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A typical job search can be stressful. Add in pregnancy, and you up the anxiety ante. Should you disclose pregnancy while job searching and once you secure an interview?

If in your first trimester, you have several weeks before you begin to show, but if you’re further along in your pregnancy, you may feel tempted to dress in baggy clothing for an interview. If you don’t disclose your pregnancy and you accept a job, you risk breaking trust and damaging your professional relationships due to your nondisclosure. Whatever choice you make, you take the risk of rejection — that point is, unfortunately, a fact.

As with any matter, it’s best to weigh the pros and cons and make an informed decision. Waiting to disclose your pregnancy doesn’t mean you’re not an untrustworthy employee, but trusting prospective employers with appropriate disclosure may leave you with more options than you think.

What the Law Says Regarding Pregnancy and Work

More facts: An applicant is not required to disclose her pregnancy by law during an interview, showing or not.

It’s illegal to deny a candidate a job due to sex discrimination, and pregnancy falls under that prohibited employer practice umbrella. It’s also illegal for a previous employer to give a negative reference to a prospective employer because of pregnancy. If hired, employers may not harass or discriminate against you during training or let you go due to pregnancy.

These facts should put your mind at ease somewhat, but you may still ask: What stops an employer from digging hard enough to find a just cause for termination? Your employer may force you out if you’ve been chronically late to work or failed to meet other duties, even though you worked to rehabilitate such behavior, as their reasoning for termination. Always do your best to fulfill your job duties.

An employer may outright reject you, whether you disclose your pregnancy or not, and you may never know the reason since most rejection notices are brief and don’t give away details. You don’t want to work for a judgy employer or in a negative work culture that affects your pregnancy and professional development.

Beyond the job search, you must also consider the law regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Most know that a mother may use 12 weeks of FMLA leave for prenatal care, childbirth, and incapacity or serious illness after birthing a child. However, these 12 weeks are only available to employed mothers after a year at the job and at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months at a location with at least 50 employees within 75 miles. The employee must provide the employer with 30 days’ notice, or as practical, with sufficient details.

Only 12 percent of companies offer paid leave during maternity, and the U.S. lags behind other countries when it comes to adequate maternity policies. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to negotiate or search for what you deserve.

If you’re already pregnant, why worry about FMLA if you won’t be eligible anyway? You must know about your rights for the future and decide if a job search is right for you right now, if you have that freedom. If hired for a new job, it’s possible the employer has their own generous policies in place regarding maternity leave or flexible work options for working moms.

Life Happens, and Pregnancy Disclosure Could Open Doors

One new mother, Rubina Madan Fillion, started her new job as a digital engagement editor at 25 weeks pregnant, and she didn’t know she was pregnant when interviewing with her recruiter. Fillion got the job in her second trimester, and the employer response was “Congrats.” Interestingly, her new job was at a brand new company that decided to create a maternity policy offering at least 12 weeks of paid leave.

While you may be lucky to land a job with a family-friendly employer, that’s not always the case. It doesn’t mean the employer wouldn’t be or isn’t open to discussing flexible work options. The employer needs to know they can provide you with proper accommodations without jeopardizing their business and trust you’ll do your best on the job no matter what, within reason.

Freelancers already make up 36 percent of the workforce, and they’re projected to make up half of the workforce by 2027. The way business is done is changing: 54 percent of those surveyed, freelancers and non-freelancers, didn’t feel confident the work they were doing now would exist in 20 years. Working as a flex-time employee is different than being self-employed or working as a contractor — your income is typically stable, but you still possess reasonable flexibility with your workload and schedule.

Flexible work options allow you to achieve a better work-life balance, and many professional duties at the office can be conducted at home. What about working half days or particular shifts? What accommodations or options are available? You won’t know unless you’re honest and investigate further. Your disclosure presents an opportunity for the company to analyze its current policies regarding family leave and flexible work schedules — options that more companies are beginning to consider because of the changing labor force.

Strategize Your Job Search as an Expectant Mother

Regardless of whether or not you choose to disclose your pregnancy, or when, strategize and target your job search based on your skills, pregnancy and professional development goals. For example, while you may be tempted to accept any paying job, you don’t want to take on a job that requires heavy lifting or movements you won’t be capable of doing in a few months — and without anyone to help you out.
It’s advisably ethical to speak up when you need the job you earned the interview for and are asked: Is there anything that would prevent you from fulfilling the described duties? What’s considered highly ethical isn’t always realistic.

Inexperienced employers may worry you’re not able to perform your job duties, and many women fear the unspoken bias of pregnancy discrimination that is often hard to prove. Yet, it’s not impossible: 4,778 charges of pregnancy discrimination were solved by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2002, along with $10 million recovered in financial benefits for those who filed the charges. If you want to pursue this route, keep detailed records of your experiences and correspondence.

The question still stands: Would you really want to work for that type of employer? Not disclosing your pregnancy at first doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad employee. Women face many challenges on their pregnancy and professional journeys, and introducing such personal information early on leaves them in a mentally, emotionally and physically vulnerable position.

When strategizing your job search, your reasons for nondisclosure may revolve around more sensitive concerns, such as fear of miscarriage. You want to take the necessary tests to make sure your little one is healthy. You may also be receiving fertility treatments or using a surrogate and want to wait for privacy reasons to see how it goes. These cases are certainly understandable.

There’s No Reward Without Risk

Disclosing a pregnancy comes with the risk of rejection, but also the opportunity for acceptance and revolution in the workplace. Many employers unfairly judge the ability of pregnant professionals to continue working at their best levels, but many also do not. Many employers see the valuable team player in her professional glory, baby bump and all. They eagerly hire her, realize life happens and work to get her acclimated, even creating new maternity leave and flexible work options.

