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2018 is going to be my year – at least according to Chinese astrology. I’m an Earth Dog, and February 16 was the start of the Year of the Earth Dog. The Dog symbol, as you would expect, is associated with loyalty and sincerity. “Dogs are loyal and honest, amiable and kind, cautious and prudent. Having a strong sense of loyalty and sincerity, Dogs will do everything for the person who they think is most important.”

If your career totem is the Dog, you probably feel great loyalty to your employer. It’s possible you’ve been in your job for a long time, working hard and asking little in return. In fact, according to one astrology site, Dogs are seen as valuable employees as they put their heart and soul into their tasks. They are easygoing and kind, and are always ready to alleviate the workload of others, which makes them very popular in their work circle.

It may also make them susceptible to exploitation; just consider all the dog metaphors in our culture – almost none of them are positive. If you “work like a dog”, you probably work hard for very little pay.  Your employer may “throw you a bone” once in a while with an extra day off or a pat on the head. A competitive culture is a “dog eat dog” place. Not promising.

Woodrow Wilson once said, “If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” Dogs value relationships, and if you act like a dog in the workplace, you may find yourself giving in, even when you know you’re right, rather than risk hurting a relationship. You are willing to trade other kinds of rewards for security and a feeling of safety.

The problem with wanting security in your career is that it’s most likely an illusion. Business is business, and loyal dogs won’t be exempt from being laid off when the market shifts or the business strategy changes. That can make even a good dog want to take a bite out of someone.

Here’s how to channel your inner Dog this year for more success and happiness at work.

Play more. Even working dogs need to let their inner puppy run free on a regular basis. Make time each day to play more, run free, and roll in the grass. Be fully present in the moment and let everything else go. The work will be waiting for you when you get back to the office.

Develop your bark and your bite. People who read their kindness as weakness sometimes take advantage of loyal dogs. You’ll need to hone your guard dog skills to sniff out people with less than honorable intentions. Trust your instincts; when something or someone doesn’t feel right, show some teeth and give a soft growl. Let the bad guys know that you’re not to be taken lightly. Here’s a post on why intelligent disobedience might even be your best strategy.

Go for it – become the alpha dog. Dogs are cooperative and loyal to the pack. But after all this time, you have earned the right to try out for leader of the pack. This may be your year to lead a project, move into management, or start your own venture. It’s not disloyal to want a turn as the lead dog, and it’s not wrong to consider moving on if there are no prospects in your current company.

Everyone owes a debt of gratitude to all you clever, loyal, and giving dogs out there. Like your iconic heroes Rin Tin Tin and Lassie, you give much more than you take. So here’s a reward for you: a link to some funny dog videos . Enjoy.

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Nick Foles is the man of the hour. A second string quarterback who took down the best quarterback and the best team of the decade in a Super Bowl shootout that was fun to watch. Plus, he’s an adoring father of an adorable baby girl. Who wouldn’t want to be him this week? But what I admire about him was who he was a couple of years ago. In many ways, he’s all of us.

Like almost all NFL players, Foles was an early phenome. As a high school player in Austin Texas, Foles threw for 5,658 yards and 56 touchdowns, breaking most school records previously held by Drew Brees. He also started on the school’s basketball team for three years, and winning MVP two of those years. He was recruited to play hoops for Georgetown, Baylor, and Texas. A Golden Boy. A winner. Drafted by the Eagles in the third round in 2012.

But time and luck weren’t kind. An Atlantic article by Alex Putterman written in late January describes him as a very long shot to lead the Eagles to victory against the Patriots. “Nick Foles, the quarterback who in 2013 carried the Eagles to the playoffs, then collapsed the next year, lost his job, and bounced to two other teams before quietly returning to Philly this season, mainly to hold a clipboard on the sideline. The Eagles were entrusting a playoff-bound team to someone who had thrown almost as many interceptions (20) as touchdowns (23) over the past four years.”

