Personal incomes were up 0.2% in July, according to the U.S. Commerce Department, which could in part stem from businesses reinstating salary increases and other benefits that were cut or frozen in 2009. As the economy improves and businesses look for more ways to increase employee engagement and retain their key workforce, we want to know what you value most in your job.
Monthly Archives: August 2010
You can start investing today in your future by making use of free resources that will help you in your professional career. As a recent graduate or a new job seeker, it may seem difficult to find the right job. No matter what field or industry you’re in, you can make use of some of the following tips to set you apart from the competition, and increase your chances in finding a job. These tips will also help you tackle any challenges in your career.
Read career blogs: Career blogs are becoming more and more popular as time goes on. Job experts are now using them as a way to share information and offer advice on various topics from how to ask for a job reference to top questions to ask during a job interview. They are also great because they’re free and easily accessible and thus some employers might expect you to be well prepared for an interview because of the plethora of information that is readily available to prepare you for the interview. Use the information to gain insight and quick tips on everything about careers. Learning never gets old, so take advantage of this opportunity. These blogs can help you be better prepared for what employers are looking for in a job candidate.
See a career counselor or visit a local staffing agency: Career counseling is available on many college campuses and is a very helpful resource in choosing the right career path. Talk to a college counselor to gain more insight about your skills, learn what your interests are, and discover what career path is best for you. Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions you can ever make, so it’s important to get all the advice you can before making your decision. For those who may not have access to career counselors, staffing agencies are another great resource to help you find job openings in your area of interest. So, check with your local staffing agency to find out how they can be of service to you.
Ask questions: Asking questions is very important because it helps you gain insight into your potential job path and clear up any confusion or concern you may have. Educate yourself on choices before you make them by talking to people who have experience in the field you’re interested in. Also, find out if you can job shadow someone in the field that you’re curious about. This will give you a clear vision of their job and its daily functions.
Go to a job fair: Job fairs are great opportunities for you to meet with various employers in one place and in a small amount of time. For businesses, this gives them the opportunity to perform initial screening and recruit for entry level jobs. In order to make the most of a job fair, it’s good to research what companies will be attending the fair in order to make a list of your top choices so that you can meet with them first. Researching companies ahead of time or before attending a job fair would give the recruiter the impression that you have an interest in their company and that you are responsible enough to do your homework. Know what the companies do and be able to speak about them in addition to telling them about you.
Make sure you prepare a list of questions you want to ask. For example, ask the recruiter questions about the company’s culture and values. Also prepare to answer questions from the recruiter. Some questions you may be asked are questions like, “What are your goals?” or “Why do you want to work for our company?”
Making a good first impression is the most important thing to remember when attending a job fair because right from the get-go you’re being analyzed and screened. Job fairs are a great opportunity for you to market yourself and show what sets you apart from everyone else. So, be sure to dress appropriately, wear what you would for a job interview because essentially, that’s what you’re doing even if it’s not in a traditional location. Avoid carrying too many things so you can move around freely, and carry a portfolio with plenty of résumés so you can hand them out to the companies you’re interested in. Lastly, remember why you’re attending the job fair. Don’t get distracted by all the freebies some companies provide during job fairs, be professional. Smile and give a firm handshake.
Start a blog: People are now using blogs as a tool to market themselves. Blogging allows you to share information about yourself and your interests. As social media continues to grow, this is a good avenue for employers to familiarize themselves with your interests. Starting a blog will help you establish yourself as a subject-matter expert and develop online persona. Remember some industries may be less interested in blogging and social media than others, so be sure to take note of other tips that are more applicable to your field. If you decide that starting a blog is a great tool for your career, be careful what you put on it. Remember your blog reflects on who you are. So, be professional and avoid anything that may give a bad impression about you.
Whether you’re a student, recent graduate, or just new to your career field, make use of the above tips to either boost your chances of getting a job or to learn important elements to succeed in the business world. Stay in touch with what is happening around you. You owe it to yourself and your career.
