Monthly Archives: January 2008

Making the Most of a Job You Don’t Love

Whether you work for a Fortune 500 company or dry cars at a car wash, when you’re no longer satisfied, you’re not going to be happy. Your job can start to feel like a dead end when you no longer know what you’re working for, you’re under stimulated, there’s no room for advancement or the tasks you use to enjoy no longer excite you. If you find yourself counting the minutes until you go home, or you sit around daydreaming about finding a better job that best utilizes your talents, there are a few things you can do while working at your current job that will prepare you for new opportunities when they arise and help you focus on something other than not liking your job.

Evaluate and Improve. Take this time to look at yourself and honestly assess who you are as a person and your work ethic. Evaluate how you react in certain situations. See how others treat you and how you treat others. If there is tension between you and the rest of the staff, try approaching your co-workers and addressing the situation so you can better understand what it is that might need improvement. Often times, there is a common denominator and if you keep running into the same problems all the time, chances are it’s you. By taking this time to evaluate yourself and correct your own faults, you’ll be better prepared for opportunities when they arise.

Be Positive. You never know who you might meet that can advance your career, so try to stay positive even when confronted with negative situations or people. If you’re dealing with a dilemma or an angry co-worker, instead of complaining or lashing out, turn the situation around by challenging yourself to correct the problem. Learn to recognize problem areas and practice working things through to create a positive outcome. Optimism is contagious, and eventually you will begin to impact other people’s attitudes while creating a positive image of yourself.

Take on New Challenges. It doesn’t matter what new challenge you take on, just take on something different than your normal everyday tasks. Learning to do new things, no matter how small, stimulates your mind and boosts your self confidence. According to a report written by Helen Fisher, PhD, learning new things increases brain levels of dopamine, which increases feelings of pleasure. So, no matter how bored you are in your current job, try stepping out of your everyday routine and learn what your co-worker or someone down the hall does. Challenge yourself to come up with a new idea that can benefit you or your company. Offer to help a co-worker with a project, or ask your boss if there is anything you can do to increase your workplace knowledge. Keeping your brain active will ensure you’re ready when a new job opportunity comes your way.

If you feel dissatisfied in your current job, try following these tips and take this time as a learning experience to better yourself for your next job opportunity.

3 Tricks for Reducing Workplace Stress

reduce stress at workDo you work in an environment that’s filled with tension or chaos? If you do, you probably struggle to feel relaxed and focused while at work. Although you may not be able to change the atmosphere around you, you can alter the way you react to it. Following the tips below can help reduce the amount of stress you experience at work.

Let it roll off your back. While it can be difficult not to take a sharp word or a careless act personally, staying calm really is the best way to react. If a co-worker or manager says or does something that gets under your skin, focus on redirecting your attention. You can do this by thinking about something that makes you feel happy or relaxed. Also, try to remind yourself that the person probably didn’t mean to be hurtful or rude, but acted without thinking.

Accepting people’s flaws and forgiving them when they offend you will not only improve your workplace relationships, it will also dramatically reduce your level of stress.

Focus on one day at a time. It’s easy to get caught up in worrying about what tomorrow holds or rehashing something that went wrong in the past.  But, when you fret about the future or the past, you waste today. Instead of always looking ahead of or behind you, keep your eyes focused on the task at hand.

It’s much easier to deal with problems at work when you take things one day at a time. If you’re stewing about another day’s concerns, stop and tell yourself that you will only deal with the stressors that are currently in your path.

Take a breather. When you’re overwhelmed by the situation around you, it’s time to take a step back and clear your head. Even if you’re busy, sometimes it’s necessary to take a break in order to give yourself a little distance from a problem. A few minutes of forced relaxation can help you see an issue in a new light, which in the long run can actually save time.

A few good ways to get away and relax in the heat of the moment are to go for a brisk walk, head to a quiet room and meditate or go to your car and listen to relaxing music.

Stress is hard on the body and mind. Workplace tension also reduces your job satisfaction. That’s why it’s so important to make an extra effort to bring calm into a hectic day. Following the advice above can help you develop a more relaxed mindset and create a tranquil work environment.

What type of stress do you have at your job? How do you respond to it?  Share your stories in the comments section.

9 Tips to a Smooth Start at a New Job

Your first few weeks at a new job are crucial because your co-workers are developing their first impressions of you, and you’re forming work habits that will stay with you for the long haul. During this time, your behavior, attitude and actions will set your work pace and form your reputation, so starting off on the right foot is important. Here are nine tips to help you ensure a smooth start at your new job.

1. Ask questions. If you don’t have the answer to a question or problem you are working on, ask someone to help you out. It’s better to avoid a mistake than to make an irreversible one, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

2. Take notes. Write down everyday tasks and important information that you will need to know later, such as logins and how to operate the phone system. Keep these in a notebook or folder that you can get to at any time. Also, jot down information you learn about the company during training and interacting with your co-workers.