Life presents you with risks every day. Weighing the pros and cons of pregnancy disclosure isn’t an easy task, and it adds to your stress levels as you search. Don’t let it. Just as you see your pregnancy as bringing new life into the world, see your job search in a more determined and positive light. Your pregnancy challenges you and presents you with the opportunity to find an even better fit professionally.

For more career advice on tricky job search situations, subscribe to Punched Clocks and continue the conversation by commenting below and sharing your insight.


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The post Should You Disclose Pregnancy During a Job Search? appeared first on Punched Clocks.

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Consistent career growth requires conscious effort — and can be costly. Fortunately, there are apps that can help you capitalize on your career without breaking the bank, getting you ever closer to your workplace goals. Whether you’re looking to save time, network, learn new skills or organize more efficiently, here are 12 handy apps to help you grow your career.

1. Switch (free)

If you’re in the job market or just curious about what’s available, the Switch app is an up-to-date job-seeking solution that helps you speedily find out about possibilities. Once you see an opportunity that catches your eye, swipe right to send your resume to an employer. You can schedule interviews and talk to hiring personnel directly in the app, too.

2. MindTools (free)

Whether you want to brush up on skills related to project management, leadership, decision-making or all three, the MindTools app gives you topical content at your fingertips. It also breaks down all those topics into bite-sized chunks, so you can easily go over the material while riding the subway to work or making the most of your downtime.

3. Accompany (free)

Marketed as “the largest database of senior decision-makers in the world,” Accompany is an iOS app that helps you keep tabs on the power players who are making waves. Also, a curated news feed of articles and updates from your contacts make it simple to stay abreast of career changes, promotions and other milestones.

4. Vmock (free to check one resume or $19.99 to upload 10 resumes)

Ever wish you had a resume coach? Think of Vmock as the virtual alternative. It’s a web-based app that uses sophisticated algorithms to analyze your resume and give instant feedback. The technology gauges overall impact, your use of bullet points and more. After getting a personalized score, you’ll have the necessary knowledge to make obvious improvements.

5. Time Graphics (free)

As you might guess from the name, Time Graphics is a free timeline maker. As a career-oriented person, you may find it helpful to make a printable timeline that helps you set your sights on the future while looking at how far you’ve progressed. Time Graphics helps you do that, and it works in your browser.

6. EdX (free with paid options available)

EdX is an online learning portal that lets you learn new skills by allowing you to audit thousands of top-quality courses for free. The only applicable charges occur if you want a verifiable certificate for a course — costs vary — or are taking one of the offerings under the professional education category, which includes about 60 options. Although EdX is a website, it also has mobile apps for Android and iOS.

7. Streaks (free)

Combining a to-do list with a habit-based concept, Streaks encourages you to turn up to 12 tasks into repetitive behaviors. Every time you complete one for another day, your “streak” grows longer, but if you break the cycle, it returns to the starting point. This app is excellent for helping you get serious about performing habits that help your career and getting accustomed to positive behaviors in a non-overwhelming way.

8. Enloop (free with paid options available)

Maybe your career growth aspirations involve starting a business, but the thought of writing a plan for one makes you nervous. Enloop helps you create one with automated tools that generate blocks of text after you enter basic information. Edit the material as needed to customize. Also, get a real-time effectiveness score that updates as you make changes. The free option lets you make one text-only business plan.

9. Shapr (free)

We’re accustomed to swiping to find people to date, but what about for expanding professional networks? That’s the concept behind Shapr. You create several tags related to your job or relevant interests, and the app sends you up to 15 people per day who match those characteristics. Use the app to connect with professionals you want to meet, then look forward to forming new relationships.

10. Task Till Dawn (free)

Does it often feel like you spend so much time doing tedious tasks there’s no time left over for career development? This automation app takes care of things at timed intervals — such as cleaning up your desktop or sorting files — so you can concentrate on more important things that are relevant to your line of work and future goals.

11. CamCard (free or $4.99/month for premium version)

The seemingly simple act of exchanging business cards could open doors that move you closer to the career of your dreams. But what happens if you lose them? The CamCard app prevents that dreaded problem. It detects multiple languages and takes the information from physical cards to make digital versions stored on your device and in the cloud. You can also exchange e-cards with people you meet at conferences or similar events.

12. Penzu (free with a premium option starting at $4.99/month)

Penzu is a diary app, and its developers suggest the idea of starting a work diary that helps you keep track of daily activities, thoughts that arise, new ideas and other important bits of information that could ultimately enhance your career. This tool stores your content in the cloud and lets you pick up where you left off on any device.

Do you use and love other free or low-cost apps to support career growth? Share your favorites in the comments. Also, to make sure you don’t miss any new posts from Punched Clocks, subscribe here.


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Some bosses micromanage and leave you feeling like you’ll never live up to their standards of perfection. Promotions challenge you to take on new responsibilities, but you don’t feel equipped for the task. Outside conditions contribute to your insecurities, but the underlying issue is the fact that your self-image is disempowered.

The worst criticisms attack from the inside, as negative self-talk plays like a broken record. It’s hard to fight that kind of negativity, but you need to accept you’re a valuable player at work who does their best, has succeeded in the past and will do so again.

1. Accept That Insecurity Is Universal and Natural

At some point, everyone experiences insecurity at work, and many of the largest successes have been achieved by those who felt deeply insecure with themselves and their circumstances.

Insecurity isn’t a direct reflection on you or your abilities. It’s not linked to your strengths or your happiness. There’s at least one person in your life who sees your personal and professional strength and admires you for your talent, and chances are they’ve pointed it out to you before.

2. It’s OK to Ask Questions

Asking questions or for help doesn’t mean you’re incompetent at your job. You might be new, and the six-inch-thick training binder of information isn’t sticking easily in your head. Applying transferable skills between departments, as a part of a new promotion, may not be as easy as you thought. Everyone experiences brain fog and fumbles from time to time.

Ask questions, but remember to take notes. Keep a cheat sheet of strategies and solutions, so you won’t find yourself asking five versions of the same question a year later.

