Monthly Archives: April 2009

Mature Workers Face Toughest Job Market, Readers Say

The debate over age and the job search may still be raging, but our results are in, and according to our readers, mature workers are having the hardest time in this job market.

In fact, of the 950 votes cast in our poll, 70% of readers selected mature workers as those having a harder time getting work, while 30% selected new grads.

That doesn’t necessarily mean great news for college students who are already hot on the job hunt ahead of May graduation. The National Association of Colleges and Employers have projected employers will hire 22% fewer graduates than in 2008, and many job searchers are finding that it’s tough to land a full-time gig without on-the-job experience.

However, help and support for college students entering this rough market is available. For example, social networking career site LinkedIn recently announced a company wide initiative devoted entirely to equipping May 2009 graduates to enter the workforce. You can also read how college students can start preparing for the job search now.

There’s also help for mature workers. One great resource is the AARP’s support and guidelines for mature workers who are looking for work. Also, check out our blog post on combating age discrimination in the job search.

The age versus experience debate may never fully go away. But reality is, no matter what your age or experience level, it’s important to be dedicated to a cohesive, professional job search process if you’re looking for work. So, polish your approach today, and focus your time, attention, and efforts on landing those interviews!

Want to know what others are saying about age and the employment process? Check out the comments thread our poll generated. Have a question you’d like to share? Leave it on our Q&A page.

Related Tips & Advice

Struggling with Workplace Change? 3 Methods to Survive the Madness

If you’ve ever experienced change in the workplace, you know that whether the change is for better or for worse, there’s bound to be a rough patch in the middle while everyone adjusts. Tensions increase, stress levels rise, and work piles on. Much is often out of your control, but at least you can focus on three things to smooth the transition.

Attitude – Your actions are directly derived from your attitude, so focus on keeping it positive when changes happen at work. Think of something that makes you smile, whether it’s your family, the pleasant spring weather, or the thought that the changes will soon subside. Your optimism will positively reflect in your decisions and behaviors – and others will notice.

Productivity – Make a task list, set aside a block of time, or ask for help – do whatever it takes to keep your productivity high. If you can, concentrate on completing your own projects before taking on new responsibilities or offering to help others. Then, you won’t be stretching yourself too thin. Taking on an overwhelming workload can be a burden to your entire team – especially if it means you’re only able to do all of your projects halfway.

Relationships – Conflict can arise when you’re in the same environment with the same people for forty hours a week in the midst of the tension change brings. To keep your relationships strong, remember not to take your frustrations out on your co-workers. Realize they’re stressed, too, so be sympathetic to them. Don’t let them run you over with their words or actions, but remember that how people deal with stress differs. Remain professional, and don’t take things too personally.

The next time you experience change in the workplace, keep these three things in mind to cope – and make things feel less stressful.

Have you experienced workplace change? How did it affect you? Let us know in the comments section below.

Your Life: Take Control (of What You Can)

Balancing the deadlines, workloads, and relationships of life can be difficult enough when the rubber hits the road. Add in worries and fears – about job security or the nation’s economy – and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. While many of the concerns you face on a daily basis are beyond your control, managing the things you can control will help you feel secure, focused, and ready to face life’s challenges – both big and small.

If you feel like your life is a circus and you’re worried that something’s going to give in your balancing act, concentrate on controlling what you can and choose to worry less about what you can’t. Here are five things you can take control of today to help ease your stress.

Priorities. Create task lists – one for home and one for work. Write down the things you need to accomplish and prioritize each list. Make sure to check off your tasks as you complete them, and you’ll soon realize how much you have actually accomplished. 

Clutter. Organize and clean your workspace and home environment to create an atmosphere that fosters clear thinking. When your space is free of clutter, you’ll be able to focus on the tasks at hand or just unwind from the stresses you face.

Personal Health. Make healthy lifestyle choices by exercising, eating well, and getting enough sleep. The benefits of managing your health are endless and will help give you the energy, focus, and overall wellness you need to keep pace with the demands of the day.

Goals. Make a list of goals you want to accomplish – from minor to lofty – and write them down by order of importance. Break each goal into steps, and mark off accomplishments as you complete them. This will help you gain the momentum you need to achieve your ambitions.

Attitude. Make the decision to have an optimistic outlook and a positive attitude no matter what your circumstances, and you won’t be defeated by challenges that arise. Instead, you’ll be more productive, focused, and ready to take on those challenges.  

Be the ring leader of your circus. Take control of the things you can and you’ll be in the perfect position to enjoy the show.

Mandatory Days Off Without Pay – Vacation or Layoff?

Current economic conditions are affecting everyone and forcing some companies to make tough decisions regarding their employees. While a number of companies have had no choice but to lay off their staff or make drastic budget cuts in recent months, other companies have explored unique options to retain their employees while still trying to keep their businesses alive.

Some companies have begun instituting furloughs. According to Wikipedia, a furlough is a temporary leave of absence from employment, whether voluntary or involuntary. Other businesses have resorted to mandatory furloughs, requiring employees to take off a certain number of days per month or year – without pay – to avoid laying off their employees.

If your company chose to institute mandatory unpaid furlough days, would you be grateful that you still had a job and take the opportunity to do something for yourself during your time off? Or would you be frustrated that you were forced to take unpaid vacation days? Let us know by voting in our poll below.

Feel Like You Work in a Fish Bowl? 3 Tips for Getting Some Air

Fish Bowl (small) Let’s face it – life in a cubicle or an office has its challenges. Excessive talking, limited space, and less-than-thrilling co-worker habits can swell within the already crowded space you spend eight hours a day inhabiting. It’s like adding more fish to an already swarming bowl. 

