critical for a healthy work life and, therefore, also a healthy personal life. After all, they are intertwined!
  • When you respect your own personal boundaries, others typically will, as well. Although, it may take a while for others to be “trained” to recognize your new boundaries, overall it will be well worth it!
  • And having healthy boundaries also helps others to become more self-reliant, which promotes their self growth.


Here are 4 tips to create (and keep!) healthy boundaries:


  1. Communicate clearly. Set boundaries in your work relationships. Lay out your limits clearly.
  • For instance, if you don’t want your colleagues and clients to contact you after hours, tell them (nicely 🙂 the hours you will be available for work-related conversations. **
  • Then, make sure you don’t answer calls or texts, or send texts or emails outside of hours so others know you are serious.
  • If you’re working on a project and can’t be interrupted, place your phone on ‘do not disturb’, close your office door, or put a friendly ‘do not disturb’ sign on your desk.

Generally, clear communication can improve your work-life balance, and decrease stress at work and in your personal life.

  1. Learn about various communication styles – including your own: There are numerous ways people give and receive communication – some speak slowly, some speak quickly, some interrupt, some pause often, and some go off on tangents, which can partly be due to being distracted and losing track of the conversation focus.
  • Understanding your own communication style can help you recognize other people’s communication style.
  • Heightened understanding of communication styles can make you a more powerful and influential communicator. It can also help you better diffuse conflict and improve relationships, both at work and in your personal life.

You can identify your own communication style, gain insight about others, and enhance your communication effectiveness by taking the Myers-Briggs assessment.

  1. Set boundaries at home: Being ‘present’ while at home can be challenging but it’s very important to ‘keep work at work’ as much as possible when you’re at home.
  • One approach that can help you tune in more at home is to check email before dinner, and then put away your devices so you can spend the rest of the evening with your family or friends.
  • Remember, work will always be there!
  1. ADD/ADHD: ADD (attention deficit disorder/ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) can make achieving work-life balance even more challenging when you feel like life is a struggle.
  • For employees with ADHD and their spouses, who often carry a larger portion of work at home, work-life balance may seem elusive. Once you understand the impact of your ADHD you can take positive action steps to improve your work-life balance.


  • If you or someone you know struggles with work/life balance including those with ADD or ADHD and may need some guidance with the direction of their life, both personal and professional, contact Marilyn. Marilyn will work collaboratively with you, at your own pace.


**Please note in some organizations, the expectation is to be available practically 24/7. If implementing the suggestions in this blog can jeopardize your job, we’re not suggesting you do so.  However, if being available to communicate 24/7 is creating intolerable stress, you may want to explore other jobs/careers where this expectation is not present.



What Is the Next Step in Your Career?

  • Are you stuck in a job that isn’t you? Ready for a career change, but have no idea where to start?  Or maybe you know what you’re looking for, but need a plan to get there?


  • If one of these 5 challenges (or others) is creating a bottleneck, keep reading!
  1. Paralyzing indecision about whether to change your job, employer, or career.
  2. Asking for a raise.
  3. Applying for a promotion.
  4. Moving to a different department.
  5. Taking on new projects or responsibilities.


  • Preparation is key when you’re at a career crossroad.
  • Research and preparation create a space for a smooth start and provide logical steps for achieving your career change or advancement.
  • When you prepare with market-driven strategies – before you make any moves – you will have built a strong foundation for a greater chance of succeeding at your career goal.


  • 6 points to consider when planning your next career move.
  1. Be clear about what you want in your career. Your ultimate goal will dictate your plan.
  2. Research competencies needed to take the next step. Identify any gaps you may have, and grow your skillset to match what is necessary for the new role.
  3. Make yourself the most eligible candidate for what you’ve determined is your next career step. Take a class, take on a new project to gain needed experience or volunteer.
  4. Network, network, network. Whether it’s with your current employer or other employers, connections can help you become the “known” candidate.
  5. Be confident! Sometimes this is easier said than done, but it is a very important piece of the puzzle. After all, if you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect others to be confident about you?
  6. Brand yourself to match your targeted job. Branding includes your resume, LinkedIn profile, and the message you convey when engaging with influencers.