3. Get Curious to Be Courageous

In The Wizard of Oz, the Cowardly Lion spends the whole story looking for courage. The Wizard’s remedy ends up being a placebo, as the Lion finally takes action and discovers the courage that was within himself all the time.

Instead of talking yourself out of something, transform those insecure thoughts and negative self-talk into statements of curiosity, and let your actions finish the unfinished sentences in your head. What if I led the meeting? What if I spearheaded this project? What if I learned programming? Don’t assume you can’t accomplish anything, and act instead of reacting.

4. Perfectionism Is Tiring

Whether you’re trying to live up to your own ideals of perfectionism, or those of your coworkers or boss, it’s exhausting to attempt to be perfect all the time. You’re ultimately setting yourself up to fail because there are so many possibilities.

By trying for a certain kind of perfection, you’re failing to see other ideas and avenues of action that could bring better success to the situation. Free yourself from perfectionism to take advantage of better opportunities.

5. Innovate Your Way

Now that you’ve ditched perfectionism, consider other ways of going above and beyond on your next assignment. What about securing new markets or clients? What about following your gut on developing a creative campaign for a longtime client? How will you do this?

When you go the extra mile, do it in your style. Innovate your way.

6. Get Feedback

As time goes by, your boss may not give you as much feedback, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing — it doesn’t mean your work isn’t contributing to the company.

Ask for constructive feedback, and the answers may surprise you. For example, acknowledge to your boss there were several routes you could’ve taken on a client project, and ask them to evaluate how you handled it. Your boss should be able to tell you what you did well with your approach and may suggest other avenues that could’ve also had beneficial results. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

Getting feedback on a project as you take it step by step also helps reassure you that you’re making progress and meeting or exceeding expectations.

7. Gather Allies

If you’re new to a city or coming out of your shell, the professional world can seem a little lonely, and you might feel insecure about developing your career and your skills. As the hero in your professional journey, you’re not without allies. Look to your network for support, and if that feels empty, gather allies.

Write a thoughtful email to an old mentor, and ask to meet for coffee and new connections, clearly outlining why you’re getting in touch to avoid awkwardness when you get together. Let go of the Negative Nancys in your life, and make real allies who will support you, instead of trying to sabotage you. A quality few is better than having 100 professionals who give back nothing.

8. Get Into Character

Do you feel like an imposter? A twist on “faking it until you make it” is getting into a professional character. Part of that is smiling, making eye contact, being accessible and dressing well. Looking the part doesn’t have to mean acting how you think someone else would approach your role. It’s about how you’re going to do well in this role.

Change up your look, but still keep the base elements of your essential style. It’s OK if you’re introverted, but make an effort to invite a new person to a coffee date to grow your network.

9. Be True to Yourself

If you’re not fully satisfied with your job, it’s not necessarily your fault. If your employer fails to appreciate or take advantage of your talents or skills, it may be time to move on to an opportunity that’s a better fit. Even if you quit your job, don’t burn bridges — give your notice in a timely and professional manner.

Permit yourself to be you, personally and professionally. Look at your career, and ask yourself if you’re going somewhere you earnestly want to be. Will you be happy? Will you enjoy the work and contribute at your best level?

If you’ve just lost your enthusiasm for the work, it may not be because you lack the ability, but because you no longer have the desire driving you to pursue this path professionally.

10. Recognize Your Achievements for Yourself

Invest in yourself professionally. Whether you are or aren’t getting recognized for your successes at work, it’s important to honor and celebrate your achievements for yourself.

Create a personal incentive program. Keep a journal of these successes, and track your goals. Reward yourself with a new blazer, espresso maker or professional development class.

Your self-image is important at work, too. Know that everyone experiences insecurity, and negative self-talk is hard to shut down. It’s better to ask questions, get feedback and get involved in acting, instead of reacting, to that negative self-talk.

Doesn’t perfectionism get tiring after a while? Gather allies, innovate your way and put your best foot forward. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for help or to offer a hand and a smile. Be true to yourself and honor your achievements because you’re doing just fine.

What insecurities hold you back at work? Share your plans for overcoming negative self-talk at work in the comments and subscribe to Punched Clocks for more career tips to fuel your professional growth.

The post How to Overcome Insecurities at Work appeared first on Punched Clocks.

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Any break up is hard to deal with, especially when you’re doing the breaking up, and it’s a job role you worked hard to be “the one” for. They called, said you beat out everyone to get the job and that they’re looking forward to welcoming you aboard.

Then, you feel the corners of your lips turn downward. The pit of your stomach drops. Anxiety scratches at your throat as you struggle with what to say next. It turns out that this employer isn’t “the one” for you after all. What do you say? How do you turn down a job offer and not burn bridges?

Try these tips to craft a thoughtful and graceful email to or dialogue with the hiring manager to let them know you’ll be turning down the offer:

1. If it’s Brief, Just Call

If you’re not one to wax poetic, and your email would be fewer characters than a tweet, be personable and accountable by picking up the phone.

Have a polite and honest conversation with the hiring manager, stating that you appreciate the offer but will be declining. You don’t have to go into negatives, but do mention specific positives that you experienced during the interview process, such as falling in love with the company culture but the offer not falling in line with your current career goals. Don’t say the duties are the same old stuff you’ve been doing. You want to grow your skills, but be kind in how you address this.

Mention that you’d like to stay in touch, and thank the hiring manager before hanging up.

2. Come Armed With Referrals

The company invested time in you during the interview process, and it’s courteous to also think of the position that your rejection places the company in. Do you envision someone else in your network doing exceedingly well in this role for this specific company? Share with the hiring manager – but only if they are truly a good match.

If a referral by someone in the company increases your chances of being hired by seven percent, then a referral by a preferred candidate should garner similar results.

