Monthly Archives: March 2009

Don’t Let Facebook Cost You a Job

Facebook Kimberley Swann, an office administrator in England was sacked last month for telling her friends that it was boring. Dan Leone, a stadium operations worker in Philadelphia, lost his job last week for criticizing management’s decisions.

Where they erred – they vented to their Facebook friends.

They didn’t mention specific people. They didn’t even name their employers. They just updated their Facebook status with what they were feeling at the time – about work.

Today’s social networkers should consider the lessons learned from these examples.

Know your friends. With Facebook, you pick who you want to be friends with. There are pros and cons to befriending co-workers, and there are advantages to separating your work life from your private life. Did Leone’s friends rat him out, or was he Facebook friends with his boss? Swann’s slip up was clear. She was 16-years-old and in her first real job. She wanted to make friends and fit in. Her downward spiral began when she added co-workers to her Facebook friends and then started talking negatively about her job.

Don’t alienate a revenue stream. You shouldn’t target any co-worker by name and should really try and avoid talking about workplace specifics on social media profiles. You have the right to express yourself; however, your employer can determine what’s “appropriate.” Swann’s employer felt that her comments about her job were a sign that she was not happy and didn’t enjoy her work. They didn’t want to continue to invest time and energy training her.

Control your emotions. If you’re going to share your feelings and opinions, or even vent online, be prepared to stand behind what you write. All you’ve achieved in your career can be gone in a flash. Leone worked his way up through the ranks with six years of dedication, but a few days after his status post, he was fired. It didn’t matter that he took the post down after two days. As far as his employer was concerned, his post was a bell he couldn’t unring.

There will be growing pains as social networking evolves – especially in the workplace, where one mistake could cost you your job. Swann and Leone found out the hard way what not to say about work online.

The next time you get ready to post something to your profile, add a co-worker as your friend, or vent online, think about what happened to these individuals and how their job loss could have been avoided.

Have you faced a similar situation? Do you know anyone who has? Let us know in the comments section below.

5 Steps to Make Your Work More Challenging (Without Job Hopping)

If you’re like almost half of all workers, chances are, you don’t feel challenged enough at work. In fact, Business Week recently reported that 46% of women and 49% of men say they don’t feel like they’re being challenged in their jobs. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to jump ship and look for work elsewhere.

If you don’t feel challenged at work, here are five steps you can take to start raising the bar for yourself – and make yourself more valuable to your company.

1 – Ask for Better Work.
Start by having a conversation with your boss. Approach this conversation with respect rather than frustration. It’s not going to help your job – or your relationship with your boss – to complain about things. Be able to demonstrate your competency in your current work load, and then let your boss know you feel confident in the current tasks you’re assigned to and that you’d like to take on some additional tasks. Sometimes, simply asking for new work is all it takes to add challenge to your workday.

2 – Spur Your Own Growth.
Whether or not a conversation with your boss is successful at adding new tasks to your plate, professional development is a tried and true way to improve your work. By learning more about your field or industry, discovering how to use the latest trends in your current job roles, or observing new ways to approach old processes, you can rejuvenate your thinking – and maybe even challenge the status quo yourself. Professional development comes in many shapes and sizes these days, so try several approaches and see what works for you. Join a local professional group, befriend industry leaders on social networking sites like Twitter, or learn by teaching others.

3 – Develop New Ideas.
If you want to be the kind of employee who gets the best work, often, you have to be proactive and go after it yourself. Use the knowledge, skills, and ideas you develop through professional development and apply them to your current job role. If you have a spare hour in your work day, don’t use it to catch up on personal e-mails or peruse the Internet like most workers do. Instead, step out ahead of the pack and start something that will make your own work more challenging. Use your spare time at work to develop ideas you have that could help your department or company reach its goals, save money, or better serve customers and clients. Challenge yourself to develop innovative products, cost-effective processes, or cutting-edge concepts, and you’ll feel more energized – but don’t stop there.

4 – Propose and Present.

Simply spending time developing new ideas will help you feel more challenged at work, but to add value to your company, you have to take your ideas to the next level so you can actually implement them. Some of the best tools you can use to sell your ideas to your boss – and equip them to sell your ideas to their bosses – are the proposal and the presentation. Write a well-thought-out proposal to help you clarify your idea to yourself and sell others on its value to the company. Create a thoughtful visual presentation explaining your idea, and then set up a meeting to pitch it to your boss.

5 – Follow Up and Follow Through.
Once you pitch your idea to your boss, let them know you’re serious about moving forward by asking for their immediate feedback. Ask them to give you specific questions or ideas you can use to improve your proposal. Let them know you’d like to meet again in a week or two – to talk about moving forward. Then, follow up. If they don’t adopt the idea immediately – or at all –  that’s OK. New ideas are proposed all the time, and not all of them come to fruition. Continue developing ideas, listen to the critiques of your boss, and learn from the process. And if your ideas do get the green light, make sure to follow through with excellence.

If you feel your work lacks the challenge you’re looking for, don’t make the common mistake of waiting around for your boss to notice your potential. And don’t assume it means you need to find a new job.

Take the responsibility for making your own work a rewarding daily challenge, and not only will you beat the Monday morning blues, you’ll start adding accomplishments to your resume and building the career you’ve been dreaming of.

