Monthly Archives: October 2007

‘Tis the Season for Seasonal Jobs

It’s the time of year when companies everywhere are hiring workers to ramp up for the holiday season. In fact, retailers say they plan to add up to 600,000 workers in November and December this year.

But, did you know that retail stores aren’t the only places to add temporary workers to their staff as the year ends? There’s an increased demand for products in retail stores. More people are shopping online than the rest of the year. People tend to travel and eat out more than normal.

That’s why customer service, shipping, clerical, hospitality, manufacturing and e-commerce are just some areas that are looking for good employees to help them get through the crunch of the holidays. So, with that in mind, now’s a great time to look for a job.

What Not To Wear To Work on Halloween

What will you be this Halloween? It may seem an odd question for anyone over the age of 12, but a growing number of workers from across the country are celebrating October 31 by dressing up. In fact, recently released a survey that showed that 25% of adults plan to dress up, and 20% plan to trick-or-treat for themselves!

Not surprisingly, many go all out, transforming their workplaces to veritable haunted houses or candy factories. Many companies allow parents to bring children to trick-or-treat in their offices. Malls across the country host Halloween events, and mall employees are encouraged to dress the part.

But not all Halloween costumes are created equal, and if you plan to dress up for Halloween at work, it’s important to carefully consider your attire. To keep the peace and ensure a successful, productive holiday, here are a few categories of costumes you should probably avoid:

Thinly Disguised Casual Wear. It’s not really a costume to just throw on sweats, jeans, shorts, or other super-casual non-dress-code clothing in lieu of your professional norm. Even if you try to cop out saying you’re dressed up as a bum, urban cowboy or yourself on vacation, your employer likely won’t appreciate the joke. This attitude of  minimal effort can be seen as insubordinate rather than participatory. If you’re going to dress up, give it an honest shot.

The Sexy Version. If you want to wear a sexy costume, reserve it for your post-work parties. Even though dressing up for Halloween at work is an escape form the norm, you should still respect your dress code guidelines and not reveal too much.

Blood and Guts. Many people associate Halloween with the scary side of life, but keep the gore to a minimum when it comes to what you’ll wear to work. Remember, people have to interact with you, so don’t wear something that will cause discomfort when you enter the room. To keep your costume from being outrageously gory, wait to add the extra blood factor until you’ve clocked out.

The Political Statement. There are a lot of political satire-based costumes out there, but work isn’t typically the place to showcase your political ideology. Just as you should respect people you work with in what you choose to speak about at work, pick a costume with respect for other people in mind.

If you plan to dress up at work for Halloween, keep these things in mind as you choose your outfit. Remember, it may be a holiday, but what you do and how you present yourself will likely be remembered throughout the year. So, feel free to enjoy the lighthearted, fun freedom of dressing up, but keep your best professional foot forward.

Do you have any examples of Halloween costumes gone wrong at work? Does your workplace have Halloween traditions you’d like to share? Let us know what you think in the comments below, or vote in our online poll. 

Age Discrimination – Does This Affect You?

Age discrimination in the workforce is an issue that is not often addressed; however, there are ways to get your foot in the door if you’re a seasoned employee. According to a survey of 168 executives with a median age of 50 conducted by Execunet, a referral network, 74% surveyed are concerned they will be discriminated against because of their age, and 58% believe they have experienced age discrimination in the past. Although age discrimination does exist, it is one of the hardest discriminations to prove, according to research by AARP.

If you find yourself struggling to find a job and think that your age might be a factor, here are a few tips to aide you in your job search.

Start with your résumé. When searching for a job, make sure your résumé offers the most recent and relevant information. Experts advise mature job applicants to reference only the last 10 or 15 years of your job experience. Often times, candidates are overlooked because they have too much experience. Try taking some classes that educate you on the latest technology or trends in your industry, and make sure to list them on your résumé. Also, avoid listing dates such as high school or college graduation, as these can reveal your age.

Update your wardrobe. In an AARP survey, nearly half of the respondents surveyed felt that older workers cannot adapt to change. When you go in for an interview, make sure that not only your résumé reflects your knowledge of current work trends, but your attire reflects current styles as well. This doesn’t mean you have to dress in the latest trends or fashion, but ensuring your wardrobe and hairstyle aren’t aging you unnecessarily is always helpful when searching for a job. This boosts your self confidence, and allows the employer to see that you are up-to-date with what is going on around you.

Sell yourself. Don’t let the age factor get you down. If you show you’re confident and skilled, potential employers will be less likely to consider your age a factor when making hiring decisions. You may feel that younger people are hired to replace older workers, but keep in mind that younger workers feel most jobs are held by people with experience. Instead of focusing on this remember to sell your skills and abilities. Let the interviewer know you are open to training and learning new things. Make sure they know why you’re there and why you’re qualified for the position. Research the company before you interview so you can offer insight on how your past experience can benefit their company. Show enthusiasm and eagerness to learn, but don’t sound desperate.

Network with peers in your industry. You might feel as though you’re too old to network, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Find a local organization that specializes in your desired industry. Get involved within your community and make contacts with individuals that can help you get your foot in the door with companies. By getting your name and face out there with people in your industry, you will not only increase your chances of getting a job, but you will develop valuable and up-to-date information on what is going on in the field.

Age doesn’t have to be a negative factor when searching for a job. It can actually work for you if you follow these tips. Mature workers have confidence and knowledge in a time when we need it the most. With so many workers reaching retirement age, there is a gap in the knowledge between seasoned workers and younger workers just entering the workforce. Utilize your expertise and show how you can be an added value to the company.