Foles had had a good year in Philly before the team decided to go in another direction and drafted their quarterback of the future, Carson Wentz. Being thrust unwillingly into free agency (in the real world, we call it ‘getting fired’) is a blow to your confidence, and Foles struggled in his next two seasons. He questioned himself, and it showed in his performance.

Putterman writes about Foles’ low points ruthlessly: “…this is the guy representing the conference in the Super Bowl? The guy who was benched by the lowly Rams in 2015 and could barely escape the sideline with the Chiefs in 2016? The guy who weighed retirement only 18 months ago? The guy who played so poorly in a Christmas-night win over the Raiders that home fans began to boo?”

Ouch.

Foles considered retirement. He took some time to think about what he really wanted and what would be best for his family. In an interview with ESPN, he said, “I had to take a week off when I was a free agent just to think about it, and it was the best thing that ever happened because I think people are fearful of feeling that way because they feel like they’re the only ones that feel that way, but everyone, we’re professional athletes and we have moments where we step back and think and assess everything in our life.”

Foles prayed and talked it through with his wife before deciding that he would come back, serving as a backup to the man who had replaced him on the team that had let him go. It was surely a humbling experience, in a role that has always fascinated me. Backup quarterbacks have to keep all their skills sharp. They practice and study just as much as anyone on the team. All in the hope that they never take a snap. In fact, all 65,000 fans in the stadium are hoping and praying he remains firmly on the bench. What must that do to someone’s ego?

During the Eagle’s great 2017 season and Nick Foles’ dark night of the soul, Carson Wentz tore his ACL , ending his season in week 10. Foles was thrust back into a starting role. He play; he wobbled; pundits predicted the Eagles had lost their chance at the playoffs.

An old sports adage says that competition doesn’t build character; it reveals it. And this crucible was what forged Foles’ true character. The Eagles, embracing their underdog status, made it into the NFC championship, dispatched the Vikings, and found themselves headed to the Super Bowl, heavy underdogs to the Perennial Patriots. And Foles and the Eagles pulled it off – a win for the ages.

After the game, Nick Foles said something that showed not only grace under fire, but also what all that humbling history had taught him. “I think the big thing that helped me was knowing that I didn’t have to be Superman. I have amazing teammates, amazing coaches around me. And all I had to do was just go play as hard as I could, and play for one another, and play for those guys.”

This is what humility sounds like. He understood that he was human; he’d failed. He’d been booed. He was able to give up the idea of being Super Man and could simply be a guy doing his best and working together with – and for – his team. Golden Boy shows us he’s grown into Golden Man.

Lily is one lucky lady to have a dad like that. She didn’t look all that impressed with his Super Bowl Victory, but I bet she’ll learn a lot over her lifetime from her Dad’s grace and character.

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We spend as many hours each week with coworkers as we do with family, and we often forge relationships and share personal information. Sometimes, we must spend eight hours or more at work with someone who has experienced loss or is going through a period of intense sadness. Here’s how you can help.

Your first challenge is figuring out how much he or she wants to reveal at work. Some people need to feel supported by their colleagues, but others may find work to be the only place they can feel and act “normal.” Take your cue from your coworker; offer a brief expression of compassion (“I heard about your brother. I’m so sorry for your loss”) and let the other person take the lead. If you receive a brief thanks and a clear dismissal, let it go. She probably wants work to remain a neutral haven, someplace she feels in control.

Writer Sabina Nawasz, who in the course of one year, lost her  brother, mother, a close friend, and six relatives, says: “Broadly speaking, there are two ways you can support a grieving colleague: doing or being. Mourners need both.”

It might sound counterintuitive, but if you really want to help, don’t ask how you can help. According to mental health experts, people who are suffering will find the idea of asking for help to be overwhelming. Instead, take action without asking. Buy a restaurant or coffeehouse gift card. Bring in healthy snacks or breakfast. Offer to take a shift or stay late. Jump in on a routine task like filing or sorting to make the work shorter.

Don’t expect much conversation or acknowledgment; that shouldn’t be necessary to your motivation. Your presence and help will make a difference in your coworker’s ability to cope and keep up with work during a tough time. And your gift of healthy food may make be the best  – or only – nutrition he gets during the day.

