About this Blog

Barbara Babkirk is a Master Career Counselor and founder of Heart At Work Associates, a career counseling and outplacement firm in Portland.

With a focused and intuitive approach, Barbara makes a difference in people’s lives by helping them design a new life chapter. She has a successful record guiding career transitions for professionals ranging from executives and artists to attorneys and entrepreneurs.

An expert in her field, Barbara is a public speaker on work-related topics writes a solutions-oriented column about work for the Portland Sunday Telegram.


Scott Woodard is a career coach with Heart At Work Associates, a career counseling and outplacement business in Portland, Maine.

Scott works with clients to identify and articulate their value and their personal brand. He helps clients develop clear, concise and crisp messaging to convey their particular difference, their achievements and their approach.

Scott coaches clients to market their brand through social media platforms, especially LinkedIn. He offers monthly workshops on how to make the most of LinkedIn for businesses or job seekers.

Previous entries

Tuesday April 08, 2014 | 10:40 AM

Stress is part of life, especially these days. You are not alone if you have too much to do, competing demands, relationship conflicts and financial worries that occupy your thoughts or keep you up at night.

When you’re dealing with several issues at the same time, you can easily feel overwhelmed. At worst, you might feel like you’re going through the motions of your life and not in control of any of it.

At that point, stress is more than a frustration or an annoyance—it can be a danger to your health and well-being.  With all of the available articles and published research on that topic, you probably already knew that. Yet, you may feel helpless to change because you are caught up in a non-stop cycle of activity, worry and fear.

Monday March 24, 2014 | 05:00 AM

Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha, in their book The Startup of You, speak to the concept of your career in permanent beta. Their idea is that change is so rapid and constant that it makes long term career planning and management impossible. And by long term planning, Hoffman and Casnocha means three-to-five years. Instead, they argue, to be successful in your career, to remain competitive, you need to stay "nimble and iterate...always remaining in the test phase - permanent beta."

 As the title of their book implies, Hoffman and Casnocha equate career managment with startup technology companies. They advocate that career success need to mirror the entrepreneurial skills characteristic of these startups. In fact, Hoffman is the founder of LinkedIn the online professional social networking site.  Permanent beta connotes that your career is never finished. It's a continual work in progress and that it is always day one. For many people, 20 years experience is actually one year experience repeated 20 times because they have done a variation of the same thing for 20 years. However, in permament beta, 20 years experience is actually 20 years experience as each year is marked by new challenges and opportunities. Permanent beta is essentially a lifelong commitment to continuous professional improvement. Your career in permanent beta acknowledges that you have bugs; that new development is constantly required; that you need to adapt and evolve. It's also celebratory and optimistic, recognizing that you have the power to improve, not just yourself, but the world around you.  The mindset of permanent beta and being the enrtrepreneur of your own life and career requires critical skills that include determining your competitive advantage, then iterating and adapting to remain competitive. It also includes building real and lasting relationships into a powerful professional network, creating opportunities by tapping your network, and taking intelligent risk as you pursue those opportunties. You need to draw on the strategies employed by entrepreneurs to survive in times of rapid and constant change and to break out from the pack and flourish as a globally competitive professional. Whether you're looking to move up in your organization, start your own business, or transition to an entirely new career, you need to adopt entrepreneurial career strategies that will help you thrive in the new normal of work. So, are YOU keeping your career in permanent beta? Can you articulate your competitive advantage? Do you have strong relationships that can help steer you to key opportunities when they
Saturday March 15, 2014 | 07:40 PM

There’s a quote by the French writer, Blaise Pascal that can be a phrase to live by:


 "In difficult times you should always carry something beautiful in your mind."


Monday March 10, 2014 | 08:00 AM

Calling, purpose or vocation—these popular terms refer to work that gives you a sense of meaning and fulfillment and draws on your innate gifts. A calling connects your inner strengths and natural inclinations with outer needs and opportunities.

I recently had a conversation with a woman who wanted to discover her calling. She longed for the passion her husband had for his career as a physician—a profession he’d imagined since he was 10. She thought that this was how it was supposed to be—you “just know” at a young age what you’re meant to do in the world and then achieve it. 

She saw her lack of clarity about her direction or calling as a character flaw. In response, I shared my perspective on the different ways that a person might experience and develop a calling.

Monday February 17, 2014 | 05:09 PM

I visited with friends who moved from the Northeast to Colorado a few years ago. During my time at their new home in the Rockies, I met a cadre of their friends, most of whom were retired from careers of many years. But, unlike retirees of past generations, these 60-somethings are leading very active, vibrant lives after ending their dedication to primary careers.

Some have launched new careers and reinvented themselves in totally different areas of the marketplace; some are finishing degrees they never completed; while others are traveling far and wide to offer disaster relief through their churches; or leading the charge locally on pressing community issues.

Most are transplants to Colorado from other areas of the country, abandoning the trend of settling into Arizona or Florida retirement communities in favor of a more active lifestyle and community engagement.