Office Romance: In the Clear or in Present Danger?

Have you ever found yourself looking forward to seeing a certain someone at work each day? Or, is that friend at work becoming more than just an office confidant? If you find yourself becoming involved romantically with someone you work with, or if you are experiencing feelings beyond the confines of friendship, then you might want to take these few tips into consideration before embarking on an office romance.

Check the company policy. First and foremost, make sure that you are following the company’s guidelines on offices romances. Some companies absolutely forbid co-workers from becoming romantically involved, while others leave the choice up to the discretion of their employees. Either way, it is a good idea to verify company policy before beginning a romantic relationship with a co-worker. Continuing a relationship with a co-worker when it’s against company policy can result in reprimanding or even termination.

Keep it under wraps. It’s very tempting to want to tell everyone when you begin a new relationship. But hold back. Consider the feelings of your co-workers and how they might react to the news. Some might think that you are focusing on your new relationship more than your work. Others might turn it into office gossip and begin to resent your new found relationship. Share your joy with your friends and family at home, not at work. This can help you keep your work life and your personal life separate.

Be professional. If you’re in a relationship with someone you work with and everyone knows about it, you still need to keep things professional. Exchanging glances, sending affectionate e-mails or kissing in the corner is not the way to show that you’re there to work. Public displays of affection can present problems among co-workers and your boss if they think that you’re allowing your love life to interfere with your professional life. Make sure when you’re at work that you’re focused on the tasks at hand and serious about your commitment to the organization.

It’s understandable that work relationships begin to develop into something more. After all, many people spend the majority of their time at work every week. But, by following these tips on office romance, you can have a professional career as well as a love life.

Strengthen Your Memory with These Five Tips

Have you ever walked into a room and stopped in your tracks, wondering what brought you there? Or, perhaps at work you’ve opened a search engine only to blank out on what term you needed to find. Memory lapses like these are common, and they grow more and more frequent as we age. They can slow us down, whether at home or on the job.

But believe it or not, there are many ways you can build your brain function. Check out these five ideas to strengthen your brain.

1. Try Normal a New Way. A concept called neurobics, developed by Lawrence C. Ktaz, Ph.D. and Manning Rubin, advocates using your brain’s power to form new associations to strengthen brain functions. Their book, Keep Your Brain Alive, offers 83 ways you can integrate neurobics into your existing schedule – while you drive to work, on the job, and at home. Some of their ideas include

  • Drive to work a different route.
  • Brush your teeth with the other hand.
  • Unlock the door with your eyes closed.

2.  Exercise Your Brain. Prominent Japanese neuroscientist Ryuta Kawashima, M.D., advocates daily, short training of the brain to keep it in tip-top shape. Your brain, just like your body, works better when it’s exercised regularly. His book Train Your Brain: 60 Days to a Better Brain offers a daily program of simple math equations to strengthen brain functioning. For those who prefer a more active program, Kawashima is also the mind behind the popular Nintendo DS game Brain Age, which uses a variety of short games and tests to help you keep your brain up to speed.

3. Learn Something New. For most of us, after we graduate from high school or college, our pursuit of new knowledge bottoms out over time. This can slow down brain functions, because the process of learning actually helps create new pathways in your brain, keeping it spry. Simply learning basic vocabulary in a new language, taking up ballroom dancing, or learning to cook new things can keep your mind sharp.

4. Stay Active. That’s right, heading to the gym or walking with a buddy on a regular basis isn’t simply a good way to stay in your current jean size. A new study from Columbia University shows it’s a great way to fight memory loss related to aging as well.

5. Learn to Breathe. Most people practice this in the form of meditation. Taking a few minutes each day to find a quiet spot to breathe and reflect can help reduce stress, but it can also increase attention span and focus, both of which are critical to a good memory. In fact, researchers believe that focusing on a single image, sound or idea actually exercises the area of your brain that helps you pay attention.

Using these ideas can help you strengthen your brain and expand your memory capacity. How do you keep your brain sharp?

How to Give Bad News to Your Boss

It’s tough to be the bearer of bad news, especially when the person you have to deliver the message to is your boss. If you have to share negative information with your supervisor such as problems with a project, mistakes on an important task or that you’re leaving the company, don’t freak out. Instead, prepare yourself by calmly going over the facts in your mind. If necessary, rehearse what you plan to say in advance. You can even write out your main points and bring the notes with you into the meeting, that way you’ll be sure to get it all out in a clear and concise manner.

The following tips can help you deliver sour news to your supervisor in a way that demonstrates your thoughtfulness and professionalism.

Don’t Expect the Worst. You might be tempted to blow a situation way out of proportion in your mind and imagine a terrible reaction from your boss. But, try to avoid getting too worked up. Worrying about how your boss will take the news won’t help the situation and will only rattle your nerves. Instead, stay calm and focus on communicating the facts effectively with your supervisor.

Don’t Beat Around the Bush. Waiting to give bad news won’t make it easier. In fact, this usually only exaggerates a problem. For one, waiting may result in your boss hearing the information through the rumor mill first. Additionally, putting off delivering bad news causes more stress for you. Take a day or two to prepare yourself, and then set up a time for a private meeting with your supervisor at their earliest convenience.

Offer Solutions. When it’s time to give your boss the bad news, make sure you are prepared to offer some solutions. Thinking ahead about ways to resolve the issue demonstrates to your supervisor that you’re a proactive thinker. When you concentrate on trying to resolve the issue instead of dwelling on what’s wrong, you’re making progress toward a positive solution.

When have you had to share bad news with your boss? What did you say, and what response did you receive?