Tag Archives: work

Jobs After Jail

Jobsafterjail_feb2012_webMore than 650,000 people in the U.S. are released from prison every year. After serving their time, they face many obstacles including finding a job. Many who have served time struggle finding employment because of their criminal record. Even an arrest for a felony not resulting in a conviction stays on record and can cause trouble for someone who wants to start their career.

It can feel like those trying to enter the job market after serving time are constantly being re-punished. It may be a challenge, but it’s a challenge you can overcome. Here are some tips on how to pick yourself back up, build up confidence, and re-enter the job market.

Understand Your Current Situation

It’s important to know what options are available in your job search. Before you start looking for a job, take the time to research what jobs are open to you. You might not be eligible for some jobs due to statutory prohibitions.

For instance, if a job requires earning a license, some felonies or convictions disqualify you from getting those licenses and therefore disqualifies you from jobs like being teachers, physicians, real estate agents, or attorneys. Another example would be if you were, if being on parole or probation resulting from a drug-related crime, it’s possible that you may not be allowed to work in a pharmacy.

Take the time to consult with administrators related to your case like a counselor, judge, or parole officer to help you make an informed decision on what direction to take your job search.

Bottoms Up

It’s a hard truth, but you might have to take a job starting at the bottom of the barrel. On the bright side, the only place to go is up.

If offered a low paying job, ask if there are opportunities for pay increases after proving your value to the company. With some hard work and after developing leadership skills, you can eventually earn a higher pay rate. After several months of earning experience, you can start looking for something better. But, try to stay with the same employer for as long as possible. It helps strengthen your résumé and makes you look reliable to potential employers.

Out in the Open

Your gut instinct might be to hide your criminal record, but you should learn how to honestly discuss it with potential employers. On job applications, when you get to the section asking if you have been convicted of a crime, consider putting “please let me discuss this with you when we meet,” after checking the “yes” option.

Work on confidently getting the point across in interviews that you have paid your debt, put that part of your life behind you, and are working to become a better person. It’s not easy, but you are a different person. With lots of practice, you can build self-confidence and prove that you have taken responsibility for your actions and are ready to move on.

You’re Not Alone

Don’t underestimate the benefits of going to a staffing agency. Not only will the staffing company be helpful in finding long-term employment, but choosing to go with temporary jobs can help build valuable skills to help make you more marketable to employers.

Look into your community programs. Some offer training programs that, upon finishing certain requirements, may guarantee interviews with local companies. Talk to social service workers, counselors, or probation officers to see what options are available in your area.

There are several online resources for you to take advantage of when looking for work after serving time. Try visiting the Legal Action Center, National H.I.R.E. Network, Project Footprints, and The Women’s Prison Association to help connect with others, information, and helpful resources that can help you make a career after prison.

Associate Spotlight: Erin Wharton

Erin-Wharton-EOM-120x136When looking for a job, it’s easy to overlook the benefits of working for a staffing agency. In fact, companies like Express Employment Professionals can help change lives in the midst of economic uncertainty and provide job opportunities for some of the most hardworking individuals around.

Express takes pride in the accomplishments of those individuals who come to us for work. Without the skills and talents of our associates who provide what companies are looking for, Express wouldn’t be what it is today.

To help recognize outstanding associates and their dedication to Express and the companies they work for, we would like to showcase select associates each month on Movin’ On Up. It’s important to give credit where credit is due, and Express would like to share stories of our associates as an inspiration to you while you strive to achieve professional success.

Erin Wharton 

Erin found her current job through the South Indianapolis office in Greenwood, Ind. She came to Express after a rough job search. She spent 14 years with a previous employer in a less-than-constructive work environment. She left in hopes of finding a better place to work, but ended up facing a fiercely competitive job market, sending countless résumés and submitting numerous job applications for weeks with no response.