Whether you know the change you want to make and just need a plan to get there – or you are stuck in confusion about your career direction, Marilyn can help you with career coaching and life coaching for all phases of the process – including building your confidence!

Contact Marilyn to schedule your 10-minute complimentary introductory phone chat or your 45-minute consultation at or (847) 322-8292.




The Kids Are Back in School – Now What? 

Are You at a Crossroads in Your Life?

  • Did you just send your kids back to school? Maybe you sent an older child to college for the first time. Or maybe you have a younger child who just started preschool or kindergarten.
  • Whatever your situation, it can be difficult transitioning to a new routine – but it can also be an opportunity to reflect on what YOU want to do. 
  • Navigating this transition can feel both scary and exciting. 
    • Perhaps you’re someone who knows exactly how you want to spend your time and what you want to do. 
    • But many people get overwhelmed with having more time on their hands and no idea what to do with it. 
    • Do you go back to work? If so, what can you do? Should you volunteer? Take up a new hobby? 
  • When trying to decide, it’s important to take these 3 points into consideration:

What do I have time for? 

    • Between family, friends and regular obligations, what is the realistic amount of time I can spend on a hobby, volunteering, or working?

Do I need to be earning income?

    • Depending on your household income, your lifestyle, and your family priorities, a career move could be something to explore.

What is my passion? 

    • Whether you spend your time learning a new skill, volunteering, or working, you have to know what you’re passionate about.
  • Time is precious and it seems to go more quickly the older we get. 
  • Now is the time to find out what’s important to you and identify an avocation or career that would be a good fit, so you can spend your time doing something that’s satisfying and fulfilling. 
  • It’s not easy figuring this out, but Marilyn can help. She will work with you, at your pace, to find a direction that fits your life goals and needs, as well as your values, interests, abilities, skills, and personality style. 


Contact Marilyn for your 10-minute introductory phone chat, or 45-minute consultation at or (847) 322-8292.


Do You Have a Personal Vision Statement?

Do You Have a Personal Vision Statement?

Are you living your life in the way you want?  Does your lifestyle reflect your values and purpose?

If you feel dissatisfied in your life or have a lack of connection or purpose, a Personal Vision Statement can help redirect your life to connect with what is truly important to you.

Why create your Personal Vision Statement?

With your Personal Vision Statement:

  • You are likely to be more satisfied and productive, and live your life with more meaning and purpose. 
  • You will use your personal vision to make decisions that encompass your internal purpose and values. These decisions will be based on long-term goals and are likely to be more viable.


Without your Personal Vision Statement:

  • You will tend to make reactive decisions that are not based on meaningful personal values.  
  • These decisions are more likely to result in short-term fixes, rather than comprehensive long-term, viable solutions.


4 steps to create your Personal Vision Statement:

Step 1:  Understand the Whole Person Model components of your skills, interests, values, personality style, life goals, family influences, and abilities.

Step 2:  Complete the Highlands Ability Battery to assess your natural abilities and personal style; complete assessments to assess other Whole Personal Model factors.

Step 3:  Meet with your Highlands Certified Consultant who will interpret your report results and coach you in clarifying what you are naturally good at and enjoy.

Step 4:  Create your Personal Vision Statement with the Personal Vision Don’t Waste Your Talent (DWYT) coaching program.


Marilyn is a Certified Personal Vision Coach and a Certified Affiliate for the Highland’s Ability Battery.  Ask her about the Personal Vision Coaching Program. She can coach you through the Highland’s Whole Person 4-step Method. Schedule a complimentary 10-minute introductory meeting or your full 45-minute consultation.  

Contact Marilyn at


Stay at Home Dads – What’s Next?

Why are more dads increasingly becoming the “stay-at-home parent?”


  • An increasing number of men are leaving the workplace to become stay at home dads.
  • Why this shift, when, traditionally, women have been the stay-at-home parent? 
  • More women are increasingly taking on high-powered, high-paying jobs and are committed to their career advancement. This can mean significant hours spent working.
  • When women in high-level positions are transferred, often their spouses have difficulty finding a job in the new location.
  • If a child has special needs and mom makes more money, dad will often leave a job to care for the child.


