Monthly Archives: March 2009

Your Take on the Job Market: Job Optimism Poll Results

This past month, there’s been a lot of discussion about job creation, the economy, and how our country will move forward. Reports are showing that more jobs are on their way in a variety of industries, but nationally and locally, the debate rages on.

According to our latest monthly poll results, the majority of our readers report that they are not optimistic that more jobs are coming as a result of the economic recovery stimulus package.

Of the 1,260 votes cast, 61.2% of our readers responded “No,” they were not optimistic that more jobs are coming within the next six months, while 38.8% replied “Yes,” they were optimistic jobs are coming soon.

Over 35 of our readers shared their comments, ranging from concerns over paying for the stimulus bill to hopes that things will work out, come what may. To read more of their thoughts and comments, click here.

What about you? As states have begun to unveil their plans for job creation, are you growing more optimistic about the job market? What new jobs are being created at your state and local levels? Feel free to share your comments with us.

Career Development for Blue Collar Workers

Statistics Back Higher Education for Blue Collar Workers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for college graduates over the age of 25 was 4.1% in February, up from 2.1% a year ago. However, this rate is substantially lower than the 8.3% unemployment rate for people with only a high school diploma.

Economists say that in this tight job market, one reason college graduates have a lower unemployment rate is because they’re taking jobs that don’t require a four-year degree, making it increasingly difficult for blue collar workers to compete. Companies are hiring these overqualified employees over individuals who don’t have a higher education because they can. So, what can blue collar workers do to compete in the job market?

Be Flexible
To help with the job search, experts say that people need to be more flexible with their career options, because there’s no telling where the job growth will be 10 or 20 years from now. Economists speculate that in the future, job creation will be for new jobs that haven’t even been thought of yet, requiring more than a high school diploma. 

Continue Your Education
To be flexible in your career choices, continue your education. This will play a crucial role in your job search success. Jobs that are opening up now are not necessarily physical labor positions, experts say, causing many blue collar workers to be limited in their career choices. This means many blue collar workers are going back to the classroom. In a recent MSNBC story, a man whose career path was laid out at an early age planned to be a factory worker until his retirement. But, after 20 years of factory work and increasing competition from foreign manufacturers, he knew his job wasn’t secure. So, he went back to school and now plans to become a teacher.

So, as the recession continues to take its toll on entry-level positions and other job markets, blue collar workers need to increase their skills to become more flexible in their career choices, helping them in their job search.

Remember, change isn’t a bad thing. By reexamining yourself and finding a new career path, you just might find your dream job. Visit your local Express Employment Professionals office to help you get started on a new career today.

One Small Change: Instant Workplace Happiness

Research shows that happiness boosts workplace productivity and improves health, so companies have a vested interest in the happiness of their employees. But, because Americans spend most of their time at work – an average of 2,080 hours a year – every employee has a vested interest in their own happiness.

Factors like leadership, salary, benefits, and sense of purpose can improve happiness in the workplace, but they can not produce happiness, and are not factors completely within your control.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” So when you feel unhappy at work, take control and decide to find the silver lining in your current circumstances. Make the choice to have a positive outlook, no matter what. Chances are, you will instantly feel happier.

Having trouble looking on the bright side?  Try these five techniques the next time your outlook’s gloomy:

1. Make a list of three positive things in your life and post it at your workstation. Refer to it when you need a pick-me-up.

2. Make someone else happy. Mark Twain wrote, “The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer somebody else up.” Do something to make someone’s day, and it just might make yours.

3. Take a walk in the sunshine to change your scenery. A change of scenery can help change your perception.

4. Change your stance. Hold your head up high in every circumstance and you will see more clearly.

5. Focus on something that brings you joy. Read a book, play a sport, or volunteer in your community to refocus your outlook on something positive.

Tell us how you improve your outlook in our comments section below.

Improving Workplace Relationships. 3 Ways to Enhance Your Listening Skills

From entry-level workers to managers to CEOs, all employees want to be appreciated and respected by the people they work with. Everyone wants to be heard, listened to, and understood. By being a good listener, you’re showing respect to others. So, here are a few tips to polish up your listening skills and help you improve your workplace relationships.

Acknowledge the Speaker. When you’re listening to someone, send them verbal and nonverbal cues to let them know you hear what they’re saying. You can acknowledge them with eye contact and head nods, and respond with an enthusiastic tone. Avoid crossing your arms – this makes it appear that you’re not interested in what they’re talking about or sends the signal that you’re on the offensive.

