4 Tips for Surviving the Work Commute

Getting to work can be dull. Here’s how to be productive while you drive.

According to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average United States employee has a 26 minute commute to and from work each day. And according to the National Household Survey, Canadians aren’t getting to their jobs much quicker with an average 25.4 minute commute.

That’s more than 6,000 minutes spent driving per year! Although it can be tempting to spend all of that time zoning out and thinking about lunch, we recommend taking a more proactive approach.

Topical Podcasts

Podcasts are informative audio files that can be downloaded on your computer or mobile device, usually as part of an ongoing series. Think of them as audio books, but for a wider range of topics. These can range from recipe ideas and writing tips to murder mysteries and love advice.

Basically, if a topic exists, there’s a podcast for it. Some are available on iTunes, while others can be downloaded from SoundCloud. Many podcasts also have their own native app. Your favorite search engine is also a great podcast source—just search for “best ____ podcasts” and a list of the top podcasts in your area of interest will show up.

You can also listen to our Express Employment Professionals podcast, On The Job! It’s a great way to learn about other people and their job search experiences.

But how do podcasts help your work commute? They allow you to learn while driving. Writers can hear about the latest writing techniques and how they can improve their writing style or blog. Construction workers are given an opportunity to absorb information about new apps and how they can be applied to their next project. Office workers can learn about workplace etiquette and the latest computer programs. You can even acquire personal finance knowledge!

News

Sometimes listening to the news can be disheartening, especially when it’s about the same political or viral story over and over. However, if you perk your ears a bit, you might be able to learn useful information. When you know more about current events, you can better understand how those events affect your industry. These events also make great talking points for small talk with coworkers.

Learn a Language

There are many podcasts and apps that you can listen to in your car to learn a language. These include Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, and Pimsleur, among others. Although you probably won’t be mastering a language from the front seat, the morning or afternoon commute is still a great time to learn new vocabulary or grammatical constructions. Foreign languages look great on resumes and open up a whole new world of job opportunities.

 Set Your Work Agenda

As you sit behind a driver who refuses to go even one mile above the minimum speed, resist the temptation to honk angrily and speed past them. Instead, turn on your favorite song and relax. If this is your morning commute, try to organize the schedule for the day. Mentally preparing yourself for the workday (or even the workweek) can make it much easier to get work started once at the office.

If you’re on the way home, think about what happened that day. What did you do well? What could have used improvement? What’s still left for tomorrow? Questions like these can help you pinpoint personal strengths and areas for improvement. You can even download a dictation app and say your thoughts out loud. That way you’ll have notes to review later.

How do you make your work commute more enjoyable?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

What’s Your Go-To Social Network for Finding a Job?

Finding a job is hard. Finding a job without any connections is even harder. You can only spend so many hours online sending out resumes before the entire process makes you batty.

You should pair any online job search efforts with networking in the real world. Go to industry events and meet people. If there are any professional organizations that match your career interests, join them!

However, even after all that work, finding a job can still seem impossible. That’s when you turn to the major social media networks: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These platforms allow you to link your online and offline job search pursuits. Find people you have connected with in person and make them part of your online professional network. Now, you’ve laid the foundation to connect with them when a job opportunity pops up at their company.

Recruiters are also on social media. If you have professional profiles on each major network, you improve your chances of being contacted by recruiters.

However, many job searchers prioritize one social network over another. Are you a Facebook fan? A LinkedIn loyalist? A Twitter tweeter?

Let us know by voting in our poll!

What Type of Boss Do You Have?

And what does that mean for you, as an employee?

Throughout our lives, we’ve all worked for a variety of bosses. Some are compassionate and inspire us to excel in a number of ways. Others are independent leaders who have a tendency to be more assertive.

Daniel Goleman, of the Harvard Business School Press, outlines six basic boss types, illustrated below in an infographic by the Quid Corner, an online financial resource center. Although we all have our own ideal management type, the graphic also outlines the optimal ways to get along with each type of boss. So even if your manager isn’t naturally compatible with you, you’ll have some idea of how best to get along with them.