If you find your coworker is willing to talk about what she’s experiencing, there are some pitfalls to avoid. Monica Torres, writing for The Ladders, interviewed a psychologist who says that common bromides like “it will get better,” and “everything happens for a reason” simply make people feel bad for feeling bad. Likewise comparing something that happened to you. Torres writes, “Everyone’s loss is unique, and comparing your war story to your coworker’s’ is not empathy because it does not acknowledge their unique pain.” She quotes grief therapist Dr. Patrick O’Malley: “This is their story, not yours.”

Amy Gallo, writing for Harvard Business Review, says when a coworker breaks down and cries, you have several options, but ignoring the tears is not the best one. “What specifically you do — offer a tissue, ask what’s wrong, give a hug, suggest a walk outside — will depend on your relationship, how long you’ve worked together, and the office culture. The key is to engage, and let the tears flow.” Simply closing the door or blinds and sitting quietly with someone while they cry may be the most empathetic response you can make.

Be aware that sorrow may linger or reoccur long after the immediate event. The anniversary of a loss, or the upcoming holiday season may bring up sadness. If someone is struggling with emotions at work and you’re not sure of the cause, start with simple empathy. “I’m so sorry you’re feeling bad. What do you need right now?” Time, space, or simply your presence might help, even if there is no cure for what they’re feeling.

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A post from Dan Schwabel’s Personal Branding blog inspired this post. Read the original guest post by Wendy Brache here.

The Theory of Social Proof states that people assume the actions of others reflect correct behavior for a given situation.   When in doubt, look around you and do what the people at the next table are doing.  Most of us do it, and it works most of the time.  You probably won’t make a monkey of yourself in any given situation.  But you’re not locked into it.  What would happen if you became the social leader?

Here’s a common scenario: You walk into a room where a business presentation will be delivered in a few minutes.  People file in quietly, find a seat with plenty of empty space around it (we Americans love our personal space.)  They begin to read the materials at their seat quietly and carefully.  When someone new takes a seat at their table, they glance up politely and then go back to perusing their materials.  The hush in the room is palpable; suddenly, we’re all shy ten –year-olds again on the first day of fifth grade.

What if you didn’t do that?  You can create your own version of social proof by smiling, even laughing, and starting a lively conversation as you take a seat.  Declare (or demonstrate) that your table is going to be the fun one with the smart people.  Success breeds success; people will be drawn to you.  It’s the same principle that draws you into a busy, noisy and cheerful restaurant –  and makes you pass up one that’s empty and quiet.

Scientific experiments have determined that when someone’s perception or experience with something is ambiguous, the participants will rely on each other to define reality.  If I say that an object is moving at a certain speed, and you’re not sure how fast it’s moving, chances are you’ll come to accept my judgment and make it your own.

Think about that for a minute.  If you’re not sure what’s happening, chances are you’ll rely on others to help you decide.  Is this worthwhile?  Is that guy smart? Are we having fun?

Our emotions – both short and long term – are really just stories we tell ourselves about what we’re feeling. When a toddler learning to walk falls down, she’ll first look to the adults in the room for confirmation.  If you jump up with concern and rush to ask her if she’s hurt, she probably will be. If you laugh and say “That was funny – do it again!” she’ll laugh and pull herself up. She will believe either story.

I’m about to give a big presentation, and my heart is pounding. My hands are sweaty and I feel like I’m attached to a live wire. I’m either terrified (story #1) or I’m more excited about this opportunity than I’ve been in 5 years of public speaking (story #2.) Same feelings, different interpretation.

At work, there are times when each of us looks to another person for social proof of what’s happening here. Is this an opportunity or a threat? How sure are we about the outcome? What does it mean?

You can be the one to say what’s happening. Isn’t this exciting? I can’t wait to see what happens.

You have a choice in every moment. You can follow, or you can lead.