Fight Distractions. Work is a busy place, and usually, there’s something or someone fighting for your time and attention. But, avoid doing other tasks when someone is talking to you. Ignore people walking by, your e-mail inbox, and the phone so you don’t come across as ignoring the speaker when you’re distracted. Concentrate on the person talking and what they’re saying so you can fully understand what they’re talking about.

Don’t Interrupt. Most people have a habit of interrupting others when they’re talking because everyone wants to be heard and give their input; however, interrupting comes off as disrespectful toward the speaker. No matter how enthusiastic you are to respond, allow the speaker to finish their thought before you speak. Allow them to explain before you chime in to add to their ideas. Then, formulate your thought and respond to them. This will keep you from jumping to the wrong conclusion or coming across as rude.

Listening is a skill we begin learning at a young age, but it’s only mastered with lots of deliberate practice. So, use these listening techniques every day with every one you talk to, including people at work. Over time, you might just see your workplace relationships improve as your conversations take on a more respectful tone and others feel the respect they crave.

The Importance of Laughter

You’ve heard the expression that laughter is good for the soul – but is it true? According to medical research, laughter not only makes you feel better by releasing endorphins, it also reduces stress and stimulates the brain and muscular system – making laughter good for the mind, body, and spirit.

During these tough economic times when people are concerned about job security and making ends meet, it’s extremely important to remember to laugh, even when you don’t think there’s anything to laugh about. In the book, Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, by Sigmund Freud, laughter is described as a way the body reduces anxiety, aggression, fear, and anger. This type of euphoria can last up to 24 hours. So, busting out in a good, hearty laugh might just give you what you need to make it through to the next day.

Some people might think that frequent laughter at work is inappropriate, since work is a serious place, but experts say laughter is healthly in the workplace. Melissa B. Wanser, EdD, professor of communication studies at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, found that laughter in the workplace can increase communication among employees. Wanzer maintains that employees who view their managers as humor-oriented also view them as more effective and report higher job satisfaction. And, employees who are happy are usually more productive, making your company a better place to work.

Employees who have high levels of stress, anxiety, and fear due to normal, everyday workloads or as a result of today’s economy could use a nice, hearty laugh from time-to-time. So, don’t be afraid to laugh a little bit throughout the day – tell a joke, or get up and do something silly. Don’t think you’re funny? Well, there’s a class clown in every company, so find out who they are and strike up a conversation. Having a good laugh will not only make you feel better, it just might make your co-workers feel better too.

Do you have any stories that could make others laugh? Tell us about your laughable workplace stories in the comments section below.

Inexpensive Vacation Ideas to Help You Refuel for Work

With spring in bloom and summer on the horizon, a relaxing vacation may be the perfect way to spend a few days unwinding, relieving stress, and re-energizing. But with a pressing workload and financial stresses, a vacation may seem impossible.

Taking regular vacations can improve workplace productivity, lower stress levels, and boost your overall health. So, before you skip out on a much needed, well-deserved vacation, consider these inexpensive ways to get away and refuel.

Go camping. Enjoy the great outdoors, and take a break from work by camping at a nearby lake or state park. If you don’t have a tent or other necessary camping gear, ask a friend if you can borrow theirs or check with local sports and outdoor stores like REI to rent equipment. Activities like hiking, rock climbing, or even just setting up camp can help release built up stress. Don’t forget about traditions like campfire stories and s‘mores to build or renew relationships with family and friends without breaking your budget.

Take a road trip. Pack up the car, turn up the music, and hit the open road for an adventure. Now that gas prices are not sky-high, a road trip is an affordable option. Travel with friends to split the cost of gas and hotels. Visit nearby cities or states, small town diners, and historic sites along the way. The feeling of possibility and excitement that comes with a road trip can provide the energy and focus you need when you return to work.

Enjoy a “staycation.” “Staycations” are an economical alternative to travel without the stress of packing. If going out of town is not possible, consider taking a few days off work to explore your own town or city. Relaxing by a pool, visiting museums and restaurants, or spending the day at the park could be just the thing you need for rest and relaxation.

Vacations don’t have to be expensive, exotic, or even long, but the benefits of a change of place – and pace – can positively impact your outlook and give you the boost you need to rock your career.

Have you taken a break from work? Where did you go to refuel? Share your ideas on inexpensive vacation plans in our comments section below.

Quirky Workplace Habits – Have You Noticed Any?

In a typical work week, you spend about 40 hours with your co-workers – probably more time than you spend with your friends and family, or even sleeping. Since you spend so much time at work, you’re bound to notice your co-workers’ behaviors and quirky habits.

What other workplace habits do your co-workers exhibit? Let us know in the comments section below.