Fearing the worst, she noticed a job posting for an administrative position through Express. She had no previous experience dealing with staffing companies like Express and was a little cautious about calling to apply, but ended up emailing her résumé and application anyway. Within a couple of days, she was called by Michelle Bright from the Greenwood office for an interview.

“During the phone call, Michelle made me feel comfortable, confident, and helped ease what little fear I had.” Erin said.

When Erin came to the Express office for an interview, her anxiety returned until she met someone in the waiting room who had been working for Express for a few years. The woman told Erin that Express was “great to work with,” and “you’re working with the best.” When Erin sat down for the interview with Express, she was almost immediately told that there was a perfect position for her. After interviewing with McAllister Power on a Friday morning, she was offered a job to start the next Monday.

“Working with Express was by far the best choice I have made. I have even referred people to them. You don’t know how good it feels to be happy, enjoy getting up in the morning and coming to work. I look forward to the next day and what it is going to bring. Every day is something new. The employees here at MacAllister are absolutely wonderful,” Erin said.

We’re excited to have Erin as a part of our Express family. If you haven’t already considered looking into working with a staffing agency like Express, give it a try. You could find the same success that Erin did.

“I owe my happiness and my life to Michelle for matching me with the perfect company. I give everyone at Express my sincere gratitude!”

The Boss That Binds: Building Trust With Your Manager

Trustwithboss_Jan2012_webThere are many reasons you could start working with a new boss. You’ve started a new job, and you’re ready to serve your new supervisor. Or maybe a few years into your job, the management shifts and you have to start working for a new team leader. Whatever the reason, there may be a situation where you want to start building trust with a manager.

Unfortunately, trust isn’t earned overnight. Building trust is like growing a flower. It takes time and attention to grow properly, and needs to have strong roots to keep it from toppling over. If just starting out, it can be difficult to find a place to start or know what to do. Take a deep breath and take a look at these three helpful hints to build trust with your boss.

Under Promise and Over Deliver

Too often, new employees are very eager to impress their supervisors by taking on extra responsibilities and tasks in a shorter amount of time. While it does showcase your enthusiasm and drive, you could also set yourself up for failure. If you want your boss to see your strengths and talents in the long run, make obtainable goals for yourself and aim to accomplish more.

When you strive to finish your projects early, you have the opportunity to let your manager review your final product. This way, your boss will see that you are taking an active interest in your manager’s opinions and have the ambition to create better work quality.

Be Open, Honest, and Ready

Your boss may have different managing styles; some are more hands-on while others are more inclined to delegate and expect occasional updates. No matter how your boss works, you should try to match their style. Set up a schedule of updates for your active supervisor. If you have a more hands-off manager, have your accomplishments, plans, and ideas ready for when your boss wants an update. If you’re not sure, try a scheduled 30-minute meeting with your supervisor every week or every other week to make sure you are up to date with each other.

It’s also important to explain challenges or mistakes you’ve made. Mistakes happen and a good manager will understand and work with you to get the job done.  That kind of honesty can go a long way in building trust with your boss because you will be known for being honest when asking for feedback and opinions.

Go Beyond the Shift

Take some time to learn more about your boss on a casual basis. Learning more about your manager as a person can help develop a stronger rapport, which can help strengthen communication. By getting to know a manager on a more personal level, trust is built by connecting with their points of interest. Try going out to lunch a few times to get a glimpse of how your boss is outside of work and find out more about them. When the personal connection and trust has been built, ask for feedback during informal meetings. Developing relationships can create more trust with the relationship.

Building trust with your supervisor doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does take time and patience. Trust isn’t something that can be automatically granted. You have to earn it. If you follow these simple tips on how to build that trust, it can happen naturally, and you can become a better employee at the same time. What are some stories of how you and your boss have built trust?

Lunch Foods to Keep you Energized at Work

Lunchenergy_Jan_2012_webWe’ve all been there – 2:30 p.m. rolls around and our eyelids feel like they weigh 50 pounds. We start yawning, then stretch and squirm at our work station to stay awake. The mid-day food drain can impact your productivity at work and can be frowned upon by co-workers if you’re constantly yawning at meetings.