Are you a stay-at-home dad?  Here are 4 benefits:


  • You get to build a closer bond with your children. This was not as common in the past, when moms typically spent more time with the kids, while dads were away working.
  • It may be hard to believe – but until recently, the bond between fathers and children was undervalued. In reality, the relationship between you and your kids is hugely beneficial and essential to their development.
  • If you have a daughter, seeing you do “housework” sends the message that household tasks are not just “women’s work” and can encourage her to set ambitious career goals.
  • Being closely involved in your children’s development provides a positive model, for your children, of co-parenting.


What’s next for stay-at-home dads….when kids enter high school?


  • Once the kids are more independent, busy with friends and activities, and need you less – you can feel a loss of purpose. 
  • You may look for home repair projects to stay productive but can still find yourself in a funk.
  • It’s possible you might even start doubting your image, identity, or self-esteem.


Have you thought about going back to work? If so, you may have questions:


  • What am I qualified to do? What am I good at? 
  • What’s it like looking for a job now? Where do I start?
  • I didn’t like what I did before, so how can I ensure this work experience is better?


If you want answers to these questions and others, contact Marilyn Fettner, LCPC, NCC, CCC, Certified PV Coach. She’s worked with numerous back-to-work parents and can help you find your direction and build confidence. Contact Marilyn for your 10-minute introductory phone chat, or 45-minute consultation. 847-831-0079.

Thinking About a Career Change? Here are 5 Tips for a Smooth Start!

Are you at a turning point in your career? Do you hate your job, but are you too scared or confused to make a change?

By clarifying your strengths and exploring careers in demand that need your strengths, it’s likely you can identify career options to find something you enjoy. Here are some tips to make that happen:

1. Identify what you want, what you fit, and what are your options.

  • To figure out what you want, it can be helpful to first identify what you DON’T like about your current or past jobs.  
    • Write a list of what you want and don’t want. On your want list, be sure to include desired earnings, schedule/lifestyle, commuting time, work style, work environment/culture, and other make-or-break factors.
  • Clarify your key strengths to identify work tasks and roles that you fit – include categories, such as, your interests, favorite skills, natural abilities, values, and personality attributes.
    • Create a prioritized list of your strengths in each category.
  • What kind of industry and professional experience do you have? Conduct research to identify areas of your experience that are transferable to other professions and industries.
    • Further explore these professions and industries to select those that best fit your list of what you want. Use these to create your list of career change options.

2. Grow your network.

  • Identify people currently working in professions and/or industries in which you are interested, who could be resources for information interviews.
    • Reach out to your current network of contacts, and search LinkedIn to develop new contacts to find potential resources.
  • Prepare for information interviews by learning something about your resource and select questions to ask about the profession/industry, such as, ‘what are the most important qualifications to enter this field?’
    • Additionally, prepare for questions your contact may ask you, including, ‘Tell me about yourself.’  
  • Attend networking events related to your careers of interest. These will offer you the opportunity to make new contacts in your career interest areas and learn more about the careers.
    • When you’re ready to make the change, having these new connections can be helpful in getting interviews and guiding you toward job opportunities.

3. Sharpen your skillset.

  • Are you a little rusty on some skills, or are there new skills to learn, which would be helpful in making your change?
    • Take a course to brush up on those skills. This will give you an added bonus for your resume and a competitive edge in the job market.

4. Refine your resume and cover letter.

  • Has it been a while since you’ve taken a look at your resume?
    • Review current resume templates – update yours accordingly and ensure it fits the jobs to which you’re applying. Also – create a cover letter template so it’s faster to tailor cover letters to fit the specific skills/experience for each job.

5. Prepare for interviews.

  • If it’s been a while since you’ve interviewed, do some practice ‘q & a’ while speaking aloud. It’s essential to ‘hear’ yourself, in order to increase your comfort level and articulation.
    • This can make a big difference to help you feel more confident when you walk into that interview, especially if it’s been a few years since your last one.


  • Are you looking for help, guidance, and support in exploring and/or making a career change, but unsure where to start?  Marilyn would love to help. To schedule a complimentary 10-minute introductory meeting or your full 45-minute consultation please email Marilyn at: or call (847) 322-8292.