 

National Staffing Employee Week: What Was Your First Job?

All year long, American workers are doing incredible things. Whether you’re a builder, welder, construction worker, office worker, researcher, doctor, lawyer, healthcare worker, social worker, retail salesperson, cashier, receptionist, or any other of the wonderful types of workers in this country, you have the potential to do something great.

At this time every year, from Sept. 18 – 24, the American Staffing Association “celebrates the contributions of millions of individuals across the U.S. employed staffing firms.”  This celebration is known as National Staffing Employee Week.

Since Movin’ On Up is a blog focused on job seekers, we wanted to spotlight workers this week who have had incredible careers that started with one seemingly simple job. For some it was working in the fast food industry, for others it was in a busy office, and still others were construction workers or train operators. But those great jobs led them to the wonderful careers they have now.

We’ll kick things off with Kathy Hefton, Client Marketing Manager of Express Employment Professionals.

“I actually got my first job out of college from a temporary service.  I was placed at a local company as a data entry clerk. It was my first office job, so it built the foundation for the rest of my office career.

I learned the ins and outs of Microsoft Office because of my great supervisor. She encouraged me to seek out training, and made sure that I got it.

In the end, every job I had led to the next one, even though I didn’t always know what that next one was. I learned about computers and spreadsheets in that first office job and used those skills to get another office job. At that second job, I worked closely with hotels and decided that was where my future was. Fast forward 20 years or so, and now I’m at Express.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that you don’t always know where your current job will take you. So make sure to excel and learn as much as possible. “

Have a first job story of your own to share? Let us know in the comments below or post on Facebook with the hashtag #MyFirstJob.

 

 

Tell Us About Your First Job!

Whether it was during or after high school, we want to hear about it.

Chances are your first job wasn’t exactly glamorous. You waited tables or sacked groceries. But humble beginnings are necessary for an epic adventure. What’s important is how those jobs led to your current career path. As noted by the Harvard Business Review, “no matter what [first] job you chose today, you build skills and create options for the long-term.”

What did you learn about the working world? About your preferred management style? About yourself?

Perhaps you don’t consider those early jobs as your true “first job.” You may think of your first “adult” job as your first career job—your first professional position or the first job you held in a particular industry.

We want to hear about those early days in your career. That’s why we’re using the hashtag #MyFirstJob on social media. Feel free to let us know about your first job on any social media platforms or right here on Movin’ On Up!

So what was your first job?  Let us know in the comments below!

 

Poll Results: What’s the Worst Food Your Co-Workers Bring for Lunch?

Spoiler alert: microwaved fish isn’t a favorite.

Last month, we held a poll asking all of you, “What’s the worst food your co-workers bring for lunch?” It was one of the most popular polls we’ve ever held.

Why? Bad smells are bad. Bad for our minds and bad for our noses. A fiendishly fishy aroma or the undesired scent of an undercooked egg can ruin a workday. It’s distracting! But we can’t always blame the person that brought the smell in—frequently, they don’t even know how their food affects the rest of the office. But when you share this blog, they can! Here are the results:

“Fish of Any Kind” took the top spot, earning over 50% of the vote. So stay away from salmon, tuna, flounder, catfish, and anything else with fins. “Other” came in second with 9% of the vote. The biggest alternate answer? Broccoli, especially if it’s steamed.

“Eggs” was next with 8%, and “Raw Onions” followed at 6%.  “Reheated Chinese,” “Kimchi,” “Popcorn,” and “Fast Food” squared off at around 5%. Everything else ranked 2% or lower.

So play it safe and don’t bring any of those high-ranking items to your workplace!

Any other lunch smells that bother you? Let us know about them in the comments below!

 

Interview Tips: Do This, DON’T Do That

You’ve spent days applying and sent in what feels like a thousand resumes. And now you finally have an interview. This is when the nerves start kicking in. What should you say? What should you wear? Do you know anything about the industry?

We’re here to help. Review this list of dos and don’ts to ace that next interview!