Don’t offer referrals up from the start, but extend the offer to make the connection if you have someone in mind. This technique shows that you care about the company and its efforts to find the right fit for the job, even when you know you’re not it.

3. Keep It Short, Simple and Sweet

It’s easy to overthink what you’re going to say and assume what questions the hiring manager will have when your experience could be the total opposite. Just as the company has turned down others, it has been on the other side — you won’t be the first candidate to turn down a job in the history of the company.

It’s easy to ramble on in conversation or compose a wordy email when your nerves take over. In the end, this hurts more than it helps. Two paragraphs, not two sentences, suffice to get your point across gracefully and with enough detail that avoids burning bridges:

Dear [Hiring Manager],

I appreciate you reaching out to me with a generous offer to become part of the team. There’s much I admire about the company, including the ways it gives back to the community and supports its employees through a rich and diverse work culture. After much consideration, regarding the current point I am in my career growth, I must, unfortunately, decline your offer.

I enjoyed getting to know you and the staff and would like to remain in touch. [Link your information in the signature of the email.] If there’s anything else I may address, please email or call.

Many thanks,

[The Candidate Who Must Say No]

Just as you’d write a thank you note after an interview, always thank the hiring manager and point out positive specifics from your conversation. You can follow up with a nice handwritten card two weeks after you send the initial email turning down the job offer.

Saying no to a job offer makes you feel bad after the company has invested so much time in considering your candidacy and said yes to you. Saying no feels even worse when you genuinely love the company, its employees and work culture, and you need a job stat.

Saying no now is better than later, though. Just remember to be up-front, concise, professional and kind, and you’ll still be able to keep those all-important bridges intact.

Have you ever turned down a job offer? How’d it go? Discuss your experience in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe for more career tips on effective communication and scoring the job that’s right for you.


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The post How to Turn Down a Job Offer Without Burning Bridges appeared first on Punched Clocks.

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You’ve seen all the exercise trends on TV and social media, whether they’re actually great for your exercise routine or not. Most seem too good to be true, promising you ripped abs in only seven minutes a day. But, over the last few years, one particular fad has managed to stick, and that’s the steps craze.

The magic number: 10,000.

For those with jobs where they walk around all day, it’s not a hard feat to accomplish. But if you’re stuck at a desk for eight – or more – hours per day, it’s easier said than done.

Trying to get your daily steps in can be a challenge no matter what your goal is. Thankfully, there are some easy ways to get moving. You may even find yourself forgetting that you’re working towards a goal because it feels so easy!

Here are 26 easy ways you can get more steps into your day, so you can feel great about yourself and get active without sacrificing any more time or worry.

1. Do Laps at Home

While you’re waiting for that water to boil or coffee cup to fill, take a few laps around the house. Even if your home doesn’t have an easy walking path, walk around your table or couch, or take a few trips up and down the stairs. Any little distance will help!

2. Walk While You Brush

Standing still while you brush your teeth? That’s old-school stuff. Multitask by walking around and getting your things ready while you brush.

3. Get the Mail and Take It Slow

Walk out to the mailbox after work and walk each envelope back to the house one at a time. You may even get motivated enough to finally cancel that magazine you don’t read anymore.

4. Unload the Groceries Carefully

Like with your mail, you can unload your grocery bags one at a time, too. For a bonus exercise, do reps with each bag so your biceps can get a workout.

5. Walk for Those Notifications

It’s always good to have some time away from your phone, so take it literally and set it across the room while you eat dinner or watch a movie. When you hear your notification sound go off, walk over to get it. Or better yet, just let it sit and do something more mindful instead!

6. Do Some Laps During Commercials

You’re not going to want to watch them anyway, so when commercials come on during your favorite shows, walk around the house. Bonus points for adding in some pushups and crunches!

7. Stream On-the-Go

The great thing about being able to stream video content is downloading what you want to watch for later when you don’t have internet access. Download what you plan to watch each night and walk around your neighborhood while you catch up on your TV shows instead.

8. Always Take the Stairs

Why ride the elevator when you’re focused on walking more? Taking the stairs is an easy way to get closer to your step goal.

9. Pace for Phone Calls

You probably already do this, so make an effort to pace around your office while you’re on phone calls if you can. If you have a phone with a cord, maybe just pace for cell phone calls instead.

10. Skip the IMs

Most offices use an IM system to let employees talk to each other throughout the day, so if you use one, try to get up and walk to the people you need to talk to whenever possible – just be sure you aren’t interrupting an important task.

11. Use a Different Bathroom

Instead of walking around the corner to use the office bathroom, use the bathroom on a different floor. You’ll get extra steps in if you use the stairwell instead of the elevator.

12. Take Breaks in Different Locations

Walk to the kitchen for your first break, the second floor coffee shop for your next and maybe even go outside for your last break of the day. You’ll be able to appreciate the change of scenery and the added steps.

13. Park Away From the Building

Let your coworker have that parking spot closest to the building instead. Their day will be made and you’ll have some extra distance to walk. It’s a win-win.

14. Better Yet, Walk to Work!

If you live close to where you work, you can easily add a few steps to your day by walking to work instead of driving. You’ll be more active and even save yourself gas money in the process. Don’t think you have enough energy to walk that much early in the morning? Try out some of the best secrets to having more energy so you can walk to work and stay awake once you get there.

 15. Get Off the Bus Early

Chances are good that if you ride a bus, you probably have a stop close to where you get off. So get off early and walk to your office!

16. Explore Every Aisle

Running into the store for a jug of milk? Walk down every aisle while you’re in there, but stick to your budget!

17. Take Your Cart Back

Walk that cart all the way back to the store when you’re done getting groceries. It’s really not as bad you might think it would be.

18. Forego the Drive-Thru

Walk in, get your Starbucks, walk out. Boom. Extra steps.

19. Do Laps for Your Coffee

Make a promise to yourself that for every coffee refill, you’ll do a certain number of laps around the office before you can get that next cup.