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Seth Godin invests a lot of thought into what makes a workplace great. He recently posted a piece on what he considers to be five essential roles on a team. He writes: “Each one matters, each is intentional, each comes with effort, preparation and reward.”

He goes on to say: “I’m not describing job titles, I’m describing a posture. When you decide what to do next, that decision reveals your sense of what’s the next best contribution you can make.”

Here are Seth Godin’s Five Contributions. Which one describes the work you’re best suited to do?

Leader: The pathfinder, able to get from here to there, to connect in service of a goal. Setting an agenda, working in the dark, going new places and tackling unknowable obstacles.

Manager: Leveraging the work of others, coordinating and completing, with a focus on taking responsibility. The leader can set an agenda, the manager makes the countless decisions to ensure it gets completed. It’s been done before, but you can do it better.

Salesperson: Turning a maybe into a yes, enrolling prospects in the long-term journey of value creation.

Craftsperson: Using hands or a keyboard to do unique work that others can’t (or won’t).

Contributor: Showing up and doing what you’re asked to do, keeping promises made on your behalf.

Some people may believe that these contributions come from innate qualities  – you are what you are from the moment you determine what your work will be. But there’s also a pattern of natural progression for someone new to their role or their team.

You start out as a contributor. Watching, learning, filling in the gaps where the team needs a steady and reliable volunteer. You gain experience, both through your successes and your mistakes, and you learn how valuable – and rare – reliability is.

As you gain a skill, you become a craftsperson. You find your niche. Your years of deliberate practice pay off, and you become valued for the work you do (in addition to showing up, being fully present, and keeping promises.)

Next, you develop a true passion for the mission or the work, and you serve in the role of salesperson. There are two kinds of salespersons: the one who can sell anything, and the one who can only sell what she truly believes. If you’re not a true believer, you probably move from this contribution quickly.

As you learn what it takes to make a project successful, you move into a manager role, organizing contributors and craftspeople. Eventually, you have the opportunity to become a leader.

Where are you today? Are you contributing at your highest level?

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Author’s Note: Right after I scheduled this post, Wal-Mart announced the closing of 63 of its Sam’s Clubs, which was bad news and bad timing. Some of the locations will be converted to distribution centers, but thousands of workers will lose their jobs or be offered jobs at other Wal-Mart-owned sites.  (Wal-Mart has a long history of making sure workers move into other opportunities.) Although it’s perfectly logical to close underperforming stores or change business strategy, it was a puzzling PR decision to have both actions hit the national media on the same day. I decided to leave this post intact because I believe that the raising of the starting wage is a positive trend and hope the investment in retail workers is picked up by other national chains. 

Tax Reform legislation in December reduced the effective corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%, a move that was often derided as tax relief only for the wealthiest. Many commentators  ridiculed the return of  Reagan-era “trickle-down”  and “supply-side” economic theories, which  advocate reducing taxes on businesses and the wealthy as a means to stimulate business investment in the short term and benefit society at large in the long term.

No less than Pope Francis weighed in on the evils of the theory in 2013:

‘Some people continue to defend the trickle-down theory. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power.’

Ann Lowery, writing for the Atlantic in December, wrote that one of the “7 Myths of the Tax Reform Legislation” (number 3, in fact), was that “Cutting the corporate tax rate will lead businesses to give raises to regular workers.” She writes: “Plus, of the money going to workers, much of it would flow to managers and executives, not minimum-wage or average employees.”

On Thursday, January 11, Wal-Mart, number one on Forbe’s Fortune 500 with revenues of $485.9 billion, announced that it would raise starting pay to $11 per hour for all its U.S. employees and hand out one-time bonuses. (The current starting wage is $10 an hour.) The retailer employs 1.5 million workers in the U.S.; the raises take effect in February.

Wal-Mart joins a list of over 100 companies that gave bonuses or raises to workers after the legislation was signed on December 20. According to the Washington Examiner, “The number of companies offering employee bonuses, pay hikes, and increases in benefits in reaction to President Trump’s December tax reform victory is now over 100, with thousands of workers impacted and charities too.  Less than a day after Americans for Tax Reform put out an initial list of 40, it jumped to 52 as more company plans poured in.”