Some employees even share their workspace with several other people, which can cause sometimes create even more stress. Even if you have a cubicle all to yourself or you have your own office, working long hours in a small space can trigger stress.

To help combat the feelings of working in a fish bowl with no chance of escape, try these tips below to breathe again!

Stretch your fins. When you start to feel boxed in, get up and leave your work area for a few moments. Most companies allow a 10 – 15 minute break in the morning and the afternoon for employees to use the restroom, get a drink, or regroup. Take advantage of this time. You will come back to your desk feeling a little less cramped and ready to focus on the task at hand.

Swim upstream. If you’re tired of working in the same physical space day-in and day-out, move to a different location for a few hours, if your job allows, and do your work from there. Working in a different environment can reinvigorate your state of mind and break up the monotony of your day.

Make a splash. Chances are, if you’re feeling the effects of a cramped work environment, it’s time to take a vacation. Make a splash in your routine by taking the family – or yourself – on a nice, relaxing getaway, even if it’s just for a few days. An escape from your routine can refresh your attitude.
Cubicle life doesn’t have to make you feel like you’re drowning. By trying one – or all –of these helpful tips, you might just be able to jump back in the bowl with a new way of thinking to get you through the days!

Come On Get Happy: Use Music to Produce Positive Thinking

Good Mood Music Monday morning blues were tough enough before the recession, but in our economic situation, facing the work week with the energy, enthusiasm, and motivation you need can be difficult.

Moods are contagious. According to a recent study, people who work together share their moods – within two hours of being around each other. So, why not make sure the mood you share is a positive one? This will improve workplace relationships, enhance your work environment, and boost productivity. Plus, chances are your employer will notice your upbeat attitude and its impact – so why not strive for a great mood every day?

If you’re having trouble starting the day off right, take your cue from history and motivate yourself through music. A Los Angeles Times article, How Song, Dance and Movies Bailed Us Out of the Depression, discusses the impact the arts, like swing, jazz, and big bands, had on the depression. “The engine of the arts in the ‘30s was not escapism, as we sometime imagine, but speed, energy, and movement at a time of economic stagnation and social malaise.”

Now, studies show that music impacts reasoning skills, the cardiovascular system, and moods. So, tap in to the power of positive music and create a play list that motivates you. Listen to it at work, in your car, or at home, and you’ll improve your mood and the moods of those around you.

Not sure what songs to add to your play list? Here are 10 recommendations to boost your mood no matter what your musical taste is.

1. Powder Your Face With Sunshine – Dean Martin
2. Pennies from Heaven – Louis Prima
3. Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles
4. Get Happy – Rufus Wainwright
5. I Feel Good – James Brown
6. Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves
7. I Can See Clearly Now – Johnny Nash
8. Brighter than Sunshine – Aqualung
9. Beautiful Day – U2
10. Feels Like Today – Rascal Flatts

As Dean Martin sings in Powder Your Face with Sunshine, “The future’s brighter when hearts are lighter.” So, whether you want to listen to Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger or Queen’s We Will Rock You every day this week, you can improve your mood with music and impact your team – and your company – with the power of positive thinking!

Have a song that improves your mood? Add it to our comments section below.

Fearing A Layoff? 5 Things to Focus on Instead

When friends or family members get laid off, it’s difficult to see them struggle to get back on their feet. Unfortunately, no one can guarantee job security – even in the best of times. So, here are a few things you can do now to prepare yourself in case of an unexpected layoff.

Focus on Networking. It’s never too late – or too soon – to start networking with your peers and other professionals. You don’t have to be looking for a job to build relationships, so get out there and reconnect with old friends and co-workers while also getting to know new people. If you’re laid off from your job, you’ll be able to quickly and easily turn to your network for support and job leads.

Cut Extra Spending. Make an effort to cut your spending and increase your savings by determining if each purchase you’re about to make is truly a “need” or a “want.” Avoid spending extra money on “wants” right now, and instead put that money into savings. Your co-workers can probably empathize with you as you cut back spending, so don’t be afraid to decline an invitation for lunch or happy hour with your co-workers. If you’re unable to find a job immediately after a layoff, you’ll be glad you saved some extra cash to make it through the tough times.
Create a Budget. Whether or not you anticipate a layoff, create a budget you could follow with a reduced or eliminated salary. Write down every expense you have and how much each one costs. Then, select several things to cut immediately and some you could cut later, if you become unemployed. Consider cutting back on items like eating out, entertainment, and clothing. Keep track of your daily expenditures to make sure you’re sticking to your budget, and then save or invest what you have left. You might also want to visit with a financial advisor to create a personalized financial strategy.

Clean Up Your Files. Clean up your computer files if you manage personal documents on your work computer, such as pictures, e-mails, and other downloads. Save the files you need to a CD or e-mail them to your personal computer. Then delete those unnecessary documents from your work computer. When you begin collecting your portfolio items, be sure that you’re only taking copies of acceptable documents, such as public newsletters you wrote or graphics you designed. Make sure to leave behind company documents that don’t belong to you.

Set Doctor Appointments. If you’re covered by a company health care plan, schedule all of your regular doctor appointments and refill all of your prescriptions. Ask about three-month prescriptions and preventative medication so you can be prepared in case your insurance costs increase or coverage stops.

If you’re uncertain about job security, some things to prepare for might be obvious, like updating your résumé and viewing online job boards. Focusing on these five things can increase your confidence and ease your stress because you’ll be better prepared if you face an unexpected layoff. Remember, as important as preparing is, don’t forget to stay positive and remain focused on your tasks and projects at work.