20. Fit in Some Steps During Practice

If you drop off your kids at extracurricular practices, find a place close by to take a walk or two while they’re in there doing what they love.

21. Start Some After-Dinner Strolls

Family time is always a great use of your evening, so have everyone take a walk after dinner every night to add more steps and make some memories.

22. Walk Your Dog Some More

You may not think it’s possible, but your dog will love you even more if you take them for a second or third walk during the day. Or make their regular walk longer than usual.

23. Invite Coworkers for a Brainstorm Walk

Have a mobile meeting by taking your coworkers out for a walk to brainstorm or collaborate on an upcoming project.

24. Set an Alarm for Yourself

If all else fails, at least set frequent alarms for yourself so you get reminded to at least walk down the hall more often.

25. Go to the Mall With Some Friends

Hang out with your friends at the mall! You’ll forget that you went just for the extra steps, because you’ll have so much fun.

26. Explore Local Parks or Trails

People work hard every day to make local parks and trails enjoyable for people to use, so go walk at places you may have never even been before. You’ll at least get some nice pictures for social media!

Getting in your steps doesn’t mean you have to become a marathon runner. It’s easy to fit in your daily steps if you just take the time to rethink your average routine. Soon, you’ll find that getting in your steps is easy — and you may even end up setting your goal a little bit higher!

What do you plan on trying out to walk a little bit more? Comment with your ideas and don’t forget to share to get your friends in on your plan, too! And if you haven’t already, subscribe for more great content that’ll help you achieve the happier, healthier life of your dreams.


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A constant forward trajectory is an ideal path for your career. Unfortunately, career paths are rarely a straight line, often involving experiences that can end up being a step backward rather than forward. Even a salary increase or promotion, for example, could be considered a step back if it takes you away from your passions and talents.

Maintaining a forward path is easier if you’re able to recognize opportunities that, despite some advantages, are ultimately a step backward in your career. Here are six examples.

1. Receiving a Promotion That Detaches You From Your Passion and Skills

It’s hard turning down a promotion. Many of us need a steady income to cover the bills, so turning down a promotion seems counterintuitive to living life.

In an ideal situation, you’ll earn a promotion to a position that utilizes your skills and passions, though that’s not always the case. A promotion that shifts you to a department or task that doesn’t use your strengths can result in reduced work results down the line, transforming your position from secure to on the hot seat. Beyond that, an additional workload involving tasks you have no passion for can lead to increased workplace stress.

2. Accepting a Speaking Opportunity for an Unfamiliar Topic

Public speaking presents an excellent opportunity for establishing new connections and leads. Showing your expertise via public speaking helps to build your brand and enhance your integrity. However, being tasked to speak about a topic you have no interest or experience with can do the opposite, devaluing your brand and potentially showing you as unprepared and not passionate.

There’s nothing wrong with learning about a new topic to appear competent, though investing too much time and public attention on a subject beyond your specialty can detract from your actual goals and skills. If your brand exists in too many niches, others may be skeptical if you may spread yourself too thin.

3. Taking on a Workload That Presents No Time for Side Projects

A promotion typically involves a heavier workload, though a job that removes any time whatsoever from your downtime is unhealthy. Side projects from some entrepreneurs, conducted away from or in the office, tend to evolve into successes. You can anticipate a heavier workload, though if it’s derailing a lucrative side project of yours, the workload may be doing more long-term harm than good.

4. Working in an Industry That Doesn’t Align With Your Long-Term Goals

Receiving a better role at work is technically a step forward in that industry, though if you were previously considering switching industries due to passion and interest, it could be a step backward. Despite a higher salary and glowing new title, you may spend ample time deliberating what could have been if you followed your passions. Ask yourself about the potential of your current position, asking if being the CEO of your present company would satisfy you more than starting your endeavor with your passions and talents in mind. If not, the promotion may not be a positive thing, after all.

5. Staying in a Job That No Longer Presents Learning Opportunities

Despite a higher salary and new title, your time spent at work can feel pointless if you’re learning nothing at all. Every industry is continually evolving, so even the highly experienced and knowledgeable in a specific niche should be learning at work on a daily basis.

However, if your new promotion puts you in a position where you do the same thing day after day or are monitoring those who are similarly disinterested, the promotion can be a step back. You could be spending your time on a creative venture with greater potential instead.

6. Having an Increased Role With More Travel

If you love to travel and enjoy your job, then a promotion that involves ample travel can be a great thing. However, if traveling stresses you out, the new role may not be a good fit, even if you don’t mind the actual work. Traveling abroad has numerous psychological impacts involving fatigue and lack of focus for some. Having to travel, on top of a more significant workload, can present a recipe for disaster and inefficient work results.

Have you experienced a career opportunity that at first glance was great, though ended up being a step backward? Share in the comments below and subscribe for more advice to help you get ahead in your career.


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The road to burnout is paved with long hours, a burdensome workload and a lack of boundaries when it comes to saying “no” to coworkers. Instead of a full plate, you’re balancing multiple plates on sticks as the inevitable is bound to happen — gravity and burnout.

When you initially got hired, your job description likely included the ability to be a team player, and you take that very seriously. When you need help, it’s not very professional to turn someone away, is it? At the same time, you don’t want your performance to suffer by taking on too much.

When you’re being asked to do work outside of your responsibilities, others aren’t necessarily aware they’re taking advantage of you, but the requests add up. Is it possible to tactfully push back on too much work while still showing you’re that “team player” the company hired? Yes, it is.

It’s Okay to Say No

The written description of your job duties outlines what you’re responsible for as an employee. However, most companies do state you can expect to add on to that list in the course of your employment.

That doesn’t mean that you should be a constant crutch for other clueless employees or someone looking for an easy out on work (while taking all the credit). That doesn’t mean that as the “go-to person” you’re required to be the constant well of resourceful information and all around direction-pointer — eventually, the well runs out of water.