From The Wall Street Journal:

“Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it would raise starting pay to $11 per hour for all its U.S. employees and hand out one-time bonuses as competition for low-wage workers intensifies and new tax legislation will add billions to the retailer’s profits.

The giant retailer is the largest private employer in the world with 2.3 million employees, including around 1.5 million in the U.S. Its current starting salary in the U.S. is $10 an hour after workers take a training course. The new wage increase will take effect in February.

This is the third U.S.-wide minimum wage increase at the company since 2015 as it works to improve its 4,700 U.S. stores while investing heavily to compete with Amazon.com Inc. online.

The company said the salary change would add $300 million to its annual expenses and it expects to take a $400 million charge in the current quarter for the one-time bonus. The amount of the bonus will vary based on length of service, reaching up to $1,000 for an individual with 20 years of service.

The retailer, which had nearly $500 billion in global revenue last year, is expected to get billions in savings from the tax overhaul, which lowers the U.S. corporate rate to 21% from 35%. Retailers have had one of the highest average effective tax rates because much of their operations are U.S.-based. Also, their industry has done little manufacturing or research and development so they don’t benefit from deductions on those activities.

“We are early in the stages of assessing the opportunities tax reform creates for us to invest in our customers and associates and to further strengthen our business,” said Wal-Mart Chief Executive Doug McMillon in a release.

With the additional expected profit, Wal-Mart is considering investments in “lower prices for customers, better wages and training for associates and investments in the future of our company, including in technology,” he said.”

Good news for retail workers, with, I hope, more to come as companies complete their assessments and make financial forecasts based on the new tax rates.

Author’s Note: Right after I scheduled this post, Wal-Mart announced the closing of 63 of its Sam’s Stores, which was bad news and bad timing. Some of the locations will be converted to distribution centers, but thousands of workers will lose their jobs or be offered jobs at other Wal-Mart-owned sites.

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If I asked you to name the toxic employee at your company, chances are you’d know who I meant right away. Toxicity is different from having a difficult personality. We’ve all met team members who were very good at what they did, but were difficult to like  – and sometimes, difficult to manage.  There’s no employment law that covers unpleasantness, and it can be a long process to discipline or fire someone for being a pain. Toxic employees, however, tend to spread their attitude through the company. They infect their team, and sometimes, whole companies with their unhappiness and unproductive behavior.

Christine Porath, an associate professor at Georgetown and the author of Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace.  Her research indicates that many people act out in the workplace for reasons that aren’t work related. They may be going through a rough patch in their personal lives – a divorce or financial troubles. They may be coping with mental health issues or other kinds of personal problems. But Porath also found through research that “four percent of people engage in this kind of behavior just because it’s fun and they believe they can get away with it.”

If a toxic employee can be turned around, you have an obligation to try. Schedule a meeting to discuss specific behaviors that are unproductive or harmful and that must be changed – and document the discussion in writing. Telling someone “Everyone dislikes you and no one wants to work with you” will not help. Use specific examples: “You cut people off in meetings, and that makes them feel disrespected.” “You lost your temper last week when Mary made a simple mistake.” “I have seen you spend more than 30 minutes in conversations with people from other departments that don’t seem to be work related and are hurting their productivity.” “The tone of the emails you sent to Joe about his question were filled with negative and personal remarks.”

Give the worker a performance improvement plan and a strict timeline for changing or eliminating the behavior. Schedule a meeting in 30 days to review progress, and if things don’t improve, start progressive discipline in accordance with your company policy. If you’re lucky, the toxic employee will have started looking for another job as soon as you got serious about changing behavior.

You do have to be careful when planning to discipline an employee out of the company. If the worker is in a protected class (age, ethnicity, or a disability may qualify) it’s important that you don’t give the appearance of discrimination. Consulting an employment law attorney can help you understand how to proceed fairly within the law and your own company’s policies and avoid mistakes that could put your company at risk of a lawsuit.