It’s time to ditch the drowsy and embrace the energy at work. By changing a few habits during your lunch break, you can find the energy you need to last the day and work stronger than ever. Here are some fun food ideas to help you stay awake and avoid the urge to take a nap at your desk.

Why Am I So Sleepy?
After eating, your body is diverting blood flow for the digestive process. While this blood flow can energize you, the heavier, fattier foods cause sluggishness. Eating sugary foods greatly increases blood sugar levels, causing the pancreas to release insulin. This causes the body to change the insulin into several enzymes until it finally gets into the brain and is converted into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel sleepy.

Like a Checkbook, Keep it Balanced
One of the best ways to keep yourself fueled throughout the day is to make sure your lunch is complete with carbohydrates and low-fat protein. The good kind of carbs come from fiber in foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans, and whole grains.

One of the best ways to combine these foods is with the classic sandwich. You can combine whole-grain breads, wraps, or pitas with high protein foods like lean meats, such as turkey, chicken, tuna, cheese, or eggs. You can complete it with assorted greens, sprouts, onions, tomatoes, or cucumbers to help give you some extra long-lasting carbs to keep you energized.

Eating sandwiches every day may get boring and you might get back in the habit of eating out. To add some variety to your lunch, consider bringing leftovers from previous dinners. They are a great food to bring because you can control the calories and portions to ensure it will be healthy yet filling. It wouldn’t be hard to cook a little extra at nights and bring your black bean casserole, soup, or chili to work throughout the week.

Less is More
Many starchy and carb-loaded foods take time to expand in your stomach to tell your body that it’s full, which causes you to still feel hungry after eating. Big meals take more effort to digest, which works your body harder and results in less oxygen and nutrition reaching your brain.

Another way to keep your energy level up during work is to spread your meals into smaller portions throughout the day instead of a big meal at lunch. Eating frequent, healthy snacks will keep your metabolism going and help you feel energized. Foods like fruits provide long-lasting carbs full, leaving you feeling energetic hours after consumption. Eating fiber in granola and oatmeal can also help keep you from feeling hungry and give you a vigorous boost as the day continues.

You don’t have to struggle keeping tempo with your after-lunch work schedule. If you eat healthier, smaller portions, you can maintain a high level of energy while feeling full and content all day. What are some foods you like to eat at lunch that keep you going all day?

That Was Close! How Reporting Near Misses Can Keep you Safe

Nearmiss_Jan2012_webYou know what you can do to protect yourself from and to prevent injuries, but there is an often overlooked threat that lurks behind the scenes at the workplace. There’s a high probability that it’s happened to you, but you don’t really think about the implications it can have on you and those working around you.

Ever have something fall off a shelf, a shirt caught on a piece of equipment, or your ladder narrowly misses a power line?  To err is human. We all make mistakes from time to time, but incidents like those examples can not only put you in danger, but also endanger your co-workers down the line if not reported. It’s easy to shake-off near misses and chalk it up to good luck, but what was an avoided catastrophe now, might not be in the future. Here is some advice to help you learn the value of reporting near misses to your employer and what they mean to your safety.

No, Really. What is a Near Miss?

A near miss is an unintentional, unsafe occurrence that didn’t result in injury, fatality, or property damage, but had the potential to do so. These types of situations can happen at any time, no matter what field or industry you work in. Near misses often precede real accidents that can result in injury or death. Your employer won’t be aware of these potential threats on their own. It’s up to you to report these dangers to keep everyone safe.

It’s Your Early Warning System

Reporting near misses is one of the best ways to avoid serious injuries or even death in the workplace. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported nearly 3.1 million nonfatal work-related injuries in the private sector, and according to the National Research Council, nearly 6,000 Americans die from workplace injures every year.