By constantly saying yes to extraneous projects and requests, you become stuck in a hamster wheel of doing everyone else’s work instead of the projects that further your career path.

Sometimes, your manager’s no help, providing you with vague directions that aren’t clear what happens when someone drops the ball. So, what’s a team player supposed to do? You pick up the pieces.

For most, saying “That’s not my job” is a royal sin right up there with “The customer can be wrong.” If you refuse to perform a task, it’s possible to lose your manager’s favor or support, but when facing burnout, you have to stand up for yourself.

Saying No by Refocusing on Your Priorities and Empowering Coworkers

You’re getting burned out if you notice that you’re becoming more irritable, disillusioned or experiencing physical symptoms, such as back pain or poor sleep. Dysfunctional work environments and unclear job expectations contribute to eventual burnout.

There are times when refusing extra work is okay and appropriate. Saying no empowers coworkers to find the answers for themselves. Saying “That’s not my job” can come off as negative and snippy, but you can say no and still be a team player by emphasizing your priorities:

  • Admit You Have a Heavy Workload: “Unfortunately, I’m swamped right now, and I can’t give this matter the proper attention.”
  • State the Priority: “Client X needs a complete rework of this proposal before end of day, so I can’t pitch in.”
  • Offer a Clue: “That’s not my specialty, so I’m not the best resource for your question. However, if I were feeling lost, I’d check with Department Y.”
  • Don’t Do the Work of Other Departments: “I’m not the one who typically handles this, and unfortunately, I’m not sure who does. Perhaps you should check with your manager.”

These responses will differ depending on your role and who’s asking. For example, if you’re an assistant and the supervisor of another department needed help yesterday, it’s a good idea to dig a little more and offer assistance. If Busybody Bob is guilt-tripping you about doing his work, redirect him by refocusing on your priorities and try to empower him to do the research himself.

In your need to help and be a team player, you’re disregarding your professional boundaries and upsetting your work-life balance. You’re letting your performance suffer and aren’t being a good example for your coworkers. Empower your coworkers to excel in challenging situations while you focus on doing your best at your job.

Turning Down Extra Work When It’s From Your Manager

What about when it’s your manager making constant requests for you to go the extra mile? Saying no places you at a greater risk of losing their favor, right? That might happen, but you could also lose their respect and a client by not performing at your best.

When your manager asks you to take on too much, and you know it’ll affect higher priority tasks, you need to speak up. State that you’ve noticed increased requests for assistance on Projects A and B, but handling the workload with attention to detail is difficult without reducing focus to other projects coming up on deadline. This technique also applies when you’re part of a team but feel you’ve got the heavier end of the workload.

The idea is to strategize with your manager, so you don’t look like you’re backing out of work. Play up to your manager’s goals and missions to anticipate needs and address them. All you’re doing is figuring out how to get everything done to the best of your ability, and your communication helps build a good working relationship.

When your manager asks you do tasks that you don’t feel particularly capable of, you understandably want to refuse. Do you feel like you’ve given it your best go, or are your talents and skills being squandered? Ask for flexibility. State that while you’ve found these tasks challenging, you’d like to challenge your skills in another specific direction.

Don’t risk burnout because you’re feeling guilty about not being a team player. It is possible to politely tell a coworker “That’s not my job” without sounding snippy. Refocus coworkers and your manager to the high priority tasks on your plate, and be professional with your language.

It’s always responsible to refuse extra work when such queries take away from higher priorities. Don’t forget that those priorities also include your health.

Are you experiencing burnout due to taking on too much work? How have you reclaimed your professional sanity, said no and empowered coworkers to do their own work? Comment below and subscribe to Punched Clocks for more tips on effective communication on the job and propelling your career forward.


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You’ll experience many mixed feelings on the uncertain tides of fulfilling the duties of a new job. Even though it takes at least a few months to learn what a new position entails, you feel lost when trying to find the information you need or how long you can keep food in the breakroom fridge. Then, you find your feet, and early on, the praise comes easily — “You’re doing a great job! You’ve accomplished and learned so much since we hired you.”

You continue working on your daily tasks and fall into a routine. The odd smile and wave from your boss or coworkers show they like you, they really like you. Everything is fine, you tell yourself — until you realize weeks have gone by without any positive feedback.

When did your boss last pat you on the back or thank you for doing a good job? Your boss used to praise you frequently, but then it all stopped — it’s like dating someone who’s enthusiastic about getting to know you at first, fully smitten and then nada.

Don’t worry. You’re not a failure. You haven’t lost your touch. You’ve just all gotten comfortable with one another, and you’re still stellar. If you’re still looking for a sign it’s true, here are eight of them just for you:

1. Feedback Has Increased

It sounds counterintuitive that feedback increases when you do your job well — shouldn’t you expect to get more praise, instead?

Consider this: You’re soaring along without having burned the place to the ground accidentally. Your continued success only means you’ll grow, and the feedback, resources, tools and suggestions your boss is giving you is a strategy to fine-tune your skills as you do so. It’s your boss’ job to challenge you, and it means he or she is invested in your success. When you feel a little self-doubt creep in, it’s also OK to ask for feedback.

2. You’re the Go-To Person

When the software fails or someone needs to find info stat for a frazzled client, you’re the go-to person who always finds a solution, even when you feel a little uncertain yourself. You’ve got the magic skill of taking the initiative as a reliable source who steps back, breathes and seeks a solution.

You’ve also put in the work to know the ins and outs of various systems, protocols and clients. When you don’t know the answer, rest assured, you’ll find it — and everyone in the office knows it. You’re the wearer of many hats, and though you feel more like the Mad Hatter helping various versions of Alice find her way, know people trust you as a resource and expert.