Containing the toxic employee is one of the few strategies that can help while you’re documenting bad behavior and giving feedback about your expectations. You can schedule fewer meetings or make sure the toxic employee is not included unless absolutely necessary. You can move desks or offices to give the toxic employee fewer opportunities to interact with others. You can remove him from important assignments where teamwork is crucial to success.

(By the way, if any of these actions feels unsettlingly familiar, you might be the toxic employee your manager is trying to contain.)

It takes time and patience to improve or move a toxic employee, but the effort will pay off in retention of your more productive and happier workers and peace of mind for you as a manager.

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Filed under: Careers, Communication, management, Office Tagged: negativity, progressive discipline, toxic employees
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If your New Year’s resolutions include finding a new job, you’ve picked a good time to jump into the market. Here in Jacksonville, unemployment is at its lowest since 2004, and employers are starting to feel the pinch. It’s turning into a seller’s market, and you’re likely to succeed at finding a new position. Here are some ways to make your job search more successful.

Make a list of accomplishments and prepare to discuss them. Your resume should include accomplishment statements under your past and current positions. Creating a list of your career accomplishments is an important step not just for resume writing, but also for networking and interviewing. Your list is a living document that should contain information you can use in interview preparation or crafting a cover letter or pain letter.

Here’s what you need to include in your list.

  • When did this project happen and what was the context? (you’d be amazed how fuzzy dates become after a few years.) What problem were you trying to solve? What were the constraints you faced?
  • Budget and plan details. Bonus points if you have any documentation from the project (without compromising your employer or sharing confidential or proprietary information, of course.)
  • Roles and team members
  • Challenges overcome and lessons learned – what you expected that didn’t happen, and what happened that was unexpected.
  • Outcomes – successes and benefits: money saved, problems solved, other things that changed for the better.

Craft a story that brings together the best and most important of these elements and practice telling it as preparation for an interview. Think about the story from different angles in response to typical interview questions: tell me about a time when you had to overcome obstacles, lead a team, deal with conflict, deal with a failure, etc.

Network strategically. Expand your network online and in real life with quality connections. Look for successful people in your target industry or company and reach out for advice. Here’s a script that works both for LinkedIn connections and in-person meetings.

“In 2018, I’m beginning a search for a new position as X. I’m making new connections and re-connecting with former colleagues to learn what’s new in the industry since I last looked at the job market in 2010. I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee or schedule a brief phone call to get your insight on where my skills might be a good fit and get your take on companies and roles I’m thinking of targeting.”

The challenge with online connections is converting them to actual real life connections. Look through your network and think about who you might be able to help. Offer advice, a helpful article about their profession or industry, or offer to make a connection to a new client or vendor. When you view networking as an opportunity to give instead of receive, you’ll find it to be a pleasurable and energizing experience.

Practice gratitude. Make a list of all the people who have been helpful to you in the past year and reach out to thank them. Email is just fine, but you get bonus points for sitting down and writing a note. Be specific about what they did and how it helped you. Express warm and sincere gratitude and offer your support and assistance if they need anything in the coming year.

I’m a firm believer that you can create good karma in your career by practicing gratitude and helpfulness.  Best wishes for a successful and prosperous 2018.

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Filed under: Careers, Communication, Job Search, Networking Tagged: gratitude, Job Search, networking, new year's resolutions, Pain Letter
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Closing out a business year offers the chance to reflect on what you’ve accomplished – or survived – personally and professionally.  Many cultures have traditions around the new year that involve cleaning house, eliminating debts, forgiving old slights, and making amends for things they’ve done wrong.  There’s something symbolic about turning the page to a new year that makes everyone want to start fresh and make plans to become a better person.

The end of the year is a great time for you to look back and review your accomplishments and strategize for the upcoming year.  If the past 12 months seems like an unmemorable blur, you might consider keeping a log of your accomplishments.  It can be electronic or written in a journal format.  It’s a great way for you to track what you have accomplished at work, what committees or teams you served on, and specific results of projects.  Many companies invite input for performance evaluations, and yours will be easy to compile if you keep a record all year.  It’s also a great tool for use in updating your resume and in preparing to ask for a raise or promotion.