3. Avoid surfing. Stay off of the Internet, and don’t be tempted to check your personal e-mail. If you feel like you have downtime, find company materials you can read to increase your knowledge of the organization, industry and job processes.

4. Turn off your phone. Don’t be a disturbance to yourself and others by answering your cell phone at work. Turn your cell phone off, and let incoming calls go to voicemail. Wait until a break or lunch time to check your voicemail and return personal calls.

5. Complete your tasks. Doing your best work and completing each task on time is critical, because you want your supervisor and peers to see what you are capable of. But, make sure you are also not falling behind. If you find you have too much on your plate, talk to your supervisor and see how you can prioritize your time better.

6. Listen and observe. You can learn more by listening than you can by talking, so be attentive and don’t interrupt others when they are speaking. You’ll be able to learn about company culture, work flow and company policy by paying attention to your co-workers and observing their behavior in the workplace.

7. Be positive. Your attitude shows if you care to be at your new job or not, so be positive and enthusiastic about your new opportunity. Be friendly and courteous to your co-workers while showing them that you are confident and eager to learn.

8. Earn respect. This is your only chance to create a first impression, so demonstrate your work ethic, and give 110% to all of your duties. Be humble about needing help, and make sure to thank your co-workers when they do help you out. Then, they’ll show you respect, because you’ve earned it.

9. Be a team player. Make time to collaborate with your co-workers, especially if they need help. Work together with your new co-workers instead of trying to compete against them. You’re on the same team now, and you’ll get more done working together than you will working alone.

Being successful in a new job takes effort, so put these nine tips to use from day one. Work on a positive image and start your job off right. Your first impression is usually a lasting impression, so make it a good one.

What advice do you have for others starting a new job?

3 Tips for Negotiating Salary During the Job Interview

negotiate salary in an interviewCongratulations, you’ve landed an interview! Maybe you’re even on your second or third meeting with a particular employer. As things move along in the process, you’re getting closer to the time of salary negotiation. To ensure that you’re prepared when the time comes to talk about money, check out the following tips.

Let Them Bring It Up.
You don’t want to be the one to broach the subject of compensation. If the employer is interested in you, you can be sure that the topic will eventually come up, so wait for that time to discuss it. That means you shouldn’t list your salary requirements on your résumé unless you’re required to do so.

Stating how much money you want too soon can box you into a figure that is lower than what you might’ve received otherwise, or it can eliminate you from consideration because the amount is too high.

Also, bringing up salary too early in the process is presumptuous and can make it appear that you’re only interested in money.

Do Your Research.
Before the interview, it’s your job to find out what the going rate is for the position you’re being considered for. This figure will vary depending on your location, skills, experience and education.

To get an idea of what the salary for the job will be, do online research on sites like salary.com, salary.monster.com or payscale.com. If you happen to have friends who work at the company you’re interviewing with or know people who work in the same industry, you can get a good idea about what type of salary you can expect.

Researching compensation before the interview is an essential step to receiving a competitive salary. After all, if you don’t know what’s a fair price, how will you know if the interviewer’s offer is one you want to accept?

Don’t Be Too Quick to Accept the First Offer.
Before you shout “yes” to the first number out of the employer’s mouth, take a moment to think things through. Even if you’re satisfied with the offer, it’s best to not be hasty.
Consider asking for a day or two to review the offer before committing. During this time, evaluate the offer and ensure that it’s in line with the position responsibilities and your background.

If the offer seems too low based on your research, try making a counter offer. But be sure you have solid reasons for asking for increased compensation or other perks. Employers won’t be inclined to dish out more money just because you say you “need” it. That’s why you’ll have to be able to explain why your skills and the position responsibilities deserve a higher salary. Chances are, even if the employer is unable to sweeten the deal, they’ll respect you for thinking things through and knowing what you’re worth.

Before going in for an interview, it’s important to know what a reasonable pay range is for the position you’re applying for and to be able to sell your skills to the employer. By preparing for salary negotiations, you’ll increase your chances of receiving the competitive salary you deserve.

7 Tips to a Successful First Day at a New Job

Imagine you’ve recently received a job offer, and you decided to accept it. The job search is over, but now your first day at your new job is just around the corner. Are you a nervous wreck, overwhelmed thinking about all of the changes you’re making, or are you ready? Do you know how to prepare for this challenge? Here are seven tips to help you have a successful first day at a new job.

1. Refresh your memory. Look again at the company’s website and refresh your memory about all of the company’s information you discovered before your first interview. Review any information you may have been given during the interview process. Also, look over the job description and review what is required. If you have time before you start, you may want to polish a skill or two.

2. Get your rest. No one wants to start off their first day tired, so make sure you get a full night’s sleep. If you are feeling sluggish, drink a glass of water in the morning to help wake up your body. Then, you’ll be ready to tackle the tasks at your new job because you’ll be awake and alert.