3. Your Opinion Has Value

In a meeting, you give thoughtful and objective feedback, rather than nodding along silently with everyone in the room. So, when your boss turns to you and asks, “What do you think?”, he’s not picking on you. When it comes to decisions of all sizes, your opinion carries weight.

Coworkers come to you not only as the go-to person, but also because they value your opinion. Newer recruits come to you as someone they admire, and may be seeking your reassurance on an idea for that reason. You become an excellent example of how to be a leader to interns and coworkers because you value their opinions, too, and encourage them to go for it. Since you remember the uncertain days of being a newbie, you help the team out and pay it forward professionally.

4. Your Boss Wants You to Take Care of Things

These two questions probably sound familiar: “Can you handle this for me?” and “Can you take care of this?”

The emphasis is on “handle” and “care.” Don’t take these requests lightly. Just because you do them often doesn’t mean your boss is laying all the work on you to shirk responsibilities for the day. Your boss trusts you to resolve the tasks to satisfaction and truly take care of various issues.

5. You’re the Captain of Your Desk

Being a recruit requires a period of handholding as you get accustomed to your duties. Sometimes, you have an unruly client even the boss has to take a deep swig of coffee before handling, and those training you wanted to make sure you could handle the situation.

Do you still need handholding? No, you don’t. Just because someone isn’t listening or leaning over your shoulder doesn’t mean they’re not paying attention. You’re the captain of your desk, and you’ve earned the trust it takes to spearhead even the most complicated of challenges. You’ve proven yourself.

6. You’ve Got More Responsibilities

A new job title may not have come with the workload yet, but gaining more responsibilities means having earned the trust you won’t collapse under the weight of it all. Your boss knows you can handle what’s on your plate, especially since you’ve learned to balance your existing duties without the stress a newbie might feel.

You get projects that help you build new skills, align with your career development goals and make you a critical contributor to the mission of the company. That’s not just your overworked boss sliding too much work from their plate to yours. A savvy boss knows when someone capable can take on extra work, and each new assignment helps you grow.

7. You’re the Ambassador of Your Company

Your boss asks you to represent the company at every trade show or speaking engagement. When the press comes calling for quotes, you serve as a spokesperson. You may feel like the office mascot, but you’re much more than that.

No matter what you’re called to do as a company “figurehead,” the truth boils down to the fact that you’re an appointed representative of the company because of your knowledge and the trust placed on you to do it well.

8. You Get to “Run With It”

No, not with scissors or hot coffee, because that would end badly, but to run with your ideas. While some managers have a micro-management style, most of them do so because an employee is struggling with meeting expectations. When you get permission to run with an idea, the complete opposite is true.

Self-doubt may make you think you need approval on every step of a proposed project, but the boss trusts you to see it all through to success. Remember how you tackled your first project? You determined your resources, found a project team and made the appropriate adjustments as you went along, even when you hit a roadblock. You perceived the failures as opportunities. So, just run with it.

Your boss has relaxed with the praise and the checking in because she trusts you to do the job well and exceed expectations. Your boss knows you’ve got this, that you’re more than capable of taking a project, running with it and blowing them all away. So, you get even more responsibilities and the role of company representative when the occasion arises.

You’re a valued asset because you’re not afraid of taking the initiative, helping your coworkers and solving problems that come your way without handholding. Feedback and responsibilities increase because your employer wants you to continue to grow with the company and be an excellent example as a stellar contributor for others.

You rock! So, feel more empowered than disempowered when your boss doesn’t give you as much praise. Pay it forward to other employees and praise the new hires for a job well done. Share your experience below in the comments, and subscribe to Punched Clocks for more career advice.


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Taking off work for an interview can be tricky. Unless you have a very supportive boss or the company is going out of business, you probably don’t want anyone to know you’re job hunting. It’s generally frowned upon.

But it still has to be done! You can spend time searching and applying for jobs at home after work, but getting the interview is a different story. You don’t want to lie to your boss unless you need to, but navigating the path between not entirely lying and not explaining yourself can be confusing and frustrating. It can be done, but getting some ideas never hurt!

Plan Ahead

If you know you’re going to need time off, try and put in a bit of extra work ahead of time. Make an extra effort to get in early, or take a few short lunches. Chances are, you’re not leaving this job because it’s your dream position, but you do want to go out with a good reputation. You’ll know when you have an interview. Try to plan it for a day and time that won’t interfere with your current job. Set it up so that you don’t have to miss critical meetings or reschedule a presentation, and the whole thing will go much more smoothly.

Schedule It on a Day Off

If you already have a day off planned, schedule your interview for that day. That takes care of everything. You won’t have to deal with trying to make something up or get off work – you’ll already have it! This works well if you have to take off early because the kids have early dismissal one day or something similar. Just squeeze in the interview on that day, and the whole issue is taken care of, with no need for lies or extra work!

Schedule Other Appointments for That Day

If you need to get a physical at the doctor’s, or you really should go in for a dental appointment, set it up for after your interview. You can request a note from them for your boss as proof, though if your boss is asking for that, you either take off too much, or there’s a good reason you’re leaving that job!

You can also set this up as a day to get some work done on your car, especially if you can take your car to a place close to where you’re interviewing, then have your interview while they work on your vehicle. Once again, this takes the guesswork out and prevents you from having to come up with any lies. You don’t want to lie to your boss if you can avoid it, although sometimes that might be impossible.

Go During Lunch

If the place you’re interviewing at is close enough, you might be able to squeeze an interview in during lunch. Make sure to tell your boss you’re running some errands and might be late, but you’re happy to make the time up that evening. That way, you won’t feel as pressured to rush the interview and you didn’t lie to your boss. They don’t need to know what personal errands you’re running, as long as they know you’ll get your work done.

Request off Due to Personal Matters

This is probably the most honest you can get. There is no real reason for your boss to know exactly why you’re taking off work. You can either take a personal day or take an unpaid day off of work. Try to do it at a time when it’s convenient, and try not to miss any big meetings.