Once you’ve listed your accomplishments, consider sending thank you notes or emails to people that have helped you over the year.  You can also send a note to someone who has inspired you or helped you through a difficult challenge.  In business, we traditionally thank customers with cards or small gifts; it’s rare to see someone thank team members in the same way.  The Hebrew term for gratitude is hikarat hatov, which means, literally, “recognizing the good.”  In today’s hectic business environment, too few people stop to recognize what is good in their lives, which includes coworkers that make you laugh or help you get through the day, or the people who keep your network up and running.

Now that you’ve thanked people who have helped you, ask yourself:  Who can I help?  Most people make the mistake of thinking networking is about asking for advice and help.  Really effective networking begins when you call people to offer them help with special projects or challenges.  Who do you know that’s working on a big project, looking for a job, or making a change in his life? Reach out to these people and offer your help in the new year.  Offer to connect them with people you know or resources they might not be aware of. You will instantly change the nature of your network and the quality of your business relationships.

As for setting new goals for the new year, aim small.  What good habit would you like to start (bringing your lunch instead of eating out every day, answering emails within 12 hours; keeping your inbox clean) or bad habit would you like to stop? Maybe it’s snacking in the afternoon or being late to meetings.  Achieving even small goals will build your confidence and sense of progress during the year.  Starting with a fresh slate, building or repairing your relationships, and setting goals – looks like it’s going to be a very good year.

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Filed under: Careers, Communication, Networking, Office, Organization Tips, Professional Development Tagged: gratitude, networking, New Year
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Q:  I find myself unemployed right now, and I’ve heard that it’s a waste of time to conduct a job search during the holiday season.  Should I just forget about it until January?

A:  Not at all!  Although the common wisdom is that the holidays are a bad time to do a job search, you can make the time very productive for your transition.  While it’s true that fewer people leave positions during the holiday season (hanging on for year end bonuses and office parties) they do tend to begin the new year by making career moves.  January is the start of the new calendar year and often the fiscal year, so many departments start filling positions that have been sitting vacant.

With all that activity beginning in January, you’ll want to have your resume in place in December so you’re positioned for interviewing right away.  Because it’s a quiet time for job seekers, your resume may get more attention, being one of fewer in circulation.  In addition, many CEOs and human resources directors aren’t as busy this time of year which makes them easier to reach.    Some experts think that December may be the best time to reach decision makers. Not everyone takes time off during the holidays. In fact, the people with hiring responsibilities may be more apt to pick up their own phone because their offices are so lightly staffed at this time of year.  They may also have more time for activities such as informational interviews, as well as training new employees.

The end of the year may be a hot time for hiring in certain industries.  Besides the obvious retail and seasonal entertainment opportunities, there are openings for skilled administrative and clerical staff.  Many industries have year end projects relating to closing out the fiscal year and reporting. Tax related companies gear up now too, along with accounting and auditing firms.

Not sure where to begin your search?  Try the staffing firms.  Not only do about 55% of temporary workers use the positions as an entrée into permanent employment, “temp to hire” is how many companies recruit their skilled staff.

Even if your search isn’t producing the results you want during the holidays, you can use the time to work on skill building, researching education opportunities, and long term career planning – the things that get neglected while you’re working full time.  You can also work on interview skills – practicing to answer tough questions and thinking of specific examples of how you solved problems and made a difference in your last place of work.

The holiday season is a great opportunity to thank your network of contacts and supporters.  Drop them a quick note telling them how much you appreciate their advice and assistance, and let them know how excited you are about your prospects in 2018.  It’s a good way to keep in touch and remind them that you’re still looking.

Wishing you success in 2018!  If you’ve got a question about your career or the job market, I’ll answer it. Email me at cmoody@careersourcenefl.com or leave a comment.

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Filed under: Careers, Interviewing, Job Search, Networking, social networking Tagged: holidays, Job Search, networking
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