Here are the top Bad Boss solutions for week three of our contest! Until September 1, we will be spotlighting three top solutions we've received on how employees handled a tough boss. We will be collecting stories through Friday, Aug. 27, so you still have time to submit your story! E-mail your story to email@example.com. At the end of the contest, voting will begin to determine which solution is the best. The person who receives the most votes will win the grand prize. The winner could be you!
Stay the Course
Penny started a new job and walked into a field of landmines. Due to her hiring situation, other team members and managers doubted her competence and ability, choosing to judge her before they got a chance to work with her. Her hard work and determination to do her new tasks well began to pay off after a couple of weeks. Slowly she was given the opportunity to expand her role, and her supervisor gave her a new project to work on. Penny stayed on top of the ball throughout the project and made sure to keep the supervisor up-to-date on the advances. She knew she had won over the boss and the team when she was invited to a team lunch toward the end of the project. Penny won this boss and team over by demonstrating her abilities and taking care of business!
At first, Vince struggled with communicating his job expectations and performance issues with his boss. However, Vince soon discovered that, while neither he nor his boss were good verbal communicators, they could express themselves well through e-mail. So, Vince started e-mailing his boss when he had a problem or issue. His boss was able to clearly see the situation written out and then give a written response in reply. This has cut down on miscommunication and made their communication process more effective and efficient.
Shari began working at a new company as Sales Manager. She was ready to take her new team on to new championships. However, she met head-on with a manager who had a unique way of managing his staff. While sales members were rewarded for hitting daily sales goals, he ran a tight ship when it came to the work environment. The manager had rules about what items could be displayed on your desk, restroom breaks, and phone calls. Shari chose to handle her role with poise and grace, but after 21-days she decided her professional goals and desires did not match the company’s policies. Shari choose to seek new employment, she also choose to find her new job through Express!
Interviews can be nerve wracking. They can make your heart race and your palms sweat. But, it’s important not to let your nerves get the best of you. When interviewing, employers are seeking those who exude confidence and are able to present themselves as professionals. Confidence is a belief in yourself and your abilities. So, here are few tips to help give you some extra confidence before your next job interview.
Be prepared: Before every interview, take time to prepare. Visit the company’s website and get a good overview about the company and its philosophy. Also, if you can, find out general information about the person interviewing you. You don’t necessarily have to know everything about the individual, but definitely know their job title and how to pronounce their name correctly to help ensure you create a good first impression. Be sure to know the details about the job you’re applying for and be able to speak about it. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll be. So make sure you do your homework and know about the employer researching the company.
Arrive early: Being late to an interview can make you feel flustered and stressed – not a great start for exuding confidence. So, be sure you arrive early to your interview to give yourself plenty of time to locate your interview location and familiarize yourself with the environment. And if you’re early to your interview, you’ll also have time to review your talking points and calm your nerves.
Know how to answer common questions: Be prepared to answer questions an interviewer is likely to ask. Go over common interview questions until you can answer them flawlessly. Ask a friend to pretend they are your interviewer and practice answering those questions in various ways. By practicing common interview questions, you’ll be better prepared for whatever questions come your way. Knowing that you have practiced in advance and that you have good answers prepared will definitely boost your confidence. Also, most interviewers like it when you can give them examples of past situations that can give them insight into your work ethic and professional demeanor. So, give examples of scenarios in your career or life when trying to explain a point. For example, if the interviewer wants to know about your strengths, give them an example of when your strengths enabled you to excel in a task.
Ask questions: This is where a lot of interviewees choke. Expect that an interviewer will ask you if you have any questions for them. Instead of replying no, prepare some questions you want to ask. This shows you’ve put some thought into your interview and you think it’s important. It will also show a potential employer your confidence and that you’re not afraid to ask questions.
Dress appropriately: You can boost your attitude and self-confidence just by the way you dress. When you’re dressed well, you feel good about yourself. If you’re applying for a professional job, consider wearing a suit. If you’re applying for a construction job, a nice pair of slacks and a polo shirt might be more appropriate. In order to make a great first impression, choose professional attire which includes button down shirts, conservative shoes, and solid suits.