Do:

Dress for the Job You Want

That’s right, we’re back to that old cliché. But, there’s a reason people say it so often. This interview might be your only chance to make a lasting impression on a potential employer. You never get a second first impression. And if you do get the job, do you want to be seen as a regular employee or a candidate for promotion? Hopefully the latter. So dress like it!

Also, make sure to:

  • Get a haircut (if needed)
  • Trim your nails
  • Take a shower that morning.
  • Try to avoid any strong-smelling colognes, perfumes, body washes, or deodorants.

You don’t want anything to distract the interviewer from why you’re right for the job!

Learn Interview Etiquette

How’s your handshake? Everything goes back to making that immediate, lasting impression. If you give a puny handshake, you seem weak. If you give an overly strong handshake, you come off as aggressive. It’s getting to that happy medium that’s difficult.

The same thing applies to eye contact. You don’t want to stare into the interviewer’s eyes for a straight hour, but also don’t want stare at a corner of the room or look out the window. Be attentive and go for a balance between the two extremes.

How can you practice your handshake or eye contact? And, for that matter, how do you know if you have a good handshake? Join a local professional group!

  • Ask other members to practice interview techniques with you. These groups exist to help people master the fine art of business etiquette.
  • Even if the organiztion you’re interviewing with doesn’t have a traditional office setting, these groups can teach lessons applicable to all workplaces.
  • Mock interviews are especially helpful to highlight any flaws in your technique.

Always Have Questions Prepared

The the first thing you should do after scheduling an interview is research the company’s history, values, and culture. You want to make sure you fit in—and mentioning the company’s mission statement and how that applies to you is always a good start.

However, you also need to come prepared with questions. The more specific and tailored to the company, the better. Ask about:

  • The job and potential future responsibilities.
  • The work environment and culture. For example, asking the interviewer why they like working at the company shows you’re interested in the people and culture, not just climbing the company ladder.

Follow-Up

Follow-ups matter. Start writing a handwritten thank-you note immediately when you get home. Bring up a few things you learned in the interview, and send it off as soon as possible. When the applicant pool for a certain job is especially competitive, this helps you stand out. If you’re unable to send out a handwritten note, send a personalized email.

Don’t:

Be Late

Remember that whole bit about leaving a good first impression? If you’re late to the interview, you’ve already shot yourself in the foot. In the interviewer’s eyes, if an applicant can’t make it to the interview on time, they simply don’t want the job enough.

Be early. It’s much better for you, as an applicant, to wait on the interviewer, rather than the other way around. Just don’t arrive too early—ten minutes or so should be fine.

Talk Too Much … Or Too Little

Interviews can be nerve-wracking, and some applicants find themselves rambling just to move the discussion along. If you take up your interviewer’s time with long descriptions of achievements, you’re preventing the interviewer from asking questions they want to ask.

But don’t make your responses too short either. Remember, it’s all about balance. Avoid giving one word (or, in some cases, one sentence, answers). When asked about what it was like working at “such-and-such” company, don’t respond with “great.” Your response should be about what you learned from working at a specific company with its own culture, values, and people.

Complain About Your Last Boss

This can be tempting—especially if you were fired or let go from a previous position. Who wouldn’t want to vent about their awful boss when someone specifically asks about their time at that company? However, complaining about anyone in an interview is the hallmark of an unprofessional employee. So come prepared to answer a question specifically addressing past negative experiences.

Bring Up Controversial Topics

Interviews are about showing the interviewer why you’re a perfect fit for the job. They are not a place to discuss religion, politics, and other hot-button topics. No matter how informal the style of the interview, it’s still an interview.

Lie

Most industries are fairly closely knit. Odds are the interviewer knows somebody who knows somebody else that is a best friend of a previous boss. So, don’t lie. Even if your industry isn’t closely knit, lying always comes back to bite you.

Go For It

In the end, you can only do so much preparation. When you’re ready, you’re ready. After that, it’s all about balance and confidence. Walk in with your head held high and knock that interview out of the park!

Have you ever had a bad interview experience? What did you learn? Let us know in the comments below!