Making sure you inform your managers about near misses is a learning tool for you and your company. When near misses occur they can be regarded as early warnings that something is wrong somewhere in the system. You wouldn’t want to work in an environment that wasn’t as safe as possible, so be sure to inform your supervisors of any potential hazards before you or your co-workers are put in danger.

You’re Not Causing Problems

Many near misses go unreported because workers feel their supervisors don’t appreciate having to stop what they are doing to investigate the issue. It may feel like management doesn’t encourage these kinds of reports and it’s just a hassle, but you and your co-workers safety and security should be the biggest priority at work. Don’t ever feel like reporting a near miss would be a distraction, inconvenience, or annoyance.

When reporting near misses, you’re showing initiative. You are keeping your colleagues and employer in mind by saving money and time when avoiding accidents. This type of investment in your company is what management looks for when promoting their workers. If your employer has a weak or non-existent near miss reporting policy, showcase your leadership skills by working with them to create an improved system. 

Don’t wait for the accident to happen before letting your supervisors know about it. It could be your life on the line. What are some ways you’ve stepped up to promote a safe work place?

Formatting Rules to Keep Your Résumé Fit

WEB10MSC_RESUME-BOOT-CAMP_W2 A good résumé takes effort and time to create. A well-written, professional-looking résumé can take you far in the job search, while a poorly constructed one may do very little to get your career moving. Depending on the career field you are in or trying to enter, résumé content will vary from person to person. But, once you have decided what information you want and need to include on your résumé, it’s time to consider how to format that content. Check out these across-the-board formatting rules that you can use, regardless of the job you’re applying for. 

Include your name and contact information. Always be sure to include your first and last name, as well as your phone number and an e-mail address. It’s important to have all of your contact information in one area, preferably at the top of the page to help ensure that it’s seen first.

Divide your résumé into sections. Dividing your résumé into sections helps make it easier for a potential employer to quickly scan for key facts. Designate the different sections by including a short, descriptive title. For example, if you list any information about any degrees or training you have received, include a title such as “Education and Training” above that section. This helps keep your information organized and concise, and allows you to highlight the reasons why you would be a great fit for the job.

Use one font style. It’s better to limit your document to only one font, and try not to use anything difficult to read. Use a more professional, simple font style like Times New Roman, Arial, Georgia, or Tahoma. Also, be sure to use 10- to 12-point font to ensure that the person reading your work history doesn’t have to squint to decipher what it says.

Keep it short. The purpose of a résumé is to give a potential employer a summary of your skills and abilities. You want to give them enough information to know what you’ve accomplished in your career and why they should bring you in for an interview. The longer you work and the more work experience you gain, the more difficult to keep this content to just one page. But, the consensus among employers is to keep it as short, sweet, and to the point as possible.

Invest in good paper stock. If you’re delivering a printed copy of your résumé to a potential employer, invest in good paper stock. A heavier paper made out of a cotton or linen blend may help you get noticed. This also communicates to an employer that you put time and thought into creating it. The next time you’re ready to print off a résumé, stop by your local office supply store and purchase a heavy weight (90 lb. – 110 lb.) cardstock.

Create an electronic version. Many job openings today require applying online, so it’s a good idea to have a version of your résumé that will upload correctly when submitted. To format your résumé for online use, follow these tips:
• Use Times New Roman or Arial font
• Keep all of your content left aligned
• Remove any bullet points and replace with an asterisk or a dash
• Use spaces between all titles and headlines
• Copy and paste your Word document into a text editor, such as Notepad, prior to uploading it into the online job application text box. This will help remove any formatting from your résumé that could display incorrectly online.  

Not only do you want your résumé to have good information, but it’s also important for it to look good too. Use this advice to help you stand out from the competition when you apply for your next job.
 
We hope you’ve enjoyed the Résumé Boot Camp series and that you will use these tips of the trade to whip your résumé into shape! Here’s wishing you best of luck in all your job search endeavors.