Be aware of nonverbal cues: Maintaining eye contact is probably one of the most important nonverbal cues you can have in life and definitely in an interview. This shows the interviewer that you are interested and paying attention to what they’re saying. It shows you’re engaged in the conversation. Be sure you look at them when giving your answers. But, you don’t want to stare them down. It’s OK to break eye contact and look around. Also, before you allow shyness to overwhelm you, sit up straight. Good posture communicates that you’re alert and excited about the opportunity. Slouching sends the impression that you’re bored and don’t care. Finally, mirror the nonverbal cues of your interviewer. Lean forward or sit back when they do to demonstrate that you’re engaged in the conversation.
Be confident even in your weaknesses: Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Letting the interviewer know your strengths will definitely show what you are capable of. But, it’s also ok to mention your weaknesses. Actually, interviewers prefer to know that you have some and that you are aware of them. After all, nobody is perfect. But, be prepared to talk about how you are trying to work for them. By telling the interviewer how you’re working to improve on those weaknesses, you will show your willingness to be better and how you’re trying to turn your weaknesses to strengths.
Confidence can easily set you apart from others applying for the same job, so be sure to be eloquent, clear, and concise when speaking. Follow these tips to help make your next interview a success.
As you continue to gain work experience, it’s important to keep your résumé updated to showcase all the valuable skills and abilities you have. The goal of your résumé is to grab the attention of a prospective employer, so you always want to make sure that it’s up-to-date, polished, and shows your strengths at all times. So, to help you do that, here are a few tips for you to keep in mind.
Make sure your résumé is professional. The more experience you gain, the more marketable you will become. And, your résumé needs to reflect that. Be aware of the little things that can make a big difference. If you’re submitting a hard copy of your résumé, make sure it is on high quality paper that you can find at your local office supply store. Also, include your name and contact information somewhere near the top so that you are easily identifiable. Make sure you know and utilize the basic building blocks of a successful, professional résumé.
Update your objective or summary. If you incorporate an objective or summary on your résumé, don’t list out what it is you want a company to provide for you. Instead, tell a prospective employer what you can bring to their business. In a few short sentences, list what skills you have that would be important to them and to the job they are hiring for. Find out how to create a top-notch summary.
Showcase your results. Once you have work experience, it’s important to outline the results of your work. Did you increase readership of a newsletter? Bring in more business? Save your company some money? Document these results. The more numbers you can show, the better your work history will look to a future employer. Sometimes you only have a matter of minutes to make a great first impression, so make sure your information grabs an employer’s attention quickly. To help you out, here are a few commonly used words that you’ll want to avoid.
Use action verbs. Action words like managed, designed, and created are words that will really make your résumé pop! Don’t just say that you completed daily office tasks. Be specific and results oriented to really ensure you stand out. break these activities down. For example, instead of saying you’re a team player, try this: “I collaborated with the marketing and human resources team to develop a new employee program.” Punch up your résumé with these power words that will help demonstrate your success.
If you just completed a summer internship, you’re working at your first job ever, or you’ve started a new career in a new industry, always make sure your résumé reflects your current skills, knowledge, and abilities. Keeping your résumé up-to-date and doing regular maintenance on it will help save you time in the long run when you do need it.
Check out this week's top solutions for how to deal with a tough boss. As part of the Touchdown with a Bad Boss contest, each week from now until September 1, we will be spotlighting three top solutions we've received on how employees handled a tough boss. E-mail your story to firstname.lastname@example.org. At the end of the contest, voting will begin to determine which solution is the best. The person who receives the most votes will win the grand prize. Tell us your story today and the winner could be you!
Walk a Mile in My Shoes
When Patricia was 18 she was a waitress at a truck stop in Wyoming. The dress code required heels but Patricia had broken her foot in the past and heels were not the easiest thing to wear all day. After wearing heels for a couple of weeks she realized this wouldn’t work for her feet long term. Patricia proposed the idea to the boss that he wear heels for two hours and if his feet didn’t hurt afterward she’d continue with the dress code, but if he discovered otherwise, the dress code would be changed. After the two hours were up he asked the ladies, “How in the world do you work in these things?” That day the boss changed the rules to allow clean white tennis shoes for the waitresses. The whole team had fun watching the boss try to work in heels and everyone was happy with the outcome. This experience was nearly thirty years ago, and Patricia learned that when your boss makes a request sometimes it’s okay to ask them to take a walk in your shoes while you tackle the job together. As Patricia said, “Some bosses have never had to do what you do, and do not really how know hard the job is.” Patricia has used these moments in her career to find better ways to do things and has demonstrated the positive impact change can bring.
