Tag Archives: career

Recession Checkup: How’s Your Career?

Well over a year into one of the steepest recessions in decades, reports say things are beginning to look up for the economy. But, as the economy struggled, so did the workforce with rising unemployment rates, rocking the world of work from the inside out. Everyone has a different career story, and situations impact people differently, depending on personal motivations and financial situations. So, we want to know what this recession has meant to your career. Has it been a time of struggle or of success?

Your career may have been affected by several factors, but which has had the greatest influence on you – not just on your current job or financial situation, but on your whole career story? Let us know by voting in our online poll, and share your recession career stories in the comments below.

Bad Boss of the Week: A Christmas Carol’s Ebenezer Scrooge

Ebenezer Scrooge – the self-centered, tight-fisted, hum bug in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – is this week’s bad boss. His constant malice, degrading demeanor, and entire lack of work/life balance make him the classic bad boss.

While there’s a great deal to be said for hard work, knowing how to balance business with life is an important and necessary skill that eluded Scrooge for much of his career.  He spent most of his life at work and expected his employee, Bob Crachit, to do the same, only reluctantly giving him Christmas day off.

Have you found that your work/life balance can be more work than life?  In order to keep pace with a workaholic boss, here are three things you can do to reprioritize your life and still meet their expectations.

1. Discuss and understand your employer’s expectations
2. Take time to evaluate your goals and priorities
3. Establish an agreed-upon plan in advance, including deadlines and time off.

To view a clip of Ebenezer Scrooge in action, click here.

Share your bad boss stories at www.worstbosses.com. For more information about 100 Worst Bosses – Learning from the Very Worst How to Be Your Very Best and the Movin’ on Up Bad Boss of the Week, click here.

This Year, Is Higher Education Worth the Cost?

Summer may be at its peak, but just around the corner, another school year waits. Not just for children to return to class from summer vacation, but for a growing number of people in America, from the unemployed to those with newly minted degrees. 

This year, a rising number of unemployed Americans are returning to school to improve their knowledge and skills in an increasingly tough job market. In fact, many community colleges reporting their largest enrollment spikes ever attribute the increase to the need to meet the demands of a highly competitive job market.

To cope with the monetary strain of higher education, many high school graduates are simply opting for a low tuition option such as in-state or community colleges, rather than ivy league, gold sticker institutions.

Many new college grads, who faced a dreary job outlook upon their recent graduation, are opting to go straight into grad school, fearing uncertain immediate employment future. In fact, the National Association of Colleges and Employers reported that 26% of new grads planned to go on to graduate school, up from 24% in 2008 and 20% in 2007.

So, with all this emphasis on going back to school, we want to know what you think. Is it worth it to get a college or graduate degree in this recession? Let us know by voting in our poll below.

 
Are you struggling with the decision of whether or not to enroll in higher education? Looking to increase your skills, or hoping a degree will help you earn a higher paycheck? Share your thoughts on higher education in our comments section.

Generations and the Job Search: Who’s Having a Harder Time?

When it comes to the job market, there’s been a lot of talk about how grim things are for two different spectrums of the labor pool. Recent reports show that both new grads and mature workers are likely to have a hard time finding work right now.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that over 1 million people 55 and older are unemployed and looking for work. Many mature workers are delaying retirement due to the recession. The AARP Public Policy Institute reports that the ones who are looking for jobs will typically search about a third longer than those younger than 55.

But this year, things also look tough for the college crowd. In fact, the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ reported that employers expect to hire 22% fewer new graduates than in 2008, and internship hiring is also down by about 21%. Experts say that in an expanding labor pool, new graduates typically have less experience than others in their industry who are now also looking for work, lengthening the job search process.

When it comes to generations in the workplace, the Baby Boomer generation and the Millennial generation have different values and views, but in the job search, experts say both generations must adapt to a quick learning curve and apply every job search tactic available to bolster their chances of landing a gig. So, we want to know what you think.

Have more thoughts or insights into these two generations on the job hunt? Do you fall into one of these two groups and have a story to share with us or a question to ask? Share your feedback in the comments section.

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.

Recession-Proof Your Job: Start with Common Courtesy

Today’s hurried culture has changed the expectations of social behavior. In an effort to keep pace with the deadlines and demands of every day, it has become increasingly difficult to see beyond ourselves, a problem only compounded by current economic concerns. Consequently, courtesies once considered common are becoming a rarity.

Lack of common courtesy in our culture impacts workplace productivity, profits, and relationships. Demonstrating a sincere attitude of courtesy and consideration for others certainly won’t hurt your job security and could even help it. Make your mark in business by making courtesy an everyday habit, and you’ll stand out to employers and co-workers. Here are three easy ways to get started.

Acknowledge Others

Whether it’s simply opening the door for a co-worker, asking about someone’s day, or giving praise for a job well done, recognize the presence and accomplishments of those around you to strengthen relationships and promote a team-centered outlook. Courtesy is contagious, so changing your habits will encourage others to follow your example, creating a positive work environment everyone will appreciate.   

Be Prompt

Arriving early to meetings and responding to emails, phone messages, and requests as promptly as possible displays professionalism, efficiency, and respect for the schedules of others. You probably don’t appreciate when others delay you or your projects, so treat them with the respect you want and be consistently prompt.

Be Thankful

Co-workers feel appreciated and valued when you express genuine gratitude for their contributions. Taking time to simply say “thank you” can help build company community and morale, and shows your co-workers how you truly feel.

Making courtesy a habit will enable you to positively impact your workplace relationships and your career. Take time to demonstrate your professionalism and respect, and you will stand out to your employer the next time you’re in line for a raise, a promotion, or a positive recognition.