A Social Media Job Primer

There’s no question that social networking sites are growing in popularity over some more traditional methods to connect with old friends, find new friends, search for jobs and establish business contacts. We’ve seen social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn rise in popularity in the past few years. Even U.S. Senators were seen twittering on President Obama’s nationally televised speech.

In our current economy, there’s been a lot on the news about people using social networking sites to find jobs and meet important decision makers in the hiring process. There are countless numbers of networking sites available, and each can help you in different ways. You might be wondering, “which sites are best for my job search?”

To help you figure out which social networking site is best for your job search, here are some benefits of some popular sites.

LinkedIn – Maybe one of the more popular sites to conduct a job search, LinkedIn helps you focus on specific companies and targets your job search. You can learn all you need to know about companies. You can also search the company name to find out who currently works there or was formerly employed by the organization. Building your own professional network on LinkedIn will allow you to learn more about your contacts, communicate with decision makers of companies you’re interested in, and share your own work history online. To get the most out of your job search on LinkedIn, check out Guy Kawasaki’s Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn to Find a Job.

Plaxo – This social network site, popular with post-college professionals, resembles LinkedIn but has some differences. On Plaxo, in addition to a profile with a bio that includes your contact information, you can create a “pulse stream,” a list of the social media sites you’re connected to. Plaxo also has an address book that allows you to keep track of all your contact information and a map showing where your contacts live. It’s partnered with Simply Hired, a job search engine that aggregates all company and job site searches into one convenient place. It also has a calendar function to organize your meetings, events, and tasks. 

Twitter – Twitter allows you to share up-to-date information on what you’re doing in 140 characters or less. You can use this social network to talk directly to hiring managers. Make sure you fill out your profile with information relevant to your job history and mention the types of positions you’re looking for. Then, use the link section to promote your other social networking site such as your LinkedIn profile, online résumé, professional blog, or online portfolio. You can only provide one link, so be selective, and then make sure the page you select has links to all your other relevant professional online links. Because it’s highly specialized, this tool should be used primarily by people who have mastered other social networking sites.

Facebook – Facebook is growing in popularity and can be used to find a job in two main ways: searching the Facebook marketplace and joining groups or fan pages. The Facebook marketplace lists job openings in your network. You will be able to see who listed the job and then message the person directly to submit your résumé. The second way to find jobs on Facebook is to network with people through the groups and fan pages you have joined. Make sure these groups focus on the same interests and industry experience you would like to pursue. Many businesses and organizations have Facebook accounts, making it a little easier for job seekers to get into contact with decision makers and other influential people.

There are plenty more social networking sites available than these, making it a difficult process to choose which site will best benefit your job search. We’ve highlighted some of the most popular – because they are a great way to begin. While you’re building your social network presence, feel free to add Express as a connection on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn Job Search Connection to equip your career and keep you up-to-date on all our job search advice! But remember, simply using these sites alone will not guarantee you a job. Broaden your job search beyond the Internet, network with the people around you, and attend job fairs in your community in addition to online networking for the best results. 

If there are any social networking sites that have been successful at helping you find a job, let us know in the comments section below.

Friendships After a Layoff. Where Do You Draw the Line?

With nearly 700,000 job losses reported in February, more and more people are being affected by layoffs. Whether you know someone who has lost their job, or are now unemployed yourself, dealing with a layoff is difficult. It’s normal to turn to your friends for support, advice, and guidance during difficult times. But, where do you draw the line when your friend is your co-worker and you’re the one that was laid off?  Can you still be friends after a layoff? Yes, you can, but chances are, it won’t be easy. Here are a few things to keep in mind to help you sustain your friendships, even after you’ve been laid off.

Be Careful Who You Reach Out To.
After you’ve been laid off, it’s in your best interest not to reach out to your former co-workers for support. Those who are still employed may fear losing their own jobs and be unable to sympathize with your loss. Instead, talk with your other friends or family members for the support you need.

Be Mindful of Your Conversations.
If you choose to talk with a former co-worker after you’ve been laid off, be mindful about your conversations. Since friendship is based on many commonalities besides work, find something else to talk about. If the conversation heads back toward your current job situation, talk about the positive aspects of your job search, but avoid talking about your former workplace or the circumstances surrounding your layoff.

Avoid Group Gatherings.
Avoid spending time with a group of your former co-workers, because the topic of work is bound to come up. You’ll feel out of place and be reminded that your former co-workers still have a job and you don’t. So, decline any offers to attend group events when only former co-workers will be in attendance. Instead, ask each of your closest friends to meet you one-on-one so you can continue your relationship outside of the workplace in a comfortable setting.

Some friendships don’t make it through a lay off because of the stress, embarrassment, and the lack of communication that can occur. No one likes the strain that a job loss can place on a friendship, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. To make your friendships last through your layoff, make sure you reach out to the right people, are careful of your conversations, and avoid large groups of former co-workers.

Are More Jobs Coming?

The economic stimulus package that is expected to create nearly 4 million jobs has been approved by President Obama. Although many Americans are optimistic about the next four years, we want to know how you feel about the immediate future of the job market.

What are your thoughts about the millions of jobs the stimulus package is expected to create? Leave your comments in the section below.