3. Dress appropriately. Set out your work attire the night before, making sure to follow the company’s dress code. Scrambling around trying to figure out what you are going to wear will only stress you out and probably make you late.

4. Know the route. Chances are, you interviewed where you will be working. But if not, make sure you know how to get there and how long it will take, and plan accordingly so you arrive on time. Remember to factor in traffic if your previous trips to your interviews weren’t during rush hour.

5. Make a good first impression. Be polite and friendly to everyone you meet at your new job. Make good eye contact as you introduce yourself to others. If you need to, write down people’s names so you can remember them later when you pass them in the hall.

6. Be flexible. Although you may want to meet friends for lunch, keep your schedule open. Your new co-workers might offer to take you out to welcome you to the team. In case this doesn’t happen, take a few dollars with you and find a place nearby so you can treat yourself to lunch.

7. Ask questions. Your co-workers understand that you are new to the job and might need help, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Take notes on helpful information you will need later, such as routine tasks and access codes. It’s better to be seen as someone that accepts help than to be a know-it-all that refuses help.

You made it through the application and interview process, so relax and try to enjoy your first day. Remember, the company hired you for a reason. You’re the right person for the position, and you’ve earned this opportunity.

Have you started a new job recently? What suggestions do you have for others that are nervous or overwhelmed about starting a new job?

Finding Time to Workout at Work

As you head back to work after all the holiday festivities, do you find yourself moving at a slightly slower pace? Are the pants that you wore before the holiday celebrations fitting just a little bit tighter than before? If so, then it’s time to start thinking about shedding some of those extra pounds and regaining some energy for the new year.

Many people want to get back in shape but don’t have the time because of work, family and other activities. There are, however, some simple exercises that you can do while you work that will help you increase your energy and health and decrease your waistline.

By following some of these tips, you can jump into the new year energized and healthy.

  • Instead of taking the elevator, try taking the stairs. Just taking those few extra steps will increase the number of calories you burn each day.
  • Try taking a brisk walk around the building a few times during your breaks instead of lounging around talking with co-workers. Walking increases energy levels and helps reduce stress.
  • Stretch your back, legs and arms several times throughout the day to help increase circulation and prevent muscle fatigue. Stretching your body helps relieve muscle tension and increases blood circulation to various parts of your body giving you more energy.
  • Lift small hand weights while sitting at your desk, talking on the phone or walking around the building. Lifting weights helps increase your muscle mass which in turn helps your body burn fat.
  • If you work in a cubicle, try sitting on an exercise ball while at your desk. This will help strengthen your abs and help your posture.
  • If you live close to work, you might want to try riding your bike or walking to the office. Or, if you have to drive to work, park further away from the entrance.

Trying to get back into shape after the holidays can be overwhelming, especially when you have to work every day. Following these tips can help jumpstart your exercise routine, increase your energy and lose those unwanted pounds.

3 Ways to Keep Your Online Image from Destroying Your Job Search

Have you ever used the Internet to look up an old friend and run across their MySpace or Facebook profile? It’s fairly easy to find online information about ordinary people these days. But, did you realize that some employers use the Internet to search for more information about job candidates? This doesn’t mean they are searching for reasons against hiring them. However, sometimes the information that employers find influences their opinion about an applicant. What would an employer find out about you? Here are a few helpful hints to make sure your online image isn’t keeping you from your dream job.

Search your name. Looking up your name on a search engine can help you find what your name is linked to. If you have a popular name, you might get many results with none of them referring to you. But, even if the info is not about you, employers may not know it. You don’t want to be mistaken for someone with a poor image or a bad record. If this is the case, you can use Naymz.com to create a positive profile that will link to your other positive online profiles, instead of to someone else with the same name. When you Google your name, Naymz.com will be ranked within the first 10 results. Another way your name might also show up is if you leave a comment on a popular blog. If you’ve left a negative comment that reflects poorly on you, try contacting the site administrator to have the comment removed.

Know what you post. Know what information you’ve posted online in case an employer questions you about that information in an interview. You don’t want to be caught off guard by an interviewer asking about a blog post, quote or comment you posted online. If you don’t even remember what you said online, you might appear careless, and employers could think that attitude will translate into the workplace.

Clean up your image. Some of the online information that influences employers’ hiring decisions includes inappropriate pictures, displays of unprofessional behavior and negative remarks about current or past employers. If you are actively searching for a job and have a public blog or profile that employers could see, make sure it reflects positively on you. Remove any information that could negatively affect employers’ decisions about you and hinder your chances of landing a job. If you’re reluctant to remove this type of information and want your friends to still be able to access it, try changing your profile settings to private to limit who has access to your site.

Having an online presence can work in your favor if it reflects well on you, but it can work against you if you aren’t aware of what’s out there. Search your name to find the results employers could also find to determine your online image. Know what you have posted online and be able to answer any questions employers might have regarding the content. And, don’t forget to clean up your image if you see negative results. You don’t want your online presence to keep you from a new job opportunity.