One evening after a long day of work, Christopher was asked by his manager at a national TV rental company to repossess a 19-inch TV on his way home. When Christopher pulled up at the customer’s house, he saw that the house was surrounded by a SWAT team, and a team of paramedics. As he climbed out of his van, he stopped a paramedic and asked if he could slip inside and repossess the TV. But, the paramedic said it wasn’t a good idea since the customer had just been killed in a domestic dispute. So, Christopher called his boss and told him the situation. His boss ordered him to get the TV again, but this time Christopher was turned away by a police officer. His boss was furious that Christopher came away empty-handed. This was just one example of his boss’ unbending attitude. Christopher stayed focused on diligently doing his job and going above and beyond what was expected of him. Eventually, his boss left the company and Christopher was promoted to manager.
Ken had to learn real fast how to deal with his quick-tempered new boss. Not long after being promoted to an afternoon shift, front-line supervisor, Ken was in his office preparing for work when he glanced out his window and saw his boss on the department floor frantically waving like he was trying to land an airplane. When Ken rushed down to see what the problem was, his manger pointed to a brand new pounds-per-square-inch gauge lying on the ground, and he demanded to know where it came from. Since it was not a cheap piece of equipment, Ken wondered how he could explain it being on the ground. But, before he had a chance to explain, his boss shouted, “I want to know right now where that came from!” Ken calmly picked up the gauge, turned it over, and read aloud from the manufacturing stamp, “Green Bay, Wisconsin!” At first his boss was speechless, but after a minute he smiled and nicely asked, “Can you make sure it gets put away, please?” From that day on, he treated Ken with respect and realized that there are better ways than anger to get the job done.
Didn't see last week's top solutions? Check them out here!
References are a vital part of your job search because they can attest to the quality of work you do and your work ethic. Your references should usually be individuals who are familiar with your work history and know enough about you that they can give valuable and detailed feedback to a potential employer. When possible, your references should also be people who are influential in your industry. Some examples of possible references you could use include former bosses, professors, supervisors, co-workers, and customers.
Once you’ve compiled a list of people who meet the qualifications and you are sure they will represent you well, you need to ask them if they’d be willing to be a reference for you. If you’re a little unsure on how to approach a potential reference, check out these tips to help get you started.
Contacting them? Phone calls, e-mails, or lunch meetings are all great ways to contact someone to be your reference. But, consider your relationship with a potential reference when deciding the best way to ask them. For example, if you aren’t on a first name basis with a former professor, or if you know their schedule is very busy, then meeting for lunch might not be the best option. Sending an e-mail and following up with a phone call might be a better option.
If you have a mentor, consider making a phone call to them rather than sending an e-mail because chances are you know them well and a phone call allows you to be more personable. There are many ways to contact a potential reference, so be sure to pick the one that’s right for the relationship you have with the individual.
What do I say? When asking someone to be a reference, there is specific information you want to make them aware of. Tell them why you chose them as a reference, what career choice you have chosen, and which potential employers might be contacting them. Give them a copy of your résumé and go over it with them. Be sure you have their correct contact information, company, and title. Also make a sidenote of how they prefer to be contacted. Inform them about what you have been up to and what you’re currently doing. Remember, the more information you give them the easier it is for them to recommend you to a potential employee. And make sure you thank them if they are willing to be a reference for you.
How do I follow up? After you’ve gotten permission to use someone as a reference, send them a thank-you note. This simple gesture will show them how thoughtful you are and will let them know you are grateful for their influence and impact in your life.
A good reference can go a long way to helping you land your dream job. So make sure you provide them with the information they need to give you the best recommendation possible. And, be sure you follow up to let them know how much you appreciate their willingness to be an advocate for you.