If you plan to leave sooner rather than later, make use of those vacation days! This might be a little tricky since some offices will expect you to give a certain amount of notice for them, but if you don’t have personal days, vacation days work just as well. Plus, getting that time off, even if it’s not for an interview, tends to make you a better employee. You want to leave this job on a good note, so take all the time you have!

Take Multiple Interviews in One Day

If you can get a whole day off, try and make the most of it. Interviews can be tiring and nerve-wracking, but so is trying to get off work without telling your boss why. All you need then is one excuse to cover the whole day. It won’t be relaxing, and it won’t be easy, and you’ll have to spend the entire day trying to be the best version of yourself. But if you can swing it, it can be an incredibly productive day that might get you another step closer to your dream job. One hard day is worth that.

Keep in mind that getting multiple interviews is a good thing. Having more than one shouldn’t overly complicate the others, as long as you can get to them all on time. Remember that there’s no need to mention other interviews unless you’ve been offered multiple jobs and are using them as negotiation points.

Make It Up

Worst case scenario, just make something up. The key here is to make your lie believable. That means you shouldn’t have 13 dentist appointments because no one is going to believe that unless you show up with a brand new smile. It should be something that’s probably happened to you before. Say your kid accidentally grabbed an electric fence, even though it’s something you did as a kid.

Or tell them that your dog got into a bunch of chocolate and then threw it up all over your white rug and you have to clean it up before you can come in. Otherwise, that stain will never come out! Of course, both of these only work if you have kids or a dog, but choose your own story. Make it a real one, and make it something that makes sense for you.

Have you used a fun, original story to get to an interview? Let us know about it! And sign up here to get more tips and tricks about work, life and the struggle to balance it all.


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Learning a new skill is the best way to fast track your career to a big promotion, land a new position or amplify your productivity in your current role. Do you want to learn to code, create a spreadsheet or speak a second language conversationally?

First, you must begin by defining your goals. Need a new skill for a department transfer? Talk with those in a similar role or with supervisors in that department about what skills you’ll need to acquire to transfer to the team. Be clear with your manager about your goals for climbing the corporate ladder, and work with him or her to outline your next steps.

Now that you’ve established the goals, you want to learn the required skills quickly. Try these six ways to get those skills into your career toolbox stat:

1. Receive Mentorship

According to one study, 86 percent of professionals believe mentorship is a key success factor for career development. Reach out with a courteous email to senior members of your organization working within your career development target, and ask for thirty minutes for an informational interview about growing into your goals. Say you’d like to discuss the possibility of a mentorship. You may meet at the office, for coffee or at their favorite restaurant — leave your options open and respect their time.

Arrive at the meeting with a clear outline of what you hope to gather from the meeting. See if you can transform one of these meetings into a mentorship, and continue to check in once a month if the senior member agrees to the idea of a monthly follow-up.

2. Job Shadowing is Still in Style

So, you want to transfer out from marketing to product management? How can you gain the right skillset if you’re 9-to-5-ing it already?

Talk to your manager about your career growth goals, and see if he or she is open to sending you over to product management to listen in on a meeting or go to a networking event with the other team. Job shadowing is still in style, and you’ll learn about what being on the team is like along with what skills you’ll need to acquire. You could also discover the transition isn’t right for you, after all. Don’t forget to go above and beyond with your current duties.

3. Read to Feed Your Head

Tired of reading reports? Take a break and read an article or a book chapter on the subject you’re learning. The beauty of reading allows you to take the full responsibility of learning into your hands and work within your schedule, not anyone else’s. Work at your own pace.

Set reading goals by creating a to-be-read list, with book titles that begin with an overview of the skill you’re trying to enhance. By the time you reach the list’s end you’ll have a more refined skill set. Use sites like LibraryThing and Goodreads to read book reviews of titles you want to check out and build your reading list.

Love an article by an expert? Check their bio to see if they’ve authored any books on the subject. Visit your local library to find more relevant topics on the subject.

4. Become a Student

Studying at your own pace is rewarding, but sometimes you need help from a teacher. There are many routes to take as a student. Take professional development courses offered by your company. Consider a local university or community college for classes on personal enrichment and career development.

You may not have time to be physically present anywhere but the office and your home. An alternative is to sign up for online classes offered by career network organizations — for journalists, that might be MediaBistro, for example. Consider online open education classes such as Udemy or Coursera — you can find many such classes on the Open Education Database, and some provide certificates of achievement for a small fee.

5. Ask for a New Project

Tired of doing the same old work in your job description? If you can do your duties in your sleep, it’s time to request a new project to level up your skillset and test those skills you’ve been working on. There’s nothing like a new challenge to quickly acclimate you to the ins and outs of a new skill.

Requesting a new project will also show your boss that you’re not afraid to take the initiative and work hard at something outside your general duties, increasing the chances of landing your dream job within the company.

6. Attend a Professional Conference

Conferences aren’t reserved for those with an exhaustive list of accomplishments — they’re for professionals of all career levels. Conferences offer panels and workshops that provide the privilege of being surrounded by experts and newbies alike who are all eager to exchange information and resources.

In many cases, it’s possible that your employer will help pay for part or all of the costs of attending the conference. Just ask. Outline how the conference will develop your skillset and how you will apply these skills to your role at the company.

Let’s Get Learning!

Consider the style of learning that works best for you. For some, that’s learning on their own through reading various books and taking the initiative on new projects. Others may prefer mentorship, job shadowing, taking a class or going to a conference. Your style may combine many of these methods, but the goal is the same: to quickly learn a new skill and climb the ladder.

Learning a skill gives you newfound confidence and the ammunition to make the switch to a new role. It can also improve the way you work in your current role. Have you had to pick up a skill quickly? What did you learn? Comment below, share the wisdom and subscribe to Punched Clocks for more career advice on climbing the ladder to your dream job.


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